Monthly Archives: December 2012

Stride Length Vs Stride Rate : Which Makes You Faster?

Improving running speed and time are the most neglected parts of running training. Many recreational runners think that speed should be a concern only to elite runners, but everyone can benefit tremendously from increasing their speed.

There are two ways to run faster. You can move your legs at a faster rate, called stride rate or cadence, or you can take longer steps. A video at the New York City Marathon showed that the top 150 runners had the same cadence, taking 184 to 188 steps a minute. The difference between the top runners and the others was that the best runners took longer strides.

In general you can run faster by either improving your running cadence per minute or by lengthening your stride.

Improving running cadence means increasing the number of steps you take each minute. This can be done by running with short and quick strides. On the other side, lengthening your running stride means forcing a longer stride than your usual one. Both techniques are proven effective at increasing running speed. But which one is the best?

Stride Rate Vs. Stride length

Research has concluded that most elite runners have the same running cadence per minute. The difference that makes the difference for the elite is their stride length. The longer the stride, the faster they run. But forcing a longer stride does not necessarily means that you can faster. In fact it can have a counter-productive effects.

Stride length and over striding

Lengthening your stride can cause you to overstride. Overstriding is one of the most common lower body errors runners make. When you force a longer stride, you create a braking action with each step. This forces your body to slow down and generates added pressure and tension to your feet and knees, thus it increases the risk of injury and knee problems.

This could be a conundrum to many. It’s why many runners get frustrated and angry when they discover that they are actually slowing themselves down when they force a longer stride. But don’t worry, there are some tweaks you can do in order to decrease the effects of overstriding.

The best method for running faster

The best solution for running faster is by combining both methods. Do your best to run as fast as you can with quick and short steps. And at the same time, you should adopt a stride length that is comfortable to you. The most efficient stride length is the innate one – the one you feel most at ease with.

In fact, when you improve your running cadence you will be able to lessen the braking effect and your running form will start adjusting automatically by taking up a stride length that is appropriate for your cadence. Just don’t be harsh on yourself if don’t notice any instant results.

Drill to Increase your stride length naturally.

We have seen it is dangerous to increase your stride length by forcing things. The best ways to increase the stride is by doing a speed work-out known as Strides.

Strides are usually around 100 meters in length. They are broken into three sections; the first section is used to accelerate. During this portion you gradually build your speed so that at the start of the second section you hit your top speed. This isn’t necessarily an all out sprint but rather a controlled fast pace. You then hold this pace for the second portion of the stride. The final section is for slowly easing back down to either a walk or slow jog.

Here is a video by elite runner Katie Koski explaining how to do strides.


Basically, strides can be done anywhere you find room to safely do about 15 seconds of faster paced running. I would recommend trying to do your strides on a softer surface (grass, dirt, a track, etc.) if at all possible and as with any sort of speed work, always be sure and do a good warm-up first.

When doing strides the most important thing is to focus on is your form. You want to work on running fast but relaxed. Also, make sure you are not over striding. Your foot should be landing directly under your body, not out in front.

Add Some Tempo Runs To Your Training To Run Faster

Let’s face it, most of us will hit a speed plateau sometime during our running career. Some of us may be comfortable at that plateau and enjoy the view from there. But if you are one of those people who are always looking to make improvements in your life, you know that challenging yourself constantly can help you achieve your goals.

Running fits that line of reasoning very well. If you want to get faster, to make it simple you have to run faster. One workout to achieve that goal is a Tempo Run.

What are Tempo Runs?

Tempo runs are fast, continuous workouts where you measure the time and the distance of your run. You try to maintain the same pace for the entire run.

This workout should only be done once a week because of the stress it puts on your body. While you can use this workout for a swim, bike, or run, I am going to focus on how to use this workout as part of your running program.

Benefits of Tempo Runs

The purpose of the tempo run is to train your body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently. You want to get used to running “comfortably hard”, and knowing what it feels like to push your body hard. When you incorporate this workout into the schedule, your race times will drop.

How To Do Tempo Runs

Look for a day that you have six to eight miles scheduled. Use the first two miles of your run to warm-up. You should run comfortably at the beginning and gradually build up to the pace you want to hold for the tempo run. Obviously, a Garmin or some other GPS based device is really helpful here. You could also complete this workout at the track so you can keep better track of your pace.

Spend the next 3 to 4 miles at your tempo pace. Your tempo pace should be anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds quicker than your 5K pace. I know it sounds fast and it is. What you are trying to do is teach your body to be more efficient. You are also trying to teach your legs to have a quicker turnover. You will be pushing really hard during this portion of the run. On the pain scale of 1-10, you should be at an 8 at this point. If you need to slow down at some point, take it easy for a minute or so and then speed up back to your targeted tempo pace.

It is important for you to cool down as part of this workout. This workout needs to be done with a ton of caution because there is a real chance of injury. So make sure you take at least 1 to 2 miles to cool down. Gradually slow back down to where you are at your marathon pace and just relax. Make sure you stretch after as part of the workout. Here are the phases of this workout:

1. 1-2 mile warm-up starting at marathon pace gradually speeding up to your tempo pace.
2. 3-4 miles at 5K pace minus 15 to 30 seconds. Slow down a little if you need to.
3. Cool down for 1 to 2 miles, gradually slowing down to your marathon pace.
4. Stretch and make sure you breathe into your muscles as you stretch.

Using the Tempo Run will help you make the improvements that you seek as part of your progression as a runner. Keep this type of workout in your schedule and you will feel more comfortable at all paces because of significant improvements in your running and heart efficiency.

Good luck!

Article courtesy of http://26.2ismycooldown.com/

Interval Training For Half Marathon Runners

One method of increasing half marathon speed is doing interval training. Although intervals are great if you want to run faster at your next half marathon, they have to be used with a certain amount of caution.

Doing short bursts of really hard exercise can place huge pressure on your muscles and joints. Your body will suffer an injury of you have not properly prepared it.

This was demonstrated perfectly on a recent sports program on TV. The presenter wanted to test the claim that repeating 30 second sprints, six or eight times in a total of 10 or 15 minutes total exercise per day, three days a week is enough to show significant health benefits. What happened? Within the first 10 seconds of the first sprint he had pulled a muscle in his leg. Trying very high intensity work is great, but only if you are strong enough to take them. And the only way to get strong enough is to build up steadily.

Interval Training Technique To Done When On The Run

One of the best forms of intervals for half marathon runners is the called the ‘Fartlek’. It’s a rather informal way of adding hard bursts of running into your normal routine. Basically, after you have been running for a while, maybe 10 minutes, you set yourself a target. Maybe ‘I’m going to run flat out for the next 30 seconds’, or ‘I’m going to run as fast as I can to that lamppost’. Then you just go for it. When you reach the target, back off to a slow jog (or even walk) until you’ve regained you breath, then back up to normal speed. Further on add a second short sprint, then rest, then another. The first time you try this I doubt if you will be able to do a fourth!

The advantages of this kind of interval are that it ensures that you are completely warmed up before you start pushing the boundaries and the fact that you are already in the middle of a 30 minute run suggests that your body has had sufficient training to avoid pulling a muscle in the first 10 seconds. Don’t think that it’s a breeze though. On paper it may sound easy, but in practice it is really physically demanding. And if something starts to hurt STOP! And at the end, make sure that you jog slowly for the last 10 minutes of your run, to give you a good ‘warm down’ after your exertions.

Don’t try and do intervals every time you go for a run. They are really demanding on the body, which is why you get so much benefit from such a short exertion. But more than once or twice a week will almost certainly lead to injury for even the most enthusiastic runner. And if you are a beginner, don’t try them at all, until you can comfortably run for 30 minutes without stopping. Intervals are not for the faint hearted…literally!

Why Intervals Are The Best For Improving Your Running Speed

There are several reasons why this method is very effective if you want to get faster at half marathon. Firstly it allows you to go at or near maximum effort – something that isn’t possible with a flat work out with no breaks, the rest periods in between allow you to keep going at that maximum level for longer amounts of time. Why is doing exercise at maximum effort matters? Well, just think about two athletes running a 100 meters. One is a sprinter that runs it at a sub 10 seconds, the other is a long distance marathoner who runs it at high but sustainable pace of 6 meters per second. The sprinter can only run 100meters at that speed, marathoner can run for hours. Which one do you think will have a more effective workout? Of course the sprinter.

Interval training allows you to do exercise at maximum effort which produces much better results than exercising at 70% or some such level of your maximum in the same period of time. Time is the second part that makes interval training so great. At some point you reach a level where your fitness is so good that doing exercise in aerobic regime (sustainable level) hardly produces any results unless you do it for hours. But doing them at maximum level with short breaks in between allows you to get a great work out in a short period of time.

How To Increase Running Speed With Fartlek Speed Workout

Do you find yourself stuck at a specific running speed? Are you tired of running at the same pace in every one of your races? There is a workout that is designed for you that will help you increase your running speed. The workout is Fartlek. It is used by runners to improve their speed as well as the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.

Definition of Fartlek

“Fartlek” is Swedish for “Speed Play”. I have also heard people I trust translate it into “Speed Work”, but it really makes no difference. It differs from the other types of speed work in its basic design. In track workouts or even your tempo runs, the pace should be pretty similar. In a fartlek, the speed changes regularly. In a single workout you do a bit of tempo running, run easy, then do some intervals, run easy again, do a few sprints, etc. Fartlek helps to improve your ability to accelerate quickly during a race, either to overtake runner ahead of you or to push your pace up a hill or the last miles.

How to Do It

These are very simple workouts. I would suggest if you have a 3.0 or 4.0 mile run, start out and run the first mile easy, taking time to make sure your body is really warmed-up. Pick up your pace to your 1/2 marathon pace and cover the next 0.5 miles at that pace. Your heart rate should be pretty stable by this point. Now I want you to start picking out landmarks that are about 20 yards ahead of you and literally accelerate until you are under your 5K pace. Once you pass the landmark, slow back down and run steady at a comfortable pace until your heart rate comes back down. If you want to push it, only give yourself about 2 minutes to recover. Get that time down to 1 minute over time. Repeat that process over and over again until you have about a mile left in your workout.

Spend the last mile running at your marathon pace and let your body wind down. Especially after this workout, make sure you stretch and get your hamstrings opened up. This step will help you maintain your stride even after this tough workout.

Common Fartlek Workouts  To get You Faster at Running.

There are several types of fartleks that boost running speed.

Watson Fartlek

Spend a mile warming up and the speed up to :15 seconds faster than your 5K pace for 4 minutes. Spend one minute recovering and bringing your heart rate down. I like to repeat this workout anywhere from four to eight times. I then like to spend a mile cooling down.

Hill Fartlek

Spend a mile warming up. Find yourself a hilly course that is set up with rollers that is preferably about 4.0-5.0 miles long. Spend the entire hills section running the uphills hard, focusing on cresting and running through the top of the hill, and taking it easy on the downhills. Make sure you spend at least a mile cooling down.

Advantages of Fartlek workouts

There are some advantages to fartlek workouts:

It is Fun

It can be real fun for you. No other running workout will allow you to have more fun than the fartlek. Its basically all up to you how you want to maintain speeds or achieve some time goals, as long as you can keep it exciting and challenging. Fartleks are fun to do in that aspect.

Everyone Can Do It

Anybody can do fartlek. It is an excellent introduction to speed training for beginners. It is also great for more advanced runners who have just come out of a longer period of base building. Instead of having to comply to the rigour of structured speed sessions you can just go by feel and get back into faster running more easily.

Improves Endurance and Increases Your Running Speed

Fartlek workouts are, despite the playful nature, still speed running training sessions. They count as “hard” workouts and should be followed by a day of recovery running or rest. Also make sure that you start and end your fartlek session with easy running so that you properly warm-up and cool-down.

Conclusion

A Fartlek workout is one of many tools that you can use to improve your running speed. As you begin structuring your workouts and giving each one a purpose instead of just getting out and running, you can make improvements that to levels that you previously thought impossible! Good luck!

Pre Race Meal Plan To Help You Run Faster

Hours and hours of intense training go into your preparation for marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5K event. When the final day arrives you want to be on top of your game. You want to feel like you’ve done every possible thing to facilitate peak performance. One key element to a fast race on race day is your pre-race nutrition. Eating the right, or wrong foods for that matter, can make a big difference in your running speed.

Pre Race Meal On The Night Before The Race

Two to three days before you race, as you begin to taper your activity, you want to increase your carbohydrate consumption. Of the three macro-nutrients that food are made up of, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will be the best form of energy for you. Carb-loading helps to increase your muscle glycogen stores. Foods such as breads, pastas, and fruits are high in carbohydrates and are best. You should avoid high fiber foods such as, vegetables, beans, and bran-filled grains the day before to lighten the bowel load. The day before the race you should consume 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight. (1 kg = 2.2 lbs). Since you should be basically resting the few days before your event your body doesn’t need as much protein for muscle repair.

Pre Race Diet Morning Of The Race

Ideally, you should eat two to four hours before your big event, allowing proper time for digestion. With most races beginning in the wee hours of the morning this can be difficult. Getting up early enough to allow proper time for digestion might take away from sleep time, which is equally as important. This is where you need to find the balance that works for you. Your pre-race meal should be about 300-500 calories, with 80% of your calories coming from carbohydrates. Your goal should be to eat enough to give you adequate energy for your race, but not make you feel uncomfortable as you are racing. Avoid foods that are high in fiber, protein, and fat. Choose foods and drinks that are easily digested, and easily consumed. Some good options are Bagels; primarily made up of carbohydrates, topped with a low fat cream cheese or eaten plain. Bananas; containing more than 20 grams of carbohydrates, they are easily digested and contain potassium which is lost in sweat while you work out vigorously. There are energy bars made specifically to be a pre-race food. Be careful here to avoid the bars high in protein. Most of them are low in carbohydrates, and will not have the same advantageous effect on your body. Oatmeal is another great pre-race meal. It is made up primarily of carbohydrates, is easily digested, and will help you feel full. Another key factor is to make sure you’re adequately hydrated. Beginning hydrated will help you to maintain a proper fluid balance throughout your race.

The most important thing to remember here is to stick to what you know. The morning of your big race is not the time to try out new eating regimens you’ve heard work wonders. The time to figure out what is going to work best for your body is when you’re in training. Find the foods that your body digests well, and that give you sufficient energy. Putting the time into making sure your pre-race meal is satisfactory will be well worth your while, and can give you the boost necessary to ensure top performance!

Sleeping for 10 hours Improves Running Performance

The major benefit of sleep is rest and recovery from strenuous physical exercises. Latest research on sleep has reported athletes who sleep for longer hours, up to 10 hours a day, have increased performance levels.

Science of Sleep and Athletic Performance

Scientist from Stanford university, studied players in university football team. “Over three seasons, from 2005 to 2008, the scientists looked at 11 Stanford basketball players. For two to four weeks, the Cardinal kept to their normal schedules. Then for five to seven weeks, they watched what they drank, took daytime naps and tried to sleep for 10 hours every night. After increasing their daily rest, the players sprinted faster and said they felt better in practices and games. Their aim got better too: Their three-point shooting jumped 9.2 percentage points, and their free throw percentage increased by nine points.”

What’s behind the results? “sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic: During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone.” Source ESPN sports.

Sleeping Tips For Active Runners.

Now that you know a good night sleep is good for your running, here is a list of tips to help you sleep for longer hours.

1. Take a good look at your bedroom. Is it conducive to sleep? Make sure your room is as close to total darkness as possible. Close your curtains and make use of a towel, if you must, to shield any incoming light from streetlamps. Also, put a towel over your alarm clock – just make certain you can hear it in the morning.

2. When sleeping in a hotel, before they give you your room assignment, specifically ask for a “quite room”. If the highway or airport is on one side of the hotel, mention that and ask for a room on the other side of the building

3. Eat a balanced diet. This will help your overall health as well as improve your sleep.

4. Be sure that you have a comfortable bed. Make sure your mattress adequately supports your spine. Your pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.

5. You shouldn’t spend time in your bed snacking, reading or watching TV. The only two activities that should be carried out while you are in bed are having sex and sleeping. You need to train yourself so that when you finally crawl into bed at night, you will go to sleep.

6. Try not to watch the news just before retiring for the night. Instead, try watching a sitcom or lighthearted movie. Most news is bad these days and it may trouble your mind.

7. Another one of those sleeping tips to help you fall asleep almost on command is to establish a bedtime routine. Make sure to stick to it so you’ll become acclimated and your body will know that this is what we do to get ready for sleep.

8. Don’t drink alcohol before turning in for the night. It can be stimulating and make it difficult to go to sleep.

10. Avoid nicotine and caffeine; these products are both stimulants. You don’t want to be bouncing off the walls!

11. If you are all stressed out and cannot sleep, try writing everything down that has you bothered. Committing these thoughts to paper puts them in the open and helps remove them from your mind.

12. Fix your relationships. If you have a beef with anyone, spouse, friend, child or work mate, try to mend bridges. Some times we think everything is okey but when we take a look deep down in our hearts we realize we are carry grudges. That grudge is a form of repressed anger or hate that eat us from within. Forgiving the person will make our hearts lighter and our minds calmer.

13. Eat a turkey sandwich prior to getting into bed – the tryptophan in the turkey will make you sleepy.

14. If you take a nap during the day, it may sabotage your sleep at night. Resist the urge to nap if you have trouble sleeping at night.

15. Another great tip is to take a hot, relaxing bath. You can even combine it with some light meditation to calm your mind.

16. Did your grandmother ever tell you this one? Drink some warm milk and honey before bed.

17. If you just can’t seem to go to sleep, get up and try doing something for about one to two hours until you are physically exhausted. Just don’t choose an activity that will stimulate your mind and make you want to stay up longer.

18. Take a thorough medical check up to rule out any physical or mental illness. Some times when we can’t be able to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep the cause is undiagnosed illness that we are not aware of.

19. Get a massage. Have your spouse (or whoever) give you a massage just before going to sleep. If you can convince them to give you a full body massage, great. If not, even a short backrub and/or a face and scalp massage can be a big help. Have them make the massage strokes slow, gentle, yet firm, to work the tension out of your muscles and soothe you to sleep.

20. Play some soft, soothing music that will lull you to sleep. There are many CDs designed for that very purpose. Some are specially composed music, others simply have sounds of waves rhythmically breaking, or the steady pattern of a heartbeat. Some will lead you to sleep with a combination of music, voice and other soothing sounds. Download Free Relaxation Music Audio.

Have a good night of sleep and may you run the fastest race.

High Altitude Training Increases Speed, Strength & Endurance

High altitude training is a type of training done in a high altitude region, typically defined as any elevation above 1,500 metres (5,000 ft). Runners who have trained in high altitude have shown an increase in running speed, strength and endurance.

High altitude regions have thin air and oxygen is little. Training in this kind of environment changes your body in one or more ways. The changes are similar to the changes that happen when athletes use banned performance enhancing drugs such as EPO (increases erythropoietin concentration)  and blood doping (Increases red blood cells in the body). In simple terms, high altitude training is another type of legal performance enhancing drug.

How High Altitude Training Increases Running Speed

  1. Increasing the number of red blood cells and haemoglobin
  2. Increasing the number of red blood cells and haemoglobin
  3. increased erythropoietin (EPO) levels
  4. Higher VO2 max,

When this changes happen in a body, a runner is able to transport more oxygen to muscles. With more oxygen reaching the muscles, a runner is able to run faster and further. These changes remain in the body for up to 22 days. After this, the body reverts to the old levels. An athlete must participate in a competitive race within that window to see any benefits.

Effects of High Altitude training on sprinters

It has been shown sprinters whose discipline is primarily anaerobic activity do not necessarily benefit from altitude training as they do not rely on oxygen to fuel their performances.

The Best Altitude Level To Enhance Performance

In a research by (Gore et al., 1997) of highly trained athletes, four weeks of training at an altitude of 1740 m produced no change in mass of hemoglobin in the blood and only a small increase in maximum oxygen consumption . The conclusion was that higher altitudes are needed to stimulate red cell production in athletes. The majority of high altitude centres such as Iten in kenya are located in altitudes of 2400m – 3000m above sea level.  The limit of 300m is important because that is where altitude sickness starts to kick in. The symptoms are headaches, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and feeling sick.

Product in The market that simulate high altitude environment.

Nitrogen Tent. Is a tent that simulates altitudes of up to 2700 m (9000 ft) and can be modified to simulate up to 4000 m (14,000 ft).  The tent is flushed with air diluted with nitrogen. It reduces the oxygen content from the normal 21% to around 15%. The tent is set up on a bed or on the floor. The advantages are substantial: it is truly portable; it can be used with little or no disruption of family life, study, or work; and it is easily the best way to establish the altitude and program of exposure that suits the individual. The units are moderately expensive (US$5500), but comparable to the cost of a trip to a mountain and similar in price to other equipment used by top athletes. See the official website.

High Altitude Training Centres Around The World For Boosting Running Speed

If you want to get faster at running you need to visit one of these high altitude training centres.

Iten In Kenya

This is the most famous high altitude training camp. It is in the home of the fastest middle – long distance runners in the world. Iten is located 2400m above sea level. Iten is a small farming village about 320 kilometres northeast of Nairobi. In the heart of Kenya’s high-altitude, mountainous region of the Rift Valley, its escarpment overlooks the expansive and striking Kerio Valley National Park. At any given time, there are between 600 to 1,000 runners stationed here all trying to boost their red blood cells.

French Pyrenees

This is the high altitude zone that was used by athletes under Coach Alberto Salazar prior to 2012 London games. The results spoke for themselves, Mo Farah won gold and Glen Rupp won silver in the 10,000m.

Training facilities start from Lac de Matemale which is located at an altitude of only 1550 metres, so it is a good place to acclimatize for runners new to the place.

Another location is The national centre for altitude training (track and swimming pool): This facility is located at 1850 metres altitude. Next is Pyrenees 2000 (1700 metres altitude) – this is a forested area located ten minutes drive from Font Romeu on the main road leading to Lac de Matemale.

Next is the the plateau – a plateau at 2100 metres altitude. At this level there are a network of trails that run through scrub and sections of scattered low forest dense.

The highest point is Pico de Aneto at 11,168 ft (3,404 m.).

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center. This is the place where athletes go to do their high altitude training.

Colorado Springs climbs to an altitude of 6,035 feet. Manitou Springs, just five miles to the west of Colorado Springs, is 6,320 feet. Further west, the towns of Victor and Cripple Creek are over 9,500 feet. The summit of Pikes Peak towers above them all at 14,115 feet.

Top Ten Run Faster Exercises and Drills

If your running goal is to run faster you need to do targeted exercises and drills that will make your body stronger, nimble and faster. The best exercises for increased running speed are a mix of track and road exercises and strength training exercises done in the gym or at home.

Track Exercises For Faster Running

Interval Training

Interval training as the name suggests it’s a work out routine where you do exercise in intervals, usually very short (from 20 seconds to about 3 minutes depending on work out) followed by a quick break, then exercise, then break.

There are several reasons why this method is very effective. Firstly it allows you to go at or near maximum effort – something that isn’t possible with a flat work out with no breaks, the rest periods in between allow you to keep going at that maximum level for longer amounts of time.

Interval training allows you to do exercise at maximum effort which produces much better results than exercising at 70% or some such level of your maximum in the same period of time. Time is the second part that makes interval training so great. At some point you reach a level where your fitness is so good that doing exercise in aerobic regime (sustainable level) hardly produces any results unless you do it for hours. But doing them at maximum level with short breaks in between allows you to get a great work out in a short period of time.

Do Yasso 800s

It’s used as a marathon prediction workout, but it’s a good workout in its own right. Here’s how it works. Start with your marathon time (or better, your target marathon time). Lets say your goal is to finish a marathon by 3 hours, 10 minutes. Now shift the units so that it becomes minutes and seconds instead of hours and minutes. (3:10 becomes 3 minutes, 10 seconds.) Run 800m at this pace, then lightly jog for the same amount of time. Do this as many times as possible. If you can complete 10 repeats and 10 rests, then in theory, you can run your target marathon time on a flat course.

Run 10 x 400m with 400m rest intervals.

Pace: Determine 5K mile-pace, then divide by 4 and subtract 10 seconds. (Example: 19:15 5K is a 6:12 mile. Divided by 4 gives 1:33, subtracting 10 gives 1:23 for each 400m interval.) This takes the idea of “easy at first, brutal at the end” to the extreme.” And it’s so easy — Run 400m, jog 400m. After one or two of these, it seems like a breeze. Get to number 6 or so, and all the sudden 4 more is out of the question.

Stride Drills

There are two ways to improve your running speed. You can move your legs at a faster rate, called cadence, or you can take longer steps. A video at the New York City Marathon showed that the top 150 runners had the same cadence, taking 92 to 94 steps a minute. The difference between the top runners and the others was that the best runners took longer strides. exercise for increasing the length of your stride is doing stride drills.

Strides are usually around 100 meters in length. They are broken into three sections; the first section is used to accelerate. During this portion you gradually build your speed so that at the start of the second section you hit your top speed. This isn’t necessarily an all out sprint but rather a controlled fast pace. You then hold this pace for the second portion of the stride. The final section is for slowly easing back down to either a walk or slow jog.

When doing strides the most important thing to focus on is your form. You want to work on running fast but relaxed. Also, make sure you are not over striding. Your foot should be landing directly under your body, not out in front.

Road exercises to get faster

The long Run

In marathon training and half marathon it has been found that 3 runs of 18 – 22 miles over the 8 weeks prior to the marathon are an important predictor of completing the marathon. The long run is also an important element for middle distance runners. The 10K runner will benefit from runs of 8 miles, 10 miles and even up to 14 miles or more. A 5K runner will benefit from runs of 6 miles, 8 miles and up to 12 miles or so.

Benefits of Long Run

  • Strengthens the heart – larger stroke volume.
  • Strengthens the leg muscles – endurance is developed.
  • Mind Work – mental toughness and coping skills are developed.
  • Develops fat burning capacity
  • Increases number and size of mitochondria
  • Increases capillary growth into muscle fibers.
  • Increases myoglobin concentration in muscle fibers.
  • Increases aerobic efficiency.
  • Increase in Maximum VO2..

If you do weekly long runs you are guaranteed finishing a race, injury permitting. The long run is the difference between a DNF and crossing the finish line.

Hill Training

Training on hills is a great way to increase your running speed. Hills for sprinting are a way of increasing resistance, like adding weight in strength training.

Hills provide greater resistance than level ground; the steeper the hill, the greater the resistance. You develop greater push off strength and power in your running stride with hill training. By increasing your stride strength and power, you increase stride length. You will run faster when you increase stride strength and length.

When you incorporate hills into your conditioning program, use the same principles as any resistance training. Start with minimal reps, and allow plenty of rest in between workouts.

Strength Training exercises to help you increase running speed

Do Plyometrics exercises for speed

Plyometrics are a type of exercise designed to produce fast powerful movements, generally for the purpose of improving running speed. A Plyometric movement is one in which a muscle is extended and rapidly contracted again. The purpose of this is to run faster

Here is a video demonstration of plyometric exercise that you can do to improve explosive running power.

Plyometrics are a VERY effective workout for developing both speed and strength. Some professional athletes use plyometics as their only source of training, but i found it more effective if used as part of a more rounded workout routine.

There is little doubt that if you incorporate some plyometric exercises into your regular workouts, you too will experience excellent speed and strength gains by using this type of exercises.

Plyometric exercise routines are like any other exercise routines – You will get much better results if you take the time to warm up properly beforehand, and cool down properly afterwards. Perhaps more importantly then that, you’ll also greatly reduce your risk of picking up an injury during your workouts.

Do one mile Repeats or one kilometre repeats

If you plan to race a marathon at 5 mins pace, run one kilometre at that pace then take rest for 4-5 minutes. Repeat this for 10 times. Physiologically this type of workout serves to build aerobic capacity–make you more efficient at race pace. You can either run faster over a given distance or you can run further at a given pace.

Perform dead Lift to build upper body strength

As a runner, the focus of the upper-body workout should be to gain muscular strength and remain lean. So, go with lighter weights and higher repetitions. Heavy weights are for those interested in adding muscles. Dead lift keeps your upper body lean and light. The leaner and lighter you are , the faster you will run.

Video how to perform a dead lift

Do Squats

The squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the core running muscles. These are thighs, hips and buttocks, quads (vastus lateralus medialis and intermedius), hamstrings. It also strengths the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body.

squats for runners

Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength of the legs and buttocks.

Runners will get benefit by doing high repetition squats without added weight.

Stretching Exercises That Will Increase Your Running Speed

Stretching the key running muscles is vital if you want to maintain or increase running speed. Running is an impact sports and the more you run the more your muscles get rigid and tired. When the muscles get rigid and tired they contract and relax at a slower pace. The slower contraction and relaxation leads to slower running times. The problems can be fixed by taking a rest, massage and stretching.

How Stretching Makes You A Faster Runner

Doing regular stretching exercises after your running work outs will make you steadily more elastic, flexible, faster and mobile. Stretching increases the blood flow to muscles and helps to keep the body limber. Not only will it aid in maintaining running speed, stretching also helps prevent injuries such as muscle pulls and strains. Stretching after exercise can be just as important, as it helps clear lactic acid from the muscles and prevent soreness.

Key Muscles Every Runner Should Stretch If He/She Wants To Run Faster

The best stretches for runners tend to focus on the muscles involved during running. Stretching this muscles will aid in power transfer and improve your running speed.

Stomach  stretches

The stomach muscles in the gluts are activated during running. These are stretched by lying flat on your back and pulling your knees toward the opposite side of your body. Perform for 10 seconds each side.

Back Muscles

It’s important to stretch your back muscles too, since your back must take a lot of strain when running. Stretch your lower back by doing lying knee roll-over stretches. Lie on your back with your arms stretched out from the shoulder. Place your palms flat on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Hold your knees together and then allow them to rotate all the way to the floor on the right. Keep your pelvis and torso as straight as possible. Bring your knees back to the center and then let them fall to the left side of your body.

Hamstring stretches

To stretch the hamstring, Stand up-right and then place your heal on the ground 2 feet from your body. Bend into the extended leg, place your hand on your knee and tilt your upper body forward until you feel a slight pain in the back of the extended leg, the hamstring.

Quadricep Stretches

Stand up and place the front of your foot in your hand by swinging your leg backwards. Now pull this foot towards your gluteus to feel a stretch on the frontal area of that leg.

Abductor and hip stretches (Groin)

Place your feet 1 meter apart and parallel to each other. Now with your hands on your waist lean to the left side and feel the stretch on the inside on the inside of your right leg. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat the opposite side

Calf muscle stretch

Place the top of your foot on an object approximately 2 inches height. Bend your knee forward while keeping your heel on the ground. Lean your body into the knee for even more of a stretch! Hold for 10 seconds each time.

Calf and Achilles Tendon

Stretching your calf muscle and Achilles tendon can help prevent painful strains. You don’t want to be in the middle of running work out and have to to walk back to the house due to a sharp pain in your calf or a torn Achilles tendon. Stretch your calf and Achilles tendon by placing your left hand on a wall for balance. Tighten up your abdominal muscles and lean forward slightly. Step forward with your left foot. Keep your left heel on the floor and continue to lean forward gently and slowly. Switch legs and repeat. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds or longer on each side.

Butt Muscles / Gluteus Maximus

To stretch your gluteus maximus or butt muscles. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, palms down. Bend both knees until your shins are at a 90-degree angle and parallel to the floor. Place your right ankle on top of your right knee so that your knee is pointed outward toward your right. Place your right palm on your right knee and gently push your knee away from your body. Stop when you feel your right buttock stretch. Repeat on the other side.

How To Stretch Safely and avoid injury

  • When you stretch a muscle, stretch it to the point where you feel a sense of discomfort. Do not wait until you feel pain as that could lead to injury.
  • Focus on one muscle group at a time.
  • Hold a stretch for approximately fifteen to twenty seconds. When you feel your muscle give a little extend the stretch a little further and hold for the same amount of time. It is important that you repeat each movement a minimum of two times.
  • Exhale while stretching. After you’re done keeping the stretch, you should inhale as you re-assume a relaxed pose.

Stretching by athletes has been scientifically proven to be safe

Although some coaches are against stretching, the latest research on stretching have concluded it is safe and good for athletes if done properly.  In a report, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers reviewed more than 100 studies of stretching and concluded that the “detrimental effects of static stretch are mainly limited to longer duration” poses, meaning stretches that last for at least a minute. If you hold a particular stretch for a shorter period, the authors wrote, particularly for less than 30 seconds, you should experience “no detrimental effect.”

Other studies came to similar conclusions. Another study, published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology, found that “a substantial number” of the experiments did not find “detrimental effects associated with prior static stretching,” especially if the stretches were “of short duration” or were stopped before “the point of discomfort.” And a new study of well-trained female collegiate runners undertaken at Florida State University and published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, showed that a static-stretching routine consisting of five leg-muscle stretches, each held for 30 seconds and repeated four times, “did not have an adverse effect” on the women’s performance in a timed treadmill running test.

Running Form For Maximum Speed and Efficiency

A key component of running fast is proper form. This simply means using your body properly and so avoiding wasted energy – energy that will be better employed pushing you forward. You will run faster and further when your head, shoulders, hands, arms, torso and legs are in the right position

Scientific Studies on Running Form, Speed and Efficiency

Runners run faster and further when they master a proper running form. That was the conclusion in a study published in journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, by researchers with the Bioenergetics and Human Performance Research Group at the University of Exeter in England.

10 novice women runners were put in a 10 week running program. They became better runner over the course of the 10-week program. Their speed and endurance increased — not into world class range, but most were able to run for 30 minutes at a pace of about 12 or 13 minutes per mile. And they became notably more economical, with their ability to use oxygen increasing by about 8.5 percent.

The women were all somewhat wobbly in the rear foot when they began running. After 10 weeks, they were more stable when they struck the ground. The change from poor running form to proper running form enabled them to run faster.

Proper Running Form Minimizes Injuries

Learning the proper running form will also minimize injuries. Running form is important, especially for distance runners who are likely to suffer from repetitive impact injuries.

Correct Running Form : Head, Shoulder, Arms, Hands To Toes

From head to toe, Here are the elements of form, that when perfected, will result in you becoming a better, more skilled and faster runner:
1. Head tilt: Correct posture can immediately be seen in a runner’s head being straight and in alignment with his/her back. He/she will be focused on the horizon, with the chin kept in.

2. Mouth- Should be relaxed. A good test that tells whether you are running in a relaxed position is jiggly cheeks.

3. Eyes- Are facing forward but are darting around every few seconds to watch for cars, pedestrians and obstacles that could injure you on the sidewalk.

4. Shoulders: Two enemies of good form – tension and stiffness – can be seen in shoulders that are too high, and too tight and immobile. They should be kept low and loose, and remain nice and level. If you find tension creeping into your shoulders, give them a shake or do a bit of stretching to loosen them up.

From natural running centre I found this good poster.

Running form

5. Arms: Let your arms swing forward and back, rather than side-to-side across your body. Keep them at waist to lower chest level and aim to maintain your elbows at a 90-degree angle. And again, tension is a danger, here – if you feel any tension developing in your arms, shake them out for a few moments.

6. Hands– Slightly cupped and again, relaxed.

7. Torso: When your head is up, and your shoulders are low and loose, your torso will quite naturally be straight. This enables you to use your lung capacity efficiently, and optimise your stride length.

8. Hips: As your center of gravity, your hips are key to good form. When your pelvis is correctly positioned, your whole lower body will be in alignment. Aim to keep your back and torso nice and straight; when you do this, your hips will naturally be in an ideal position.

9. Butt– Put some glute in to your runs. Flex your glutes and concentrate on each stride coming first from the butt, then the legs. You can really get a great glute workout running uphill.

10. Legs– Shorter running strides are better than the long ones. They reduce injuries like muscle pulls and strains. They also save energy during long runs. You don’t want to burn out before crossing the finish line because you are moving your legs inefficiently. However find the balance between the long and short strides. You still want to be running, not shuffling along.

11. Stride. Don’t over stride and avoid making to many strides. Overstriding creates excessive braking forces when the foot strikes the ground too far ahead of their centre of mass. This is a cause of foot injuries.

12. Knees– Slightly flexed to take impact. Sprinters raise their knees more than endurance runners for power.

13. Feet- Run heel to toe. Not on your tip toes. Your feet should land directly underneath your body.

Good form isn’t the only ingredient of speed, of course – other things like muscular strength and flexibility play an important role, too. But make no mistake, as your form improves, so will your speed. Work on perfecting these elements of form, and you will begin to see improvements in your running speed – and your sporting success.