Improve Your Running Form to Increase Your Speed

Your form may be keeping you from running faster. Reach your full-speed potential with tips and a workout from STACK Expert John Vickers.

In the starting blocks

I'm a speed, strength and conditioning coach. The number one thing my athletes want is to get faster. Often they need to improve their running form. When their technique is correct, they move more efficiently and ultimately increase their speed.

I usually start them off with plyometrics, track speed drills, resistance sprinting, and upper- and lower-body strengthening. But if you're training on your own, you don't have to get fancy. Focus on these simple mechanics to improve your running form and boost your speed.

Upper Body

  • Keep your hands open.
  • Relax your shoulders and face.
  • Maintain a 90-degree bend at the elbow.
  • Keep your back straight and don't round your shoulders.
  • Keep your arms straight in front and straight in back from mouth to hip (zero side-to-side movement.)

Mid-section

  • Maintain a drawn-in position with your core—i.e., pull your belly button to your spine but continue to breathe.
  • Maintain a posterior pelvic tilt—i.e., squeeze your glutes to rotate your hips under your body.

Lower Body

  • Maintain dorsiflexed toes (pointed up toward your shins) until your foot lands and extends through the ground.
  • Run on the balls of your feet.
  • Maintain a cycling motion with your legs.

A typical day of training could break down like this:

Dynamic Warm-Up

Quad Stretch with Inverted Toe Touch

Skip with a Clap

Elbow-to-Instep Walk

Skip and Scoop

Plyometrics

Double-Leg Bound

Sets/Reps: 4x6

Double Split Squat Jumps

Sets/Reps: 4x3 each leg

Single-Leg Tuck Jump

Sets/Reps: 3x3 each leg

Speed Drills

Ankling

Sets/Distance: 4x10 yards (focus on "clawing" through the ground on the balls of your feet)

Heel-to-Butt

Sets/Distance: 4x10 yards (focus on tucking your heels to your butt; if done correctly, your hip flexors will be burning)

Fast Leg (Triple Alternate Variation)

Sets/Distance: 4x20 yards (focus on accelerating your foot through the ground and "recovering" your heel to your butt as quickly as possible)

Resistance Sprinting

With either a parachute, lightweight sled, partner resistance or slightly inclined hill.

Sets/Reps/Distance: 2x3 for 15 yards

Tall and Fall Sprints

Directly after performing Resisted Sprints, perform two 20-Yard Tall and Fall Sprints.

Core Training

Push-Up Bridge with Alternating Arm Extension

Stability Ball Prone Bridge Circles

 


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SPEED DRILLS | RUNNING | TRACK | RUNNING FORM