As a speed coach, I’m asked all the time, “how can I run faster?” I’ve got a ton of ways to accomplish that, but after many years of answering this question, I’ve been able to boil it down to a simple, cheap method: find a hill.
If you can find a hill with a gradual incline—experts suggest an angle of five to 10 degrees is optimum—then you can perform a pretty awesome speed workout that will get you running faster in no time.
Resistance and assistance running are great methods to get faster—and you can do both on a hill. If you run up the hill, that provides resistance. If you run downhill, that’s assistance running.
The benefit of running with resistance is to improve stride length and power. You will need fewer steps to make it from point A to point B, thus reducing your time and making you faster. Assistance running improves stride frequency, so your legs turn over quicker, and once again, you are improving your speed. By combining both methods, you will be able to run faster.
So, here’s a sample workout you can use to get faster. The most difficult part will be finding the right angle. If the angle is too steep, when you run downhill, your legs will go too fast and you might be running on your heels or risk pulling a hamstring. This would create a braking effect and do the opposite of what you want to accomplish. Again, a hill with a five- to 10-degree angle is ideal. For space, you can use anywhere from 10 to 30 yards to be effective. Try my suggested speed workout:
At the end, do two or three regular sprints on flat ground just so you can feel the difference.
- Perform a Dynamic Warm-Up
- Do five uphill runs of 20 yards each, resting 60 seconds after each
- Do five downhill runs of 20 yards each, resting 60 seconds after each
- Perform two to three flat ground 20-yard sprints
That’s it. Do this workout three times a week and allow a day’s rest between hill runs. The workout costs you nothing and will help you improve your speed in no time.
If your sport requires sprinting further than 20 yards, adjust the workout accordingly. Just increase your rest time a little so you are fully rested for your next sprint.
Adam Kessler is a speed coach. He has worked with state championship teams, as well as athletes in different sports, many of whom have competed in the NBA, NFL and overseas. His company, Fitness Planning Consultants, is based in Columbus, Ohio. He is also the founder of howtorunfasternow.com, a website that covers current trends in speed development, plus what professional athletes are doing to make themselves stronger and faster.