There are different schools of thought on how to run faster. Before you begin training to get faster, you need to assess what you actually want to accomplish. There’s a difference between speed and quickness; and although agility drills, (using ladders, cones, dots, etc.) are great for developing overall quickness, they do not necessarily help you run faster from point A to point B. Here are 5 ways to increase your speed.
The first step to running faster crosses all borders in the sports world. The best way to run faster is to practice running faster. Whether you’re trying to steal a base, break open a punt return or finish the last leg in a 4x100m race, just push yourself to go harder.
The concept sounds simple enough, but athletes don’t pay enough attention to it in their workouts. The easiest way to practice running faster is merely to run short-distance sprints over and over. This is most effective when you give yourself adequate time to recover between sprints. A good rule of thumb for recovery is to rest between one and two minutes before each sprint.
Increase Stride Length
A common misconception concerning stride length is that athletes should focus on covering as much ground as possible with each stride. While this might help you run faster as a by-product of proper technique, you should never lunge with your strides. To increase stride length, concentrate on bringing your knees closer to your chest on each stride. When you bring your knees higher, the momentum created by your running motion forces the rest of your body to catch up to prevent you from falling.
A simple test reveals how higher knees help you cover more ground. Standing straight up, lift your right leg up to waist level and lean forward. You will begin to lose balance and feel like you are going to fall flat on your face. When this happens, place your right leg back on the ground, then measure the distance from your right foot to your left foot. Once you have a baseline, repeat the test lifting your knee as high as you can. This time when your foot lands, you will notice a significant difference in the amount of ground you were able to cover.
Bungee cords and resistance bands are great for speed training, but they aren’t always readily available. Uphill running can be just as effective in adding resistance. Find a hill or road nearby and mark off distances of 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. To get the most out of this training, run the shorter distances while maintaining proper running form. The longer the distance uphill, the more likely your form will deteriorate, reducing the effectiveness of the training. For uphill running, it’s important to keeping your knees up to cover as much ground as possible. The inclined slope will promote the sprinter’s forward lean, which should make it easier to get your knees up to your chest. To add spice to your training, start near the top of a hill where there’s a flat stretch. Sprint 10 to 20 yards uphill; when you get to flat ground, explode for another 10 to 20 yards.
Downhill running is effective because the force of gravity from the declined slope pulls you down, and your body naturally compensates by moving faster to prevent you from falling. This type of training should only be done for short distances because of the increased risk of injury.
Perform everyday game activities at optimal speed. This takes the “Run Fast” concept and applies it directly to your sport. For example, baseball players most often use their speed on the base paths, so practice sprinting from the batter’s box to first base and from first base to third base.You will be improving speed for your sport while running the equivalent of a 30- or 60-yard sprint.
Training your lower body using weights is another great way to run faster and improve explosiveness. Perform variations of the Lunge, Squat and Step-Ups at high intensity with low weight to reinforce explosive movements. One caution: do not perform a lower body weight-training workout before a speed-training workout.
Start your speed training and learn everything you need to know about running faster through the STACK Guide to Getting Faster.