For beginners, it’s always crucial to fully understand that speed is not the end goal of running. Running at full tilt is a fleeting activity and even the fittest of runners will struggle to keep going beyond a few minutes. If you are running the right way, you will automatically develop speed, endurance and stamina. So your end goal should be running in the right form.
However when it comes to competitive running, it’s crucial to have the right form and the right training so that you can run your best in the race. So in what ways can your training help you develop speed? For one, stronger muscles will be able to respond to the exertion better, and with increased flexibility and agility, your running form will naturally result in higher speed. Building your muscle and core strengthen is hard work, but if you aim to compete in races, it’s the bridge that must be crossed.
Running is a form of plyometrics. Simply, put it is a jumping exercise, and doing plyometrics specifically develops the jumping element in running. Try doing a round of plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, jumping jacks, box jumps, burpees, knee-tuck jumps and skipping in between your running days. Bored of routine running, try parkour instead, which involves a lot of plyometric exercises.
Strengthen your Core
Having a strong core helps you ward off injuries, but it also improves the way you breath while running and teaches your body to use energy in a more resourceful way. How do you strengthen your core? Simply do some crunches in between your runs and planks after your workout to cool down. You don’t even need to step out of the home to do these.
Walk with your Runs
This is not an exercise for your off-running days. All you have to do is walk with your runs. Make sure you are running at a comfortable speed and not sprinting. This should aid your muscles in recovering faster after a run and will also boost your ability to pick up pace at crucial junctures of the run. Bonus benefit: Each walk serves as a breather for your runs.
Keep your feet hip-width apart, and step forward with a very long stride. Lower your upper body straight down, and shift your weight backward, while extending your forward leg. You should feel the tension in your hamstring and knee muscles. Return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. Do about 10 reps with each leg. The lunge mimics the airborne position of running or sprinting and helps you stretch those crucial hip flexors, which are vital to gaining speed.
Find a moderately steep slope that is safe to run, and run up it at a consistent but comfortable pace. You shouldn’t be sprinting, instead aim to get to the top of the slope without feeling excessively strained. When you reach the top, turn around and jog back down to recover. Repeat this drill and make sure you add it to your training routine. The speed you gain while running up will be quite apparent as you keep doing this drill.
Main image: Joe