More isn’t always better, especially when it comes to running. If you want to run faster, you can’t just add more miles to your current routine.
Trimming seconds or even minutes off your personal best requires a special blend of strength, power and mobility. You can’t build these things on the course or the trail. So, take a break from running, get yourself in the gym and get faster with these three methods:
1. GET STRONGER
The simplest way to run faster is to get stronger, period. Running speed is all about putting force into the ground — and the stronger you are, the more force you can apply with each stride.
Think of strength training as adding more horsepower to your car. You still need to learn to drive (i.e. have proper running technique) and put high-quality fuel in the tank (i.e. eat well and stay hydrated), but unless you soup up the engine, your Prius will never go 200 miles per hour.
Focus on strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and quads first for a powerful stride. Single leg exercises like lunges and 1-leg deadlifts are especially important for hip and knee stability.
Next, target your core and upper back to help maintain posture. Finally, don’t forget your shoulders and arms. You’ll want that powerful arm swing for your kick at the end of a race or training session.
2. GET MORE POWERFUL
If being strong was enough to be fast, you’d see bodybuilders running 5-minute miles, but we know that’s not the case. Eventually, you have to put some speed behind that strength. That’s where power exercises like jumps, marches and skips come into play.
READ MORE > WHY YOU NEED TO TRAIN FOR POWER
Take a page out of the track team’s playbook and add these power moves to your routine:
Marches and skips
Jumps and hops
You can add these drills to the beginning of a strength workout or a speed-focused running day. Keep the volume low (only 2–3 sets of each) and give yourself plenty of rest between sets. Power is the focus here, not cardio.
3. KEEP YOUR HIPS AND ANKLES MOBILE
High-mileage running can wreak havoc on your hip and ankle mobility. This is bad news for your speed because running fast requires significant lower-body mobility.
Think of a sprinter coming out of the blocks. She has one knee pulled up to her chest, toes pointed to the sky, while the other hip is powerfully extended behind her and the ball of her foot is driving through the ground. It’s almost poetic, but if you’re wound tight like a drum, good luck getting into this position.
Dedicate time before each training session to mobility drills. Try this quick mobility routine to target all of these areas:
SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE
It may seem strange to run less to run faster, but building a foundation of strength and power is often exactly what runners need to improve their race times. Try the strength, power and mobility exercises above as part of a balanced cross-training routine.