4 Critical Running Tips to Improve Your Speed Training
by Ayo Dada
adidas Runners London Captain
Many recreational runners continue to pound the streets day after day without considering aspects of their biomechanics involved when running. But on the bright side, the number of runners who find it beneficial to understand the detail behind the mechanics of running, allowing them to improve their performance by putting knowledge into practice, is definitely increasing.
If you’re looking to increase your running speed, and do so as efficiently as possible, here are 4 critical speed training techniques you definitely don’t want to ignore:
1. Keep your knees high
To run efficiently at speed, your knees should lift as high as your hips on your forward stride.
Not only will this allow you to stretch farther, but it also enables you to bring the foot up high behind, which shortens the lever established by the knee. Essentially, the shorter the lever, the faster the action.
Firstly, start by doing some high-knees running on the spot then repeat these high-knee drills two to three times for 30 meters:
- Walking high-knees
- High-knee toe up
- Full effort high-knees
- High-knees skipping march
2. Strengthen your ankles
The ankles can develop more speed than a lot of runners realize. Runners can often lack ankle mobility and strength, which generally prevents speed generation from the ankles. With poor ankle mobility and strength, the structure of ankle joints doesn’t allow it to move back and forth in its natural range of motion and the calf muscles are often tight and need to gain more flexibility to help you perform at your best.
Incorporating these ankle drills into your workout will help improve mobility and increase strength:
- Ankle circles (30 seconds per foot)
- Straight-leg calf stretch (hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times per leg)
- Bent-knee calf stretch (hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times per leg)
- Standing calf raises (30 raises x 2 sets)
- Standing squat jumps (2 sets x 25 jumps)
- Ankle bounces (3 sets x 25 jumps)
3. Run tall
Slouched shoulders are common in runners as most of us are hunched over a computer all day – which is likely to lead to inefficient form when running fast. As runners, we need to try and make ourselves six inches (15 cm) taller when speeding up. Running tall means keeping an upright posture with the back straight and the head up so the chin is parallel to the ground. Just imagine you’ve got a helium balloon tied to your t-shirt.
Repeat the exercises below two to three times for 50 meters and focus on running tall and light:
- Straight-leg run
- Running on toes
- Running on toes into strides
4. Mix up your pace
Running flat out during every workout isn’t going to improve your top-end running speed. Although it sounds counterintuitive, easy runs can help us get faster and develop base endurance.
You can easily mix things up with:
- an easy endurance run
- a tempo run
- some speed work such as intervals
- Story Running in your Runtastic app
If you’re looking to boost your speed, these basics are critical. Be sure to include these 4 training tips into your running routine so you can start to build better running habits and reach your goals!
About Ayo Dada:
Originally a footballer by trade, Ayo was drawn into the world of running after seeing the power of how it can bring people together and allow individuals to improve themselves, both mentally and physically. Being a VI/blind guide runner and an active volunteer in the parkrun UK community has allowed him to support runners of all abilities. Ayo is passionate about bringing runners together through the adidas Runners community, helping them reach their individual goals. You can check out adidas Runners London on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events.