Do you have a big race coming up? Or, are you just feeling a little stagnant during your runs? Do you need to shake up your training with a new challenge?
No matter what your reason for wanting to run faster, there are lots of things you can do to adjust your training and increase your speed. Read on for five training hacks that will help achieve all your speed goals.
1. Strengthen Your Core
Your core is comprised of all the muscles in the torso, from the sternum to the glutes.
A strong core will help stabilize you as you run and will allow you to use more force on the track or trail to increase your speed. Strong lower abdominals also make it easier for you to pick up your feet quicker while running.
Planks are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your core since they target all of its muscles.
It can be especially beneficial to do planks right before you run as part of your warm-up. Doing 5-6 sets of 30-second planks before your next training session will help you engage your core and run faster.
2. Keep Your Toes Lifted When Sprinting
If you’re specifically interested in improving your sprinting times, dorsiflexion can help you do just that.
Dorsiflexion — flexing your feet and pulling your toes back toward your shins — allows for quicker stride turnover since less of our foot is hitting the ground with each step. This, in turn, can cut down your sprinting times.
Plantar flexion — pointing your toes down toward the ground — will make your feet feel heavier, will limit your stride, and will also affect your leg extension and hinder your ability to use your glute muscles to help you run faster.
3. Fix Your Posture
Improving your posture will also help you run faster. If you’re slouching forward while you run, you’re more likely to experience restricted breathing, low-back pain, and a tight chest — all things that will slow you down on your runs.
Keep these tips in mind throughout your run to make sure your posture is on point:
Shoulders should be level and facing forward
Head should be directly above the neck, which should be directly above the shoulders
Pelvis should be neutral
Chest should be lifted (but not so much that your back arches)
If you struggle to maintain proper posture, core strengthening exercises like planks can help. But, you can also wear a posture brace on your off days if you really struggle with slouching and need help retraining your muscles.
4. Stretch Properly
Stretching, when done properly, can help you improve your running times and reduce your risk of injury.
Static stretching (holding a stretch for an extended period of time) has been shown to slow runners down, particularly at the beginning of their runs.
Dynamic stretching (stretches that move the limbs continuously through a full range of motion), on the other hand, can help you improve your performance and overall speed.
5. Find a Route with Hills
Even if you’re going to be racing on a flat surface, training on a route with hills is a must if you want to become a faster runner.
You don’t need to run up hills every single day you train, but dedicating one day a week to challenging yourself with some hills that take you 30-60 seconds to climb can have a big impact on your times.
To avoid injury and see the best results from your hill runs, try to maintain a consistent level of effort going up and down the hill.
You don’t need to go to drastic lengths to improve your running speed. There’s no need for fancy supplements or a crazy training schedule. If you apply these simple training hacks consistently, you’ll soon find that you’re running faster and getting stronger.
In addition to running faster, there are other benefits that come with these training hacks. For example, you may also find yourself dealing with fewer injuries and being less sore since you’re moving more efficiently during your runs. Give them a try today!