A faster runner doesn’t just happen naturally. It will require a consistent, focused practice during all the phases of your training.
During the general base phase, which was the subject of the last article, you were to focus on periodically counting steps to improve the stride rate, utilize the active breathing to control the heart rate (HR), and then practice the proper lean to use gravity to up your run speed.
If you have really been practicing these exercises in each of the runs you should be able to see an improvement in the run speed. Once you have spent 3-6 weeks working on the general base building phase you will need to take it up a notch.
The running speed is very simple…stride rate x stride length. The best way to go about improving your run speed, the only way, is to make sure you increase how often you contact the ground or to increase the stride rate.
This reason is simple. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can quickly reach the potential in terms of stride length, but the stride rate has no limitation.
During the speed/strength base phase you will need to build on the exercises introduced in the general base phase and incorporating the run speed/technique drills that follow.
1 Continue counting and leaning: It is important to check your stride during every run and do it at least three times by counting your steps for 30 seconds.
You will count your stride one time during the early part of the run, one time somewhere in the middle of the run and near the end of the run. When you check your stride rate you need to make sure you are consciously lean more to practice using the gravity to up the stride rate.
2 Alactic sets: These are burst that are short and last no more than about 15 seconds… although 7 – 8 is really the best. If you will remember you were introduced the last article, but now you will need to make sure that you are regularly incorporating them into your run training.
Make sure you are focusing on moving your legs as quickly as possible and keep your stride rate up after each one… just shorten the stride length. Follow each of the repetition with 5 – 10 active breathes to make sure your HR is under control.
You need to remember that you are still building up your aerobic base. You also need to make sure that you give yourself 2 – 3 minutes between each repetition.
3 Short speed: These are short yet fast runs that are to build your run speed and leg strength. You will want to do this once a week by starting with 10 x 20 seconds during week 1, 10 x 30 seconds in week 2 and 10 x 40 seconds during week 3.
You want to make sure you are focus on moving your legs quickly along with counting your steps. You want to remember that your goal is 180 steps/minute or more. Also give yourself 2 – 3 minutes between each repetition to recover.
4 Single leg kick-butt drill: When you are running you will want to snap your right heel up to your butt and then run three steps and snap your left heel up to your butt. You will want to repeat this 5 – 10 times for each heel and do 5 – 10 repetitions during each run.
This will not only strengthen your hamstrings, but will help increase your stride rate while improving your running form. You should be able to notice a proper mid-foot strike, especially if you have usually been a heel strike.
5 Get lean: There has been recent research of the recreational runners have found that body-fat percentage is a predictor of the race time than the training volume. If you haven’t already done so, you will want to seriously look at your eating to improve performance.
Make sure you aren’t starving yourself. What needs to be done is reduce the exogenous carbohydrates, such as pizza and pasta along with making sure to balance your meals which means the carbs, fats and proteins in each one.
Each runner is different, so it is important to make sure you find out what works for you and your body.
By incorporating speed and technique work into the run training early and often you will be able to get the most out of the time you have to get ready.
It is important to make sure you progress slowly and that you stretch to minimize any risk of injuries.