When training the first thing on my mind is how can I become faster?
I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that this is probably one of your goals, too. Running the same route everyday just doesn’t cut it, so where do we go from here? To help get our gears in overdrive, here are some training exercises to help improve your race times.
Start to Stop – Accelerations
One simple trick to help boost speed is after your normal training routine, find a flat straight path. Start running and accelerate to your top speed, almost like a roller coaster that goes from 0 to 60. Once you reach your top speed, slow down to a stop. This will help give an extra push during race time and will help you focus on proper running form. Repeat this exercise 4 times before throwing in the towel for the day.
Sometimes speed training isn’t about the speed during training, but what the training will do to effect your speed. It may seem counter-intuitive but running at a slow pace can help with your speed. For this workout, your pace shouldn’t be so slow that you can belt out your favorite radio hits, but it should be slow enough to where you can talk to somebody while you run. The dubbed “easy” run will help build endurance for your longer races and gives you time to focus on your running form. Maybe your posture has been lacking, or you realize you are forgetting to breathe. This pace will help you fix the little things so you can stress about the bigger issues.
picture courtesy of running.competitor.com
The Long Battle
Not every race is going to be an easy trail. Changing up your workout to include moderate hills not only helps build strength and power in your legs, but it also helps your body get acclimated to some uphill battles you face on race day. Find a moderate hill, too steep and you’ll overdo it and too small of an incline won’t be enough of a challenge. Run up the hill and then fast walk or lightly jog down the hill and repeat.
The Dreaded Track
Although I like to run with scenery, track training is important. Running intervals is a good way to replenish your body and train for a little burst of speed during the race. This tip comes from my P.E. teachers back in the day: Race the straight parts of the track and fast walk the curves. It’s important to fast walk, so your heart rate doesn’t slow down when you go back to full speed. A track isn’t necessary for this but it’s the best way to keep track of equal distances. If there isn’t a track in the area, do what my sister
does, race to mail boxes or trees. While they may not be equal distance, setting up an interval of every five mailboxes (tweak the numbers depending on your area) has the desired effect of this workout.
Drilling in the Speed
Drill workouts are a great way to build strength while helping your speed. There are many different drills you can do, but here are some of our favorites:
To do the Karaoke Run, turn your body sideways as if getting ready to sidestep. For this example I’m going to be running to my right. Take your right leg and side step, but instead of tapping with your left leg, cross your left leg in front of your right. Side step again, but this time cross your left leg behind your right leg. It’s a simple side traveling motion that turns your body slightly and works out the leg that is making the strides. Be sure to alternate legs to work both sides evenly. High knees are fairly simple. In place, bring your right knee up to your waist and then alternate right and left as if you were running in place. This builds your thigh muscle giving you more power.
Hamstring Extensions are when you slowly extend your right leg straight in front of you and bring your left arm to touch the toe of your right leg. Then repeat on the other leg switching arms as well. This helps strengthen your hamstrings in a controlled stretch.
Running backwards is always a fun little way to strengthen your hamstrings and train your legs and it can break the monotony of any workout. Be sure to look over your shoulder to avoid running into anything and remember to have fun.