4 things you need to be doing to get faster

Written by Randy Behr | May 4, 2013 | Leave a comment

Do you wonder why you’re not getting faster on your runs? You put in the weekly miles. You do your long runs on the weekends. You’re reading “Running Blogs” that give you a mileage chart for “X” amount of miles per week. You lift twice a week. You’re eating well and getting enough sleep. Still, you don’t seem to be getting faster.

You can’t figure out why and you are frustrated. I don’t blame you. Well, don’t worry! Here are a few tips to help you get faster whether you’re a recreational 5/10 K runner, a half marathon participant or a competitive runner.

1. Run less - Yes that is what I said. Many individuals who run 4-5 times per week often don’t get faster. Of course, they may be able to run farther, but not faster. In order to be fast you have to run fast! (For those of you that have read other articles of mine this is a central theme of mine). Pretty simple, right? Try this, run 2-3 times per week. Focus on quality, not quantity and in the process, this mitigates overuse and also allows your body to recover more quickly. Keep in mind that if you are a highly competitive runner, you MAY need to run slightly more. I will address this in other articles.

Coach’s Tip: One day should still be a slow-over distance (SOD) day focusing on time/distance and not speed though. The other one or two should include an interval and a hill day.

2. Step-ups: An amazing activity for anyone to create power and strength in the hip region. It puts your body in an unnatural position and requires “force” to push through the step to “step up.” Another benefit is it works your entire “core” region as well as helps your balance and mobility, which for obvious reasons are important for runners.

Coach’s Tip: keep step height between 4-12 inches. If it is too high you will have to “rock” into the step or use momentum and this doesn’t simulate a “running specific” movement. Begin with your feet about 6 inches away from the step and step straight up and not at an angle. Make sure your entire foot is on the bench for safety and other reasons while pushing directly down on the bench. This will raise your entire body naturally up to include your “trail” leg and putting you on top of the bench next to the other one. Your entire body should be tall and erect. Try to elevate your hips during the movement, especially at the top position. An advanced movement is to bring your “trail” behind leg up to a 90 degree angle in front of you. This looks similar to when you run and pause momentarily and then return by putting one leg down and the other to its original starting point.

3. Hills- Be conservative and use a 3-7 degree decline. Hills also develop hip strength and also lessen the “pounding” on the legs from the reduced range of movement. Think about this: your foot isn’t traveling as far to the ground as it is during “flat” running. More importantly, hills also improve stride length, which is a variable of becoming faster.

Coach’s Tip: Don’t worry about speed; it will be slow. Begin with 5 minutes and work up to 10-20 minutes of continuous jogging. Focus on shorter strides, lifting foot/knee moderately as opposed to pushing off and remain standing tall. This will conserve energy. Trust me! Once per week is perfect. If you do multiple days, you run the risk of developing incredibly strong and developed hips, but not becoming faster. What you are doing possibly is creating a “neuromuscular pathway” for being slow. Another more technical movement is using a “sled”and a weighted vest.

4. Downhill - Is exactly what is sounds like. You can perform these on hills or a treadmill. Again, be conservative 1-3 degree slope. This exercise increases stride frequency which is the other variable of becoming faster. The negative is there is much “pounding” and stress on the lower-region of the body. In science terms, this is called “overspeed.”

Coach’s tip: Be safe and make sure the individual is aware he/she will be moving faster than they can on flat ground. Tip, if you don’t move your feet faster, you will end of falling on your face -not good. Other advanced ways to simulate “downhill” are resistance/towing bands through various options that actually pull you faster than you can go by yourself. They work in a “rubber band” manner.

If you want to become faster, implement these training tips to your regime and you are surely going to notice a difference. Remember, more doesn’t mean better! Exercise caution and moderation and I will see you on the streets.

For more information, training programs or tools and strategies feel free drop me an email.

Randy Behr -M.A., CSCS, MORR, Cooper’s 25 + years in sports & fitness; coaching, teaching, strength & conditioning as an Athletic Director, Health Educator, Sports Information Director, P.T. Education Director and Fitness Director with the NJCAA, USA Track & Field, Arena Football League, Olympic Training Center, and the California Football Association.