Making The Most of your COVID-19 Containment by Upping your Cardio Game and Improving your Running Speed.
Gyms are closed.
Your ACFT practice test has been postponed indefinitely.
Has your fitness routine has been replaced by Tiger King and snacking?
Instead of wallowing in self pity and horded toilet paper… Army-Fitness.com and guest author, David Dack, Running expert and blogger provides tips on using this time to improve your running speed.
Ask any runner about their training goals, and they’d likely express their
desire to run faster. Speed is valuable regardless of your fitness level and
training goals, whether you’re a beginner runner or an elite marathoner
prepping for your 60th event.
Ready to learn how to give your running pace the push it deserves? Lace up
and dig in.
Interval training consists of bursts of intense activity with intervals of
lighter activity for recovery. This training tactic might be the ideal addition
to your speed work program and one of the most effective tools for taking
your running performance to the next level. What’s not to like.
This form of training is key for building fast-twitch muscle fibers. These
muscle fibers are in charge of intense movements, such as spring up or
climbing up a steep hill, and are best developed with interval training. The
more intense, the better.
As a beginner, I’d recommend that you start with shorter intensity periods
and longer recovery intervals.
As you build your base, adjust your training approach, so your high-
intensity intervals are longer, and the breaks are relatively shorter. You
could also design an interval routine that fits with your running and racing
needs. It’s up to you.
Practice Good Form
The way you hold yourself while running has a great impact on your pace. However, one of the most common mistakes I see many runners make is ignoring the bio-mechanical aspects involved in running.
Here’s the truth, though. Practice doesn’t make perfect—it only makes permanent. That’s why you need to practice the right things if you want to make the most out of your training.
We all agree that there’s no such thing as the perfect running technique, but there are universal traits. Here are a few:
- Let your arms swing forward and back at low 90-degree angles.
- Keep your upper body tall. Your back is straight, core engaged, and head up, so your chin is parallel to the ground.
- Strike the ground on the mid-foot with knees slightly bent
- Keep driving your heel toward your glutes on your follow-through.
- Keep your foot strikes springy and soft.
- Focus on taking quick and short strides.
- Remember to breathe. And breathe deep.
Want to take your interval runs to the next level? Tackle the hills.
30 minutes going up and down a hill will stimulate greater fitness gains than a flat workout on of the same distance and structure.
Don’t take my word for it. Research out of the Auckland University in Australia reported that runners improved their speed by two percent due to increased leg strength from hill training.
Start your session with a 10-minute warm-up of easy running on a flat surface. Run up the hill at your 5K pace or a little bit faster. Once you reach the top, slow it down and jog or walk down, then repeat the cycle for 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t worry about the time. Instead, run on effort; you should feel fine to perform another rep after your recovery. If not, you pushed your body too far.
Not all of your efforts toward improving your running pace should revolve running. What you do on your non-running days also matters. Enter cross-training.
According to research, the cross-training activity that will get you the most bang of your workout buck is strength training.
Strength training helps you become better by doing the following:
- Increasing your running speed by boosting your power and neuromuscular coordination.
- Increasing running economy by promoting better form and coordination.
- Increasing the running force you can generate every step you take
- Preventing overuse injury by correcting muscular imbalances and strengthening certain areas of the body that are prone to injury.
Strength training is a great way to improve your running speed and what’s more many strength training exercises can be performed at home!
Here some of the best runner’s strength moves:
- Russian twist
- Back squat
- Front squat
- Single Leg Deadlifts
Listen to Your Body
These strategies will work like a charm for increasing your running speed, but they’ll only work if you train within your fitness level.
To stay on the safe side, use common sense, and readjust your training approach accordingly. As a rule, follow most hard training days with at least one—and probably two—easier recovery days.
Recovery is key to your athletic performance and injury prevention efforts. It helps restore energy levels, prevent injury, and keep your motivation high. You may find that you can train a lot hard when you take at least one day off from training each week.
What signs do you need a rest day to look for? Any of the following:
- Persistent pains and aches
- Getting sick
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings and irritability
- Poor sleep
If you feel these symptoms, take a few days off to recover. You’ll come back fitter and happier for it.
Wrapping it up
There you have it. To give your running pace the push it deserves, it might boil down to incorporating some of these training guidelines to your workout routine. Then it’s just a matter of practice and time.
What about you? Do you have any favorite speed work tips you would like to share with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Thanks David for these great tips to improve your running speed! At Army-fitness.com we want to provide great training tips and content- especially during these uncertain times. Keep following for ACFT updates.
About the author:
David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.