Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Can I Run Faster?

If you're a runner, you're always looking to go faster, farther, and longer. Maybe you've been able to increase your mileage, but can't seem to go any faster. Good news! There are ways to help you go faster by changing your form, your training plan, and your mind. Here's how:
*Try different speeds
"One thing people don't do enough is play around with different speeds," says Jason R. Karp, Ph. D., a San
Diego based running coach and author of 101 Developmental Concepts and Workouts for Cross Country Runners. If you're going out and running the same speed every time, you'll always go at that speed. 
But Karp says, "If you do intervals or fartleks (unstructured periods of going faster and slower) during a run, you'll learn what it feels like to run fast."
Or, you can do strides at the end of your run. Strides are 20 to 30 seconds of running faster- not exactly a sprint, but definitely faster than your normal pace.
*Don't be stressed!
"To run fast, you have to remain relaxed," says Todd Weisse, cofounder and head coach at the Williamsburg Track Club (Brooklyn and New York City) and a volunteer assistant coach at Columbia University. "When the jaw, face, arms, and limbs start to tense up, there's deceleration," Weisse says. 
So relax! If you're out running, you hopefully enjoy what you're doing, so don't be in a rush or clench up. "You can see your workout through pinched eyes and a scrunched-up face, or through a nice, relaxed face and a nice, relaxed jaw," Weisse adds. Which will make you run faster.
*Stay off those heels
"Too many people strike the ground on their heels. That engages a braking mechanism that conflicts with running fast," says Weisse, who has coached marathon runners who have completed the race in less than 3:10. "Speed starts with a forefoot strike," Weisse says. This way, you are spending less time on the ground, and more time moving faster. 
However, this is not a change that will happen overnight. Weisse recommends getting a coach, or trying to practice by jumping rope and landing on your toes. Don't expect it to happen right away. 
"There's a cost to the calf when you make that change. It's never really been used to that way and will be sore. Make the switch slowly and practice landing on the forefoot over and over again. It takes two or three months, but it's completely worth it," Weisse says. 
*Get off the ground
"A lot of new runners spend a lot of time on the ground and let their weight settle into every step," says Karp. Do drills that help you generate "pop" off the ground as soon as you make contact. One drill to try is hopping up bleacher steps on one foot.
*Push down and back
Weisse says that to run fast, "you need to apply force in a horizontal way." Going around and around a track doesn't get you to go faster, it just makes you bored. 
Here's an example: if you want an airplane to move horizontally, you wouldn't put the engines vertically. So when you run, Weisse says, "focus on pressing your forefoot down into the track and pressing back through the foot as you push off so you're moving down the track horizontally."
*Watch the pros
Who are the great runners? Sometimes just by watching legendary runners you can learn about running form and speed. "All baseball fans know who Derek Jeter is, but most runners don't know who the running pros are, like Paula Radcliffe or Shalane Flanagan," Weisse says. "We encourage our runners to watch and imitate the athletes who are the great craftsman of our sport."
*Be consistent
If your goal is to run faster, plan on running shorter times rather than one long run. The more you run in the right form, the more your muscles get used to it, and it becomes muscle memory.
Reference: Active.
If you are a runner with a foot or ankle problem, call our Rocky Hill or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Jeffrey S. Kahn, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Rocky Hill and Middletown, CT
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