Tips To Improve Your Speed
(Our resident personal trainer, football, and track specialist has some tips for athletes on how to improve your speed. Be sure to check out his own website for more tips. )
Author: Orane Sharpe of Sharpe FITT
When you run (jog or sprint) do you hear a light trot or thumps? Are you swinging your arms or keeping them stable? How high do your knees go when sprinting? Do your shins hurt after running? Like any other exercise, optimizing you running and speed depends on optimizing your form and technique.
FIRST THOUGH, CHOOSE THE GROUND YOU RUN ON WISELY
I see it everyday. It’s a beautiful day, birds chirping, not a cloud in the sky and then I see someone running on the sidewalk or the road. I cringe knowing how their shins will feel later and the damage they are doing to their joints. Running is great for you, but running on hard pavement for extended periods of time will do way more harm than good in the long run. Ideally, running on thick grass or sand is best for you. If that’s not an option, consider an alternative like running up stairs or steep hills which forces you to be on your toes and places less impact on your joints. If you must run on flat pavement, I would limit the amount of time spent doing it, so cross-train more, or run quick sprints which burn the same amount of calories in less time and thus minimize the chance of shin splints.
PERFECT YOUR TECHNIQUE
With sprinting proper form is important to make the most out of each step and thus, increase your speed. Perhaps the most important technique is to sprint on your toes and not let the heels touch the ground at all. When the heels touch the ground, energy is being wasted. The only time the heels should touch the ground is when you are “applying the brakes”. For people who aren’t used to being “forefoot or mid-foot strikers” or toe runners, making the transition can be challenging at first because running on the toes tests your calf muscles and requires a lot of strength for extended periods of time. Training to run on the toes is worth the reward as you’ll see your times drop.
The position of the knees and arms when running is also very important to make the most out of each stride. Not moving the arms or swinging them in an uncontrolled motion wastes energy and saps you of the energy needed for running. Additionally, not bringing the knees high enough wastes A LOT OF MOTION. Getting the knees up as high as possible when sprinting is essential to maximizing your speed and stride. Your arms should swing at a 90 degree angle opposite to your legs. So proper form has one arm forward and the opposite leg up. The other leg is pushing off the ground and the opposite arm is “digging”. The pictures below and above is what it should look like.
As a former a sprinter in High School and Division 1 College, I will be sharing some techniques to run particular events that I have experience in: The 100m, 200m and 400m. Check back again for more performance tips, in the meantime, perfect your running technique and take home some medals!