Endurance training is as popular as ever, with more and more of us looking for a fitness challenge that will push us physically and also provide us with a clear training focus, which plays a massive part in keeping us motivated.
Whether you're training for a 10km run, a marathon or a triathlon event, covering the miles and doing the baseline endurance work is a key part of your training, but including some specific speed would be hugely beneficial also.
The stronger and faster that we become, the more efficient we will become over the longer distances, which means that not only will our times come down, but we're also much more likely to enjoy the process, as we will see improvements and will get better at it.
But how do we go about getting faster and what are the specific exercises and approaches that we can employ to help us get there? Here are my five key points to you go faster.
1. Get stronger
The stronger and more explosive you are, the more force you will generate, and the faster you will be. You don't need to training like a competitive weight lifter, but strength training in the gym, coupled with some plyometric exercises, such as medicine ball throws, are essential if you want to get faster. Core training, specific hip strengthening and single leg exercises are hugely important also, so be sure to include these. And don't be afraid to lift some heavier weights, as this is where you will see the most strength gains.
2. Get leaner
The heavier you are the more difficult it is to move quickly, so decreasing your body fat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your speed. The training volume itself will help, but what you eat will have the biggest impact here, so you need to be sure that you're eating for your specific requirements. This will be different for us all, so recording what you eat and finding a way to track your body composition on a regular basis can be very useful to keep you in track.
3. Improve your posture
Structural balance and good posture play a big part, not only in keeping you injury free, but also in helping you to move and breath more efficiently. And the more efficient you are in both of these areas, the faster you will be. Typical areas of weakness that need attention are the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes and lower and mid-back, which can be improved through exercises such as lunges, deadlifts and rowing variations. Specific breathing exercises are also hugely beneficial and something that we would likely all benefit from incorporating.
4. Work on technique
The more proficient that you become in certain movement patterns, the more efficient your body will be, and in this case, the faster you will go. Working on the technical aspects of running mechanics, such as stride length and arm drive, will make a huge difference to your efficiency, and in turn, your speed. To improve stride length for example, think about driving your leg back to push you forward. There are lots of online resources, but hiring a good running coach is often well worth the investment, as they can very quickly help you improve your gait and run more efficiently.
5. Perform short sprints
Performing short sprint intervals and improving technique are the quickest ways to improve speed. It is important to get a good base of overall conditioning and get yourself as strong and lean as possible at the outset, but once you have a good level of general fitness, you need to perform sprints if you want to go faster. Start with shorter distances, of say 10-30m and make sure that you get complete rest between sets. Remember that the focus should be on quality rather than quantity, so don't treat these as fitness sessions.
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