- Lower your body weight.
It stands to reason that the lighter you are, the faster you should be able to run. However, not all body mass is equal regarding increasing your performance, and you should consider the following when trying to lose weight. Simply lowering the figure on the scale is not what you need to do. Avoiding losing muscle is very important as although muscle adds to our body weight it is also responsible for generating the force needed to run fast. (More on this in point 2) It is important that you try only to lose body fat as this has no benefit to your performance. Adjust your diet so that it’s reasonably high in protein to create an environment where muscle breakdown is unlikely to happen. This should be one of the first things you adjust as part of your overall plan.
- Strength training is your friend.
A strong athlete is a fast athlete, and I definitely feel that there is a correlation between how fast you can run and how strong you are. Work on building your leg strength as a primary goal but don’t forget that your arms are also involved in generating maximum speed. Follow a good strength program as part of your overall strategy. You will develop additional muscle tissue, lower your body fat and increase your power output all at the same time.
- Pump your arms for extra power.
Your arms and legs are equally important when it comes to generating power. Your legs obviously generate a larger amount and do the majority of the work, but your speed is going to improve with proper use of your arms, I guarantee it. The next time you train avoids focusing on your legs and trying to make them move faster. Instead, try to concentrate on pumping your arms. Pump them harder and through a full range of motion and once you get the timing and coordination right you will notice a big difference.
- Run on the balls of your feet.
Running flat-footed or even worse on your heels is not only going to slow you down but likely result in an injury. You need to train your body to run on the balls of your feet as this allows maximum power to be generated by your legs. Your leg joints are also cushioned from the constant impact with the running surface helping to prevent injuries. Try to jump into the air straight up without using your calf muscles or rising onto your toes. Now repeat the same jump but this time allow your feet to rise onto your toes, use your calf muscles and compare the difference.
- Want to run faster? Then run faster…
I know it sounds simple, but in order to be able to run fast, you need your training to be fast. Sprint training in addition to the strength training mentioned above should make up the majority of your training plan. Try to replicate whatever distance you are required to cover in your sport. For example, a football player needs to be faster but over reasonably short distances. Train at those distances. 200 meter sprints are great but are not going to give the footballer his maximum potential over a 30 – 40-metre sprint required on the field.