written by: Nem
Besides running economy (i.e. how efficiently you are using your muscles), speed is one of the most important qualities you can work on. If you can increase your speed and keep up that speed throughout the duration of your run, you will have faster times. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to speed training.
1. Speed is the product of stride frequency and stride length. Increasing either one, will increase your speed. However, increasing your stride length after a certain point, comes with a cost. More specifically, your running economy starts to suffer. At that point, stride frequency becomes something that you should be working on.
Stride frequency depends on how fast your central nervous system can activate and then relax muscles. Equally important is muscle responsiveness to nervous system signals. You might have “fast” central nervous system”, but “slow” muscles. And vise versa.
2. Central Nervous system plays a big role. Your central nervous system controls everything. If you are not focused on your running and you do not have an “efficient” nervous system, you will be losing energy on movements which do not contribute to your speed.
To train your nervous system to be efficient and increase your speed, you have to practice speed. You probably heard about the 10, 000 hours rule for skill acquisition; for speed, this is not true.
When training for speed, you want to make sure that with each speed run, you are fresh and giving your 100%. If you practice speed while fatigued and not giving your all, do not expect to increase your speed.
With speed training, there needs to be a focused effort on covering particular distance as fast as possible and making sure that with each run, your time is not going below your current record.
3. You need to have a good physical base to be able to increase your speed. There Is a reason why top sprinters are so muscular. They have strong, powerful muscles that are able to produce fast contractions. Science has proven that there is a direct correlation between how much force you can put into the ground and speed.
This is true for animals as well. Animals capable of developing high speeds like greyhounds, cheetahs and ostriches, hit the ground much faster than lions or other slower animals.
When you hear them passing by at full speed, you can hear a distinctive thud of their feet on the ground. The best way to improve force is strength training. This can be accomplished with moderate-to-heavy weights and plyometric training, while focusing on the movements that have the highest transfer to running.
Strength training for the purposes of speed development needs to be properly periodized, in order to complement your current training, avoid plateaus and minimize the risk of injuries.
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