Whether you’re running short distance or long distance for track, speed is the answer to winning the race. Although you don’t exert all your energy into sprints for long-distance races, your speed still needs to be faster than your competition. Practicing running fast doesn’t help you get faster like most people think. Instead, several form, breathing, diet, exercise and mental techniques will help increase your running speed for the next meet.
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Head for the Hills
Running on hills once a week will build dynamic muscle strength that will get you faster for track and will help you push yourself through the fatigue of the last stretch of your run. While practicing running hills, keep your posture upright and use midfoot or forefoot footstrikes to avoid straining your muscles.
Go Au Natural
Take 10 to 20 minutes of your run off-road, such as on a soft-surface trail. Natural trails have uneven surfaces, twists and turn, and climbs and descents, which will all allow you to use little muscles in your feet, legs and core that you normally don’t use and will speed you up when you return to the track.
Run the Plank
Perform running planks two to three times a week. By working on your core and the speed with which you bring your leg in, you’ll strengthen your muscles and increase your stamina.
Form Equals Function
Proper running techniques will increase your speed in any race. Keep your upper body tall and relaxed. Land on the ground with your midfoot below your hip. Move your arms forward and back at low 90-degree angles.
Fuel Up for Success
In order to have the energy to exert yourself at high speeds, you must be hydrated and fueled. Drink about two to three cups of water a few hours before your practice or meet. Sports drinks help your working muscles by providing carbohydrates, an additional source of energy. Eat a small snack, such as an energy bar, fruit or yogurt, an hour before your run.
Competition as Motivation
Races such as triathlons, 5Ks and half marathons help increase your confidence, stamina and personal record. Setting a personal record will motivate you to train and run faster to set a new PR. With just the practice for a triathlon, your aerobic base and speed will increase greatly because of the various sports involved.
Mix It Up
Perform running striders twice a week after a short, easy run to get faster for track. While running a straightaway, increase your speed to a fast pace for 30 seconds. For the first 15 seconds, keep your upper body relaxed and use short, fast foot turnovers. Extend your stride for the next 10 seconds, and decrease your speed during the last five seconds until you stop.
The way you breathe can help improve your running speed. Inhale and exhale using both your nose and mouth to increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles. Also learn abdominal breathing, which involves filling your stomach with air every time you inhale.
Clear Your Mind
Starting off your run with stress — such as problems at home, work or school — will not allow you to run at your fastest potential. Your problems will only disrupt your abilities, slow you down and make you feel as though you’re working harder. Put your problems to the side and focus only on your run.
Don’t Neglect Strength Training
Perform strength training exercises one to two times a week. Anaerobic exercises will help make your muscles stronger and leaner, which will make you faster during track practice and meets.
Running faster will take practice and time. Don’t overwork yourself. Overexertion will only lead to muscle fatigue and possible injury.