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Improve Running Speed

Whether it is to earn more playing time, make varsity, become a starter, win a state title or earn a scholarship to college, every athlete needs to improve their running speed if they want to accomplish their goals. The reason for this is simple. Success in almost every speed and power sport relies, in large part, on being faster than your opponent.

It doesn’t matter how much stick or ball skill an athlete has, if they are slow they can not be competitive at the higher levels of competition.

Fortunately it is possible for every athlete to improve running speed if they follow a well designed speed training program. It just has to follow some basic principles.

The first thing that must happen if you want to get faster is that you must make sure you are actually doing speed work. Speed work is defined as 2-8 seconds of maximum intensity running with full recovery (at least 3 minutes). It does not matter if you are involved in a sport or activity that does not require short bursts of intense speed. You must improve your ability to accelerate quickly. Even a marathon runner must be able to surge during a race to keep up with someone who is making a move or kick at the end of a grueling two hour race. If they have never practiced running at full speed then they have not developed their speed to the best of their ability and will invariably pay the price at some point. At the end of the day, the only way to improve running speed is to practice running at full speed. It makes sense once you hear it, but sadly most coaches and athletes do not adhere to this principle.

Even speed and power athletes such as football players and track and field sprinters often find themselves running conditioning workouts that their coaches mistake for speed work. Remember, true speed training must cover the criteria that I set forth at the beginning of this article. It can be some what confusing, so let me give an example of how a speed workout can be confused with a speed endurance workout or a conditioning workout even though the workouts themselves look very similar.

Take a look at the following workouts and match up which workout accomplishes which goal. Now, each of these workouts will improve running speed. Option A will improve the athlete’s acceleration and fastest possible time over that distance. In this case the distance will be 50 meters. Option B will improve an athlete’s ability to run longer distances at a slower speed(between 80-90% of full speed). Finally, the last workout in the group, Option C, will improve an athlete’s ability to run at speeds close to full speed for fairly long periods of time (around 10-20 seconds) How it affects your particular needs depends on the demands of your sport and the goals of that particular training session.

10 x 50m at 100% intensity with 5 minutes rest between runs.
10 x 50m at 100% intensity with 1 minute rest between runs.
10 x 50m at 80% intensity with 15 seconds rest between runs.

Did you figure out which Option goes with the corresponding workout? Remember, all these workouts will improve running speed. But to make the biggest gains in all elements of your speed training program, you must understand when to use which workout, how it fits into the overall scheme and how each workout affects the athlete’s body.

OK, here are the answers.

Option A corresponds with Workout #1. (Acceleration development).
Option B corresponds with Workout #3. (Anaerobic conditioning – lactic acid training).
Option C corresponds with Workout #2. (Speed Endurance)
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By understanding how 3 workouts that look very similar on paper will affect the rate that you improve running speed, you are moving in the right direction toward the success that you desire. To understand these topics in greater detail, it is crucial that you use a complete speed training program that is proven to provide answers to all the speed training questions that every coach and athlete must understand. If you do this, there is no question that you will greatly improve your running speed.

 

 

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