Tips to Help You Get Faster at Sprinting

Do you want to get faster but feel like you have hit a wall in terms of increasing your speed? Rest assured that this happens to many people. One of the main factors is form. Sprinting form is different than the form you have during an easy jog or run. The movement patters are similar in that one foot still needs to go in front of the other but sprinting form is more dynamic and explosive, requiring more power and muscle activation. The best way to get faster at sprinting is to nail down the basics. Follow these steps to increase your sprinting speed.

Warm Up

It is of utmost importance that you warm up your muscles adequately when you want to run hard. The harder you run, the more warmed up they need to be. Start out by walking and easy running for five to ten minutes, including dynamic exercises or drills such as skipping, butt kickers, and high knees.

Posture, Core, and Form

Ensure your torso stays upright while running – not bent forward. Your shoulders should be relaxed and away from your ears. Engage your core. Consider adding core-strengthening moves into your workouts, such as side planks with reach, to give you extra power to push forward.

When you run, try to keep your feet going in a circular motion, raising your thighs until they become parallel with the ground while driving your knees up and down.

Keep your arms in a bent position at 90 degrees. Your elbows should be driven backward to create momentum. This helps to ensure your force and momentum move in the same direction. Your sprinting arm swing is more exaggerated than that of a jog or easy run.

Focus on Landing

Your feet should land on your forefoot rather than your heel. Push off from your toes to push yourself forward, while keeping your feet flexed up in the direction of your shins. Try to run softer and quieter as well as this will not only help your sprinting speed but it may also help to reduce injury.

Breathe

You can reduce wasted energy by relaxing and syncing your breathing with the rhythm of your feet as they hit the ground.

Shorten Your Stride

Do not try to take long strides – they only waste energy. Long strides produce more vertical energy, projecting more upward motion than forward motion. Rather, focus on your cadence speed by taking shorter strides when you sprint. You will run faster and more efficiently this way.

Rolling Starts

Rolling starts are an excellent way to help decipher the difference between walking, jogging, running, and sprinting. Begin by walking, increasing your speed every ten seconds, until you get to a sprinting speed.

Increasing your sprinting speed does not happen overnight. Take part in high-intensity sprint training and your body will gradually begin to adapt to the workout’s demands. Stick with it and you will undoubtedly see improvements not only in your running fitness level but also your overall health.

4 Tips for Making Time for Running

Struggling to fit in your workouts? Here are some tips.

Let’s face it – life is busy. Whether your regular agenda includes loads of homework, housework or job work, you have a lot going on. Your desire to run is great but your responsibilities are even greater. Making time to run with an already busy schedule requires some creativity and a whole lot of commitment, but it can be done. You don’t have to spend hours a day training to achieve your running goals. Here are some excellent tips to help you squeeze in running with an already busy schedule.

Treat Your Workouts Like they are Appointments

This is one of the best ways to ensure you get your runs in. If you tell yourself you will run when you find time, you may never get your run in. There is almost always something that will come up and the day will be over before you know it. To ensure you are able to get out of the door (or onto the treadmill) for a run, treat it like an appointment and schedule it ahead of time. Write it in your planner, set an alarm on your phone for the time you want to lace up your sneakers and stick with it. You wouldn’t show up late to a work meeting, so approach your workouts with the same mentality.

It may be beneficial to check the forecast the night before in the event that inclement weather may force you to adjust your running “appointment” time.

Focus on Quality Rather than Quantity

Although you may have friends who log 50 or more miles on a weekly basis, you do not need to run that many miles (not even to train for a marathon)! There are more ways to train for a race than reaching for the stars in terms of mileage quantity. In fact, focusing on quantity is not even the best way in some cases (if adequate sleep and recovery time are interfered with in order to attain high mileage goals).

Instead, focus on the quality of your workouts. If you can only run three days a week, have a long run, an interval workout and an easy to moderate run. You do not need to run more than 30 to 60 minutes per run if you are deliberate in purpose. Seek to add more intensity to your workouts rather than miles.

Prepare the Night Before

Take time to dig out your running clothes the night before, regardless of what time of day you plan to run. If you plan to run on break at work, pack your bag the night before. Have a pre-run snack ready and make sure your phone is fully charged (or take a charger with you to work to plug it in ahead of time, thus eliminating that excuse). If feasible, go ahead and prep a post-meal snack as well so you can refuel quickly after your run.

Know It Is Okay to Miss a Run

If you miss a run for some reason, remind yourself it is okay and it does not mean your entire training plan is done-for. One or two missed runs will not ruin your fitness goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss an occasional run or throw in the towel altogether. Just carry on with your planned training and your body will make up for lost time!

5 Mistakes to Avoid After Running

Before you hit the sofa after a run, read through these common post-run mistakes.

When you hit the pavement (or trail) to run, your muscles are challenged while your joints are forced to work harder. Your brain goes into overdrive while you are forced to focus on each step. Once your workout ends, the recovery phase begins, which is yet another important phase in the running process. Your body needs to compensate for all stress it was subjected to so you can move to the next level of performance. Some runners take the recovery process for granted or simply make mistakes after running that can be a detriment to your healing.

Mistakes to Avoid After Running

Skipping Cool Down

You run straight to your front door and head right in to plop down on the sofa. You are done running, so why not just be done? Ending your training so abruptly is a big mistake. Your body needs a chance to cool down gradually after each workout. Intentionally wrap your training sessions up with a cool down.

When you are finished with a run, take five minutes to reduce your speed, which will slow your heart rate. Allow times for stretching at the end, which will help to prevent soreness while keeping your muscles flexible.

Failing to Rehydrate

Metabolic waste, also known as lactic acid, is produced after intense workouts. Your body needs to eliminate this waste after each workout and can only do so effectively if you rehydrate after an intense workout. Drinking plenty of water and/or electrolyte replacement drinks within two hours after a run is advised to supply your muscles with nutrients and oxygen.

For every hour you work out, increase your fluid intake by:

  • .5 liters for moderate levels of activity
  • 1-1.5 liters for intense levels of activity

Failing to Take a Break

When you work out hard, you need to take a break. Ensure you get enough sleep so your muscles, tendons and bones have plenty of chance to recover. If you deprive your body of sleep for too long, you can increase your risk of injury and strain as well as a significant drop in performance.

Failing to Replenish Glycogen Stores

You put your body through a lot each run, using up a lot of energy and burned calories. Your stores need to be replenished as soon as possible so you do not prevent muscle growth or slow your recovery, which can be a great way to increase your injury risk.

3 Pre-Race Nutrition Mistakes You May be Making

Can you have too much of a good thing? The sources say yes.

If you are like many other runners, you probably spend the months prior to a big race focusing on training. Along with paying close attention to how you work out and how often, you likely take extra measures to eat and drink well. Perhaps you are drinking tons of water, loading up on carbs and getting extra servings of fruits and beans – but is this the best way to fuel your body before a race?

Many runners lean toward extremes, which is not always the best thing to do before a race. Skimping on certain foods or overdoing drinks or other foods can have a huge impact on your performance. Here are some tips on how to avoid common pre-race nutrition mistakes to heighten your chances of securing the PR you are striving for.

Fueling Up with Tons of Pasta

You eat an extra serving or two of pasta the night before a race. You need to fuel up on carbs after all, right? And won’t you just burn through them the next day? Not so fast. Flooding your body with excessive carbs can lead to digestive issues that may send you to the portable toilet at every mile marker. Large amounts of any type of food will throw your system off.

Instead, eat moderate quantities of carbs for several days leading up to race day. Eat healthy carbs like oatmeal for one meal and pasta for another – and only eat to fullness.

Chugging Gallons of Water Before a Race

Drinking lots of water is good for you – but drinking too much can leave you not only feeling bloated but can dilute your electrolyte stores. If your electrolyte levels are off, it can lead to muscle cramping and weakness. In rare cases, a condition called hyponatremia may develop, which is a life-threatening condition that is brought on by abnormally low levels of sodium.

To prevent this, drink fluids as you normally would on the days leading up to race day. On race day, drink 16 ounces of water two to three hours before starting time to give your body ample amounts of time to process extra fluid. Then grab another cup or two of right before you hit the starting point.

Eating Too Much Fiber

Fiber is also good for you. Lots of beans, whole grains, and cruciferous vegetables should be included in everyone’s diets – especially the diet of a runner. If you eat a lot of these foods on a regular basis, your body may have no trouble eating it right before a race. But if you don’t regularly eat high-fiber foods, pre-race time is not the time to become a vegetarian. Loading up on foods high in fiber can lead to uncomfortable gas.

If you are concerned that fiber may be an issue for you, eliminate those foods three days prior to race day, including bran cereals and beans. You can still eat fruits and vegetables in modest portions. If you race weekly, simply reduce your fiber intake on race day only.

3 Keys to Efficient Downhill Running

Tips to avoid injury while keeping speed up.

Sometimes gravity is your friend. It may not be when it comes to stepping out of your car and your phone smacks down on the pavement or when you are twenty feet up a tree, but it is when it comes to running efficiently downhill. If your body is unable to handle the momentum, it will naturally put on the brakes to maintain control as you propel downward.

Efficient downhill running is comprised of a few factors that apply both on and off road. Maintaining proper mechanics and ensuring that you keep your legs under you at the highest speed you can maintain are important.

When it comes to extreme trail running, it is important to have leg speed and coordination as well as quick reaction time to avoid or use obstacles that come up along the way. To accomplish this, you should have your key muscles activated, proper running mechanics and joint stability.

Activating Key Muscles

The abdominal and glute muscles are important when it comes to forcing production and control with the body. By activating and utilizing these muscles adequately while running, you will have greater control over your legs as well, which can minimize the impact of the quads and knees that are typically beaten during downhill runs. By maintaining this control, you are taking control of gravity and keeping control over your momentum, which can make it easier to avoid obstacles while on the trail. One way to ensure you keep your abs and glutes strong and trail ready is to integrate core and strength stability work while training.

Proper Mechanics

Focusing on your running form will help you immensely. Maintaining a strong circular motion of your legs underneath your body as well as a tall posture are the foundations of efficient downhill running, as in all forms of running. This means you should lift your knees when out in front of you, allowing your foot to strike directly beneath your body then pulling your heel back around to repeat the cycle. A lot of people run wrong, with lower-leg dominance rather than running from their hips while minimally raising knees. Running this way greatly reduces your ability to keep your momentum up while running downward and can make it necessary for you to slow down much earlier than you would have to otherwise, which would adversely affect your time.

Joint Stability

When it comes to controlling your body’s forward speed and direction, your ability to maintain spinal stability is crucial. You can maintain this through your spine, hips, knees, and ankles. Aim to keep your muscles strong surrounding your joints to create this stability. You can strengthen your joints with single- and double-leg strength and balance exercises. You should strive to be able to stay stable during quick shifts in direction, not only in terms of injury prevention but also when it comes to agility and quickness.

How to Improve Your Running Form


Avoid injury and run faster with these tips

Injuries while running will undoubtedly slow you down. If you are serious about running, you probably already take steps to prevent injury. After all, you do not want to become one of the 37 to 56 percent of runners who incur sport-related injuries annually. But did you know that concentrating on technicalities such as running form can help to not only avoid injury but good form can also make the difference between being a winner and a runner-up in a race! By practicing technique, you can be faster and more efficient. So in the spirit of helping you propel forward, here are some ways you can improve your form while avoiding common running mistakes.

Your Foot Strike

Numerous coaches suggest that heel-striking is the primary cause of running injuries, but landing on your heel is not the end of the world. The bigger issue is landing on a straight leg in front of your body, which means you are pushing into the force of the road which can slow impact on your forward motion.

Many amateurs tend to over-stride in order to take a longer stride, which can lead to serious injuries. This is the form of heel-smashing, aggressive foot strike that should be avoided because it sends impact shock through the leg.

In all actuality, it does not make so much of a difference where you land on your foot with each step – many professional runners are heel-strikers. Instead, it is more important where your foot lands in connection to the rest of your body rather than which part of your foot hits the ground first. So rather than focusing on whether you land on your forefoot or heel, allow your body to dictate which part of your foot is best to land on, based on your speed and genetics.

Keep Your Feet Underneath Your Body

Keep your feet directly under your center of mass rather than taking massive strides. Taking larger strides not only burns unnecessary energy but it also can lead to the aforementioned hard heel-striking, which can add extra pressure on your knees and hips.

Cadence

The number of steps you take in a minute, also called cadence, impacts your form. If you are doing too many, your stride may be short or if you run too few, you may be bounding. The rule of thumb was around 180 steps per minute for proper body economics, but this does not always apply. Rather adjust your cadence based on your level of running. If you are a slower runner, strive for 165 steps per minute and if you are faster, aim for 170 steps per minute.

Keep Your Back Tall

Many runners tend to lean forward from your waist. Although a slight forward lean is part of good running form, it should not come from the waist but instead the ankles. A subtle forward lean will happen naturally from the lower legs so do not deliberately try to lean forward. Instead concentrate on keeping your back tall with a straight posture.

Reduce Arm Sway

Arms move naturally with your legs in most cases.. Your arms should not be swinging back and forth at your midline, nor far out in front of your body.

Six Things You Should Do on Race Day

Remember these tips whether you are running a 5k, 10k, or a marathon.

There are a number of things you should do on race day, from what time you get up to taking other adequate measures to ensure that you finish the race. Here are some of the most important things you should do on the day of your next (or first) big race.

Wake Up Plenty of Time Before the Race Begins

Even if waking up at the crack of dawn pains you deeply, you should do what you can to avoid waking up too close to the starting time of a race. Rushing around the morning of race day is a surefire way to burn unnecessary energy that you could use for the race. Give yourself ample amounts of time to grab something to eat and drink and to get dressed before you have to jump in the car to drive to the start. You will also want to allow time for going to the bathroom, warming up and stretching while mentally preparing yourself before it is time to begin.

Fuel Up

As mentioned before, eating breakfast is an essential component of a good start to race day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day any day of the week but especially on race day. Chances are if you haven’t eaten for 9 to 12 hours, your blood glucose is probably low. Races challenge your fuel reserves (especially if they are longer) so fueling up before a race is important. Head to the starting line as full of carbohydrates and protein!

Don’t Wear New Shoes or Gear

Show up at the race with familiar shoes and gear. Those that you have put miles in are going to be the most comfortable. Never show up to race day in brand new shoes, even if they are the same kind of shoes you have been wearing for miles and miles. Race day is not the day to break those shoes in unless you want loads of blisters.

Also avoid wearing anything else new, such as spandex, underwear, sports bra, shirt, shorts, or socks. Wear clothes and gear that you have previously worn so you know you will be comfortable.

Pass on the Cotton

Don’t wear cotton clothes. Cotton is cheap but is also not very breathable, meaning it holds your sweat in rather than enabling it to evaporate. Opt for lightweight fabrics that do not stick to your skin.

Hydrate Frequently

Hydration is vital when running because water is involved in the chemical reactions necessary for your muscles to contract. Water also helps oxygen get to your muscles through blood. If your body weight drops over 2 to 3 percent during a race due to fluid loss, your pace will slow significantly. Drink early and often during the race, unless you are running a shorter race like a 5k.

Focus on Performance Rather than Time

Many runners head into a race thinking about a time they want to run. Surprisingly, many end up running slower than they want to. Rather than putting all your eggs in the time basket, focus more on your performance rather than the outcome. By focusing on your performance, you have a better chance of getting the outcome you desire.

Increase Your Speed with These Sprint Workouts

And how to increase your sprint speed, too!

If you want to be a fast runner, you have to run fast. If you want to improve your running speed for race day, incorporating spring workouts is an excellent way to accomplish just that.

According to John Honerkamp, running coach and former coach at New York Road Runners, “Any running that is faster than your current or easy conversational pace can be classified as speedwork.” This includes exercises including track repeats, striders, tempo runs, and running at goal race pace.

But sprint workouts are equally as important as they help you to improve your efficiency at all paces as well as your form. Sprints help to recruit and develop what is known as fast-twitch muscle fiber as well as increase the heart rate and calorie burn, all while building muscle. By drawing on these effects, you will see faster results over time that helps you to beat your own PR. Speed work also forces you to change your stride, effort, and breath, which causes your body to get better at supplying oxygen to your muscles more efficiently.

Strive to do one to two days a week of speed work and you will see massive benefits – especially if you are just getting started. Try one of these workouts to pick up the pace!

Beginner Workout

Start with striders or short bursts of speed. Speed work is a lot of stress and striders are little bits of it so your body doesn’t freak out. This is perfect for newbies because diving in too quickly and doing too much can increase your risk of injury.

Start out by running 30 to 45 minutes at a pace that is easy for you. It should be around a 4 or 5 of 10 on your own scale of perceived exertion. Wrap up with 4 to 6 20-second striders at max effort, mixing in 30-45-second interval jogs in between for recovery. This is best if done on a flat road or track.

Advanced Workout

This is a more intense workout with shorter recoveries. This workout amps up to faster paces toward the end.

Begin with a 1-mile warmup. Run eight 600 meters at 5k goal pace, squeezing in 200-meter recovery jogs in between. Then run four 200 meters at 1-mile pace, with 200-meter recovery jobs in between. Wrap up the workout with a 1-mile cooldown.

How to Increase Your Sprint Speed

Here are some tips to increase your sprint speed even further.

  1. Use proper posture. Try to keep from swinging your arms from side to side and do not slouch.
  2. Increase your stride length (the fewer steps you take, the faster you will be). Try to drive your legs back while running to lengthen your stride.
  3. Decreasing your body fat can also impact your ability to run faster. Eat right and fuel your body with healthy food.
  4. Strengthen your hip flexors by sprinting hills and working on weighted spread eagle sit-ups, mountain climbers with bands and leg raises with bands, for example.

 

6 Benefits Running Has on Your Body

Running helps more than just your physique.

Working out won’t get you ripped overnight and running will not cause your body to shed 30 pounds in a week. You may not see instant weight results but running makes other dramatic changes in your life too (it improves your health and can make an impact on how you live) – some of which you can experience within the first week! Here are some of the benefits of running you will notice after you get started on your running journey.

Instant Mood Boost

Running can improve your mood instantly! 15 to 20 minutes can lift your mood while boosting your energy. Running is a form of aerobic exercise and this form of exercise is known to produce endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain and stress fighting chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for that “runner’s high” you have probably heard of.

Encourage Positive Thinking

Negative thoughts and emotions plague many of our minds, leaving us feeling unmotivated and unproductive. Part of maintaining a positive mindset are factors including staying motivated and managing stress. Those post-run endorphins have a place in helping you to relieve stress. When you stick to your goals and make progress, it will also motivate you to keep going forward. All you need are 15 minutes of physical activity to encourage that surge of endorphins, improving your mindset.

Improve Confidence and Health

Aerobic exercise has many other benefits when it comes to your health, including managing blood sugar levels, maintaining healthy blood pressure and improving your metabolic rate. It can also improve your body image, self-esteem, and confidence as well as your physique and posture.

Improve Self-Discipline

Making time in your day for running and following through with it is the epitome of self-discipline. The self-discipline you instill by setting a regular running routine can spill over into the rest of your life! And you will be a majority! Less than 5 percent of adults spend 30 minutes of physical activity each day – the amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Improve Your Cognitive Function

Running (and other forms of aerobic exercise) plays a role in your natural cortisol levels, which helps your brain to retain information! Running also boosts your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a key ingredient when it comes to memorization. One study suggests that running is the best activity to take part in after learning as it helps information to stick!

Sleep Better

Not only does running help you to have more energy, but it also can help you to sleep better. Running is proven to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. Some studies have also found that physical activity in the morning can impact your ability to fall asleep at night for the better, reducing instances of restlessness when you should be sawing logs.

These are only a few of the many benefits of running. After spending months or even years sticking to a regular running routine, you will undoubtedly unveil even more benefits of running.

 

7 Reasons You Should Love Summer Running

Summer is a great time to run. The harsh days of winter are passed as is the unpredictability of spring weather. Summer offers daylight to squeeze your runs in and you can wear fewer layers. Because summer running is such a blast, here are 10 things to love about working up a sweat on a hot, sunny day.

The Days are Longer

When summer comes around, you can squeeze in an early morning run with the early sunrise! Not only is dark o’clock tucked away until cooler temperatures return, but the early sunrise offers extra motivation to get out of bed.

The daylight does not just come early in the summer – it hangs out late too. During the summer, you have extra time to squeeze in a run after working a 9-to-5 while it is still light out.

Sweat Away the Pain

You read that right. Did you wake up with back pain? Are you aching from yesterday’s workout? One of the best ways to relive your aches and pains may be to work up a sweat. Increasing your heart rate and allowing your body to sweat is a great way to treat your pain (plus, sitting around will only make you more stiff and sore in most cases).

Shirtless Runs

This is a benefit that everyone can enjoy. If it is too hot to wear a shirt, you can simply ditch it! Hello sports bra or shirtless runs! Few things are as empowering, freeing, and comfortable as hitting the pavement in a pair of running shoes, shorts, and a sports bra.

Summer Running Tan Lines

Those racer-back tan lines will let others know that you might be a runner. If you also have a shorts tan, a sock tan, and a sports bra tan, you may be branded for life – or until they fade (or you even them out at the beach).

Added Vitamin D

Natural sunlight offers the best dose of the sunshine vitamin, also known as vitamin D, which is crucial for overall health. Vitamin D lowers high blood pressure, improves brain function, protects against inflammation and even protects against cancer. Running in the summer ensures you get plenty of this beneficial vitamin in your bod.

Run Easier

Summer weather makes runners feel sluggish. When you feel like you have concrete blocks for feet, work with it. Run your first mile slower than you normally would to extend the amount of time you can spend running without overheating. Try slowing your pace by a minute or two to prevent burnout and enjoy your easy runs!

That Post-Run Shower

Cold showers after hot runs – need we say more? There is nothing quite like a cool shower after a run in the sweltering heat. Grab an ice-cold glass of water to keep within reach to keep you extra cool.