Throughout the years, there have been countless track and field athletes to laud - Jesee Owens, Jim Hines, Carl Lewis to name just a few. But as a fascinating The New York Times feature recently made abundantly clear, none have demonstrated such impressive speeds as that of the explosive Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
While most of us probably won't reach such lightening speeds as the world's fastest man, it is nevertheless possible to make small changes to our running and training routines that yield big results. Pick up the pace as we revisit these five tips on how to become a faster runner from Zeel Fitness Expert Frank Baptiste.
1. Play up. Find a partner who's better than you-someone you can run with who pushes you beyond what you're comfortable doing. Even with a sport like tennis, you don't want to play someone you can always beat. Just be sure to choose a partner who isn't so far out of your league, otherwise you'll just get discouraged.
2. High gear. As Frank puts it, the only way to get faster is to run faster. Frank recommends incorporating speed work and sprint training to increase your speed. Speed is determined by two factors: stride length and stride frequency. Strength and flexibility training can help to maximize both.
3. Strength train. But not just any strength training. The best way to quicken your pace is to choose strength training exercises that are optimized for runners. Total body movement exercises like squats, lunges and anything that's triple extension (movements that require the ankle, knee and hip to work together) are ideal. Stay away from machines. Instead, do functional movements like step-ups, dead-lifts and other exercises that involve single leg work.
4. Find flexibility. Improving your flexibility will help to increase stride length. Frank finds dynamic stretching to be the most effective method of improving flexibility. Dynamic stretching involves taking the joint through a full range of motions. His secret weapon? The Big 3 (watch Frank demonstrate this here), a set of drills that stretch and work all of the muscles in the lower body, upper body and core.
5. Stretch! When is it ideal to stretch while training? Prepare for movement with movement, says Frank. If you're doing flexibility training before a workout, hold each position for three to five seconds, switching back and forth. After a workout, hold your poses for 30 seconds to a minute each.