Build speed us­ing these six steps

Trail Running (UK) - - Contents -

Whether you’re gun­ning for the parkrun podium or look­ing to achieve a new marathon Per­sonal Best, pro­duc­ing a fast mile is a pow­er­ful weapon in your off-road run­ning ar­se­nal. To that end, Trail Run­ning trav­elled to If­fley Road – the ath­let­ics track where Roger Ban­nis­ter broke the four­minute mile mark in 1954, and the home of speed in Bri­tish run­ning – to pick up some tips from the best in the busi­ness…


As you set off, lean slightly for­wards from the an­kle – not the waist – to en­able you to stride out fully right from the start. This po­si­tion stretches your hip flex­ors, which in turn pre­pares your leg to swing through with more power and ef­fi­ciency. Try to main­tain your po­si­tion for the whole mile.


An ef­fec­tive way to run faster is to in­crease your strike rate, or ca­dence. This is the num­ber of times one foot hits the ground per minute. In­creas­ing your strike rate is pos­si­ble no mat­ter which type of foot strike you use, pro­vided you avoid over-strid­ing and land­ing heav­ily. Good run­ners don’t hit the ground heav­ily and linger there; ground con­tact is quick, light, and vir­tu­ally silent.


For­get about your trail­ing leg – it will swing through nat­u­rally. In­stead, fo­cus on keep­ing your arms tucked at right an­gles and ro­tat­ing at the shoul­der, par­al­lel to your torso. This bal­ances your leg move­ment and helps set your run­ning pace.


As you move into mid-stance and pre­pare to toe-off, keep the up­right po­si­tion but use your knee to lean for­wards – fo­cus on driv­ing your fe­mur, or thigh bone, in front of you. This mo­tion moves your body for­wards as eco­nom­i­cally as pos­si­ble.


You should keep your body as up­right as pos­si­ble when run­ning. Your torso may twist slightly when your legs are driv­ing for­wards, but you can min­imise this move­ment by keep­ing your arms par­al­lel to your body as much as you can. Your arms can move to­wards your mid­line, but do not let them cross it or they will also pull your legs out of align­ment. Keep your head re­laxed, and look straight ahead, not down.


A heel strike will act as a brak­ing force, slow­ing you down – in­stead, strike your foot just in front of your cen­tre of grav­ity with a mid­foot strike. This main­tains your for­ward mo­men­tum and al­lows your leg to ab­sorb the im­pact force, stor­ing it briefly as en­ergy ready to be re­leased later in the foot-strike cy­cle.

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