In addition to increasing stamina with interval training, runners looking to speed up should work on their legs, their form, and their fast-twitch muscles.
“You would think that the better shape you’re in, the faster you’re able to run,” says Brazil, frowning upon the thought that running the same course at the same pace every day will eventually yield a faster time. “The truth of it is, you need to increase your leg strength to be able to propel yourself faster.” The best exercise for achieving this, he says, hands-down is the squat. “It’s one of these beautiful things that, if you do it right, it’s the only thing you need to do.”
The second step in creating a finely tuned racing machine is perfecting running form, which can fall victim to tight hip flexors or poor balance. “If they get the correct form in a run, they’re always going to increase their speed,” says Laura. To help clients improve their form, she advises doing walking “toe-ups”—concentrating on putting weight on the heel first and rounding each step up to the toe. This not only illustrates how to correctly put pressure on the entire foot, she says, it also strengthens the muscles around the joints of the ankles and the knees.
Finally, like a car leaving its rival in the dust with a mighty roar, aspiring runners must call on something extra for those sudden, quick bursts of speed. “If you want to run faster, you need to work on your fast-twitch muscles,” says Goldring. Spinning is great for this because it is a non-impact activity that won’t stress the joints. Other options are aerobics, tennis, Zumba, or “any exercise where you have to make quick movements. These will help you run faster.”
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