How to run faster? As a runner you might think that the only way you can get better at your runs is through running daily. Not only is running daily not good for your health – you need to allow your body some time to recover – but also counterproductive as it will leave you feeling tired. So how do you really get faster and better? There are two things that you must focus on:
1. Giving your body a break from running daily
2. Strength training
How exactly does strength training help runners? Isn’t the point of strength training to build muscles and tone the body? We understand that this thought would cross your mind. Contrary to popular belief, going to the gym makes a runner stronger. Strength training focuses on muscles that support running, and aims at building better balance, flexibility and endurance. Strength training is responsible for correcting posture, conditioning and strengthening the core, and improving overall performance. A few weeks at the gym, and you’ll notice the difference in your runs.
What are the exercises that you should be focusing on if you wish to be a faster runner? Bookmark this list that shows you the six best exercises that will transform your running performance.
Bulgarian Split Squat
This helps improve balance, and focuses on the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps as well as the core. All these muscles are essential to a runner, and improving strength in the legs will ultimately help be a better runner. This is a unilateral movement – similar to a run where you’re always on one foot.
a. Stand in front of a knee-high platform. Extend your right leg behind you, with the toes on the platform. You’ll find yourself in a lunge position, with one leg on the platform.
b. Lower until your left knee is almost on the floor. Keep your torso upright.
c. Don’t push your knee beyond your foot. Keep your core engaged.
d. Drive through your front heel back up to the starting position.
This exercise works on your core as well as back muscles, and even trains the stability muscles. Training the back and core is important as a runner, especially because it will help you improve your running posture.
a. With two dumbbells, get into a press-up position with the dumbbells on the floor. Maintain your body in a plank position
b. Lift one dumbbell up towards your body so that your elbow rises behind you. Make sure the elbow is tucked by your side as you’re lifting the dumbbell
c. Lower the weight and repeat with the other arm
d. Ensure that you maintain a neutral spine throughout without losing balance and shifting your body to the sides
This exercise works on the mid-back, posterior shoulder, and rhomboid muscles. All these muscles are involved in maintaining a good running form. This is also one of the few exercises that targets the mid-back, a part of our back that is usually ignored during training.
a. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and hold dumbbells in each hand
b. Hinge at the hips, with your back nearly parallel to the floor, with a slight bend in your knees
c. Let the dumbbells hang straight down, palms facing each other
d. Keeping back flat and torso still, lift your arms straight out to the sides until they’re in line with the shoulders
e. Return to starting position then repeat
A deadlift is the king of all lifts, and makes for a full body workout that is great for the hamstrings, glutes, back, and core muscles. All these muscles help stabilise the running form, and strengthening them enables better performance as a runner.
a. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width, with a slight bend in your knee
b. Grab dumbbells/ a barbell and hinge at the hips
c. Brace your core and lift the weights, squeezing the glutes when you rise up
d. Focus on hinging at the hips, not squatting
An explosive box jump will work on your leg and core muscles, and purely aim at improving stability and balance in the long run.
a. Stand in front of a box with feet about hip-width apart
b. Hinge at the hips and squat down to jump up onto the box
c. Aim at landing with both feet on the box
d. Step back down, repeat
This move focuses on power, and improves core stability as well as technique. Plus it makes for a good leg workout too.
a. Load up your sled with weights
b. Lean into it with your arms fully extended, and push it across the floor as fast as you can