Vail running: Mastering foot speed
August 27, 2010
Everyone wants to be a faster runner, but not everyone knows that there are a few easy drills to help beat the clock.
The key to becoming a faster runner is increasing your foot speed. Do not attempt to change your body’s natural biomechanics by over-striding or running on your toes; instead try to limit the amount of time your foot is touching the ground.
Slower runners will have their feet on the ground for a longer amount of time then a faster runner. There are three workouts that you can do to improve your foot speed naturally and safely.
A track workout is an excellent way to work on improving your foot speed. The residents and guests of the Vail Valley are extremely fortunate to have two top-notch running tracks that are open to the public. Make your way to the old Battle Mountain track in Eagle-Vail or the new one in Edwards armed with this workout.
Start off with some high-knees after your warm-up, and then do a track workout that is comfortable for you. For beginners, start off with a pyramid workout and always run at maximum effort.
Begin with two 200-meter sprints, then a 400-meter sprint, and then finish with two more 200-meter sprints. In between each of these intervals take breaks by jogging or walking 400 meters. Focus on staying consistent with your intervals and try to run even splits. By going faster in a weekly track workout, you will quicken your pace naturally and adapt to a faster foot turnover.
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Running downhill is a great way to become faster runner with sure footing. The only worry with downhill training is over-striding. Remember to keep your hips over your feet at all times and lean slightly forward. It is tempting to fly down the mountain with big, long, heavy footfalls, but you want to make sure that your feet are landing in the same spots as if you were running on flat terrain.
For drills, or to remind yourself of your own two feet, listen to the pavement. If your feet start to smack the ground loudly, you are over striding. You want a light touch on the road.
Jumping rope is also a great way to cross-train and improve the essential running skills like balance, endurance, and foot speed. The high-knee action of jumping rope will transfer over into your track workouts. For a good workout, do five sets of 25. Increase your workouts every week by adding one more set. You will train your quads and hips to be comfortable raising your feet, which will reduce contact time with the ground and increase your speed.
If you want to improve your race time and break free from that 10-minute-mile pace that everyone finds so comfortable, incorporate these drills into your running workouts. If you really are committed to becoming a more efficient runner with faster times next to your name, incorporate these drills into your regular running routine and do each at least once a week.
Don’t think about going faster: think about lifting higher and listening to your body.
Greg Decent writes a weekly running column for the Vail Daily.
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