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Ok, back to the dinosaurs.  From an evolutionary stand point running faster than your predators means you live long and propagate more. So in conclusion.  Pretend like you are being chased by a T-rex, whenever you are running that is. Easy-paced, unstructured running can be a great way to build or maintain fitness, reduce stress and provide an excuse to get outside. Too much speed too soon can be a recipe for disaster, and it can leave you injured before your racing season ever gets underway. Introductory speed workouts are a great way to switch up your routine and train your body to run at a faster pace. Five options for easing into faster running are strides, hill sprints, fartleks, fast-finish runs and progression runs. Strides are one of the simplest, most effective ways to introduce your body to faster running. Done properly, they can help you loosen up after an easy run, reinforce proper running form and prepare you for harder workouts.
Strides can be done on any surface at the end of an easy run 2–4 times per week, and they’re also excellent preparation for a more formal speed workout. Hill sprints teach you to push yourself at maximum effort, and running uphill naturally stimulates improved form, as it’s harder to run uphill with poor form. It’s important to distinguish between hill sprints and hill repeats, which are two entirely different workouts. To incorporate hill sprints into your routine, find a hill with approximately a 6–8% gradient. Hill sprints force your legs to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible while sprinting uphill. With this low-key speed play, your body will begin to adapt to faster running with a reduced risk of injury. When first starting out, unstructured fartleks are a simple way to add some pace variation to your weekly runs and are sometimes referred to as “pickups.” After you have warmed up with at least 15 minutes of easy running, simply pick a point in the distance (a mailbox or light post works well), and speed up until you get to that point.
Structured fartleks provide the same benefits as unstructured ones, but they are run for set intervals of time at more specific paces. Fast-finish runs are another type of fun, unstructured speed workout that introduces you to faster running.
You can pick up the pace for the last 400 meters or the last 3 miles, depending on your ability.
Like a fast-finish run, progression runs also involve speeding up toward the end of a workout.
Progression runs are especially beneficial for teaching your body to run faster when fatigued.
This workout is particularly challenging compared with a standard fast-finish run because you have to run continually faster as you get more and more tired. Given all the possibilities to ease into faster running, the question is how to fit them all in? Some workouts should be performed year-round, while others are meant to transition you into more race-specific workouts like track intervals and tempo runs. Hill sprints: Perform these once a week during your base phase and early in your training cycle.
Fartleks: Unstructured fartleks can be run at any time but are best during your offseason or base-building phase of training. Fast-finish runs: Run these on occasion for fun when you’re feeling good and have a little extra pep in your step. Progression runs: These can be run once weekly year-round, but, like fartlek runs, they should be adjusted to become more race-specific depending on what you’re training for. Whether you’re trying to gain fitness in the offseason or have your sights set on an upcoming race, now is a great time to start adding faster running to your routine. Jason Fitzgerald is the head coach at Strength Running, one of the web’s largest coaching sites for runners. Good base-running drill work should include the Shuffle-Shuffle-Sprint, also known as the delay steal. The Figure 8 is one of our top drills, because the athletes gain necessary ankle and knee strength by making turns as they run the bases.
The 5-10-5 drill is great for working on the take-off, body control, and how to change directions, which can happen when a base runner gets into a rundown.
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Loner personalities will avoid all distractions and focus on getting mentally psyched up to race.
The Social Butterfly is more casual about the race and acts nonchalant about the task ahead of him. Both runners can be very serious about racing well but their approaches to the anxiety of race day are very different. Once you know which personality you are, it’s time to use this information to put you in the zone before your next race. The Social Butterly should arrive with a race plan already developed so you don’t have to dwell on the race. Music probably won’t help you get ready to race as it will force you to be alone with your thoughts. You’ll definitely want music with you on race day to help increase your energy levels. It has been tough post-collegiately because I’ve often traveled alone to races and had nothing to do for an hour before the race.
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You can see how there is an initial high force directed slightly backwards (braking) as the foot hits the ground, a lull then another high force directed forwards (propulsive). In biomechanical terms the collisional force generated as the foot hits the ground is called the ground reaction force (grf) which varies in intensity and direction during the period of foot contact. These forces can also be viewed graphically showing both a vertical component (vert.
The top graph shows vertical forces which are typically at least 5-10 x greater than the horizontal forces(below) so we would assume there would be more association of the vert. Despite the lack of evidence that impact is associated with the most common running injuries researchers continue to study this variable.
Followers will know that I am now quite bored with the emphasis on heel vs mid foot strike or footwear on running injuries.
I have always advocated that the movement of the lower limb is far more important than foot strike type so I was very excited to recently come across a new biomechanical model that now explains the initial impact peak and ground reaction forces generated regardless of foot strike or footwear. This simple model gives a fundamental model of running mechanics that explains parameters such as stiffness, cadence and speed. The new model (here) simply acknowledges that the legs have mass and move independently from the mass of the torso.
Double-mass spring model-predicted vertical ground reaction forces vs actual ground reaction forces.

Can you see why this is exciting? This simple model provides evidence that foot strike and footwear may not be as important as some would have us believe in effecting ground reaction forces.
From a performance point of view by simply increasing the lower limb’s velocity prior to footstrike, runners should be able to increase total ground reaction forces needed to attain faster speeds without a relative rise in impact. From a practical point of view this can be achieved by starting the downward foot drive from a higher foot position.
From a research point of view I think we will see greater use of accelerometry data in the field rather than force platform data confined to the clinic.
If you really want to understand running look at the links to the spring mass model above first to fully appreciate how the Double Mass Spring Model works. DON’T FORGET to get more great running content delivered straight to your inbox enter your email address in the subscription box at the bottom of this page. He has worked with the New Zealand Olympic Squad, London Lions Professional basketball team UK basketball, Sussex Cricket, and was Military Elite Sports Physiotherapist and Military Running Injuries Specialist. Strides are simply short accelerations, usually about 100 meters in length, where you slowly build to about 95% of your maximum speed and then gradually slow back down to a stop. If you are new to strides, start with four repetitions, and give yourself 45–90 seconds of recovery time between each repeat.
While hill repeats may include longer repetitions at a less intense speed, hill sprints are meant to be run all-out. Warm up with at least 15–20 minutes of easy running and then run the first repeat at about 95% of max intensity. While it may seem like a waste of time to do that little, remember that your body needs to adjust to running all-out! This not only helps you develop enhanced running efficiency and strength, but it also improves the neuromuscular communication between your brain and leg muscles. As you do more fartlek workouts, you’ll be better able to shift gears and recruit different types of muscle fibers for your varied paces. These runs follow your body’s natural inclination to start slow and easy, then build up some speed as you head toward home. You may want to pick up the pace for the last mile or half-mile, depending on how you feel, but this is not the time to go all-out. But make sure the pace is sustainable to the end of your run and the effort is kept to a moderate or “comfortably hard” level.
But progression runs usually involve a longer, slower progression of speed, often over the last third or quarter of a long run. It may not be fun, but it gets you in great shape before more formal, structured speed workouts. There’s a time and a place for each, but don’t feel that you need to be running all of these workouts every week. Structured fartleks can also be run weekly at any time during your training, but the length and pace of the intervals should be tailored to your specific race goals. By gradually easing your way into speed work, you’ll be ready to set some new PR’s when race season arrives. Each week, compete to win exclusive gear, bragging rights, a shot at being named to the UA Run Crew, and more.? Join the You VS the Year Challenge. Many younger athletes need to learn the hand to foot relationship (right foot up, left arm up). Beginners should take their time when learning this drill to ensure safety and master body control. It can also be used as a tool in a first and third situation to score the runner from third. Please download the latest version of the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Windows Internet Explorer browser.
Being mentally prepared to run a race is much different than lacing up your shoes to head out for a daily distance run.
Some people get running motivation through watching talented runners, others try visualization, and yet another is to determine your pre-race personality.
Even though all of these runners have different ability levels and goals, they’ll fall into one of two different race-day personalities.
This person typically avoids socializing with other runners before the start of the race and prefers to be alone with his thoughts. Instead of visualization methods, this runner will almost pretend he’s not racing soon. By knowing the type of runner you are on race day, you can develop a plan to help you get mentally prepared to race at your best. Every race has its own feel – some have bands while others are small neighborhood races with no on-site entertainment.
You will still want to develop a race plan before you arrive, but feel free to go through it in your mind and tweak it if necessary. Being mentally prepared means using all of the strategies available to you – for Loners, music is incredibly valuable.
Much of the research on running injuries has focused attention on the impact of the foot as it hits the ground. I love this picture which shows a representation of how this force changes during the walking cycle.
Similar but higher forces are generated when we run, reaching 3 to 8 times body weight depending on speed. I think this is due to the obsession with footwear and foot-strike or perhaps it is just the need to be published. There are now hundreds of articles on this subject with very little good evidence that these components are of much importance.
Well so far the evidence suggests that the vertical grf is generally not related to injury. Once you get this, then start thinking of muscles as spring tensioners and tendons as the springs themselves (stretched and released rather than compressed).
These are the foundation of the inFORM Running Method and will help YOU prevent injury, run more easily and improve your times. With over 25 years experience as a musculo-skeletal physiotherapist he has developed a unique program for the management of running related injuries. Well if you really want to see results you need to run fast, I mean even faster… faster than a dinosaur.
If you’re looking ahead to a race or just hoping to build a little speed, there’s no better way to do it than by adding some faster running to your training schedule. These runs will help prepare you physically and mentally for more advanced, race-specific workouts. Hills have often been called “speed work in disguise,” and they’re a great way to build strength and speed while also helping to make your body more injury-proof for a season of hard training. This session can be performed once or twice a week, and you can increase the repetitions by 1–2 per week until you get to a max of 10 reps. You can easily add 6–8 of these during a run, and they can vary in length from 30–60 seconds or more. Early in the season, a structured fartlek might include eight repetitions of 1-minute intervals at 10K effort with 2–3 minutes of easy jogging in between.
Like fartlek workouts, this provides an easy, positive foray into speed work and learning how to change gears on the fly. These runs should be a controlled fast finish rather than an all-out sprint — save the more intense effort for another day.
If your current long run is 12 miles, run 9 easy, then run each of the last 3 miles slightly faster than the one before it.

Doing too many faster workouts is a surefire way to get a running injury, so let’s avoid that pitfall.
Through this drill, many untrained athletes learn that their upper bodies enable them to make sharper and quicker turn at a base. We want our beginner athletes to keep their elbows in close to their bodies, their hands moving with the appropriate foot, and to stay balanced on a straight line. When a base runner is on first or second base, he or she should take a secondary lead on each pitch.
Advanced athletes love this drill because they can feel their bodies lean into the turns, and they compete for he best time. It’s important to understand the psychology behind racing faster if you want to get faster for your next race. Figuring out your pre-race personality can help you play to your strengths and get you to the starting line mentally prepared to run your next PR. He likes to focus intently on the race and the race plan he has created, oftening using visualization techniques. In addition to isolation, music helps this type of runner get geared up to race by increasing energy levels (think hard rock or rap music). The Social Butterly has usually already developed a race plan and knows what he has to do during the race. Each type of race venue will have its own challenges for each type of pre-race personality. If being nervous saps your energy levels, stay with other people and don’t talk about the race.
You’ll also want to travel to races alone or else risk pissing your friends off by being unfriendly (tell them you can chat after the race). This was never a problem for me in high school or college because there were always a lot of people around to talk with. I know that visualizing or getting psyched up is counter-productive to the type of runner I am so I just avoid it altogether. Maybe there is simply a disconnect between clinicians and researchers that needs to be remedied. They have a role to play but it is a small role and there are far more important factors that can be easily changed. When we start thinking of the legs as springs we can really start coming to grips with many of the injury and performance issues we see. This evidence suggests leg speed in relation to body mass movement effects the impact pattern we see regardless of footwear and foot-strike type. Higher vert grf might even be more protective against Achilles tendon pain (Lorimer and Hume , 2014 here).
When I track this in slow motion the direction of foot movement is also directed further backwards. If you don’t believe me just try lifting your knees a little higher and see what happens to your foot strike. When you get this it becomes easier to apply clinical reasoning to the various injuries we see. This work is based on applying up to date Scientific principles and his own original research which lead to a new diagnosis termed Biomechanical Overload Syndrome.
As a former rugby player , marathoner and ironman John has first-hand knowledge of the stresses undertaken by the body in various sporting disciplines. Walk back down the hill, and make sure you take at least a minute — but preferably two — for a full recovery. There are endless varieties, including pyramid intervals and longer fartleks at varying paces, and these provide an excellent transition between base training and track workouts.
Done right, these should leave you feeling exhilarated, not exhausted, and itching to do just a little bit more. We time each athlete in a 60-Yard Dash (used at all MLB tryouts), their home-to-first time.
More advanced athletes may hold their position at different spots to engage some core work to allow their neuromuscular system to establish communication with the correct muscles.
The key to prescribing sets and reps for this is always to make sure the athletes are working quickly. Although you start from a standing position instead of prone, taking off to steal a base is similar in that we want our athletes to go from stationary to full speed as quickly as possible.
You may not get that personal best you were aiming for, reach your Boston Marathon qualifier, or be as competitive as you were hoping for in your age group.
He ignores thoughts about the race during the hour before the gun, usually talking and joking with his friends or other runners. You will thrive with other runners around you, so if possible bring a few friends who also like to hang out before the gun fires. I never owned an MP3 player (I still don’t) and would rather crack jokes before the start than talk about my plan for the third mile of the race. The first peak in this top graph (a) represents the initial impact the foot makes with the ground.
The beauty is in simplicity and thus our patients can easily understand our explanations as well. When the movement of the leg mass is taken into consideration we obtain a much better picture of ground reaction forces.
Now one study does not make it so but this certainly goes a long way to explaining what I see in practice. I tend to place more emphasis on reducing horizontal (braking) forces but this was not really the topic of this article.
I expect we are achieving higher total vertical ground reaction force (not to be confused with impact) and lower horizontal braking force.
He has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and lectures both here and abroad on running technique. Progressions are a great way to introduce some faster running, particularly if you are planning on training for longer distance efforts like a half-marathon or full marathon.
The impact is represented by the slope of this line with higher impacts represented by a more vertical slope. This is good to an extent but perhaps results in an imbalance of researchers guiding clinicians rather than the other way round. He continues ongoing research in running form and its relation to various lower limb injuries.
A runner in motion with a shuffle can get to the next base quicker on a dirt ball, ground ball, hit with two outs, and many other opportunities to advance. You can see that we can have high impacts (steep slope) with low peak forces or low impacts with higher forces.
If you are about to embark on running related research please start looking higher up the leg and I would love if we saw more on horizontal forces and accelerometry.

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