Well, we’ve arrived – to the last part of our blog series on Running Done Right, that is! Over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve discussed issues that tend to arise from a variety of issues, including things like how running with a stiff upper body can hinder performance, and how to fix pesky heel striking. Today we’re going to look at our final two topics for this series – lack of mobility and the “inability” to run fast.
Let’s start with mobility. When it comes to mobility, it’s important to note that adequate mobility is a huge factor in being able to run fast AND stay healthy. Why is this? Well, if you don’t have complete range of motion throughout your lower body, you will be MUCH more susceptible to injury. Plus, obtaining optimal mobility allows you to improve performance as well as cover more ground – remember, stride frequency and stride length are the two factors that determine running speed. Maintaining flexibility and mobility via proper methods of stretching to lengthen muscles can go a LONG way toward helping all of the above.
So, what about this whole “not running fast” thing? Well, there’s a quote floating around from the University of Colorado cross country and track coach Mark Wetmore who said: “Distance doesn’t kill speed, not doing speed kills speed”. So, how, exactly, do you work on speed? One option would be to work a session of weekly hill sprints into your training schedule. Why uphill? Well, mainly because it’s extremely difficult to run fast – uphill – if your form is less than stellar. So, you’ll be forced not to compromise on your form as you work on your speed. Once you have that incorporated into your regimen, consider adding other small bits of speed-work into your training schedule – this will help you fine-tune your form as well as assist in improving efficiency and speed.
One other aspect to consider with all of this is that, even if you’re an athlete but NOT a “runner” per se, you still need to know how to run. And, of course, how to run properly. Be it football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, field hockey, or any other land based sport that requires movement, there’s a good chance that running is a pretty integral part of that sport. And, if your running is in tip-top shape – even if you’re not a “runner” – both you and your team will benefit in the long run.