A 200 metres run at the 2005 Athletics World Championships in Helsinki. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Increasing your running speed requires more than just practicing running. Use targeted exercises at home to build your endurance and strength and help you avoid injury when running. Many of these exercises help you develop the fast-twitch fibers in your legs, allowing for a faster start off the running block.
Moving your arms correctly while running helps propel your body forward. Train your arms in the proper movement by standing with your feet together and alternating your arms forward and backward as if you were running. Focus on proper positioning; hold your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Start with your right arm forward, swinging it forward until the biceps is nearly level with your shoulder and your relaxed fist about eye level. At the same time, swing your left arm back so that the biceps is almost parallel to the ground and your forearm points straight down. Try this exercise seated as well to add intensity and train your arms to move at the right level, making sure your hands don’t brush the floor as they move. Add light weights to work the shoulders.
Exercises that stretch your muscles and increase muscle tone simultaneously can help you run faster. Butt kickers are an excellent example. Start to jog inside your house or in the yard, then bring one knee to hip level in front of you. Continue jogging, alternating your knees by bringing them up high and forward. Practice this move until you’re able to touch your gluteus with your heels with each knee raise. You don’t need a large space to perform this exercise, just enough space to move back and forth at a jogging pace. .
In contrast to an endurance run, sprinting works nearly all of your leg muscles to help you move faster during a normal run. You can also practice sprinting at home; you may need a yard to give you adequate room to sprint. From a starting position, run at 95 percent speed to the edge of your yard. Ideally, you should sprint for at least one minute to begin with. Sprint back to the house, then walk around your yard for a few minutes. Work your way up to 10 full-speed sprints before taking a breather. For added intensity, use a sloped area of your yard. Sprinting uphill and downhill works different muscles than sprinting on flat ground, building your overall leg health and helping you run faster while reducing the chance of injuries. .
Wall drills help you focus on form and work your trunk and back as well as your legs. The more these muscles learn to work together, the faster you can run. Stand in front of a wall and place both hands flat on the wall. Lean forward so your body is at an angle. Run in place by lifting one knee up toward the wall, keeping the foot directly under the knee, then alternating quickly with your other knee. Your feet should return back to their starting position between knee lifts. .
Ins and Outs
A classic speed-development technique, ins and outs requires you to set up cones or markers in your yard about 20 yards apart. Run at about 25 percent of your maximum speed from the first cone to the second, then sprint at full speed back to the first cone. Repeat the process twice, then walk between the cones for a breather. Build up to five sets. .
If you have an acceleration ladder, you can use it in a relatively small space in your home. If not, place flat sticks 18 inches apart on your floor for the same effect. In the first drill, run as fast as you can through the ladder, touching both feet between each stick. Focus on lifting your knees as high as you can and getting your feet off the ground as quickly as possible each time. For the second drill, place only one foot between each rung as you run as fast as you can down the length of the ladder. Keep your back upright and straight, and focus on moving your arms correctly to help keep you balanced.