3 Exercises For Running Speed
Timing is everything.
To move with speed doesn’t just require your muscles to contract quickly, but to contract in coordination with each other as well. Kinetic linking is when one movement transfers to the next in order to summate forces.
The right order of muscle recruitment combined with the right amount of elasticity at the right time determines how much momentum is generated.
The order of recruitment and coordinated effect of the movements have to be in the correct sequence so that you can move as quickly as you can in function.
Don’t break the chain.
If there is a problem or disconnect throughout any part of this sequence such as an inactive or weak muscle (like the gluteals) or weak connective tissues (like fascia or tendons) it creates an ineffective link in the chain. Load and momentum will not disperse or transfer evenly and efficiently, so power generation is not as effective.
Kinetic linking can be easily demonstrated in a throw (as depicted below):
One movement links to another to generate forces through a sum of your movements contributing to the next and so on.
Tissues have to be strong enough.
Timing means that you can coordinate and summate your forces effectively, but the tissues you put that force through has to be able to handle that amount of stress, otherwise the kinetic linking is ineffective (or you may injure the tissue).
The achilles tendon is one of the most common types of tendinopathy and is usually associated with over-use in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs.
That’s why it’s so important to strengthen and prepare the tendon for the load it needs to handle in training for running speed.
Another area that is commonly injured is the foot. To check our previous blog on foot strength click below:
1. Straight Knee Calf Raises
Both of the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and gastrocsoleus) attach into the achilles tendon. It’s beneficial to train the calf and tendon structures to be able to stretch and shorten under load. Keeping the knee straight means that you can target the gastrocnemius more as it attaches above the knee.
Use a step to maximise range of motion.
Keep the knee straight as you lower your heel towards the ground (you should feel a stretch).
Raise your heels to perform a ‘calf raise’. Make sure you lift your heels as high as you can, while maintaining neutral position of the ankles and straight knees.
2. Bent Knee Calf Raises
Bending the knees means that you can target the gastrocsoleus more than the gastrocnemius.
Set up in the same way as the straight knee calf raise, except keep your knees bent throughout.
3. Single Leg March
This exercise incorporates the single leg hip hinge. Check our previous blog on this hip exercise here:
Start in a single leg hip hinge.
Maintain neutral pelvis position and as you straighten up, driving your back leg up into a knee high position. Drive your arms into a running position as you drive your leg up.
Add a jump to make this movement more dynamic.