Pick Up the Pace

Use Your Other Limbs
While your legs have the starring role, getting your arms in on the action will provide momentum to drive your body forward, says Carolyn Smith, M.D., sports medicine physician at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and co-author of Running for Women (Human Kinetics 2012). "Your arms work together with your leg stride, helping propel you onward so your lower body doesn't need to do all the work."

Head for the Hills
Hill training increases leg muscle power and improves the performance of your heart and entire cardio-respiratory system, Dr. Smith says. Running up a slope requires you to use your legs, arms, and trunk in different ways that fatigue your muscles faster than running over flat terrain does. With time, however, you’ll be able to tolerate a faster pace without pooping out as quickly.

Foray into Fartleks
This funny word, Swedish for “speed play,” is used to describe continuous runs where you vary distance, speed, and recovery periods within the same workout. They help develop and strengthen your running muscles and cardio-respiratory system similarly to interval training, Dr. Smith says. Alternating easy and hard running helps your body adapt to the faster efforts, but by gradually stressing the system in a more-controlled environment, the risk of injury is minimized.

Hit the Iron
Strength training and hoofing it may seem incompatible, but lifting weights boosts your strength and power so you can apply more force into the ground as you run, says Neal Pire, C.S.C.S, founder of Inspire Training Systems in northern New Jersey and author of Plyometrics for Athletes At All Levels (Ulysses Press, 2006). "You'll increase your stride length and cover more distance with each step." Plus, strength training enables you to bring your leg forward more explosively, making for a quicker pace.

Jump to It
Plyometrics, or "jump training," includes exercises comprised of a lengthening of the muscle followed by a rapid contraction, much like a spring. Jumping jacks and jumping rope are examples of low-level plyometrics. "Jump training helps runners accelerate quicker, as it increases overall speed and movement efficiency," Pire says. However, advanced plyometric moves should only be done if you're weight training and possess good core stability and balance.

Be Like a Flamingo
Since running is a series of one-legged jumps, it’s important to maximize the strength of each leg independent of the other, Dr. Smith says. Single-leg exercises require your muscles to rapidly lengthen and shorten, and this improves muscle power, making you a smoother, faster runner. "If you can increase the rate at which you produce force, your running performance and speed will improve,” she says.

Resist the Run
Imagine trying to run away from someone while they have hold of the back of your shirt. That's the concept behind resisted running, only you use a bungee instead of risking a tear in your clothes. The bungee attaches to an immovable pole or a weighted sled loaded with 10 percent of your body weight, which creates overload, but not so much that you're sacrificing form, Pire says. Why hook yourself up to one of these? It’ll increase stride length so you cover more ground with each step.

Sprint for It
“Sprint drills break down running into very basic components so you improve each of them,” Pire says. The sum of those upgraded individual parts is better overall running skill. Try wall drives (below) to enhance your ability to apply force backward into the ground during acceleration, decreasing the time it takes you to go from 0 to 60.

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