So I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman the other day that kind of touched on a common older belief about running speed and how it is possible within the abilities of various athletes. Basically there has been an older mindset out there over the years that running speed was something that you either had or you didn’t. Basically, if you had running speed then it was solely because you were simply more talented, THE END. Well that’s not completely true. Keep reading if you want to know more my young Jedi!
Running Speed: Built Or Already Made?
Ok, so for years I’ve worked with various athletes that have been runners wanting to improve their times and set new PR’s all in the name of competition and pride. I have also worked with athletes who have competed in sports that also required them to perform at least some level of running at times which has ranged anywhere from football, baseball, soccer, basketball, etc.. In the process of training all of these folks over the years I have always come across this perception from time to time that running speed was simply something the fast kid was born with, period!
Yep, for some reason just like the Flash you were either born with running speed or you were part of some science experiment that went nuts and in this case instead of the experiment giving you four legs it gifted you with the almighty ability of speed. Well my friend I can’t say that I’m some mad scientist hoarding some powerful elixir that produces velocity for only my strength and conditioning students, but the production of speed is certainly possible by other means.
Let’s start by examining what running speed is all about. Running speed simply involves you being able to readily propel and move your body in the act of running by overcoming resistive forces found in our surrounding environment. This requires you being able to run both with efficiency and by creating force production with each stride to propel you forward against the ground and gravity. The more force you can produce the more speed you will acquire! So coach Brandon how do I increase force production?
Well, to increase force production means that you have to build some plain old fashioned strength my friend. That’s right, in order to build speed you’ve got to build strength. It’s a marriage made in speed training heaven and if you expect to beat up on your competition then you’ve got to have it. Let’s examine this beautiful relationship a little bit closer. Who said Dr Phil had all the answers? Um…Ok moving on now.
The Go Muscles
In order to understand the relationship of building strength in order to obtain running speed you’ve got to understand how to program for it. Let’s do this by examining the act of running. If you look at a world class sprinter then you can see that these guys and girls have the muscular power to get the job done. When they come out of the blocks they’ve got to have a significant level of reaction time, hip power, leg power, core strength, and sound running mechanics in order to get the jump on the guy or girl in the very next lane.
Aside from tripping up their competition in order to acquire this “jump” to get out in front and stay there every runner must first and foremost have sound running mechanics and as a very close second a strong posterior chain. So what do I mean about a sound posterior chain? Well, the posterior muscles (the hips, glutes, back, hamstrings, and calves) all allow for a sort of pawing and pulling motion once the sprinter is up to speed. The quadriceps (more anterior chain) allow for the burst and extension of the knees in running, but a strong posterior allows for the ongoing speed of the runner during the sprint.
Deadlifts, squats, cleans, and some kettlebell work like what I’m showing here will allow for the development of a strong posterior chain.
Now all of these are great examples for helping one to dig up the track for some good running power, but keep in mind I’m only scratching the surface in this particular blogisode when it comes to talking speed development. There are several other factors that are necessary in getting someone to smash a new PR with their track time or to bring down their mile average if they are more into distance. The bottom line is that speed (like strength) is a skill. Just like shooting the basketball, hitting a baseball, or when bouncing off your head on a trampoline is a skill!
The point is that all of these variables are skillful acts which require practice and dedication. They require practice and dedication, but more specifically the RIGHT practice along with dedication. The other big variable in developing speed is…well it looks like I’m out of time. Yep, for the time being if you are wanting to find out more on how to immediately improve your running speed and strength program you can purchase your own copy of my Better Than Steroids ebook at the bottom below. Man I’m being an A*shole today by cutting this post short! You know I’m just doing my part as a hard nosed strength coach! 😉 Things have to be earned, right?
Well because you know things have to be earned that is why this is the first part of the running speed series and if you guys are wanting me to do a 2nd part then I need you to give me at least 25 LIKES right here on my Facebook page along with commenting on the page the words MORE SPEED, MORE STRENGTH!
That’s right, I need at least 25 LIKES and for you to write the words MORE SPEED, MORE STRENGTH on my Facebook page for me to write the 2nd part of this series otherwise I’m sticking it in the vault to be locked away for a long time! I’m giving you a chance to earn it! Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend. Don’t forget to get your copy of Better Than Steroids below. Keep training smart my friend.