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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five ways to increase your stride length and run faster.

The Kenyans do lots of hill running and other exercises that lead to more explosive footstrikes, longer strides and, ultimately, faster running speeds. You don't have to be Kenyan to develop some of the same techniques yourself. The following workouts will help:

  1. Boot camp hills. Find a steep hill that's at least 50 to 75 meters long, and run hill repeats on it once every two weeks. Alternate running up the hill at close to top speed with "bounding" up the hill more slowly, with an exaggerated vertical motion. Start with six repeats per workout and gradually increase to 10. Between repeats, jog slowly back down to the bottom of the hill.
  2. Hill hops. After you've finished the above workout, begin hopping up the hill on one foot for 15 hops, then shift to the other foot for 15 more hops. Walk for a few seconds to recover, and then repeat.
  3. Hill fartlek. Every 10 days or so, warm up by jogging for 10 minutes, then run for 30 continuous minutes over the most rolling terrain you can find. Accelerate on all uphills and jog easily on the downslopes. Try to maintain an overall effort level that's slightly less intense than a 10-K race.
  4. Quick hops. Once or twice a week, in the middle of your regular workouts, bound from foot to foot for about 30 meters at a time. Try to maximize your "air time" while minimizing the amount of time each foot spends on the ground. In other words, push hard and fast with the contact foot. Make sure that you cover more distance with these bounds than you do with your normal strides.
  5. Running on your toes. After you have warmed up properly, "sprint" on your toes for 30 meters, taking small, quick steps with high knee action. Jog easily for 15 seconds to recover, and then repeat twice more. When finished, do the rest of your workout.
Make sure you only do exercises 4 and 5 on smooth grass or dirt surfaces. Don't do them on asphalt or concrete, where the impact forces could be great enough to cause injury.

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