RUNNING faster is simple!
Anyone can run fast — that’s true and of course fast is a relative term. It’s relative to what is “normal” for that grouping of people.
For example a 10-second 100 m could be considered “normal” for those sprinters in the World Championships 100 m final.
They will have trained faster over shorter distances many times in their preparation, but with considerable periods of recovery between.
In Stellenbosch they have a “sprint treadmill” that is wider, longer and faster than anything normally seen. In this case the sprinter is lowered onto the belt at high speed to teach the muscles to contract, and the legs to turn over at a faster rate. Why?
The reason is simple. The only two things that determine a runner’s speed at any point in time are the number of strides per minute and the length of the stride.
If you increase either or a combination you will run faster.
Although this is absolutely true, the simplicity of the statement hides a complexity of issues if the speed is to be useful to the athlete.
In distance running, the faster pace is only useful if you can maintain it for a long period of time.
Those two factors, cadence and stride length, are determined by many facets such as hip flexibility, leg strength, neuro-muscular co-ordination, and running style.
Another major player is the psychological discipline and tenacity to maintain the pace despite the ever increasing signals indicating that you are getting tired.
It is for the above reasons that, when we want to improve our 10 km time, we do sessions of “intervals” at just faster than our target 10 km race pace.
The same is true of all distances and paces — if you train at a particular pace, you will perform better at that distance. The race pace training (be that as fast as a five kilometres, or as easy as our Comrades pace), teaches us to develop a style to become more efficient at the pace we will be using in the race, and simultaneously increases our confidence towards succeeding in our chosen challenge.
Working on your style, your stride length and, importantly, an efficient cadence can make dramatic changes to your performance in all distances, and the time to learn this is always NOW! The sooner you start, the sooner you glean the benefit.