We all want to run faster. But SHOCKER!, to get faster doesn’t always require running fast or running more.
When I decided to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials in one shot, having to shave lots off my marathon time, I needed all the help I could get. My coach emphasized that all the little things would help me achieve this goal.
What were these little things? Jumping rope and speed drills.
How Speed Drills Make You Run Faster
These activities can help you run faster because they increase the range of motion in your joints helping you run more efficiently. They also help you develop quick feet, acceleration, and power and mimic each aspect of good running form. In short, these exercises give you more spring in your step so you can propel off the ground faster and further.
Below are the activities I’ve been doing to amp up my speed that doesn’t require grinding out the miles. And, BONUS, your kids can do them with you! And they will think it is AWESOMELY FUN!
Jumping Rope for runners
Yup, go old school and back to gym class, hero. Jumping rope is a great way to get faster because it strengthens the muscles needed to bound off the ground quickly—without the impact on your joints. It may be tiring at first and take some getting used to but jumping rope consistently over a couple of months will pick up your pace, almost guaranteed. In fact, according to the International Sports Conditioning Association, jumping rope will improve your speed, agility, power, endurance, balance, and coordination, all of which are important while running. The association also reports that jumping rope is equivalent to running when it comes to burning calories. Aim to do a set of 100 rotations twice a week (after an easy run) to see an improvement. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can also hop on your toes a hundred times.
Speed Drills for Runners
I’m guessing you did drills when you were on a sports team as a kid. Time to kick it old school again and get back to it. Drills help your form, power, efficiency, and overall athleticism by encouraging movement in varying planes of motion. They do this by improving communication between your brain and legs to help you become more efficient; strengthen both the muscles and joints, and improve coordination and balance. Over time, all of these translate into faster, more powerful running. You should do drills after a warm-up but before your hard workout—so ideally these are done about two times a week. (You can also squeeze them in when hanging with the kids in the house or yard.)
(Related: Heart rate training for runners.)
What Drills Make You Run Faster
The speed drills for runners that make them run faster include:
- High Knees: Run with your knees pushing up to your waist. View a demo here.
- A-Skip: Skip forward, lifting your lead knee up to your waist while keeping your back leg straight as you hop off your toe. Continue doing this alternating legs and hitting the ground with your mid-foot or forefoot. See a demo here.
- B-Skip: Skip with high knee motion and extend your leg. Push it down with an eccentric contraction of hamstring. Alternate legs. See it here.
- Butt-kicks: Run and push your legs back so that your heels come close to your butt. See a demo here.
- Straight-leg bounds: Run with your legs straight in front of you–no bending at the knee. View it here.
- Carioca: Face sideways and cross your trailing leg in front and then behind and you continue in the sideways direction. Continue facing the same direction for your return trip. See it here.
- Side-shuffle: Extend one leg to the side of your body and shuffle the other leg toward it. Keep your chest up and your feet straight. Return facing the same direction. See it here.
- Running backward: Perform just as it sounds.
Check out a complete demonstration of these drills here.
(Related: At-home strength training for runners.)
Sprinkle these activities into your week now and see the results in just a couple of months! Go fly, Mother Runners!