Is it possible to run faster? Absolutely! Contrary to what many people believe, running speed can be developed like most other aspects of athleticism – strength, reflexes, coordination, and so on. And a really key component of running fast is proper form.
This simply means using your body properly and so avoiding wasted energy – energy that will be better employed propelling you forward. Here are the 7 elements of form, that when perfected, will result in you becoming a better, more skilled and faster runner – whatever your chosen sport:
1. Head tilt:
Correct posture can immediately be seen in a runner’s head being straight and in alignment with his/her back. He/she will be focussed on the horizon, with the chin kept in.
Two enemies of good form – tension and stiffness – can be seen in shoulders that are too high, and too tight and immobile. They should be kept low and loose, and remain nice and level. If you find tension creeping into your shoulders, give them a shake or do a bit of stretching to loosen them up.
Let your arms swing forward and back, rather than side-to-side across your body. Keep them at waist to lower chest level and aim to maintain your elbows at a 90-degree angle. And again, tension is a danger, here – if you feel any tension developing in your arms, shake them out for a few moments.
When your head is up, and your shoulders are low and loose, your torso will quite naturally be straight. This enables you to use your lung capacity efficiently, and optimise your stride length.
As your center of gravity, your hips are key to good form. When your pelvis is correctly positioned, your whole lower body will be in alignment. Aim to keep your back and torso nice and straight; when you do this, your hips will naturally be in an ideal position.
When trying to run as fast as possible, your stride should increase from short to long. Your knees should be lifted relatively high off the ground to give you added accelerative power.
When viewed from the side, the path of a runners foot should form a circular motion. When the foot leaves the ground, it should rise quickly to the butt, forward past the opposite knee, then back to the ground. You should aim to reduce the time needed to complete this cycle by getting the foot off the ground, then back onto it as quickly as possible.
Good form isn’t the only ingredient of speed, of course – other things like muscular strength and flexibility play an important role, too. But make no mistake, as your form improves, so will your speed. Work on perfecting these elements of form, and you will begin to see improvements in your running speed – and your sporting success.