The secret to being a faster runner encompasses an aspect that is often overlooked. The first part to being a fast runner is a no-brainer, it’s how fast you can move your legs. Faster runners can take more steps in the same amount of time than a slower runner. The second part of it is flexibility. You probably didn’t see that one coming did you? Flexibility can make a huge difference in your running speed because it affects how big your steps are. If you can take a bigger step as well as move your legs faster than your opponent than you have the winning edge. Let’s look at an equation to explain this concept a little better.
Speed of Running = Stride Frequency x Stride Length
So, how fast you go is determined by how fast your steps are (the stride frequency) multiplied by the length of your step. How great of an effect is it? I’ll just throw out some numbers for you. If you increase your stride length by 4 inches with the same stride frequency, you will reduce your time in the 100-yard dash by .5 seconds. That same increase in stride length will reduce your time in the 220-yard dash by 1.1 seconds. Sure, one second doesn’t seem that long, but if you recall the recent Olympics, the difference between a gold and a silver medal could be as close as .01 of a second!
This Does Apply To You
Despite what you may be thinking, this does apply to you. Olympian or not, everyone is looking how to improve their performance and your flexibility should not be overlooked. So whether you are a weekend pick-up game player, a marathon runner, an avid triathlon competitor, or a football with the guys kinda person, you can benefits from working on your flexibility with a few stretches. Because on top of increasing your speed you get an increased range of motion that comes from being flexible that permits freedom of movement, which is so critical to any and every type of athletic performance.
What To Stretch
The muscle groups you should focus on for increasing your stride length are your hip flexors, your hamstrings, and your calves. These specific muscle groups are also more susceptible to being overly tight, and are important to keep loose to avoid injury. You should stretch however you’d like, but you will get best results when your muscles are warmed up. There’s no need to spend a half an hour stretching, spend just enough to get your muscles loose and you will see an improvement over time; however, if you find that you are overly tight incorporating a stretching routine into your fitness program or doing a little yoga on the side may be beneficial.
I’ve written more about nutrition, exercise, and diet here so you should come on by for more articles like these.