Faster Running, This Way

Small tweaks to your pre-run routine can make you faster

If you want to run faster, and I think all of us do, you need to spend less time on the ground. That’s it.

If you’ve ever been a kid and pretended the ground was hot lava, then you know how to run faster.  Light on your feet. Quiet footfalls. High knees. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

If the ground is hot and you want to spend as little time as possible on the ground, you need to be efficient.  Part of being efficient is not having your whole foot hit the gorund.  When your heels strike, then you roll to your ball of your foot, you’re spending too much time on the ground!

Instead, land midfoot to forefoot and pop right back off the ground.  Pretending the ground is hot lava is a really good way to improve your running form and become more efficient.

A post shared by Marc Pelerin | NJ Run Coach (@trainwithmarc_llc)

Here are a few ways you can practice your hot lava dance:

  1. Running drills.  Do drills to activate and loosen up muscles before you run, but also to work on running form.

If I only have time for a few drills, these are the drills I do:

A-skip (watch this TikTok vid for a-skips)

High knees

Glute kicks (watch my TikTok video on glute kicks)

They help reinforce the form I want to have, get me moving (before I run), and loosen up my major muscles.

Again, I try and do many more drills than just these three, but if I had to boil it down for you so you can work on this specific aspect of your running, these are the three drills I’d have you do. 

  1. Run hills.  If you can run up hills and land on your heels, you’re amazing because I have not figured out how to do it!

Corny jokes aside. The only real way to get up a hill is to be on the balls of your feet with some good forward lean. Pump your arms, drive your knees.  IF you can do it on the hills, you can replicate it on the flats (with practice).

  1. Run striders.

Stridres are great after easy runs.  I run 4-6 strides after a run the day before workouts and long runs.  They help remind my legs that fast running is coming.  I also do striders before a workout and before a race.

Again, your goal is to get your foot off the ground as fast as possible.  The more often you practice, the better you’ll become at doing it.

Friday’s Action Plan:

Practice running with a forward lean, being quiet with your footfalls, and getting your foot off the ground as quickly as possible.

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Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans, and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.