Orange County, California

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  • Greg Hodel

“Can I run faster?”

People of any age and of any athletic background might ask this question. Some people seem to think that speed cannot be taught, and that all you can do to run faster is to improve strength and conditioning. According to this view, running would have to be determined by genetics or maybe random interaction with the environment. Whatever was the cause of someone’s running ability, it just happened and each person would be stuck with what they have.

Fortunately there is a different view: there are efficient running mechanics that can be used in combination with strength and conditioning that can be learned and developed to improve your speed. Running mechanics are the least painful and quickest way to improve your speed when compared to the time and effort required to improve strength and conditioning. Although executing proper technique is not easy to do, the reasoning behind the technique is not very complicated. The goal is to move forward by generating force backward. The quadriceps straighten the knee which in most positions creates a downward force and moves the body upward. Rather than emphasizing the quadriceps, use the muscles that move your body forward: the glutes and hamstrings. To use the glutes, your knee must be ahead of the hip to create an angle at the hip allowing for a range of motion. To achieve this position and get the knee ahead of the hip the thigh must be able to rotate quickly, so curl the leg to make it short and rotate it with the hip flexor. After getting your knee ahead of your hip, use the glutes to accelerate your foot so that it is moving at least as fast as the relative speed of the ground on contact. Pull on the ground with you glutes and hamstrings. Simple!

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