Recently, Runner’s World published an article that addressed getting faster. The general consensus with speed development is that if you want to get faster you have to train faster. A recent meta-analysis of the scientific literature that addresses speed development uncovered three basic training components.
The research demonstrated that explosive ST for the legs produced endurance benefits of anywhere between 2-8%. One particular study demonstrated that runners who replaced 30 minutes of weekly running with strength training sessions designed to develop leg power and speed were able to cut 24 seconds off their 5-K race times. This exceeded the 11 second reduction produced by speed training alone.
More and more studies are beginning to demonstrate that the proper combination of sport-specific strength training and speed work produce the best results. Peter Weyand, Ph.D. has consistently demonstrated through his research that in order to run faster you need to be able to apply more force more quickly with each stride. To do this you need to have stronger legs and simultaneously produce greater leg speed. This is the principle of the “Force Hypothesis”, suggesting that the goal is to spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. Interestingly, research on kangaroos has demonstrated that they actually use less oxygen (thus energy) when running faster than when running slower. Why is this? Because kangaroos generate more force with each foot strike and have a greater leg speed at times when they run faster. Thus they take fewer steps which require less energy and are capable of covering greater distances. Don’t we all wish we could run like kangaroos!
For more information about sport-specific strength training and speed work, feel free to contact Victory's Edge.
* Information for this article taken from Runner’s World and "Effects on High intensity Training on Performance and Physiology of Endurance Athletes."