Do you want to improve your race time but hate to do speed works?
It’s probably contradicting, but it is POSSIBLE! But first, let me give an overview of the factors that I think makes you improve your run times:
Endurance – We can have a great 5km time, but we need to maintain the effort longer if we want to improve our 10ks, 21ks, and so on… We improve on this by long runs, back-to-back runs, strength training.
Speed – To maintain the speed at longer distances, we need to train our lungs and fast-twitch muscles through speedworks, intervals, tempo runs, and the likes.
Efficiency – This is the most overlooked factor as most people concentrate on workouts for the Speed and endurance. But what most runners fail to realize is that efficiency training actually requires the LEAST EFFORT among these 3 factors I have listed.
So, we focus on efficiency. Efficiency is mainly achieved by practicing correct running form. Of course, we may read about running forms in many running articles and coaches… so feel free to get hold of them and read on. However, what I’ll be sharing here is something I have personally devised/formulated —and used— over the years.
This has been personally proven to work at least for non-elite level (but quite fast) races. So for elite athletes or those aspiring to train at an elite-level, better listen to your professional coaches.
Running is actually Newton’s 3rd law of motion at work: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Running is a movement caused by the alternate pushing of our feet to the ground. With each push, Earth —being a lot larger/heavier object— pushes us back at the direction directly opposite of our force on the ground.
So I’d like you to study this photo below:
As shown, each push to the ground is composed of a horizontal (the forward motion) and vertical (the jumping motion) component. What I am suggesting is basically to bring more forward motion by decreasing the “jumping” force introduced by each push.
Here is a more visual representation for comparison:
In above examples, the red line shows the plane of the ground where you exert the effort, or the push. Also in red, is the direction of force applied to the ground. The light blue line shows the resulting direction of the ground’s push to the body.
Our basic PHYSICS will dictate that given the same amount of force in both examples above, a decreased angle (EXAMPLE B) will result in a greater horizontal component force. Hence, greater distance traveled per stride. Now, how many strides are you doing on a 10km run?
Feel free to try on your runs and compare the difference!
Disclaimer: Author is not a running coach. But this concept has helped him achieve 1:30 half marathons and sub-40 minute 10Ks INJURY-FREE.