We have quite a few runners walk through our doors at CrossFit Illumine with one thing in common: they want to become better runners and lower their chances of injury. We tell them the same thing: if you want to be a better runner you have to do more than just run. It sounds counterintuitive, but supplementing your training miles with strength training, sprint intervals and Tabata-style workouts increases your work capacity and speed.
What is Tabata? A Tabata is a high-intensity, very short workout protocol that has fitness and weight loss benefits. These workouts are highly customizable and effective. A Tabata lasts four minutes and involves 20 seconds of hard work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat that process for a total of eight rounds.
For increasing speed for runners we would recommend the following movements which you can mix and match to keep things fresh and interesting.
Double Under (Jump Rope)
Some Tabata workouts runners could try:
50m Sprint / :10 rest x8
:20 Air Squats / :10 rest x8
:20 Deadlifts / :10 rest x8
:20 KB swings / :10 rest x8
These are all functional movements and most of these can be done outside with little to no equipment needed.
Resistance running, such as hills or sled pulls, can also help runners improve speed. Focus on good posture and mechanics. You body will automatically adjust to a mid-foot strike while running up a hill. This is great to apply to your overall running as well keeping the rate of injury down, stress on joints lower and efficiency up.
When you begin to implement speed training, you will find not only does your body respond very well to this type of training but your legs will thank you for it later.
Brian Alexander is an endurance running coach at CrossFit Illumine.