Running Speed Development – Beyond Running Training
‘’Its all in the hips’’ a common phrase used amongst dancers, however hip mobility and dynamic strength capability apply to all aspects of life and exercise. The hip joint and the surrounding muscles have an important role in maintaining low back and core control, which is so important for your running form. Generally when mobility is affected you will have an equivalent effect on your dynamic strength. With a loss of range you lose the ability to maximise access to your power in your hip muscles, the major driving force in your running form and speed. Today we look at these influences and give you a couple of top tips to help you maximise your potential.
Hip Mobility – Why this is crucial to your running development
The tighter you are in your hips the more difficult it is for you to flex, extend and rotate above and below the joint. If the hip flexors shorten and become tight due to external or habitual factors, like working at a desk during your normal day. In this position you will find yourself sitting down for most of the day and this can reduce your hip mobility which will directly affect your stride length and create instabilities and imbalances when you are running.
Creating excellent hip extension improves an athletes range of motion in the hips, leading to an easier stride with less pressure being transfered through to your back or lower leg which will increase your overall running speed. Obtaining good hip flexion will help to develop more power in the lower body as you drive the knee through to power your next stride. With good range available there is less resistence to each stride.
There are over 15 key muscles associated with the hip area which all work together to provide mobility. Therefore, any training programme (for running especially) should involve range of motion work, as well as strength training. There are a number of great exercises for the hip and sessions for hip mobility within our paid training programmes, giving you the best ability to develop your running speed.
Good mobility allows an athlete to perform movement patterns efficiently both consciously i.e. gym sessions and unconsciously i.e. running on all different terrains. Lower back and hip injuries are unfortunately common when performing so if you are limited in your range, you will find compensations in your running to best complete the task. These compensations may not seem important now but when you are looking to improve speed you have to consider every possible aspect of your movement that may be holding you back from that new personal best.
Here is one of our dynamic exercise series sessions to get you going;
Dynamic Hip Strength – Getting you off the ground more effectively and driving your forwards
Dynamic strength is important to improving speed as it. Many runners head for the hils when coaches and trainers start talking about strength training however it is an essential part of your training programme. Putting in place a complete strength programme will allow you to build tissue tolerance, develop your running form and improve your running speed.
This however doesn’t mean just gym weights, a combination of work needs to be undertaken and with respect to dynamic strength we are looking particularly at jumping and hopping work which will hlep with your ground contact time and improve your ability for the muscles to react to each and every stride you take. Plenty of this work can be body weight, band work or small weights – it needs ot be kept light and dynamic. The clue is really in the name, and you will notice the differences in about 4-6 weeks.
Dynamic strength work help you improve the following areas;
- Improves coordination and power
- Reduces risk of injury, thanks to increased strength
- More power when pushing off
- Increases your VO2 max
- Makes your muscles work more efficiently
- Decrease ground contact time
Generally speaking, dynamic strength for runners should be done year-round – at least once or twice per week. The aim is to maintain a good level of strength, but the programme can change and adapt as you progress. It is approriate to drop back to mor estatic work to give your tendons and muscles a rest phase, with the dynamic sessions running in blocks of about 6-8 weeks at a time. Then when it comes to race season, you’ll want to ease off the dynmaic work completely and use the explosivenss you have built in your system through the race period, however do continue wiht more static strength work to hlep you maintain a good base level. Many running training plans include at least one weight session every 10 days or so – stick to your training plan in these cases.
Build Hip Mobility & Dynamic Strength and Reach Your Running Dreams