Faster running requires a longer stride length and a faster turnover. Generally, many long distance runners and triathletes train too slowly in relation to their target race speed for long periods of time. The runner becomes fairly well conditioned at running slowly and running economy at that particular pace improves obviously, too. But, when it comes time for speedwork in your half marathon or marathon (IM,70.3) training plan you will have to increase your stride length which can lead to issues such as a “pulled hamstring”. Be on the safe side and increase your leg turn over rate, rather than just increasing your stride length. I always like to see a careful & smooth transition to speed work. For example, my athletes begin with strides & accelerations (3 to 10x), then transition to 30s/30s and 60s/60s (faster/easy) before advancing to hills and longer intensive running. Of course, muscles must receive a period of recovery before we can place the next training stimulus. “Hard” speedwork must be eliminated until the muscle has recovered. And that’s true especially when we deal with an acute injury.
What to do in the event of an injury:
- rest, ice, compression and elevate legs
- shorten stride
- extended warm ups **
- no speed work
- most heat before run
- anti-inflammatory medication is helpful
- gentle stretching
**In the future I suggest to warm up exceedingly carefully before doing any speedwork which can take up to 30mins or so:
- 15 to 20mins of easy running
- stretch gently
- running school: high knees,butt flicks, forward lunges etc
- strides (30,60,80,100m)
- stretch again
- avoid quick & explosive starts and instead ease into your speedwork (main set)
- warm down 10-15mins.
Post running I like to apply ice, swim or aqua-jog (5 to 15mins) to speed up recovery and moist heat before. Although, overuse of heat will cause swelling and over use of ice may limit the circulation to the area which is needed to flush out waste products and deliver nutrients.
Drills to improve stride length and frequency include:
- high knee
- forward lunges
- hill + flat sprints
- specific strength circuits (incl. plyometrics)
- core work (stabile& strong hips…etc).