You already call yourself a runner, so the obvious next step is to make yourself a faster runner. Increasing your running speed is all about making your legs stronger. Adding lunges to your routine strengthens all the muscles your legs use for running. To really push yourself, add jump lunges to start running faster.
To increase your running speed, you need to increase your stride length or your stride rate. Over the course of a run, many runners start to decrease one or both of these as their leg muscles fatigue. The stronger your legs, the longer you can maintain your top speed. The best part about increasing your speed is that it’ll translate into every distance you run, from a 5k to a marathon.
When trying to get faster, you may want to create a routine that includes fancy moves and equipment, but that isn’t necessary. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2009 showed that the forward walking lunges and jumping lunges improve hamstring strength and running speed. The study followed 32 soccer players during a 6-week training program. In addition to lunges, the participants did their normal training. At the end of the study, the walking lunge improved hamstring strength while the jumping lunge improved sprinting performance.
The forward lunge is a basic move that you can perform anywhere without any additional equipment. It engages your glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and abdominal muscles. Because you are only moving in the forward plane, this move mainly strengthens your quadriceps and hip flexors. Once you have mastered it, it’s time to start making it harder. By weighting your lunge, you further strengthen your muscles, and by moving your lunge through multiple directions, you challenge other leg muscles, such as your abductors and adductors. This gives you a more complete leg workout. Other examples of ways to make the lunge more challenging are by twisting and by using resistance bands.
As the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” study showed, jumping lunges help to improve your running speed. This is a plyometric move, which means that it is a high-intensity explosive movement, and it is a more advanced type of lunge. Make sure you have mastered the basic lunge before moving on to jumping lunges. To do this move, begin in lunge position with your right leg as your front leg. Lower down until your left knee is 2 to 3 inches from the floor. Your hands can be behind your head, on your hips or along your sides. Quickly jump upward and switch your legs in midair so you land back in a lunge but with your left leg as your front leg. Continue to switch legs in this manner for 30 seconds.
- The American Council on Exercise: Forward Lunge
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Forward Lunge: A Training Study of Eccentric Exercises on the Lower Limbs
- Runner’s World: Speed Development
- Stack.com: More Lunge
- Stack.com: Split Jump Squat or Lunge Jump
- Built Lean: Jump Lunges: Killer Plyometric Leg Exercise!
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images