Pace yourself to build up running speed


April 19, 1994|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,United Feature Syndicate

Fast runners are born, not made, but you can train yourself to run faster by strengthening and stretching your leg muscles and practicing.

To run fast in athletic competition, you have to run fast in training. All training is done by stressing and recovering. Run very fast on one day and slowly on the next because every time that you run fast, your muscles are injured and it takes at least 48 hours for them to recover. Try to run very fast two or three times a week. Run very fast over distances that are shorter than you normally run in your sport.

Football, basketball and baseball players rarely run more than 40 yards all-out in games. So two or three times a week, they should run 20 to 40 yards, accelerating to almost full speed then decelerating from it. After a brief rest, they should repeat these runs until their legs start to feel heavy and stiff.

After you finish your sprint training, try to strengthen your leg muscles by doing leg presses and knee straightening and bending on a weight machine. Try to push maximum weights only once a week. The other one or two workouts should be done with restraint.

Stretching can help you to run faster because longer muscles exert a greater torque on joints to drive you forward faster. Stretch slowly and deliberately six days a week.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports and medicine.

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