Do you want to run faster? (I know, dumb question – who wants to run slower?) I just read an interesting article in Runner’s World about gliding.
This is a technique I had not come across before: I would describe it as a variation of fartlek. So today I decided to give it a try.
We have just started a cool spell here in Texas. After two months of triple digit temperatures, the weather finally broke and last night it went down to the 50s! That’s after months when if it got below 80 at night we figured it was a cool night.
So today seemed like a great day to try a different kind of run. It was bright, calm and around 60 degrees – perfect running weather. A little bit of smoke from the wildfires (which are fortunately not too close to us) but low humidity.
I pulled on my newest running shoes and ambled outside to try out this new technique. The idea is to jog for ten minutes, then build speed for about ten strides, sustain it for 10-20 more, and then walk. My variation was to jog for about 13 minutes, because at 10 minutes I was heading uphill, so I figured I’d wait for the downhill to take my first gliding break.
In an earlier post (Keep it Simple) I mentioned that for some of us the way to run faster is to lengthen our stride.
There are only two ways to run faster: increase turnover or lengthen stride. Most coaches recommend increasing turnover, but this tends to lead to a shorter stride. If you naturally have a fairly long stride (like the Kenyans) it may be better to add an inch or two to your stride rather than increase your turnover.
How do you do this? The natural and instinctive thing to do is to reach out further in front. This is absolutely the worst thing: it will slow you down, not speed you up.
You see, when you reach out further, your foot lands ahead of your body (see the picture above). If you think about this, you will see that the impact of your footfall will push you backwards. So each stride starts by overcoming the resistance of the previous footfall.
The secret is to avoid thinking of the goal (lengthening your stride) and get back to thinking of the purpose (run faster). When you do this, you will understand that to run faster you need to pull back with your rear foot, not push forward with your front foot. With this mindset, you will find that your stride automatically lengthens!
The exciting thing to me is that this principle applies everywhere in life – not just in running. It is easy to get hung up on meeting a short term goal and to just work harder and harder to get there. Too often, when we do that, the goal just seems to move further and further away.
So next time you find that you’re working harder and getting farther behind, step back for a moment and see what you’re doing wrong. In pursuing your short-term goal have you lost sight of your long-term purpose? If so, just try doing things a little differently, keeping your purpose in mind, and your goal will suddenly become easy.