How do you run faster and keep your foot landing under you?

What should you focus on when you run faster?


Speedwork causes more running injuries than any other type of training session. This is because most people don't have the strength or flexibility to maintain good running form as they speed up. Read THIS ARTICLE ABOUT SPEEDWORK to learn more about how to introduce it safely into your training program.

There are three possible ways to increase your speed when you run:

  1. Increase your stride length
  2. Increase you cadence
  3. A combination of both

Ideally your cadence needs to stay between 175 - 185 steps/minute in order to remain efficient. Lower than 175 and you don't use the elastic recoil of your calf muscle and achilles tendon efficiently. Higher than 185 and you will elevate your heart rate higher than necessary and produce more lactate which leads to early fatigue.

Therefore, in order to run faster properly, it only leave us with the option of increasing our stride length. BUT - your stride needs to lengthen behind you, not in front of you. You still need your foot to land close to under your body in order to run efficiently and to stay injury free.

Look at this photo of an elite group of African runners to see what I mean. Look how far their back leg is extended out behind their body, yet they maintain a perfect posture with their upper body.


To achieve this increase in stride length these runners are leaning forward from the ankles. This allows them to use gravity more efficiently, whilst still allowing their foot to land under their body.




Here is another photo which demonstrates the forward lean.

Note how the lean is from the ankle, and not bending over at the hips.





You need to prepare your body to be able to run speedwork sessions without getting injured.

In order to be able to achieve this leaning posture, you need to be flexible through the front of the hips (hip flexors), you need flexible calf muscles and ankle joints, you need a strong "core" to allow you to keep your torso straight, and to stop you folding over at the hips. You also need your hamstrings to work efficiently, to "pull" your foot off the ground at the back of the stride.

To help prepare your body for efficient, and injury-free speedwork sessions, these are the exercises you will need to work on in order to achieve the proper forward lean: