You've heard the joke about two hikers in the woods that encounter a bear.
One turns around to start running away from it and his friend yells at him, "What are you doing? You can't outrun a bear."
The runner turns around and replies, "I know I can't run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than you!"
It's a tale of speed, and the faster one always wins, or in this case doesn't get eaten.
So, what if you are a runner and are looking to get faster.
What do you do? There is a lot of conflicting advice out there, so let me uncomplicate the issue for you.
First off, to run faster you must, well, run faster.
Do not log in the miles, just for the sake of getting a certain weekly mileage in. I call these junk miles, and they won't help you get faster.
Instead, you need short bursts of quick speed, accompanied by periods of active rest, for a set number of reps. We call these intervals in the industry, and they are the tried and true method of improving any run time - from a 10-kilometre to a marathon.
Kevin Ridley, owner of our local running store, the RunInn, says proper running form is just as important as weekly speed work.
There is a correct way to run, which will help you become more efficient with your stride and cause a minimal amount damage to the body.
Let's face it, running produces the equivalent force of two to three times your body weight on your joints, and if done incorrectly, you will spend more time on your physio's table than on the road performing your favourite sport.
Your form, while running, is best evaluated at a track, and Ridley's group coaches that every Thursday night at the South Delta Secondary track (www.runinn.com).
If you can't make it out to one of his clinics, then grab a friend and ask them to film you while running around your local track.
When you view the footage, take a look from head to toe at the following:
. The position of your head - You should be looking straight ahead, without jutting the chin forward.
. Your shoulders - They should be relaxed and level. I see a lot of runners with shoulders hunched up to their ears, or even worse, rolled forward.
. Your arms - Hands should be in unclenched fists with arms swinging naturally by your side, not across your body.
. Your torso - You should be running tall. Think of your torso as a big sleeping bag and someone just zipped you up.
. Your hips - They should be pointing straight ahead and kept quiet. One of the tricks I was taught (way back when I was taking my personal trainer's course) is to think of your pelvis as a full water bucket, and then try not to spill any water out of the sides.
. Your lower body - Your knees should lift slightly, not too high, with your feet landing directly under your hips and each foot landing softly between your heel and mid-foot. It's not a heel to toe rolling motion, like some people assume with running.
One of Ridley's favourite workouts is at the track.
He runs for 400 metres (once around the track), followed by a 100-to 150metre walk/jog recovery.
He does so six to eight times.
He claims the goal of the workout should be to run the 400-metre repeat at about one minute faster than your regular running pace.
For example, if you normally train at a nine-minute mile pace, you would run at an eight-minute mile pace for the interval, which would be two minutes per 400 metres.
I have a workout I love to do on my treadmill to help me improve my 10-kilometre time.
I warm up for 10 minutes with a light jog and then I increase my speed two miles-per-hour faster than what I normally run comfortably at on the treadmill (I run with ease at six mph, so my interval speed is eight mph).
I run this for two minutes and then decrease my speed back to my easy pace (of six mph) for 30 seconds to recover, and then I increase it once again for one minute.
My final recovery is for 1: 30, making this one interval five minutes in length. I try to aim for six to eight of these intervals, followed by a light cool-down.
Give both of these workouts a try and you will soon be out-running any wildlife you encounter!
P.J. Wren is a personal trainer and writer in the Delta area. Check out her show, Fitness with P.J., on Delta TV or her online programs at www.gofitgals. com.
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