Working on the pure speed element of 5k racing.


So yesterday I was sitting down thinking about what I should focus on in my outdoor pure speed for 5k training session in the evening.

There are just so many elements to being able to run faster, without even looking at the endurance aspect of something like 5k (and let’s not forget that this event is still around 88% aerobic i.e. endurance based).

Within 10 minutes I had made a long list of points to work on – this was my list;

  1. Co–ordination and firing up neuromuscular pathways.
  2. Arm drive, open chest, shoulders, wrists, hands, fingers relaxed.
  3. Good cadence (at least 180).
  4. Good hip extension.
  5. Strong stable core to mediate rotation of upper body.
  6. Mobile pelvis not locked in anterior tilt.
  7. Body position – working with gravity not braking.
  8. Forefoot strike to engage maximal elasticity of fascia at toe off.
  9. Mobility through ankle to permit knee and hip to flex to pick up ground reaction forces via fascia.
  10. Mobile hip and knee flexors to assist hip extension – elastic fascia.
  11. Desire and ability to just let oneself go.
  12. Moving forwards, not upwards, with minimum time on ground.
  13. Mobile and strong hip rotators and glute max.
  14. Uninhibited adductors.
  15. Head level and balanced, shoulders relaxed.
  16. Relaxed deep breathing – nose and mouth.
  17. No unnessary tension.
  18. Stability on single leg.
  19. Efficient toe off.
  20. Ability to lock into rigid foot and create arch/spring.

And that’s without even talking about traditional power and strength much or nutrition, sleep, stress, hydration, mental focus etc.

In the end, we picked on just a few of these – a little bit of theory then some putting into practice over some 100 metre fast repeats. There were some notable improvements in form, mobility and pure speed, just in a one hour session. These changes take time to bed in as the body likes to revert back to its old ways to keep us comfortable and safe.

The point is though that, if it feels better – whether we’re going faster or feel more relaxed in our running, then body and brain are very quick to accept it and integrate it in whole or part. Only if it feels very contrived and awkward will the body reject it.  Since the changes we make all have a positive effect on our running almost immediately, this is almost never the case.

If you just do a typical club speed set, you may certainly improve your running speed and even cover one or two of the other items from my list, although the competitive nature of these sessions can, in my experience, often be counter-productive, as runners sometimes leave their best performances on the training track and do get injured too.

My own background in not only running and triathlon, but also personal training, with specialist knowledge in areas like barefoot science, mobility, human movement, postural correction and nutrition, makes it much easier for me to see the whole picture and quickly pinpoint those areas where the runner can achieve massive progress in a short time, which builds confidence in them and in me as a coach.

Some of the key things I look for, first and foremost, are;

Mobility through hips and ankles.

Cadence/ stride length/body position (where these are optimal for that individual, so much of their running form falls naturally into place)

Arm swing and stable pelvis, since these both create and mediate rotation and apply rhythm to the running. 

At our weekly outdoor Wednesday evening sessions (beginning at 6.30pm at Rye Meadow), we give you the whole picture – we don’t just ask you to go out and run hard, although you will still feel like you’ve had a workout! Only £5 per session, PAYG.

Message David on 07504439555 or email to find out more.






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