You ever witness someone warm up to get after some sprints, and their drills look sweet? They do their As, Bs, butt kicks, A-doubles, and everything seems fantastic. Their arms are in the perfect positions, they legs look fluid and powerful, and it scares the crap out of you. They look so good that it intimidates you. You start wondering what drills you should be adding to your training. The problem is that drills are not the key to how to run faster.
Then something amazing happens. You see them run, or you run against them and blow them out of the water, and it leaves you confused as to how they could look so good but run so slow. How can someone have such sweet looking drills and perform so horribly? Taking a mental lapse out of the equation, we still have a big issue here. Drills are not the end all and are all of being fast and they never will be. What is the key when you want to know how to run faster?
How to Run Faster – Drills Are Not Bad
I am not saying drills are the devil or that you should not do them. I recommend doing drills, but you need to change you thinking about what they do. Drills do not make you faster; they provide context for positions you want to hit.
For example doing a slow A-March helps you to get used to arm position, how high you bring your hand in front of your face, torso position for standing tall, bring your knee up to make your thigh parallel with the ground, raising on the toe to practice getting extension and lastly dorsiflexion of the ankle joint before ground strike.
These things all provide context for sprinting. It is hard to make changes going at full speed when sprinting, so drills help t break things down into pieces while you move a bit slower.
Can drills lead to being faster, yes! Do they directly improve speeds no? The best way to get faster is by going out and sprinting. Running at top speeds is what produces the ability to run faster not an A march. If you are having trouble with your hand positioning when sprinting, breaking it down and working on it during your drills is one of the most effective ways to make that change.
Add Drills When You Need Context
Let’s say you are having issues with pushing out of the blocks. It would make sense to add a drill to help you do this better and with more force. One drill I love is doing a falling start with a medicine ball in your hand and doing a chest past as you reach 45 degrees with your front foot which is just like how you should be coming out of the blocks. Then when you push the ball out, you jump and land on a high jump mat.
This drill will not make you faster. It provides contextual learning to help you figure out what it feels like to take a commanding first step. The high jump mat offers a safety net that you don’t have when sprinting that helps you to take a more significant risk then you would typically take. The context of the situation allows you to experience a new feeling. The hope is that a light bulb will go off within your body.
The light bulb moment will give your body a new perspective of what you are supposed to do on the track. That is what a successful drill does. This is the reason that every drill does not work for every person. Everyone experiences movement and their body are a bit different.
How to Run Faster – What You Think When Doing Drills
Drills should always be related back to what you are trying to do better when sprinting. If you are doing exercises thinking they are merely for warming the body up, you are mistaken. As I said above drills provide you with context. When doing fast leg drills, for example, the purpose is to get your body used to snap back down to the ground while dorsiflexed.
When you are doing the drill, you need to understand the purpose, and then when you are sprinting later in that session you need to feel that purpose when you are spiriting. If you can’t feel your leg snap down, then you will not have context for the drill.
The other thing you need to remember is that sometimes you need to slow down to speed up. It is an oxymoron because who wants to slow down? The reason you are even reading this is that you want to be faster. How in the world can you get faster when you are slowing down?
By slowing down, you give yourself a chance to understand and feel what you are doing. The key to sprinting is not thinking, but if you always don’t think you will never make the changed needed to make huge jumps forward.
What Drills Are Not
- Drills are not magic
- They don’t correct everything with one try
- They don’t replace sprinting
- Drills don’t replace focus
- Drills do not always provide context for sprinting
- Just for warming up
- Always the answer to every problem
How to Run Faster – There is No One Drill That Will Make You Faster
A question athletes ask a lot is what drills can I do to run faster? Everyone is looking for the one magic pill that cures all, but there simply is not. Drills solve specific problems through contextual learning. The question you should be asking is “How do I get better at…?” By asking this question, you understand that what you are looking for is a drill to give you a new perspective and so you can get better at a skill.
Then once you understand the problem, there are a bunch of drills that you can use to fix this problem. In the example, I used above with the medicine ball toss onto the high jump mat. That drill will not work for everyone, and you have to be willing to accept that you may be one of those people.
What this means is that you need to be willing to try drills and even more willing to throw them out.
Throw Away More Drills
People have a tough time changing and switching direction. It is ok to admit that something you tried is not working. We hate having to accept that so we stick with things longer than we should. Once you have attempted a drill a few times and you are not developing a better understanding of how to execute a skill when sprinting, it means that it is time to throw it away.
If you are throwing away more drills, it means you are learning faster. You don’t want to be stale, which is the worst thing that you can do when you are working to learn a new skill. Stale means boring, and you end up losing interest. Some skills take a long time to learn, but the drills you are learning to get that skill down can change.
How to Run Faster – Putting Everything Together
The reality of drills is that they will not directly make you faster. Drills are to help provide a better context for what you are wanting to do when you are spiriting. The key to choosing the right drill is by first understanding the problem you are trying to fix.
Once you understand the problem, you need to be to test different ideas out until you find the drills that work the best. Drills are not magic pills that will fix everything and that work for everyone. You need to be specific about what you are doing.