The Secret to Explosive Running

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I am writing to you on a bitterly cold Massachusetts morning where the thermometer is reading a solid -2.

Today will be a short and sweet post as I get ready to head to work from my draft apartment.

Lately, we have been extremely lucky to be working with the athletes that we do. Many of our current clients are returners that have been in the program for over a year.

This is a great scenario for coaches because now we can get more creative and start using more advanced means of training on the turf and in the weight room.

Sometimes it is important to take a step back though and realize that more complicated programming is not the best method. Sometimes all it takes is simple solutions.


I work with athletes that want to get faster.


This is common in most sports because the faster athletes tend to be better. I know that there are skill requirements of the game but when all things are equal, speed will win out.

I have done lots of technique work with athletes as young as 7 and up to 24. Lots of these athletes see dramatic improvements in their speed after learning proper technique.

The parents are impressed that the results are almost instant. They are also happy that their kid doesn’t run down the turf looking like a baby giraffe on ice anymore.

We like to emphasize teaching the knee drive, proper arm action, stride frequency, etc. when we are working on acceleration or straight line speed.

This is important because a lot of effort can be put into running with bad results if there are leaks in the system. Leaks can come about when the arms swing across the body instead of forward and back. A shallow knee drive is also an energy leak because the athlete cannot run very fast if they are not driving their knees effectively.

There is one factor that I have noticed has become much more prevalent as I have gained experience in this setting.

Athletes do not know how to actually run fast if they are not in a game setting.

A soccer players chasing down a loose ball may turn the burners on but not when you say sprint to the cone.

I think part of the reason that athletes never really get into their top speeds is due to improper conditioning at practices. It is rare when a sport coach understands work/rest ratios and how to implement them.

Most of the time we just have kids that are ran into the ground, repeatedly. The lingering effect of this is that they think everything is going to be a suicide and never sprint really fast.

What I am trying to do now is get kids to sprint as fast as they possibly can knowing that they will get about a minute of time to recover.

The athlete gets to move faster than they have in a long time and parents are impressed at the immediate improvements they have seen.

All of the technique work in the world is not going to transfer to pure speed if the intent is missing. I know this seems like an overly simplified approach and it kind of is. If an athlete doesn’t train speed by running really fast, their efforts are going to be for naught.

Sometimes speed training is as simple as asking the athlete for more. I will usually say to them “I think you have more in the tank, let’s see it on the rest of these runs.”

Like magic, the results are great.

Training for speed requires the intent to move insanely fast. If an athlete intends on moving quickly, but isn’t the fastest kid, they will adapt and get faster over time.

Speed training does not have to be hours and hours of speed work. Do whatever it takes to run as fast as possible and speed will take care of itself.

Sorry for the misleading title. There are no physiological adaptations that i have found hiding somewhere.

The anti-climactic secret is that the athletes need to know that they must try to run as fast as possible.