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3 Components to Speed Development

February 23, 2015


















Will YOU Run Faster This Spring?


Every year our Director of Training, Russell Taveras DPT, CSCS, performs dozens of musculoskeletal evaluations on athletes eager to take their performance potential to the next level. At the end of each evaluation our new athletes are asked to prioritize what specific components of athleticism they wish to improve. The most common goal, by far, is the increase of running speed. With the exception of a few sports, it is no secret that faster moving athletes have a distinct advantage over their competition. Getting from one end of the field or court faster than your opponent awards you more opportunities to score and offer your team a greater chance of success. The challenge in speed development, however, lies in the understanding of what actually makes an athlete run faster.

At a most basic level, there are three components that must be incorporated into a speed training regimen:


(1) stride length: how much distance an athlete’s center of mass travels between “steps” or strides


(2) stride frequency: how many “steps” or strides occur within a specified time frame (typically one minute)


(3) speed-specific strength and power: the proper acquisition of force production during the specific movements involved in speed


Optimal stride length is typically between 2.3-2.5 times the athlete’s leg length. Having these two different ways of increasing speed begs the question, which component is more important? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. There are elite sprinters and distance runners that re