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The Fit 5: Be a Better Runner

Our fitness expert answers your questions about how to be a faster and stronger runner.

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For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about becoming a better runner.

Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month.

You can also catch Sean on Twitter

1) Best Speed Exercises — asked by Dave Rushton

What are the overall best exercises to increase running speed?

“Squats, lunges, deadlifts and glute-ham raises would be my picks, along with a lot of plyometrics. Speed will be determined most by your running form, but having strong legs and, particularly, a strong posterior chain (the muscles on the rear of the body) will help enormously. The stronger your hamstrings and glutes, the more force you can exert into the ground to propel yourself forward with.”

2) Plyometric Exercises — asked by Mark Mahabirsingh

Do box jumps help increase running speed?

"Yes. Box jumps, like all plyometric exercises, build explosive speed and the ability to absorb force. When you run, you put the hamstrings and glutes in a very stretched position for a split second. To avoid injury, the muscles contract very fast, boosting your power. Box jumps train this same effect."

3) Detrimental Exercises — asked by Chris Mezey

What are exercises that could be detrimental to my running speed?

"Any exercise you intend to do slowly will have little to no effect on making you faster. That’s why you should perform all your major weight training exercises explosively. Push or pull the weights fast, but under control, on every rep. Even when the loads are heavy and you physically can’t perform the reps fast, as long as you’re trying to, the nervous system will register that you need to improve power. Also, a lot of the speed training drills that 'look cool' or are fashionable now are bogus, such as running with a parachute. There’s little to no credible evidence backing that up."

4) Running Pains — asked by Edbeard Wiseley

What is that weird, pain feeling in my side when I’ve been running for a while? How do you stop it?

"I’ll guess you’re talking about a side stitch. There’s no definitive cause but it’s thought to be related to nutrition, specifically, consuming a lot too soon before running. Some get the pain from drinking fruit juice before a run. To treat it, stop running, put your hand on the right side of your stomach and push up. Breathe in and out slowly and evenly. You can also stretch. Raise your right arm overhead and lean to the left, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side."

5) Stride Frequency — asked by Jon Haith

What are exercises or training techniques to increase stride frequency?

“The old line of thinking on this was to practice running on a slight downhill grade, which, in theory, would force you to run faster or risk falling over. That’s gone by the wayside with most sprint coaches I know, however. Instead, they recommend to simply perfect your running form, get stronger and practice getting up to speed quicker. Try taking shorter, faster steps when you begin a run and make sure your feet land under your hips every time."

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