Speed Development For Distance Runners

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Dec. 23, 2013
  • Updated Dec. 23, 2013 at 5:32 AM UTC

How does speed development benefit you?

Now that you understand the difference between speed work and speed development, how does speed development make you a better marathoner? After all, you won’t be racing Usain Bolt anytime soon, right?

The main goal of speed development workouts is to improve your running economy and efficiency. In layman’s terms, this means being able to run faster and farther with less effort and while expending less energy. For a marathoner or half marathoner, this means race pace will require less effort (making it feel easier, especially in the latter miles) and you’ll be able to conserve precious carbohydrates in the process.

As discussed earlier, speed development workouts train the body to activate a greater percentage of muscle fibers with each stride. In doing so, you’re able to make each stride more explosive and generate more power without increasing effort. This increased power is what makes your stride more fluid and allows you to propel yourself farther with each stride, making you faster.

In addition, speed development improves the efficiency of the neuromuscular system, which is the communication system between your brain and your muscles. Improving the efficiency of the neuromuscular system allows your body to increase the speed at which it sends signals to the muscles and, more importantly, contributes to the activation of a greater percentage of muscle fibers.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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