Q: How Can I Get a Faster Kick?

Hi Lauren,

I am a 1500 meter runner competing at the junior college level. Every race that I had last season came down to the last 200 meters. I feel like I do everything right during the race to gradually move my way up, but the last 200 is always tricky. I have a pretty good kick, but it is not always good enough when it comes down to a big race. What kind of workouts can I add to my routine that will help me finish the race stronger? I always have the drive to give it everything I’ve got the last 200 but sometimes the guy next to me has more speed. How can I get my quarter time faster? Or in this case, my 200 meter time faster?

-Matan Mayer

A:

Hey Matan Mayer,

Since you’ve told me you have a pretty good kick, but your trouble is with the end of the race, I’ve answered with that in mind.  How to develop raw speed is another subject, but I don’t think that is your problem.

Its not about how FAST you are, its how fast you can run when you are TIRED.  If you look at the last 200 meter split of the winners of your races, I’m guessing its easily a time you’ve run before.   In fact, why not jump on Runnerspace and go through some Pro 1500 videos to see what their last 200 is.  Its probably slower than you think.  The trick is, how do you get your body to run that speed when you’ve already been burning your jets for the past 75% of the race?

Four tips for improving your kick:

1.  You need to get stronger. Long intervals, hilly runs, tempo runs, and consistent mileage over the fall and winter go a long way.  If you’ve been doing this, your problems from last year might already be a thing of the past.  Strength comes with time, and there is no shortcut that I know of.

2.  Speed endurance work at race pace with short recoveries are key for the 1500.  A lot of people do long reps on short rest, or short reps on long rest.  But make sure there are a couple days where you do 200’s, 300’s, 400’s etc off of really short rest (30 seconds) mixed in there.  A couple of these burners go a long way in preparing you for mid-distance racing.

3.  Learn to relax and conserve. Once you are strong and fit, the mind really comes into play (especially in the lead up to a race).  If you want to have an insane kick, you need to get to the start line as cool as a cucumber, and get to 200 meters to go as relaxed as possible, having burned as little energy as possible.  It will still hurt like hell, but speed/endurance workouts help you practice relaxing into the pain.

4.  Mental Maturity. Learn to tune in mentally more during all your workouts so you get what you need out of them.  On long rep workouts or tempo runs, practice “tuning out” and almost meditating; you will use that same skill from 300m-1100m of your 1500m race.  When you are on # 7 and #8 of an 8x400m workout at race pace, focus not on how fast and hard you can run them, but how relaxed you can look running the right pace.

If anyone has any key workouts they would like to share to help this guy out with his 1500, feel free to post them below.

Thanks!

-L-Train