Among the things that help you run strong are a fast leg turn over (strides per minute), a strong foot push-off from the ground, and a full range of motion in the leg stride starting from the upper legs and hips. Two muscle groups that play a pivotal role in these movements are the glutes and hip flexors. If the glutes and hip flexors are tight, the front-to-back range of motion in the running stride will be restricted or shortened which will impact running speed. Keeping these muscles strong and flexible will make a big difference in how fast – and how comfortable – you run.
Here’s a simple movement that strengthens and stretches both the glutes and hip flexors. Stand with your legs spread front to back. Starting with the right leg forward and the left leg back, the right leg has a slight bend in the knee and the left leg is straight with the heel on the ground. Now raise your left arm and squeeze the left glute tight. Hold for 15-20 seconds. When the glute is squeezed you also will feel the hip flexor stretch. Change leg position and repeat twice for each leg. Do this stretch several days or more a week and you’ll feel a positive difference in your running stride and speed.
Train smart. Race fast.