This week, we will focus on Speed, Agility, and Quickness Training (SAQ Training), which allows runners to improve their ability to accelerate and decelerate while dynamically stabilizing the whole body during fast-paced movements in all planes of motion.
SAQ Training also can help the nervous system to respond more efficiently and enhance muscular recruitment (the ability to use more/smaller muscle fibers) and coordination when done with correct mechanics.
*SPEED is basically any movement in one intended distance covered, divided by time (i.e., forward speed).
*AGILITY refers to quick changing of movement direction or speed.
*QUICKNESS is the ability to react to a stimulus and properly change the motion of the body.
Here are some quick intro points on what to expect with the workouts:
▪ *SPEED is a product of stride rate (number of strides over time or distance) and stride length (distance covered in one stride). We’ll be doing exercises to improve your stride rate and stride length by working not just on muscular strength and flexibility, but most importantly on neuromuscular efficiency. Some aspects of speed may be dependent on genetic factors (like long legs, etc), but keep in mind that Speed is a skill that can be learned through proper drills and mechanics.
▪ *Improving AGILITY involves the mindfulness of the runner to maintain his/her center of gravity over the base of support while changing directions at various speed. Training for agility enhances neuromuscular coordination, dynamic (or “moving“) flexibility, dynamic postural control, functional core strength, and proprioception. This helps prevent injury as the body learns to control the sudden forces it encounters while running, and it improves the structural integrity of connective tissues.
▪ *QUICKNESS, or simply “Reaction Time” is the ability to respond and switch the position of the body while moving with power, in all planes of motion and from all body positions. It is also important to be able to assess visual, auditory, or kinesthetic stimuli and provide the appropriate physical response as fast as possible (i.e. avoiding a car while running).
Precise technique is important for SAQ training so really be mindful of your body and how it moves while executing the drills. Feel which muscles work to stabilize your body and how you keep your center of gravity.
Maximize each drill/exercise by performing the drill at a slow pace first to get your body accustomed to the movement. Gradually increase your pace for every set. When you feel that you are able to maintain your center of gravity and your limbs (especially your legs) move naturally with the movement, try to do the drill at the fastest pace that you can. SAQ Training will surely improve your running economy so give each drill all that you’ve got and recover well.
Enjoy the workout!