8 Workouts That Improve Your Running Speed

agility exercises

Are you staring down your next triathlon, wondering how you’re going to improve your race time?

It’s hard enough training for a tri. It can be even harder trying to figure out how to train for speed and not just finishing.

A lot of triathletes only focus on improving their conditioning, but agility exercises are just as important when it comes to cutting time.

You’ve probably done agility exercises before without even realizing it. They’re a staple of high school gym classes and fitness boot camps. Including them in your training schedule will help you get stronger and improve your times before you know it.

There are dozens of exercises to choose from — read on to find out the top eight for triathletes.

1. Lateral Plyometric Jumps

Runners don’t have the same needs as someone who plays a sport like basketball or tennis. Their bodies don’t need to change direction on a dime — they pretty much steadily forge ahead. That means the muscle groups that help with side-to-side movement can end up way under-developed.

These agility exercises are helpful in making a runner’s body both stronger and better balanced.

Keep your feet about hip width apart, squat down, and jump sideways over a line or hurdle. (Beginners shouldn’t use a barrier.) Land in a deep squat, then repeat.

If you can, avoid doing this on very hard surfaces like concrete. Grass or turf is easier on your body.

2. Plyometric Box Jumps

Most people associate box jumps with improving your vertical jump. Box jumps are fantastic for people who are trying to add a few more inches to their vertical, but they’re also good for runners.

Box jumps will help you to build your explosive speed — helpful anytime you’re trying to distance yourself from a crowded stretch in a race. These agility exercises are essential if you want to strengthen your quads and glutes.

Start with a box about half a foot in front of you. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, squat, and jump up as high as you can onto the box. Use your arms!

Try to land on the box as softly as possible. Repeat.

3. Sprint Training

Endurance is a key factor in successful triathlon training. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore sprint training completely.

It’s going to be a lot harder to improve your speed without sprints.

There are a lot of sprint training agility exercises, but you can choose the one that works best for you. While some people just do small bursts down a field, others prefer to incorporate additional challenges like stairs.

Know your body and where you are in your training before you choose a sprint training exercise.

4. Squats

If you became a triathlete after being mainly a runner, you know that running is only part of the equation when it comes to physical fitness. It’s great for endurance, but useless when it comes to building muscle.

That’s why when it comes to running, squats are the perfect tool.

When done correctly, squats can improve your knee stability. They will also help strengthen your legs. As your legs get stronger, you’ll be able to lengthen your stride and put more power into each step.

Powerful legs will propel you to a faster overall time!

5. Hip Rotations

Of course, you also can’t neglect your hips. While we might not devote as much attention to them, they do a lot of work in all three stages of a triathlon.

Hip rotations are easy agility exercises to do to build muscle and improve your speed. Stand with your legs a little more than shoulder-width apart, then rotate your right leg forward in a circle. Rotate it backwards before you switch legs.

6. High Knees

High knees are one of the most basic agility exercises, but don’t let that make you count them out. Just because they’re basic doesn’t mean that they’re not beneficial.

This is another exercise that will help strengthen your hips while also improving your running form and posture. If you want, you can use this as a warm up before moving into more intense workout activities.

To get the most out of high knees, move your arms and legs as quickly as possible while maintaining the correct form. Try to pick your feet up at least four inches off the ground.

7. Tuck Jumps

Seeing a theme?

Jumping exercises don’t just improve your vertical, they also strengthen the same muscles that you’ll use in a run. Tuck jumps will help make your legs more powerful so that you can drive towards the finish line.

Like the other agility exercises on this list, you won’t need anything other than your body weight to do this. Just start with your feet about shoulder width apart and then jump up, tucking your knees towards your body. Grasp on to your knees for a moment in the air before landing.

Repeat in sets.

8. Shuttle Run

Seeing the words ‘shuttle run’ might bring back nightmares of middle school gym classes, but those coaches had kids doing shuttle runs for a reason. They improve your agility and fortify the muscles that help you make quick movements.

Like the lateral plyometric jumps above, the side-to-side movement of the shuttle run helps to build muscles that might be neglected otherwise. If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, this is also a great warm-up before the rest of your workout for the day.

You can do a shuttle run on your own as long as you have enough space. Set up five or so markers roughly seventy-five feet apart. Sprint to the first marker and back, then to the second marker, and so on until you’ve finished the circuit.

Get More Info On Agility Exercises

Adding these agility exercises into your training routine will help you build muscle and improve your race time. You’ll be on your way to a more toned and efficient body before you know it!

If you’re looking for more ways to improve your race time or overall triathlon performance, you’ve come to the right place. Our goal is to provide triathletes with the resources they need to succeed. Check out the rest of our training resources for information on training schedules, diet advice, and more.