Which Run Is Faster: High Knees or Low Knees?

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A woman is running down the street. (Image: fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images)

You may have noticed that sprinters run with their knees higher than distance runners do, allowing them to achieve maximum power for a short distance. For longer distances, however, this high-knee style can waste energy. Unless you are sprinting, you don't need to worry about knee height for speed. To run faster, don't focus on the height of your knees as much as the power of your push off and the length of your stride.

Proper Running Form

Instead of focusing on knee height for speed, focus on a good running form to conserve energy and increase speed. When you run, your foot should land directly underneath your body. If your foot extends too far in front of your body, your stride is too long and can slow you down. If your stride is too short, you will waste energy with extra foot steps that could be used for speed.

Interval Training to Run Faster

In order to run faster, you have to practice running faster. The best way to practice is with interval training. After warming up with a slow jog for 10 minutes or more, run at a high-intensity effort for two to five minutes. Walk or jog slowly for the same length of time as you ran. Repeat this speed-recovery interval up to six times.

Run Faster with Hill Training

Running hills builds your leg and lung strength. When you first try to run hills, choose a hill that takes 30 to 60 seconds to climb. Be careful not to charge up the hill; you don't want to be out of energy when you reach the top. As running hills gets easier, add steeper and longer hills to your runs.

High-Knee Exercises

You can also incorporate high-knee drills into your training routine to help increase your speed. Run in place for 30 seconds to one minute, lifting your knees as high as you can. Alternatively, run on the balls of your feet while lifting your knees as high as you can. Focus on short, quick steps. Try this for about 50 meters, which is half of a straightaway on a track.

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