Picking Up the Pace
In cross country I was never killed at the end of races, but I just never felt like I could pick up the pace. It just felt hard to pick it up faster. I've read so much about running faster. I really need help on what to think about to pick up the pace and to just overall have a more efficient and faster stride. Should I think about kicking my heels higher behind me, push my knees up, move my knees more forward, etc...??
To get better at finishing off a race, you have to practice it. Without practicing sprinting and pushing yourself when you are very tired, it's probably not going to happen magically at the end of a race. You have to be confident when you are very tired.
One of the most brutal, yet effective additions to a workout that you can do is what I call 60 second gut runs. My HS coach would spring this on us at the end of a hard workout.
Right after what I thought was the last interval, the coach would say, "Get back on the start line!" That was the cue for a 60 second gut run. He would get us all together and then let us go. He would call out when we were at 30 seconds, 15 seconds left, and then count down form 10 all the way to one. By my senior year, I was getting very close to a whole 400 for a 60 second gut run.
That's all it is really. You have to have guts! You are accessing some different muscle fibers, so the fuel is there. You just have to practice it to see that it can really happen. From now on out, finish your distance runs with a quicker tempo. Finish your last interval with a very fast last 200 meters. Whatever you can do to push it at the end of a workout will help you gain that confidence for the end of a race.
Happy Trails - Coach Tief