Now is the time of year when people are in the midst of training for their latest half-marathon or marathon. People tend to focus on distance while also working on speed.

Unfortunately I mostly just see people training sprints in order to be able to post a PR. I also see this with most running sports. Coaches have their athletes just run suicides because that's what we did in hopes of increasing speed. While performing fast repetitions is a part of increasing speed there are other things that need to be done and can be done to increase speed that will yield faster results.

When most people train, they do so only with running. There are other components to running besides the muscles in the front of the legs. The muscles on the side of the legs are also involved in running and working on developing them is just as important as training the front of the legs.

The following exercises are exercises that can be performed at home or at a track and require no equipment. Performing the movements fast and crisp and with correct technique will allow you to become a better, faster runner, no matter what your sport is. The key is fast, crisp, technically correct movements.

  1. Lateral lunges – This is just lunging to the side making sure that the weight is in your heels. If you are getting pain in your knees you are putting too much weight on the toes. Make sure you sit back on your heels and stick your butt out like you are going to sit in a chair. For the most challenging you should perform 3 sets of 30 on each side.

  2. Lateral jumps – Quickly jump from side to side over an imaginary line on the floor. These should be done for a minute in sets of 3 to provide the most challenge. Less sets and reps can be done as you work your way up.

  3. Lateral hops– This is a very difficult exercise if done correctly. The goal is to hop as far as you can to one side then back to the other. The second goal is to do it quickly. You want to make sure you stick the landing and then immediately hop to the other leg. Perform 30 times 3 sets for the best benefit. Again, you can perform less than this if you are unable to maintain the speed and length of the hop.

  4. Squats - This is the only exercise that is performed in the same plane as running. The only difference is that you go beyond 90 degrees of knee bending so your butt hits the floor activating the gluteus medius and maximus which will help with the side to side stabilization also. The goal is 30 reps and 3 sets.

  5. Squat jumps – Again the goal here is to jump high, turn quick and stick the landing. You should perform 30 of these three times. Make sure you go as low as possible and try to maintain form while picking up the speed. Speed should be the last goal. Getting the landing to stick, turning the full turn and having your butt get close to the ground are the main goals.

Improving your lateral movements will help strengthen important muscles that are very active in running.  Keeping these muscles strong will not only help make you stronger, but also help in preventing injury.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.