This week's column:
How Can I Increase My Speed?
May 16, 2012
Hi, Bill: I do not compete much, but I skate a fair amount. Over time I have increased my top speed from the low 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 mph) to 40-42 km/h (25-26 mph). But I'm having a hard time going any faster. ... What do top skaters do to improve their speed? Is it a matter of working on technique? Is it about building strength? Or are only a few elite skaters capable of going at speeds north of 45 km/h (28 mph)? Any suggestions for picking up the pace would be appreciated. Thank you. - MT from New York.
Hi, MT: First of all, congratulations. You have already come a long way: 40 km/h is not too shabby.
Of course, an important consideration in top end speed is how long you need to maintain it.
When going full blast in a pack sprint, top skaters reach about 50 km/h (31 mph). On the other hand, Tristan Loy averaged 37 km/h (22 mph) when he set his solo one-hour record.
Without seeing you skate, I can only guess on what is holding you back. But here are some general suggestions:
1) Use a high back arm swing along with a full extension leg push to the side. Remember that when sprinting, your arms are as important as your legs.
2) Include interval sprint training in your workout routine. If possible, do this training with skaters who are faster than you. Another great drill for top-end speed is motor-pacing behind a motor scooter. It helps not only with speed but confidence.
3) Perfect your technique. Make sure you have a proper "loop" recovery and a high back leg lift. During your recovery loop, the calf of your leg should reach a position parallel to the ground. After your loop, you must drive the recovery leg forward, past the supporting knee, before you touch down.
4) Consider some weight training. But be advised: weight training can also slow you down. With weight training, your focus should be on converting strength to speed. Off-skate plyometrics can be a great help.
Cheers, Bill (originally posted: Nov. 6, 2007)