Speed counts! Even the fastest women out there work hard to get themselves to run faster. We asked female athletes who clock some serious speed on the track and on the soccer field for their best speed-training workouts. Here, speedsters Natasha Kai, Deborah DiCrescenzo and Leslie Osborne share their most effective workouts so you can break your own personal record, too.
How I Run Faster: Soccer Star Natasha Kai
"Speed—if you're not born with it, it's not gonna happen overnight," says Natasha, who has sped her way through the US Olympic team in 2008, the 2007 World Cup team, and is currently on the Sky Blue FC team. "And some days you're going to feel like you're not getting faster. But you're the only person who can dictate your success. You're going to have to run that extra mile or run those extra couple sprints to become faster." Go for it with her top speed workouts:
Favorite Speed Training Workout #1: Cones
•Set up five cones five yards apart so that you have one at 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-yard marks.
•Sprint to the 5-yard mark, then back to start.
•Next, make it to the 10-yard mark and back. Repeat with each mark until you've made it back to the start after the 25.
Natasha does five sets of these sprints, aiming to finish each set in 30 seconds, and giving herself a mini break between each one. "You basically do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off," she says.
Favorite Speed Training Workout #2: Treadmill Intervals
"I run at speed 10 at an incline of 1.5 or 2.0, sprint for 30 or 45 seconds, and then jump off," Natasha says. "So if you run for 30 seconds, you'll rest for 30 seconds. Do 10 straight of those, take a 2-minute break, and then jump on and do 10 more." Work your way up to three sets of 10. Once you notice a difference in your speed and feel the difficulty level waning, increase the speed and incline to make sure you're still pushing yourself.
Unrelated, but Really Interesting Fact about Natasha
The PUMA-sponsored star is known for her ink, and was even featured on a segment of L.A. Ink adding another tat after the U.S. Women's team won the 2008 Olympic Gold. When we spoke to her for this interview, she was fresh from getting her 39th!