- How Running Slower Makes You Faster: Myth or Fact?
- Faster to get better simply wasn’t the answer
- The “factories” and “workers” inside your body
- Here’s why slower is better
- Runners, stop making the same mistakes
- 9 Essential Tips to Run Faster & Get Your PB
- How Charlotte Arter became Parkrun’s fastest woman
- 20 Ways to Run Faster
- 1. Do it right
- 2. Fast and furious
- 3. Strengthen your core
- 4. Pace yourself
- 5. Less is more
- 6. Run to the hills
- 7. Focus forward
- 8. Lose weight
- 9. Train for strength
- 10. Jump up and down
- 11. Get loose
- 12. Fuel your body
- 13. Keep a journal
- 14. Find support
- 15. Push yourself
- 16. Drink coffee
- 17. Get psyched
- 18. Mix it up
- 19. Rest and recover
- 20. Be patient
- How to run faster: 7 ways I increased my running speed and broke all my PRs
- How to run faster
- What foods can make you run faster?
- How to run faster and longer
- But I can’t get faster
- 7 tips to increase your running speed
- 1. Do you run only steady pace miles? –> Run intervals
- 2. Are all your speed workouts the same distance and pace? –> Vary your workouts
- 3. How hard do you really push? –> Run with runners who are faster than you.
- 4. How well do you recover? –> Stop getting injured
- 5. What does your diet look like? What about alcohol intake? –> Evaluate your diet.
- 6. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable? –> Learn to embrace discomfort
- 7. Are you consistent? –> Recognize and celebrate improvements along the way
- A final thought on what else has helped my speed: age + wisdom
- My Must-Have Running Gear
- 7 Ways You Can Run Faster in Your Next Race
- Run Fast More Often
- 10 Minutes, Every Day
- Run Long Every Week
- How to Run Faster: Mental and Physical Techniques
- Keeping Pace with the World’s Fastest Runners
- Mental Techniques
- Training Smart
- Fix Your Form
- Consuming Your Way to Speed
- Running Fast: a Personal Pursuit
- 3 Exercises to Run Faster and Stronger You Can Use Today
- Running Exercises To Run Faster: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
- Running Exercises To Get Faster: Increase Your Hip Power
- Running Exercises To Get Faster: Run Faster
How Running Slower Makes You Faster: Myth or Fact?
by Jason Karp, PhD
When I was a kid, I loved watching the TV sitcom, I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball was one in a million. There was a famous episode in which Lucy and her friend Ethel were working on an assembly line and had to wrap pieces of chocolate as they came down the conveyor belt. At first, the job was easy. The chocolate pieces were coming down the belt at a slow enough speed that Lucy and Ethel could easily grab each piece of chocolate and wrap it.
Then the speed of the conveyor belt quickened, and Lucy and Ethel had their hands full. Literally. They couldn’t wrap each piece of chocolate in time before the next piece was already passing them, so they grabbed handfuls of chocolate and shoved them into their pockets and in their mouths. It was hilarious, and that episode became a famous part of TV history.
Little did the director of that scene know that he revealed the secret to how to become a better distance runner.
Faster to get better simply wasn’t the answer
Clearly, increasing the speed of the conveyor belt didn’t work. Lucy and Ethel weren’t able to keep up with the pace of the belt. If the company that Lucy and Ethel were working for wanted to produce more wrapped chocolates in less time, they should have had more factories with more assembly lines and more workers like Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolates coming down the multiple conveyor belts.
The “factories” and “workers” inside your body
Deep inside your muscle fibers, those factories are the mitochondria, and those workers—the Lucys and Ethels—are the enzymes that catalyze the chemical reactions involved in aerobic metabolism. The more mitochondria your muscles have, the greater your muscles’ capacity to use oxygen and the faster pace you will be able to sustain. The most efficient way to make more mitochondria—more factories, more assembly lines, and more workers—is to run more. And to run more, you have to slow down your runs, because there is an inverse relationship between training intensity and duration: The faster you run, the lower the total amount you can run.
The number and size of mitochondria in your muscle fibers is sensitive to the volume of work performed. When the factories are stressed because of greater demand, more and larger factories will be built to increase their supply to match the demand. If those pieces of chocolate kept coming down the conveyor belt long after the 30-minute I Love Lucy episode was over, more conveyor belts, and more and larger factories to hold those conveyor belts, would have been built to keep up with the demand for chocolate.
In addition to the proliferation of mitochondria (called mitochondrial biogenesis), running more increases the number of red blood cells and the amount of hemoglobin contained within them, giving your blood a greater oxygen-carrying capability. Running more also increases muscle capillary volume, providing more oxygen to your muscles.
Here’s why slower is better
Slowing down your easy runs decreases your chance of injury, enables you to get more out of your harder workout days because there will be less residual fatigue, and enables you to increase your overall weekly mileage as you progress with your training.
Although runners think in terms of distance run, the amount of time spent running is actually more important than the number of kilometers since it’s the duration of effort (time spent running) that your body senses. A faster runner will cover the same amount of distance in less time than a slower runner or, to put it another way, will cover more kilometers in the same amount of time. For example, a runner who averages 4 minutes per kilometer for 40 kilometers per week is running the same amount of time as a runner who averages 8 minutes per kilometer for 20 kilometers per week (160 minutes per week), and therefore is experiencing the same amount of stress. And that’s what matters—the stress. The slower runner may be running fewer kilometers, but the time spent running—and therefore the stimulus for adaptation—is the same. If a slower runner tries to run as much as a faster runner, the slower runner will experience more stress and therefore puts himself or herself at a greater risk for injury.
The duration of effort is one of the key factors that arouse the biological signal to elicit adaptations that will ultimately lead to improvements in your running performance. Focusing on time rather than on distance is a better method for equating the amount of stress between runners of different abilities. Your body has no comprehension of what a kilometer is; it only knows how hard it’s working and how long it’s working. Effort over time.
Runners, stop making the same mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes runners make is thinking that to run faster in races, they need to run faster in workouts. So they run their workouts faster than their current fitness level dictates. I once coached a university runner who ran 19 minutes for 5K, and she told me she wanted to be trained like a 17:30 5K runner. So I told her to run a 17:30 5K and then I’ll train her like a 17:30 5K runner. Races, which tell you your current level of fitness, dictate the training speeds, not the other way around. As a distance runner, don’t run to practice running faster; run to improve the physiological characteristics—to make more assembly lines—that will enable you to run faster in the future. Even if it’s not as funny as the I Love Lucy chocolate episode.
Jason Karp, PhD, is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 2014 recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership award, and creator of the REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification. He has more than 400 published articles in international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of eight books, including The Inner Runner and Run Your Fat Off, and speaks at fitness conferences and coaching clinics around the world. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and train right at run-fit.com/trainingprograms.
Whether you run to work, are training for your first (or second, or third) marathon, or, having followed our beginner’s guide to start running and are ready to tackle your first Parkrun, there will likely come a time in your training when you will want to find out how to run faster.
Perhaps you want to smash last Sunday’s PB, or you want to complete the marathon in a sub 4.5-hour run time. Or maybe you’d like a bit more time to shower after running into work. Whatever the reason, when it comes to how to run faster, the good news is it’s pretty simple. Just a few straightforward tweaks to your training is enough to produce massive results.
And before you ask how often should you work out for results, we’ve got the answer: not that long.
Follow the below “How to run faster” plan, and you could be shaving time off your runs in just a few sessions. Impressive stuff.
Want to know what it feels like to cross the finish first? Here’s how to run faster.
9 Essential Tips to Run Faster & Get Your PB
If you’ve read our guide on how to start running, you’ll know that, when it comes to running, it isn’t just a matter of placing one foot in front of the other. Technique plays a huge part in getting you from A to B – not only in your desired time – but also injury-free. Because if you want to focus on getting faster, conditions such as shin splints are an unwelcome – and unnecessary – hurdle.
Matt Roberts, PT and running pro (FYI: he trained with Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell), highlights the top three areas to nail for improved speed and efficiency. We like to call them the GBB of how to run fast. And no, we don’t mean fuelling up with cake or episodes of the Great British Bake-off.
2| Think about your foot strike
“Land midfoot and increase your cadence to improve speed and efficiency,” Roberts says. It will also reduce the force shock-waves rippling through your body.
3| Find your breathing pattern
“Find a stride and breathing pattern that works for you and is consistent,” says Roberts. “For example, breathe in for 2-4 strides, breathe out for 2-4 strides. Working towards a relaxed and rhythmical breathing rate during periods of more intense running will mean you don’t waste energy on unwanted tension in the body, which can be brought on by erratic breathing.”
Plus, if you’ve got your breathing sorted so it’s second nature, you can focus your attention to your gait and your butt, safe in the knowledge that your muscles have all the oxygen they need to keep driving.
4| Start strength training
If you’re looking to run faster than GB sprinter Dina Asher Smith, you’re going to need to step away from the running shoes a couple of times a week and do something else. Don’t believe us? Listen to Roberts.
“The most important thing to add to your running routine is resistance training,” says Roberts. “Increased strength will improve the power of each and every stride, taking you forward faster, while mobility and flexibility routines are great ways to make sure that your body stays free to be highly active.”
“Stronger glutes provide a better running gait and increase propulsion,” says Roberts. “Improve the strength of yours by performing reverse lunges from a low step plus rear-foot elevated split squats. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise, 1-2 times per week.”
Check whether you have these signs of weak glutes, if you’re not sure.
Need inspiration? Apart from the bum exercises that Roberts recommended above – which, btw, given their unilateral nature can help to even out strength imbalances between your legs and aid joint strength and stability, watch the video below to learn how to further run-proof your body.
5| Add speed training into your training
To get faster you run to run faster so start incorporating speed-training drills into your run itself. These, says Roberts, will improve speed by forcing your body to use different parts of each muscle to allow it to work and recover – and then get stronger.
• Speed-change intervals. Go fast. Go slower. Go faster. Aim to work for 20-30 seconds, then recover for around the same amount of time. You will pant. And you will burn.You get the picture.
• Distance intervals. Keep things interesting with pace changes over varying distances. Eg. run 1KM at your half marathon pace and then one at your 5KM pace and so on.
• Hill training intervals. Think sprints. Up a hill.
6| Find a new running route
“Your body needs variation in terrain, speed and distance in order to be continuously challenged and to adapt,” Roberts says. Deep down you knew that, right? But somehow your go-to Parkrun always wins out over the more challenging hill trail nearby.
“Vary your routes regularly and use hills as a way to change your mental and physical input,” says Roberts. “Bodies don’t get injured easily if they have perfect muscle strength balance and mobility, however we aren’t perfect, so changing how we challenge ourselves is key.”
Furthermore, by switching up the intensity of your runs, you’ll be more likely to last the distance. “A lot of runners suffer from overuse injuries,” says Roberts. “To avoid these, build in periods of time plus strategies to recover from your training. Have some run days that are easy and count as active rest, for example; get 7-8 hours of sleep; and eat whole food sources of protein, carbohydrates/vegetables and fats.”
7| Eat the right foods to help you run faster
According to Sarah Jane Holt, a Matt Roberts nutritionist, there are some simple nutritional changes that can make all the difference when it comes to how to run faster. Ready to plate up?
BEFORE A SPRINT SESSION
“It is really important that you consume carbohydrates 45-60 minutes before a sprint,” says Holt. “This will top up your glycogen stores and ensure you have enough energy to really work hard in your session. A sprint session done in a low-carb state could be compromised, as work output will be most likely be less due to a lack of glycogen to fuel the anaerobic nature of the training.”
BEFORE A TEMPO RUN
“Research has shown that running in a low-carb state can help to increase the aerobic capacity of cells, so it would be a good idea to try some tempo runs with just a protein and fat based meal beforehand,” says Holt. “However, on other tempo runs, choosing to run in a high-carb state will help you because, as with the sprints, you will have lots of energy to really push the pace. A mix of low-carb and high-carb training when doing tempo runs can really help improve your running times.
WHAT TO EAT AFTER A RUN
“The last thing to think about when it comes to nutrition and learning how to run faster is your recovery,” says Holt. But it’s the most important part: “The body adapts and gets stronger during our rest periods and making sure your nutrition is on point will help this process. After your runs, within 1-2 hours, consume protein and carbohydrates – around 1g of carb per kg of body weight and around 30-40g of protein as this will really help the recovery process and ensure your body is adapting to the training stimulus.”
And when it comes to avoiding the ever-dreaded stitch?
“The best way to avoid stitches is to not over consume food or fluids too close to a run,” says Roberts. “Aim to consume fluids gradually leading up to the run as opposed to a lot all in one go.”
8| Ensure you’re doing the best stretches for runners
We get you – you’ve just set yourself a new run time and you’re pretty elated (or you’ve run into work and realised you’re late, again). You’ve got other things on your mind than pausing for a few minutes to breathe and stretch. But if you want to avoid injury and improve your performance for your next session, taking a moment should be a key part of your training. But, if you’ve moments, rather than minutes, Roberts recommends mobilising your ankles and calves, hips, and upper back.
Try this mobility routine, designed especially for runner by Joslyn Thompson Rule.
9| Invest in the right trainers
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of the right running kit. Roberts found Adidas Ultraboost trainers improved his runs, for example. You might also want to try thse two in one running shorts and these essential bits of Running Kit to reduce DOMS and increase recovery time. Ready. Set. Run.
How Charlotte Arter became Parkrun’s fastest woman
27-year-old British 10,00m champion Charlotte Arter sprinted to fame after breaking the record for the fastest female Parkrun time, completing it in just 15 minutes and 50 seconds.
Now training as a full time athlete Charlotte is chasing a Tokyo 2020 qualifying time. This is how she’s training for speed.
Planning optimal Running sessions
These days Tuesday is a fast sesion, Friday is tempo based session and Sunday is a long run, anywhere between 12-14 minutes.
Example quick session: 20 x 400 meters with short recovery (45 seconds) in between intervals.
Example tempo run: 12 x 4-minute intervals on the road.
Not always beasting myself
I’m not working to my max every session as my body just can’t physically do that. It’s about training smart, making sure I get the right training, the right adaptations so I’m not always pushing to that limit. Sometimes I even go back to old school days with a start stop watch where I literally just go running for 40 minutes and if I’m feeling good I run a bit quicker but if I’m feeling a bit tired I go a bit slower.
Committing to Strength Training
I do 2 Gym Sessions a week. I’m keeping hard days to the hard days, so I actually lift on the same day I am doing a session because spreading the load across the week made every day hard. So, I do my track sessions in the morning, grab a bite to eat and head into the gym for a workout before completing an easy running session that evening.
Typically, I lift heavier weights in the winter but as a distance runner it’s never crazy, it’s more focused on working on single leg functional movements, such as single leg squats and single leg deadlifts.
Not skipping rest days
In my training week there is a gap of two or three days before I run hard again. After running hard on Tuesday, there will be a drop-in intensity until Friday when I will run hard again.
Ride ISO 2 saucony saucony.com
Choosing the right shoe
The Saucony Rides are my absolute go to, they are the mileage shoe that I wear every single day. They are super comfy and cushioned, there’s literally no other shoe I would do my miles in.
If I’m going a bit quicker, say 5K or 10K on the road, or for a quicker track session, I wear the Saucony Fast Twitch shoes. They are tighter and thinner so I can get a bit more response from them.
When it comes to marathon training advice, you can’t get much more cliché than “slow and steady wins the race.” But if you’ve ever run a marathon yourself, or gone to watch a big race and cheered on the marathoners, you’ll see that this often really rings true as far as race day execution is concerned.
Every recreational distance runner I know would probably say they have trained too fast at some point in their running career. I’m certainly guilty of this myself. After my first marathon in 2010, I set a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. While this certainly isn’t something that’s impossible to achieve, it was too aggressive a goal for my racing and training level at the time. Although I did initially make some gains (including my first sub-four-hour marathon finish!), piling on too much too soon landed me with back-to-back injuries and put me behind further in reaching that goal (which is still at the top of my running bucket list, by the way).
A silver lining, I suppose, is that I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on this and eventually adopt smarter training practices to finally start seeing big results. The most important thing I learned is that just training faster and harder isn’t the best way to actually be a faster runner.
So what is? Although I have nearly 15 years of long-distance running experience under my belt, I’m not exactly an expert—so I decided to talk with experienced, professional running coaches to find out what exactly they recommend for people who are trying to become a faster runner for their next long-distance race.
1. Embrace the power of slow runs.
A common mistake that new or less-seasoned long-distance runners make is taking the effort they’ve put into their fastest 5K or 10K times and attempting to execute those paces for their half or full marathon training runs.
“Runners who do this usually have the idea that they want to see how long they can keep a certain pace, and while they will initially see improvements, it oftentimes just leads to burnout and injuries,” Andre Laboy, a coach with the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, a group of certified coaches led by exercise scientist Jack Daniels, Ph.D. in New York City, tells SELF.
“Doing this is actually more likely going to get you a first-class ticket to overtraining,” adds Tawnee Gibson, M.S., C.S.C.S., a certified running and U.S. triathlon coach in Laguna Beach, California, and host of the Endurance Planet podcast. “It’s really hard to get new athletes to avoid getting down on themselves when told to run slowly, but I can’t stress it any harder: Slowing down during long-distance training doesn’t make you a failure; it actually makes you a very smart athlete,” she tells SELF.
Running slowly during long runs helps you ease your body into the increased stress of running longer, which is key for avoiding injuries and burnout. It’s also the best way to improve your endurance—or ability to last through a long-distance race like a marathon—which is an important foundation to build before working on speed.
Laboy advises his athletes to run their easy and long runs about 45 seconds to one minute slower than their marathon goal pace. The idea behind this is that you’re improving your fitness while ensuring that you’re recovering the next day (versus taking several days or more to recover, as you would following a race-pace marathon). According to Laboy, the best way to tell if you are running easy enough is to check to see if you can comfortably and easily hold a conversation. “You should be able to tell your running buddy a story about something that happened last night without gasping for air,” he says. “If not, you should definitely slow down.”
2. Determine your VDOT score.
The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project’s Web site features a free race and training pace calculator based on the Jack Daniels VDOT methodology of measuring your current running ability. A runner’s VDOT is a score given based on how he or she did in a recent race. Based on your recent race finish time, the calculator will tell you the appropriate pace for various distances, which is helpful if you like having specific pace targets while training. The calculator also allows athletes to see how much they should adjust their paces when training at altitude or when the temperatures and humidity levels soar.
20 Ways to Run Faster
Welcome, brave challenger. You want to run faster, do you? If so, you’re in the right place! Apply these 20 ways to run faster than you ever thought possible and blow past your competition quicker than you can say, “undelay!”
1. Do it right
Proper form is step one to any exercise plan. Watch some videos of the best runners in the world and pay close attention to how they carry their body forward with efficiency. Keep your gaze forward, maintain a tall and relaxed posture, swing your arms forward and back, and strike the ground with the mid-foot under your hip. If you have a knowledgeable training buddy, have him/her observe your form and identify any weaknesses that you need to work on. This will help you learn to move mindfully with purpose.
2. Fast and furious
Crank up the intensity by performing sprints two or three times per week to boost your speed and make your workouts more convenient for your busy schedule. If you live in a neighborhood that includes light-posts on your side-walk, you could turn to perform a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout by sprinting to one post, jogging to the next one, sprinting to the next one, and so on.
3. Strengthen your core
Strengthen your core muscles to run smoother and faster (and develop a nice set of abs!). The plank hold is one of the most effective core exercises for beginners.
4. Pace yourself
Running full speed ahead every day is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out in a hurry, so make sure you vary your workouts to include low, medium, and high training intensities to avoid burn-out. You could alternate your pace during a single workout session to include a brisk walk, a moderate jog, and a hard sprint. This will also help you make your training more fun and interesting.
5. Less is more
Keep your training attire nice and light so you can move with ease. Try a minimalist pair of sneakers on for size if you are serious about your results.
6. Run to the hills
Take your workout outside and uphill for fresh air and a change of pace. Hill sprints are one of the most effective ways to develop speed and muscle strength. Find a big hill in a neighborhood park and run sprints to the top. Walk back down for a brief cool-down before doing it again. Repeat for 5-10 circuits depending on your experience level for a fast and convenient workout that will help you run faster. If you live in a big city without a park, you might want to consider treadmill hill sprints, a fast way to burn fat.
7. Focus forward
Keep your gaze focused forward with your eyes looking straight ahead to run faster and crush your previous personal record.
8. Lose weight
The less weight you carry, the faster you will be. Of course, if you are already at your ideal weight, this point doesn’t apply to you, and please talk to your doctor if you have any conditions before beginning a weight-loss plan.
9. Train for strength
Squats and lunges are your friends! Not only will they give you a booty to be proud of, but they will also develop strong legs that will be better able to move your body quickly and with ease. Perform the following home body-weight resistance training session two or three times per week:
- Squats (hands on a wall for support if needed)
- Push-ups (on wall or counter if needed)
- Lunges (hand on wall for support if needed)
- Wall-pulls or body-weight rows
I’m also including push-ups and wall-pulls or body-weight rows, because it is important to perform a balanced strength training routine that covers every major muscle group. Wall-pulls and body-weight rows are beginner pull-up replacement exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home. The push-ups, pulls, and rows will help you build upper body strength and toned arms.
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions of each exercise based on what is appropriate for your experience level and rest for about 1-2 minutes in between set. Click on the exercise name to check out a demonstration video.
10. Jump up and down
Invest in a jump-rope, crank up “Eye of the Tiger,” and channel your inner-Rocky! Jumping rope is one of the best ways to develop fast feet (and it’s not difficult to see how fast feet might help you run faster). You’ll also develop your coordination and balance, which will help you move with purpose and grace.
11. Get loose
Get on the floor and start stretching! Perform some gentle yoga poses, especially for your hips and legs, after every single training session. Your body will thank you with less soreness and more flexibility. to check out a full cool down yoga routine you can do at home.
12. Fuel your body
Eating junk food before your training session would be like pouring sugar in your gas-tank before the family road-trip. Eat some carbs in the form of whole-grains and pasta for long-lasting energy that will carry you through your workout.
13. Keep a journal
Running without purpose will take you nowhere in a hurry. Invest in a journal specifically for the purpose of recording your workout results so you can keep yourself accountable and on track. Write down the details of every training session and give yourself the goal of improving in some way every single day. Keeping a training log will also keep you encouraged, because you will have a written account of how much faster you are becoming.
14. Find support
Strength in numbers is a powerful concept. Find support from some friends or family who also want to run faster. Invite them to run with you for some friendly competition and social support that will help you stick to your workout plan. If you don’t know anyone who would like to join you, the internet is a great place where you can find support anywhere in the world. Search for message boards and support communities of like-minded folks, because you are not alone (far from it!).
15. Push yourself
If it was easy, everybody would do it, so please realize that you must push yourself beyond your comfort zone. I know getting all hot and sweaty might not sound like fun, but it is necessary if you want results. Assuming a scale of 1-10 describing how you score during the training, you should aim to discontinue the exercise around #7. You should feel challenged, but not exhausted. Keep a training journal and give yourself the goal of improving yourself every day. Improvement can come in several forms, such as: a faster mile, a longer run, or an additional sprint circuit.
16. Drink coffee
Caffeine has been proven to improve your workout intensity and speed. Just make sure you don’t dump a mountain of sugar in your brew: instead, add a splash of milk and dash of cinnamon for a healthier and more delicious caffeine fix.
17. Get psyched
Grab your iPod and crank up the volume! Choose some training tunes that will get you psyched and let workout know who’s the boss (you!).
18. Mix it up
Apply all of the different workout styles I’ve mentioned here to keep your training fun and interesting. Do some body-weight resistance training to build strength and burn fat. If you’re in a hurry, give your body a quick hit with some sprints uphill or upstairs. Take a breather by going on a nice brisk walk at the park with your lover or pet. And don’t forget to train your core and flexibility so you can improve your balance and posture, which will help you run faster (and with purpose!).
19. Rest and recover
Pushing your body constantly without pause will result in exhaustion at best and injury at worst. Take at least two rest days per week where the only training allowed is a nice walk or some gentle yoga poses. Make sure you’re getting around 6-8 hours of sleep every night, because studies show that consistent sleeping patterns produce quicker reaction times and faster race finishes. If you have a tough time getting enough shut-eye at night, check out this simple strategy for better rest in less time.
20. Be patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Keep moving forward in the direction of your goal and I promise you will reach it. Consistent hustle always wins. (Write this mantra down and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day if you could use a positive reminder!)
Have any other tips?
I hope the above twenty ways to run faster will help you become faster than you ever thought possible. If you have any additional tips for increasing speed that you’d like to share, leave a comment below because this would benefit everybody!
How to run faster: 7 ways I increased my running speed and broke all my PRs
Want to know how to run faster? Get seven tips to increase your running speed and evaluate where you may be limiting your potential.
My first ever race was the Moab Half Marathon in 2005, which I ran in 1 hour, 57 minutes.
My next race was a Ragnar Relay and then a 5K, which I ran in 25:56.
When I ran my first marathon in 2009, took me 4 hours, 6 minutes.
Since my first race, 14 years and 50+ races later, my current PRs are:
- 1:30:38 half marathon
- 3:17:50 marathon
- 20:12.9 5K
That means, I’ve dropped the following time off my races:
- 27 minutes in the half
- 49 minutes in the marathon
- 5+ minutes in the 5K
I wrote in my journal when I was 20 that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon but never remotely believed I actually could, and I’ve since run it twice. I’ve placed in my age group at multiple races, won a couple in the women’s division and even outright won a race once, beating all the men. (Gotta love small races! 🙂 )
Remember, speed is ALL relative. My times may look slow to some and impossible to others. And remember that people feel the same way about YOUR running speed, regardless of what it is.
I wouldn’t say I was born naturally fast. When I started running around age 14, my training runs were in the 10-11 minute mile range and it wasn’t until I was about 25 that I started to focus on running faster. Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked very hard to reduce my race times, followed many training plans and even hired my first running coach this year.
Brooks running shoes | Oiselle roga shorts | similar tank | water bottle | visor | watch (read my review here)
How to run faster
I often get asked by new and seasoned runners, “How can I increase my running speed?” There’s not one thing you can add in to make you run faster but rather a combinations of things.
The best answer I have is to keep putting in the work consistently, for years.
It’s not completely unreasonable to expect some improvements in speed right away, especially if you’re a new runner. But it’s also not reasonable to expect huge improvements after just a couple months.
Huge improvements in running speed take years to discover. And what’s especially exciting about that is that you really don’t know how much faster you’ll get over time. If you cut 15 seconds per mile off in your first 3 months of running, that’s awesome. But you may end up cutting 2 minutes off per mile after years of work. There is so much untapped potential when you’re new since you just don’t really know your body yet.
And yes, at some point, you’ll eventually slow down. But more and more runners are continuing to tap into faster speeds later in life, both in the recreational and elite runner populations.
What foods can make you run faster?
This is a frequently asked question, and honestly, training harder has improved my speed more than anything. That being said, while there aren’t specific foods that will make you run faster, but in order to run your best, you MUST be properly fueled. And carbs should be a large portion of your diet. Read this post for more details on the importance of carbs and how the amount you eat should change as your training increases in volume and/or intensity.
When I was training for the 2019 Boston Marathon, I had my diet analyzed by a registered dietician who specializes in sports performance. He identified that I was under-fueling. While my protein intake was adequate, I wasn’t getting enough carbs to support the mileage and intensity I was putting in. Read what he suggested I change here.
How to run faster and longer
Trying to increase your speed and your distance at the same time is a recipe for injury. Focus first on building up a solid base of mileage, with easy miles. Then ease into speed work with some short strides (4-12x of 30 second pick-ups at the end of a run followed by 30-60 seconds easy jogging or walking).
Once you are running your base weekly distance for 4-6 weeks, then you can start to add in more structured speed work.
Your workouts – both in distance and pace – should be tailored to your goals. If you’re trying to break your 5K PR, that will look dramatically different than a marathon training plan. A good training plan should incorporate speed workouts specific to your race distance.
Nike Vaporfly shoes (read my review here) | Senita shorts | similar tank
But I can’t get faster
So what if you’ve been running for years and don’t feel like you’re getting faster? I would ask you to evaluate a few things:
- Do you run only steady pace miles?
- Are all your speed workouts the same distance and pace?
- How hard do you really push in your workouts?
- Are you taking time for recovery? How many hours do you sleep each night?
- What does your diet look like? What about alcohol intake?
- Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?
- Are you consistent day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year?
Go through that list, honestly answer each and evaluate it. Yes, there will be periods where an injury or life causes a setback or limits your training. Factor that into your goals as well. But a long, healthy running career is consistent, even through life’s inconsistencies.
Sometimes consistency is being really diligent with PT to recover from an injury. Other times, it’s recognizing that you’re in a period of life where it’s not reasonable to put in consistent training and manage your own expectations.
7 tips to increase your running speed
Looking at the self assessment questions above, here are seven tips to improve on each point.
1. Do you run only steady pace miles? –> Run intervals
You won’t get faster if you don’t practice running faster and really push yourself (more on that in #3). I first started running intervals on the treadmill mostly because I kept getting bored on the treadmill. And then I noticed how much my “fast” speed on the treadmill started improving and it motivated me to keep pushing the pace.
I don’t do anything formal in the beginning: just warmed up for about a mile and then started alternating between running fast for 30-60 seconds and running slower for 30-90 seconds. I also tried I increase my speed one notch with each fast interval. My fast pace was anywhere from 5:45 – 6:30 min/mile and recovery around 8:30-8:45 min/mile.
Adidas running shoes (review here)
2. Are all your speed workouts the same distance and pace? –> Vary your workouts
Now my speed work is much more structured and much more specific for whatever goal race is next on the calendar. I may do some short intervals, tempo runs, long runs with pace changes. Lots of variety creates different stimulus, which drives change and improvement.
3. How hard do you really push? –> Run with runners who are faster than you.
I never really set out to improve my running speed or race times. It was fun when it happened, but when I started seeing big improvements in pace and race times is when I started running with people much faster than me.
And yes, a lot of the time, it sucked running with them. I was frustrated that their “easy” pace was killer for me and embarrassed when I had to ask them to slow down or just go on without me.
But my ego is such that I worked my butt off to keep up as best I could and, eventually, my easy pace re-calibrated. My easy pace used to be a 9:30 – 11:00 min/mile and now my easy pace for longer runs is around 8:15-8:30 min/mile. (If I’m marathon training, my recovery runs will still tip into 9 and 10 minute miles.)
4. How well do you recover? –> Stop getting injured
If you are constantly battling an injury, it’s going to be hard to push yourself while running. And if you can’t push yourself, it’ll be hard to make improvements. While I still struggle with injuries from time to time (plantar fasciitis most recently), I’ve learned to address aches/pains sooner than later.
I try to be proactive and somewhat regular with yoga, dry needling, chiropractic adjustments, strength training (particularly core and hip work), and massage. Read more tips for how I keep injuries at bay here.
And don’t forget to get some sleep. Runners need 7-9 hours per night. More and more research is showing that sleep is the MOST important recovery tool out there.
5. What does your diet look like? What about alcohol intake? –> Evaluate your diet.
I used to not think much about what I ate before and after a run. I always had something, but I wasn’t very intentional about it. While I try not to obsess over food, I am very intentional with my diet to fuel my running goals — particularly right before and after a run.
When I’m training for a big goal, I don’t drink alcohol. You can read more about how I balance alcohol with living life and marathon training here. Even when I’m not in training mode, I rarely have more than 1-2 glasses a week. If I drink more than that (in terms of number of days or glasses at one time), I really feel it on my runs and I’m significantly more tired throughout the day. So it’s just not worth it to me.
Over the years my weight has fluctuated. But, the moral of the story is if you aren’t at a healthy weight — either too heavy or too thin — it may limit your potential. Find a healthy weight where you feel good and makes sense for your body type. Lighter does NOT always equal faster. It can also equal injuries and more serious problems as it relates to your relationship with food.
6. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable? –> Learn to embrace discomfort
I used to have the motto that I run because I enjoy it and if I push too hard, I won’t enjoy it. And that motto was fine for a time.
But then I wanted to get faster and that motto can’t apply when working on speed. I had to learn to deal with discomfort from pushing the pace and also know the difference between discomfort and pain. Now, I almost always prefer a workout to a steady state run.
Running a race will also help you learn to embrace discomfort. You’ll push yourself harder in a race than you will on a regular training run so this is especially helpful if you just don’t like pushing yourself. Plus, you’ll be energized by the running community, which helps you stay motivated and excited about running.
I often run tune-up races leading up to a goal race to practice pushing myself when I’m tired and to practice logistics before the big race, which helps with nerves.
And when I inevitably start to fatigue, here’s what helps me cope during extra hard workouts or races:
- visualizing how good it feels when I beat my PR
- channeling any stress I have into the pain
- reminding myself that it SHOULD feel hard, that the paces should NOT come easily
- repeating mantras
My favorite training mantra is “This is what you’re here for.” For race day, I like “I trained for this feeling.” and “The faster I run, the sooner I’m done.”
7. Are you consistent? –> Recognize and celebrate improvements along the way
If you aren’t consistent, it’s going to be hard to see those big breakthroughs. But, it’s hard to realize that you are working towards a big breakthrough when you’re just doing the day to day things without seeing how it’s building over weeks, months and years.
That’s where having a long-term perspective can be helpful and where recognizing improvements along the way will help you stay motivated before those big throughs.
You may drop big chunks of time off your races in the beginning. Or your may not. You may be at the point where even 3 seconds faster is a win. Or maybe the win on any given day is remembering to stretch after every workout. You may run significantly slower in the heat but you still get out there and run in it. (And you WILL run slower in the heat – don’t let it discourage you! Read more about that here.) Don’t let summer running discourage you!
Part of the key to staying motivated long-term is to remember WHY you started running in the first place and celebrating along the way, not only at big breakthroughs.
Running leggings | shoes | Patagonia jacket | Lululemon long-sleeved shirt | socks
A final thought on what else has helped my speed: age + wisdom
I got older. I’ve read before that women reach their peak in running from about 28-38. It might be a coincidence since I’ve also starting training harder as I’ve gotten older, but it seems to be happening.
But more importantly, I’ve gotten wiser (most of the time) and listen to my body when it really needs more recovery or more fuel — or to be pushed a little harder.
It’s taken years of hard work but I still believe I have more speed in me. And that’s exciting. And you probably have more in you too.
What have you done to increase your speed? Which of these seven things do you could work on?
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7 Ways You Can Run Faster in Your Next Race
Most runners run the same schedule every week, month and year. Every time they lace up their shoes, it’s the same distance, at the same pace, for the same number of runs per week. No wonder so many runners don’t improve.
Instead, there are many ways you can upgrade your running, improve your training, and get faster. These seven practical tips will help you to run faster in your next race.
Run Fast More Often
To run fast, you have to run fast. Sounds intuitive, doesn’t it? But many runners aren’t running a fast workout every week and that’s a big mistake. Consistently running fast is one of the best ways to improve.
If you don’t run a faster workout every week, start this week by doing an easy fartlek workout like six repeats of 1 minute at a hard pace and 2 minutes of easy jogging in between as recovery.
Already run a weekly fast workout? Make it two.
More: 6 Speed Workouts to Run a Faster 5K
10 Minutes, Every Day
A little bit of strength work goes a long way. Dedicate at least 10 minutes after your run for a runner-specific strength workout.
You’ll improve your running form, become more efficient—especially late in a race when you’re tired—and it will also help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
This is also critical part of injury prevention for runners.
More: 3 Injury Prevention Moves for Time-Strapped Runners
Run Long Every Week
Most runners think of speed when they want to get faster. But for beginner and intermediate runners, endurance is the real key to improving race times.
More: Should You Run More Miles?
How to Run Faster: Mental and Physical Techniques
What is speed? If we’re opening the dictionary, it’s a measurement of the rate at which someone or something is able to move; it also means to move quickly. Speed is both relative and concrete. It’s both an exact measure and a feeling with wholly different meanings depending on the context.
Speed is inexorably linked to time: seconds, minutes, mile splits, PRs. It can be easy to forget the idea of being fast, the heavy breathing, wind-through-your-hair, quad-burning sensation in which runners know they are hitting the ground but feel as if they’re floating.
Sam Robinson is a writer and marathoner–he has a PhD in history, has been featured in Outside Magazine, and is a fixture in the Bay Area running community. He recently discussed the idea of running philosophy on the H.V.M.N. Podcast.
“Fast is relative. It’s always good to keep that in mind.”-Sam Robinson
Fast is a feeling, one that maybe can’t be associated with time for all athletes.
Keeping Pace with the World’s Fastest Runners
During the 100m dash at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, sprinter Usain Bolt hit 27.8mph. Marathoner Dennis Kimetto ran the 2014 Berlin Marathon in 2:02:57 which was the fastest marathon of all time–until Eliud Kipchoge smashed that record on September 16, 2018 (also at Berlin) with a time of 2:01:39.
These runners exhibit different kinds of speed, each fast in their relative events. While Bolt hit a top speed of nearly 28mph, Kipchoge maintained over 13mph during his world-record setting marathon. The result was an average mile time of 4:38, faster than the max speed of the average treadmill (5 minutes per pace). These are the two extremes: sprints and marathons are almost entirely different sports and ways to exhibit speed.
Between these two efforts, middle distance running (800m, most commonly) provides a unique physiological middle ground.
One study cites the contribution from aerobic and anaerobic variables as allowing a runner to maintain speed during middle distance races. These runners are able to produce velocity without impairment from things like VO2 max (long-distance running), and lactate threshold (sprints).1
The world’s fastest 800m runner is David Rudisha, who holds the world and Olympic record set at London in 2012 with a time of 1:40. That effort broke his own record, set in 2010. Before that? The record was set in 1997 by Wilson Kipketer (who broke his own record several times). And before that? The record was set by Sebastian Coe in 1981. This is interesting when compared to marathon records (broken every few years) and 100m world records (broken even more frequently).
This is all to say that fast doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It depends on things like distance, event, output, and maybe most importantly for the casual runner, personal goal: a number, denoted in time, less than your previous run.
We are not Bolt or Kipchoge. But we share a desire to run faster, whatever that may mean to you as a runner.
Running faster is something that must be achieved through physical ability–the body is what propels us forward. But now more than ever, the mental aspect of endurance exercise is being considered a powerful tool to push the body to extreme lengths.
“We’re so fixated on screens. Running is one of the times I can get away from that and be in my own head.”- Sam Robinson
The body and mind are linked; while we’ll explore physical aspects of technique and pacing, we’ll also address mental strategies to employ while on the road or the course.
Welcome the Pain
We previously discussed motivational techniques for runners, which points to embracing pain as a way runners can push themselves to log miles every day. The same is true for running faster. There’s an element of discomfort that must be welcomed in order to increase pace.
“Try not to see it as pain, just an intense sensation like spicy food or dark chocolate.” – Michael Brandt, HVMN Co-founder and COO
This is especially difficult for runners who are just starting because they’re not used to the feeling of pain. During workouts like speed training, the pain will come–it’s about being ready for it, anticipating it, and eventually, embracing it.
The pain will lessen with training. Crossing the lactate threshold is the point at which the body cannot recycle the lactic acid accumulated in the blood–it’s then that the body begins sending pain and nausea signals in an effort to make you slow down and thus recycle all that lactic acid. But you can train to increase that lactic threshold and decrease the pain.
With training also comes a knowledge of your body and an understanding of pain, remembering how it feels and at what point in the run it’ll hit.
The power of the mind can’t be understated–being aware of your thinking, and how those thoughts make you feel, can have a positive or negative impact on performance outputs. Sometimes telling yourself “you’re great” is the first step to actually making that happen.
One meta-analysis concluded the strategy of self-talk facilitates learning (so it can also help training) and enhance performance.2 Since self-talk has an impact on performance, it’s important to make that self-talk positive.
Cindra Kamphoff has a Ph.D in performance psychology, and she is a performance coach to professional athletes, executives and championships teams from all over the US. She understands the power of the mind and helps athletes harness it. When speaking about the mental aspect of sport, she had this to say: “The negativity is going to come, the disempowering thoughts are going to come because you’re pushing your body. You don’t have to believe them.”
While talking to yourself during a run, it also helps to be mindful. Many runners reach a flowstate of zen or a meditation-like experience. This happens during the run, but its power can be harnessed while off the trail. One study showed that several weeks of mindfulness training could help elite athletes adapt better to stressful situations.3
The ability to harness the connection between body and mind may lead to better results.
No, this isn’t adding carbs to your pre-workout.
Breaking a casual run or race into chunks can help–especially for longer runs. This technique can help by making the total mileage feel less daunting. For a marathon distance, a popular way to break it down is into two 10-mile runs and a 10k.
Even on a smaller scale, chunking can be similar to gamifying the run. If you’re running in a city, you might push yourself to the end of the block. During a race, it’s undeniable that seeing the finish line can allow you to tap into a new running gear and push to the end.
Breaking down a run into smaller sections may help increase speed incrementally, which will likely lead to a better overall time.
Training is like juggling. Breathing, form, power–all these things are on your mind with each stride. When one is dropped, the others tend to follow. But it’s during this training process that the best habits are built. And remember, it’s a process.
“Running is about playing the long game. Think of it like a house. A good race or bad race is a single brick in the edifice of your long-term fitness.” – Sam Robison
Things like intervals and tempo runs can help. It’s also important to track your progress: keep a training log to see how you’ve been able to increase speed after all that hard training.
Intervals are great speed workouts for both the aerobic and anaerobic system. They consist of short, high-intensity bursts followed by slow recovery phases which are repeated one after the other. One of the earliest forms of interval training was the Fartlek method (Swedish for “speed play”), and today, many athletes use high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Sometimes, running fast means actually running fast.
Generally, these workouts are ten seconds to several minutes long, run nearly at maximum effort, followed by a rest period of up to four times the length of the effort itself. The shorter the interval, the more of them you’ll likely do.
But the length of intervals (time and distance), power of those intervals, and the rest period, should be optimized for the specific runner. Elite runners can do four intervals of ten minute runs at their 5k pace. Most runners won’t be able to maintain that. An average interval workout is an 8×4: eight repeats of a 400m run done in 90 seconds with a two-minute recovery.
One study in soccer players found that HIIT improved maximal aerobic speed.4 And recreational runners can improve their running economy by replacing aspects of their conventional training with long-interval running.5
Hill training usually targets power in the legs, meaning higher output. One study found that six weeks of hill workouts increased top speed for runners, while also allowing them to sustain that speed 32% longer.6
Hill repeats are similar to interval training in that they’re usually conducted in short bursts. First, warm up. Then find a hill that’s about 100m long and run hard to the top, with the jog downhill serving as the recovery period. Start with two or four repeats, and work your way up to six or eight.
Tempo runs are also known as lactate threshold runs–this is the point at which your body is unable to recycle accumulated lactate in the blood. This is a pace that’s anywhere between ten and 30 seconds slower than a 5k or 10k pace.
The goal of tempo runs is to increase your anaerobic threshold, thus allowing your body to sustain an effort that was previously unsustainable. This training technique tends to benefit longer-distance runners more than sprinters.
Tempo runs should be part of a weekly running routine, and can vary depending on experience level and training needs. One way to incorporate this into training is to start by running 15 – 20 minutes at 75% of maximum heart rate, then build up to 30 – 45 minutes by adding about five minutes to these runs weekly.
While many runners are laser-focused on logging miles, time in the gym can lead to time off your mile splits.7
Two areas of strength training are often employed by runners: leg and core workouts. Weight training can both improve strength and lead to greater running economy (as it did for female runners in this study).8
Exercises like lunges and squats can strengthen those leg muscles used more frequently on runs. And for core workouts, even simple additions like planks and leg raises and weighted sit-ups can positively impact form and posture. Don’t discount yoga and stretching–on days where you’re looking for some active recovery, yoga is perfect for both developing strength in core muscle groups and stretching tight muscles.
Using the latest science, we’re developing training guides for endurance athletes to help improve performance. Subscribe, and be first to know when they’re released.
Fix Your Form
Essential to running efficiently, improving running form and technique can lead to faster speed. The way you run affects the way force is applied to your muscles and joints. Correcting form can be help injury prevention, as improper execution can cause injury if you’re a beginner;9 if you aren’t running, you aren’t getting faster.
“People assume that running is running is running, but it’s not true. Especially when we sit at our desks all day, or aren’t used to it.” – Michael Brandt, Co-founder and COO of HVMN.
Good overall form can feel like a unicorn; it’s best broken down into a few manageable techniques to consider on each run.
Changing stride turnover–how my steps taken during one minute of running–may have an impact on speed.10
The goal is to have a higher stride turnover, meaning to take shorter, quicker steps; these reduce the impact on your joints because you’ll hit the ground with less force. Longer strides have the opposite effect, and can create more impact because you’re in the air for longer. Sprinters will typically need to lift their knees higher to achieve maximum leg power, but distance runners won’t need as much lift.
Figuring out your stride turnover is easy. Just run for one minute at your 5k pace and count the number of times your right foot hits the ground. To improve stride turnover, jog for one minute to recover, trying to increase your stride count by one. Repeat this several times with the goal of increasing strides each time.
At the proper stride length, your feet should land directly under your body. And when your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed, bending naturally to the impact. Keep in mind that the middle of your foot should be making contact with the ground–not your heel.
It’s a very common problem for runners.11 Landing on your heel can mean too long of a stride, which wastes energy and may cause running injuries (hello, shin splints).12 Avoid landing on toes too–this can also increase fatigue and wear out your calves.
You want to be a mid-foot striker. Hitting the ground mid-foot allows you to roll through to the front of your toes. Changing your footstrike takes practice, but the results can show up both in speed and in reduced joint pain. One study of runners from habitually barefoot populations showed an increase in speed when mid-foot or front-foot striking.13
Overstriding is usually the culprit–try increasing your number of strides. Your next run, focus on striking on the balls of your feet. Interestingly, that’s where most people strike when running barefoot; try running on grass (or another soft surface) without any shoes on, translating that muscle memory to other runs. Also, running drills can help. Skipping, high knees, side shuffling, butt kicks–with all these, it’s almost impossible to land on the heel.
One last thing. It may seem obvious, but keep those toes pointed in the direction you want to travel. As fatigue sets in, form gets wonky–you may find your toes are turning in or out, which can lead to joint pain.
It goes from top to bottom and will have an impact on running posture.
Relax your shoulders. Relax your arms. Relax your hands.
“Running tall” is a repeated mantra meant to encourage good running posture.
It starts with the head: look ahead naturally while keeping the chin parallel to the ground, and avoid looking down at the feet. This should improve posture in your neck, shoulders and back–which, remember, should be relaxed.
Avoid hiking up your shoulders, which can happen naturally with stress. Upon feeling your shoulders close your ears, try giving them a good shake to relax and keep them level.
Efficient running means less overall movement. Arms, at a 90-degree angle, should swing back and forth around the waist, powering the lower body. Think of yourself as two halves: left and right, and keep each arm on that side of the body. Tension in the upper body is controlled by the hands, so relaxed hands are also important. You may notice tension developing throughout the run as it gets more difficult–imagine you’re carrying an egg in each hand and watch that tension disappear.
The torso and back should be naturally straight, as this promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Slouching during a run? Try a deep, realigning breath and hold position.
We’ve discussed VO2 max, and its impact on the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. Since oxygen is feeding those muscles, it’s important to understand how to take in the most air possible.
Inhale and exhale primarily through your mouth–it’s the most effective way to take in oxygen. Your nose can join the party too, but it can be difficult for some to breathe through both simultaneously. Practice makes perfect here; you can try it throughout the day to help get the body adapted to the technique.
And focus on belly breathing, with the force of the inhale extending to the diaphragm with the stomach expanding. These should be deep, slow, rhythmic breaths. Overall, you should see a decrease in cramps and an increased ability to pace yourself.
Sleep & Recovery
The importance of rest cannot be understated–but it’s often forgotten or unaccounted for in a training plan.
“Our culture has a ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset. But that’s not how the body works exactly. You need to recover properly.”- Sam Robinson
Sleep and recovery days are important to give tired muscles a chance to rebuild tissues that have been broken down during exercise.14 That breakdown is meant to cause muscles to adapt and become stronger, thus potentially leading to increased speed. Sleep is also part of this process. It’s important to encourage good sleep: set a sleep schedule and get some screenless time before bed, because screens can negatively impact rest.15 One study found that lack of sleep can lead to muscle degradation.16
Recovery runs are a must. These should be done at a slower, less-strenuous pace that allows the body to recycle lactate as its produced. This pace per mile should be about one minute or 1:30 more than your average pace.
Consuming Your Way to Speed
What you eat, and the supplements you take, can have an impact on how fast you run. A body operating on high-octane fuel will undoubtedly perform better than one with a less-optimized fuel source.
Diet can have a roundabout effect on speed through a few different avenues.
It directly impacts body composition, which affects speed. It can also determine the body’s fuel source, meaning that a diet low in carbohydrates can lead to fat-adaptation, allowing the body to tap into fat stores. If you aren’t a fat burner, carbs are essential to keep running pace, as glycogen depletion leads to bonking. And after a run, diet can help with recovery, enabling the body to train again faster.
VO2 max is a measure of one’s running fitness; it’s the maximum amount of oxygen that can be delivered to working muscle per unit of body mass. Those with higher VO2 maxes are better runners. And because body weight impacts VO2 max, the lighter the runner means a higher VO2 max which can mean a lighter runner is a better runner.
Many distance runners are employing the ketogenic diet for weight loss. The low-carb, high-fat diet can force a metabolic adaptation allowing the runner to burn fat as fuel (as opposed to carbs). And the restricting of carbohydrates often leads to better body composition.
Counting calories may help you lose weight. While the macronutrient composition of food can be more important than the amount of calories, counting calories while on keto might lead to greater results.
We’ve covered supplements for runners extensively, providing you with a toolkit from training to race day to recovery. You’ll want to focus on those for race day, as they’re the supplements that can have a direct correlation to speed.
Many runners drink coffee and consume carbohydrates before a race, giving the body fuel sources to immediately tap into. Buffers are also useful, and may delay the onset of muscle pain associated with the building up lactic acid in the blood (but really it’s the proton associated with lactate)–check out sodium bicarbonate, Beta-alanine and ketone esters.
Ketones are a fundamentally different fuel source from carbohydrates and fats that cells normally use for energy.
Taken before or during exercise, D-BHB is 28% more efficient than carbohydrates alone, helping your body do more work with the same amount of oxygen.17 In one study, cyclists went ~2% further in a 30-minute time trial.18
When taken with carbs, the glycogen-sparing effect of a ketone ester drink helps many runners–the body will preferentially use the ketones as fuel first, saving glycogen for later in the race, when the need it most.
“By consuming exogenous ketones, athletes give themselves an additional source of fuel that they can burn first, thus preserving glycogen.”- Allison Goldstein, Runner’s World
Professional cyclists, Vittoria Bussi, recently broke the world record for the women’s Hour: riders see how far they can cycle in a velodrome in one hour. Vittoria used a ketone ester supplement before her attempt, citing its effectiveness later in the race.
Professional cyclist and HVMN Athlete Vittoria Bussi broke the UCI Hour record on September 13th, 2018. She became the first woman to ride 48 kilometers in 1 hour.
Read more about Vittoria’s story here.
Running Fast: a Personal Pursuit
With countless ways to measure and track and compare and share statuses, it’s important to remember that on a run, it’s just you and the road. You should want to improve. You should want to get faster. You should expect to work to get there.
Running isn’t about taking shortcuts, if you want to get faster, you have to train. Aspire to some of the world’s best runners, and use that as motivation each time you lace up your shoes to run.
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3 Exercises to Run Faster and Stronger You Can Use Today
You’ve heard it before. In order to run faster, you need to run faster! Use these three running exercises to get faster without it even feeling like work!
Running Exercises To Run Faster: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
The toughest part about running faster is that it HURTS–at least initially. The intensity of a quicker pace mixed with the panic of trying to hold onto your breathing can be a lot to handle.
So, how do you adjust in order to accept and even embrace this type of intensity Here’s something that worked for us:
We’re going to give you a little strength training workout–an “intro to intensity,” if you will. You’ll be combining bodyweight exercises–burpees with squat jumps.
But wait! Before you roll your eyes at us, keep in mind that the misery is only going to last for four minutes! Ready to get started?
The Burpee Workout:
1) Start with two feet under your hips, standing tall, toes straight ahead.
2) Sit your hips back to place your hands on the ground in front of your feet.
3) Now either step or jump your feet back to a straight arm plank.
4) From here, do a “controlled crash” to the ground–chest and hips laid flat on the ground.
5) Now snake your chest up, leaving the knees on the ground.
6) Once the chest is off the ground, snap the hips to reverse the arch and bring the feet back into your hands, just under your hips.
7) Now, stand up.
8) Raise your arms overhead and hop.
9) That’s one burpee.
10) *If that is not sustainable for more than a few reps, ditch the “fake push-up”. Simply step or jump out to the plank and immediately bring feet back in to stand.
- You’re going to do as many QUALITY burpees as you can in 20 seconds.
- Then, rest for ten seconds and catch your breath. If you’re just starting out and need a little more time, take an extra ten seconds.
- Time to go again! Do as many QUALITY squat jumps as you can in 20 seconds.
- Rest for ten seconds.
- CONTINUE for four minutes total.
The Squat Jump
Now we’re ready to fire up the glutes and hamstrings with squat jumps. Here’s what the squat jump looks like:
1) Stand tall, with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
2) With your toes pointing straight ahead, sit the hips back and bend your knees slightly.
3) Make sure your knees are pressed out laterally, too.
4) Next, as you sit into the squat, bring your arms in front of you.
5) Once your hips are as parallel to the ground as they can be, squeeze your butt and press it down towards your heels.
6) From the depth of your squat, you’re going to throw your arms back behind you.
7) At the same time, press your hips forward into full extension as your legs straighten.
8) Instead of coming back to standing, the momentum from the arms will help elevate you into a slight hop out of the standing position.
9) Out of the jump, roll through the toes than the heels to find your standing position again.
10) Immediately from the landing, you’ll find your next squat position with the arms back in front.
11) That’s one squat jump.
12) Complete 20 seconds of squat jumps with ten seconds for rest in between sets for a total of four minutes.
Throw this into your training plan twice a week for strong leg muscles and awesome results!
Running Exercises To Get Faster: Increase Your Hip Power
Our hip flexors are the gas pedal for our running. The more we use them, the more power (and speed) we can generate!
In order to use them more, we’ve got to make them stronger and more dynamic–and we’ve got JUST the thing!
The Box Jump
The box jump is essentially a plyometric squat jump up to a higher surface. Here’s what it looks like:
1) Start standing tall.
2) Next, drop into the squat the same way you do for the squat jumps, EXCEPT your arms will swing behind you.
3) You’ll START to come out of the bottom the same way, EXCEPT your arms will now come forward.
4) As your feet are about to leave the ground for the jump, you’ll squeeze your core and tuck your knees up to your chest.
5) Your legs will bend up in front of you and your feet will flex.
6) This is your leverage for getting up to a higher surface.
7) Next, you’ll land on the next surface in your best attempt at the next squat.
8) Now, press out of your heels, squeeze your butt and stand tall.
9) Safely step down to the original surface by sitting hips back and letting one foot down at a time.
10) That’s one box jump.
A few things to be mindful of–especially if you’re brand new to these:
1) Start small.
2) Most gyms have multiple box heights. Don’t be afraid to build up.
3) If you’re outside and using a curb or other makeshift concrete raised surface, practice a few step-ups first to ensure you’ll clear it.
4) Accuracy is key.
5) Be confident. The higher and stronger you bring your knees up, the more success you will have.
Here’s a drill you can mix into your training:
1) Perform 5-10 box jumps.
2) Now, run 200-400 meters. It can be down the block, once around a track, or something similar.
3) Do another 5-10 box jumps.
4) Run 200-400 meters again.
5) Repeat for 3-5 rounds total.
This drill is awesome for increasing that hip strength and directly applying it to your running. Try throwing it into your training program once a week!
Running Exercises To Get Faster: Run Faster
The last of our running exercises to get faster! Fartlek means “speed play”.
The Fartlek technique for runners is nothing short of EFFECTIVE. Try this out on your next run:
1) You will pick sections of your run to “push it” on.
2) You make the rules.
3) Pick something that you’ll encounter a number of times over your course: stairs, a telephone pole, a hill.
4) Each time you get to whatever you chose, you have to run faster for the entirety of that obstacle. We’re not all-out sprinting here, but it should be about 70-80% of your max speed.
5) If you picked hills, you need to kick it into the next gear until you’re at the top of the hill.
6) You can then return to a slower pace until you hit the next hill or obstacle
7) Throw in five to ten lunges in between each loop to weave in some strength training
This is an awesome way to make running faster fun and interesting!
Like we said, you don’t need to do these exercises all the time, but mixing them into your training in some capacity will benefit your running and speed BIG TIME!
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