*Please consult your doctor and use your best judgment before beginning an exercise program. I’m not a professional. The following is just what has worked for me and I hope it can help you too!
If you’re looking to get faster at running, there are certain things you can do to accomplish that. It requires dedication, motivation, and hard work, but you can do it!
Last weekend I ran my third half marathon. You can read about my first two here. I have to say, I’m addicted to the 13.1 distance. I love the challenge of training and the payoff at the end. The incredible feeling of accomplishing something that physically difficult is unbeatable! I finished my first half marathon at 1:40. The second at 1:38 and last weekend’s was a finish of 1:37. Through hard work and dedication, I’ve consistently gotten faster. If you’re looking to improve your running speed, read on to find my tips.
Before trying to run fast, you need to first get into running shape, which means you need to consistently workout (make a habit of exercise), run often, and allow your body to get conditioned for running faster and longer distances. Be sure to check out these running tips for getting started. Once your body is used to running on a regular basis, then you can work on speed. Slowly build your miles and improve pace when you’re first starting running to avoid injury.
Once you’re in running shape and ready to start working on speed, here’s what to do.
5 Tips on How to Run Faster:
- Increase your mileage/distance. This is the number one tip that helped me achieve PR’s at my half marathon distance. For too long, I told myself that 3 miles was my max. When I finally broke outside of that, I started seeing huge improvements in my pace and endurance. Push your limits. Break outside of your mileage comfort zone. If you’re used to running 3 miles at a time, gradually bump it up to 4 and then 5 and so on when you’re comfortable. Set aside one day a week for a “long run”. For example, if you run 3 miles one day, and 4 another, try 6 or 7 for your long run on the weekend. The next week, try 8 for your long run. Make sure not to take the long run too fast when you’ve just started increasing your distance. Increasing distance helps build endurance and enables physiological changes to happen to make your body more capable of running faster.
- Cross Train and Weight Train. Don’t run every day. I run a max of 3 days a week. The other days, I bike or do cardio, weight training (full body weight workouts), abs, hiit workouts, etc. Here are some free at home workouts that I love and do on a regular basis. You need to build muscle in order to use that muscle to run faster, so focus on the legs, arms, core. Running is a full body workout, so make sure you are in shape cardio-wise, but also that your muscles are strong! I try to do a ten minute ab workout 2-3 days a week, along with my other workouts.
- Go on fast runs and slow runs. This one is so important! Really focus on making your fast runs fast and keeping your slow runs slow. If you’re accustomed to running 3 miles, set a goal to run 3 miles faster than you ever have. Set a personal record! Time yourself and keep checking your watch every so often to see that you are on track to crush your goal. Push yourself. You will feel uncomfortable and that’s ok. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order to improve and progress. It’s a fact of life and a fact of running. Another day, go for a slow long run (e.g. six miles at a comfortable pace). Take your time and try to keep a steady pace, but don’t rush it. When you’re ready, go for a fast long run.
- Run hills and/or with resistance (e.g. while pushing a stroller or carrying light weights). This is so tough and no one wants to do it, but it will make you stronger and more capable of running faster. Pick a harder route with steep climbs or push your kid(s) in a stroller at least 1x per week when you run. I found that I had my best 5k race finish times when I trained while pushing my kiddos in our double jogging stroller. It works! Now, I consistently train on hills and it prepares me for anything race day can throw at me. You use different muscles while running uphill, downhill and on flat surfaces. You’ll definitely feel those different muscles working when you throw hills into your running routine.
- Fuel your body with the proper nutrients it needs for energy and endurance. I’m a firm believer that what you eat makes a big difference in your level of running performance. Over the past year, I’ve really tried to focus on eating better and I’ve seen improvements in how I feel when I’m running and how fast and far I’m able to run. I don’t drink soda. It’s not a huge sacrifice for me, considering I don’t like it. It makes me feel sluggish and slows me down. But I do love desserts. I’ll never cut those all the way out (it’s ok to indulge sometimes), but I have cut down on them quite a bit. I’ve also increased the protein in my diet. Protein is key for improving fitness.
If you want to run faster, keep putting in the work, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, and being consistent. It will pay off! Best of luck to you!
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