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Runners are a competitive breed.
Something deep inside drives us to set new personal records. Many of our listeners have asked me about how to improve their race times.
So without further ado, let’s talk about running faster!
The body has an uncanny ability to adapt to the demands you put on it. Train at the same pace day after day, week after week, year after year, and that’s the kind of running your body will adapt to.
But if you break out of that comfort zone with a little speed work now and then, the body will learn to deal with the new demands. The heart will get stronger, the cardiovascular system more efficient, the muscles better able to function at full force. That will translate into greater strength, faster times, and easier daily runs. And you’ll just plain feel better.
Here are some quick reminders before implementing speed work:
- Have a solid running base
- Find the right course and pay attention to the surface
- Warm up, stretch, and start slowly
- Focus on form
- Try to keep it fun
- Take a rest day
- Expect a little discomfort
With that said, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of improving your speed.
Strategies to Help You Run Faster
- Try Interval Workouts
Find a track and warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Then take a lap at your 5k pace (the pace you maintain if you were to run 3 miles). For example, if it takes you 24 minutes to run three miles then your 5k pace is 8 minutes. Next, take a lap at an easier pace. This is called the recovery lap. Then run at your 5k pace again. Repeat these intervals . . . you get the point.
- Do a Tempo Run Once a Week
The good thing about tempo runs is that they increase your anaerobic threashold. Your anaerobic threashold is the point at which your muscles tap into your fuel reserves thereby increasing your stamina. Start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running at a pace that feels “comfortably hard” or an effort of 8 on a scale of 1-10. Finish with a cool down run of 10 minutes.
- Incorporate Hill Training
Hill training makes your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads all work harder which in turn will make you faster. Your upper body will also get stronger as you drive your arms and work harder to stay upright. Make sure you run hard up the hill but take it slower on the way down. 🙂
- Lose Weight
Yeah, I know this is easier said then done. But consider this . . . a one pound weight loss will make you 2 seconds per mile faster (10 pounds= 1 minute shaved off your 5k time). Plus you will look better in your running shorts! Here is my weight loss philosophy in a nutshell:
Run regularly, add some weight training to build muscle, focus on more quality foods, and challenge yourself. I could write a whole book on this subjuct. Maybe some day I will!
- Try the Fartlek!
Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play”. It is simply sprinting and jogging off and on during a run. Just pick a point and sprint to it. You may want to Fartlek between two telephone poles along your route or you can Fartlek to a song on your playlist. It is entirely up to you!
Try one of these strategies this week. Stick with it and I believe you will improve your time. Good Luck!
Also Mentioned in This Episode
The Yasso 800s a handy way to calculate your marathon finishing time before race day and implement some cool interval workouts.