So you wanna run faster? Yeah, so do I. But how do you actually make that happen? I am slowly trying to figure this out and thought I’d share a few tips I came up with while dropping my race pace about 30 seconds between my half marathon and recent 10k. Obviously, some of that is just increased speed with a lower distance, but some of it is a result of a conscious effort to improve my speed. So, here we go!
- Speedwork! You knew this was coming, so let’s tackle this first. Up until about 2 months ago, I scoffed at the idea of speedwork. I was recalling back to my high school track days with endless amounts of drills and the dreaded 8x400s – ugh I hated days where that was our warmup! However, it doesn’t have to be that intense or scary. Here’s a very accessible link to how to up your 5k speed over 4 weeks. What I did was simply focus on making each run a little faster than my race day pace goal to get my body used to running faster. For example, I wanted to run a 10k in 65 minutes or less, so I tried to keep my runs between 9:15-10:30 minute miles.
- Strength training. I have been working on this quite a bit lately and have just recently found a circuit that I like enough to do more than once 🙂 I prefer to focus on my whole body, but for those who really want to emphasize their core, check this Running World article out. Building a stronger core, stronger back and stronger thighs in particular can really help your run.
- Get out of your head. I am really good at telling myself “oh you are going too fast, self. You’d better slow down.” When in fact, the reality is that I’m running at a pace I could sustain if only I would let myself. Chances are you’ve done this as well. Don’t talk yourself out of being faster!
- Take smaller steps. This can be very counter-intuitive. I’ve always thought I should have a longer stride. But I noticed that recently, my steps have actually been shorter and I’ve not only been faster, but in less pain. And it’s not just me — from Fitness Hack: “Shortening your stride is going to lower the overall effort as well as reduce the pounding on your legs. It takes a lot of force/energy to push off and shoot yourself forward in large leaps.“
- Choose the right music. There is a reason that many runners cling to their iPods with a death grip. The number of beats per minute can actually help you speed up during a run (ever feel like you are suddenly running on fresh legs when your perfect song comes on?). If you have no idea how to figure out what songs work for you, check out jog.fm, which allows you to put in your goal pace and then they’ll give you a list of songs that will help you run that particular pace. I use it when I’m looking for new songs to freshen up my race day playlist. BTW, right now my current favorite song “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris / Florence Welch is apparently perfect for a 12 minute mile, which is way slower than my goal time, but whatever, I like the song, I’m keeping it 🙂
What has helped you become a faster runner?