Recently, someone asked me a question on the blog’s Facebook page: what did I do to become a faster runner? I realized that the answer to that question was fairly complex so decided I’d answer in a blog post. First, a bit of background and my personal disclaimer: speed (like most things) is entirely relative. I consider myself a solid middle of the pack runner and a mid to back of the pack marathoner. I have gotten faster since I first started racing, and I appreciate that but my slow is always going to be someone’s fast and vice versa. Please keep that in mind when reading this!
When I ran my very first half marathon in 2007, I ran a 2:20 race. After that, I didn’t run another half marathon until five years later and I ran it in 2:36. That 2012 race was really the start of my efforts to run stronger and faster. Since 2012, I’ve run a ton more races and now sit on a 2:04 half marathon PR. I’ve cut over thirty minutes off my slowest half marathon time and am hoping to go sub-2 this March. In the marathon, I’ve gone from over 5:30 from my slowest race to my current PR of 4:51 – that’s almost 40 minutes off the marathon and I’m hoping to get that time even faster this year.
While every runner is different, there are a few things that I’ve done over the past to get faster and things that I’m actively doing now to continue getting faster.
- Increase mileage. This is the big one. I steadily upped my mileage in training and that has corresponded to faster times. I know it doesn’t work this way for everyone. But it worked for me. My current training plan has upped the ante even more – I’m running way more than I have previously and I’m hoping for great results. It turns out running more frequently works for me. Like I said, this is the number one thing I’ve done to get faster. The key is to run more but keep a significant portion of the runs easy to avoid burnout and injury. For example, right now I’m running 6 times a week, but three of those runs are easy. Yes, I’m tired. But it works.
- Speed work. In order to get faster, you have to run faster. I do speed repeats and tempo runs and they have definitely helped me to increase my speed.
- Recovery. I would say that for me, this has been even more important as I’ve increased mileage. When you increase mileage, you have to treat your body right. I take a lot of warm baths, I foam roll like a BOSS and I just generally try to treat my body right. It makes a difference.
- Getting stronger with Pure Barre. I’ve shared a lot about my love of Pure Barre and it really has made me stronger physically and that has translated into me being a stronger, faster runner. Without a doubt. Find some form of strength training you enjoy and commit to it!
- Being mentally stronger. This is a work in progress but I’m constantly working on improving my mental game because that matters so much late in a race. Sometimes you have to just zone out and run the race with your heart. I have a bad habit of letting go of tough races and not pushing through. Well, becoming mentally strong helps me finish races strong.
What, if anything, are you doing to become faster?