“How can I run faster?”
I have been asked this numerous times, and I’ve even asked it myself.
Intuitively, we all know that running faster will mean we are indeed running faster. But how do you run faster for 3 miles, 6 miles, 13 miles, or even 26 miles?
And here’s my brutally honest reply (assuming you’ve been running for a while and have a solid base established)…if you want to run faster…you have to run faster.
Alright hear me out.
I know it’s not that simple. But in theory, to shave off time, you have to get to the point where you are running faster. And here’s how to do just that:
- Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Running faster will hurt. It just will. Your legs will get tired sooner and they will feel heavier then bricks wrapped up in a wet blanket. Your lungs will burn as your body cries out for oxygen. Your muscles will scream for blood and oxygen and your mind will say “Dude, lets walk”. But, if you want to run faster, you have to embrace feeling uncomfortable. This first step is mental. Sure, you’re body is working too, but your body will only be running faster if you accept the hard and uncomfortable and tell your mind to get lost. A lot of what I do when I coach my athletes is build mental strength.
- Strength train like its your job. The stronger your muscles, the faster you’ll run. This is probably the #1 weakness of runners, myself included, because we’re all about those running endorphins and getting our miles in. But if you are really committed to running faster you have to make the time for strength training. I suggest 30 minutes 2x a week to get started. This gives you a great place to start with one day being legs and core and the other day being arms and core. Often I’ll suggest my runners do what I like to call the Commercial Challenge. While you’re watching your favorite TV show, during every commercial break, get off the couch and do some squats, push-ups, and planks. Commercials are roughly 3 mins long so do each exercise for 1 min. By the end of a 30 minute TV show, you’ll have done a decent strength routine!
- Tempo Runs. Get your tempo on! Tempo pace is a good middle ground, and therefore makes it a good place to start. In order to run faster, you have to run faster, and tempo runs do just that. One tempo run a week of a moderate distance with a warm up and cool down, plus being consistent with them, and you’ll see results. Tempo runs are something I always put into my runners’ personalized training plans with a pace that is challenging but is not out of reach. Plus, I really like making tempo runs on Tuesdays so I can call them Tempo Tuesdays 😊 Alliteration is always good.
- Run those *blip* hills. Hills are a great way to build strength, stamina, and also get you comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Because of the nature of hills, it also forces us to use our bodies the most efficient way to propel ourselves up and forward. Start small with a handful 30 second hill repeats, followed by a nice and easy jogging recovery until your breathing and heart rate slow. Be sure you do a warm up and cool down as well. Gradually build up to more repeats and longer repeats. Running more efficiently also means running faster, and hills accomplish just that.
- Take a rest day. This might sound crazy. But again, trust me. Our bodies do their best healing during sleep! On overage it takes 2 weeks to see the benefits of a hard workout. In other words, if you run a 4 mile tempo run on Tuesday, the positive effects of that workout (i.e. getting use to running faster) want be clear in your runs until two weeks later! So, if you wake up feeling tired, off, or physically drained, take a rest day. If its your 3rd rest day of the week, its okay. I’m going to say it again…It’s. Okay. Rest days are powerful and just as important as running days. Do some stretching, eat well, hydrate, take a nap, and go to bed early. I bet ya when you hit the road again, you’ll feel better and be running a bit faster.