So, you’ve got your running technique down, but you just can’t seem to run faster, no matter what you do. Achieving a faster running pace can be such a thrill for runners, however, getting it down can seem impossible at times. Hopefully we can help you with some of our top tips.
Include Tempo Running
Tempo runs generally last for between 10 – 30 minutes and will help you develop the discipline you need to run faster by learning how to control your speed. They should be performed in a controlled way, meaning you should be able to hold the pace throughout the run. You may find to begin with the pace feels quite slow, and that you’re holding back. This won’t be the case as you get further in to the run, so don’t go all out at the start.
Towards the middle/end of your run, you should start to feel quite uncomfortable and out of breath. This is because your run has now turned in to an anaerobic workout, and you’re starting to reach your anaerobic threshold.
Your anaerobic threshold is where your body starts to produce lactic acid in the muscles. You know, that burning feeling when they start to feel heavy – that’s the lactic acid building up. The anaerobic threshold is the most extreme intensity you can sustain through exercise for a prolonged period of time.
The aerobic energy system gives you more long-lasting energy because it burns predominantly fat stores. So for endurance athletes, it’s an important system to train. But the anaerobic energy system can produce energy more quickly, and allows us to exercise at higher intensities, so that’s crucial, too.” – polar.com
The sooner you reach your anaerobic threshold, the sooner you’ll burn out, which isn’t what you want! This is where tempo runs come in. They train you to run longer and faster before hitting your anaerobic threshold. The more you train this way, the longer you’ll be able to go.
Tempo runs are lower intensity, longer workouts, than that of sprinting (HIIT). The pace for these runs will be faster than a jog, or relaxed run but slower than you’d use for a 5k run for example.
Implement Weight Training
Weight lifting, or strength training, is one of the best things you can do to help you run faster and improve your form.
Explosive movements (plyometric training), such as jump squats or jump lunges, are great for working on speed and power. The explosiveness of these movements teaches the muscles to contract faster. Meaning you can become more powerful while running.
However, lifting heavy weights is better suited to help long distance runners. It will help you to maintain power during longer runs. Exercises such as – squats, deadlifts and hip thrusts will help to build the muscles in your lower body. They can also aid in building and strengthening muscles in your core to keep you stabilised while running.
Studies have revealed that adding strength training to your routine 2 or 3 times a week can improve performance by around 3%. If you decide to include strength training to your routine, ensure you have a day in between to allow your muscles to rest.
Interval training is where you alternate between short bursts of exercise, followed by a brief recovery. For example, you might sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then have 20 seconds rest before repeating.
The goal of interval training is to maintain the same speed and intensity on your first interval as your last one. This form of running builds muscle as well as increasing your aerobic endurance. With this form of training, you should notice your running quickly becomes faster. When you first start interval training, try doing it just once a week while your body gets used to it.
Fartlek training consists of alternating between speed runs and slower, recovery runs. For example, you might sprint for 20 seconds, jog for 20 seconds, then walk for 20 seconds. Combining both slow and fast paced runs will help both your aerobic and anaerobic threshold, building speed and endurance.
Hill running will help you become a faster runner, while also increasing your VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of how much oxygen you can utilise during intense exercise. So, the better you are at utilising oxygen in your body, the faster and longer you’ll be able to run.
Although you might not think of hill running as speed work, it engages and strengthens muscles in your lower body, in turn, helping you t run faster when on flatter ground. This doesn’t mean you have to be sprinting up hills, it just means it will help when you’re on flat ground again.
Include Rest Days
Often people will skip rest days, especially if they’re seeing progress. However, having rest days will actually help you become a better, faster runner. Your muscles need time to recover from the stresses of running. Training like this causes micro tears in your muscle fibres. When you take a rest day, those muscle fibres are given the chance to rebuild stronger than before. Without these rest days, your body is unable to rebuild itself and will continue to deteriorate.
Consistency is key! The more you practice, the better you’ll become (don’t forget your rest days though). The more you do it, the better your endurance will be and the stronger your muscles will become. Without consistency, the harder it is for your body to adapt to the stresses you’re putting it under.
Fuel Your Body
One of the most important things you can do to help better your running, is to make sure you’re fuelling your body with nutritious meals. Eating a well balanced diet will enable your body to recover after training. Ensure your diet includes a good amount of proteins, carbs and fats.
The Fitness Focus Team