You can probably run really fast … for a minute or two. The challenge is extending the time that you can run fast—that’s endurance.
Start by completing a long run every week.
The exact distance depends on your fitness level and goals, but make sure it’s several miles longer than your next longest run.
Every 2 to 3 weeks, you can add a mile to ensure you keep improving.
Not away from them. Hills build leg and lung strength, and give you the foundation of fitness you need to get faster on the track.
Once a week, incorporate into your run a variety of hills that take 30 to 60 seconds to climb. As you go up hill, try to stay relaxed.
Keep your gaze straight ahead, your shoulders down, and envision your feet pushing up and off the leg, and the road rising to meet you.
On the way down, don’t let your feet slap the pavement, and avoid leaning back and braking with the quads.
That will put you at risk for injury. Try to maintain an even level of effort as you’re climbing up the hill and as you’re making your descent.
Avoid trying to charge the hill; you don’t want to be spent by the time you get to the top.
As you get fitter, add more challenging hills with a variety of grades and lengths.
What is it?
Another fast paced workout, tempo running involves running at a challenging, but maintainable level.
A level just outside your comfort zone – you’re breathing hard, but you’re not gasping for air. Tempo runs are “comfortably hard”, you’re running fast but not too fast.
If you can talk easily, or can’t talk at all, you’re not in the tempo zone.
When you hit the tempo zone, you’ll be able to speak, but not in full sentences.
How does it improve running?
Tempo running is probably the best method of improving speed.
Tempo running increases lactate threshold (it takes longer for your body to build up lactic acid – lactic acid leads to fatigue), which allows you to run faster.
Again, super simple. The less you weigh (at least to a point), the less you have to carry, the faster you can run.
That applies to any weight – whether it be the spare tire you’re carrying or heavy running gear. If you’re looking to lose weight, this is extra incentive!
Research shows that for every pound of weight lost, a runner speeds up by an average of 2 seconds per mile.
So a weight loss of 10lbs can save 20 seconds per mile.
For a 5K that adds up to finishing 1 minute faster, for a marathon almost 9 minutes quicker.
Running might be a predominantly cardiovascular exercise. However, running does call for strength if you want to run well, and if you want to run fast.
After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest point.
Your core is one such point, often neglected by runners; a weak core is associated with injuries and poor running performance.
A strong and stable core, on the other hand means your pelvis is more likely to be aligned properly, you’re more solid when you hit the ground, you’re less prone to injury and you run more economically.
Basically, your body is zen. It’s not fighting the road. It’s strong, it’s aligned, it’s centered. End result?
You’re running smoother, faster and bonus – you’ve got abs!
Next up, legs. Research shows that regular strength training can significantly improve how efficiently the body uses oxygen.
Basically, stronger legs translate into improved running economy, speed, muscle endurance and, of course, strength, as well as reduced risk of injury.
Stride It Out
Running fast doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running hard.
To improve your stride mechanics (efficiency), recruit more muscle fibers, and help make your other workouts feel slower, strides should be done several times a week.
Strides are simply 100-meter accelerations, where you build to about 95 percent of your maximum effort, hold for a few seconds, and then gradually slow to a stop.
Take a full minute of walking or standing in between each stride.
Start with four strides after an easy run once per week, and then do strides 2 to 3 times per week. You’ll notice an improvement within just a few weeks.
Rest & Recover
Running everyday won’t make you faster.
Resting is as important as running, since it’s during your rest days that your body is able to repair and rebuild muscle and strengthen tendons and ligaments.
So, skipping out on rest days that are vital for recovery and injury prevention means you’re unlikely to see the gains in speed you’re looking for.
Take home message?
Make sure you take at least a day of from running.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Runners don’t get faster without pushing outside their comfort zones. Yes, running fast can hurt sometimes.
But the fatigue and burning pain from running fast isn’t dangerous—that’s all in your head.
So set an ambitious goal at your next race.
Trust your training, use a smart race pacing strategy, and remember you can always give more than you think.
You might just surprise yourself with an enormous personal best.