So you want to run faster
Running – it is something a lot of people picked up during the pandemic – a rare silver lining. As a result, I get a lot of questions on “how to go faster” from relative noobs to running.
Rather than focusing on “going faster” – here are some simple tips to make sure your running time is spent better. The speed/improvements will come with time.
Planning tip # 1 = Plan/vary your route: Over time we can become guilty of running the same loop/route/track week in and week out. This over time will become repetitive and wear down on your motivation levels. Be brave and explore – a change of scenery will refresh your running soul. Apps like mapmyrun will also help when in a foreign city or on holiday
Bonus tip: If training for a specific race – mirror that course in your key sessions – e.g. include hills or loops to try and replicate what you will be facing race day.
Planning tip # 2 = Know what you are trying to achieve: Before you lace up the runners – make sure you are clear of what the session is trying to do for your running e.g. is it a speed session, a tempo run or a recovery run. Be clear on what you are meant to do and how – will help you eliminate junk miles (i.e. running for the sake of running) from your training
Bonus tip: Also pick the right route for that session – so if your session involves running at race pace for 1km repeats for example – try to find a flat route without traffic lights/obstacles that might require you to break out of you rhythm.
Execution tip #1 = Don’t forget form: One of my fav pieces of advice I have heard is “Dance like no one is watching” (mainly as I have the coordination and rhythm of “that” drunk uncle at a wedding) – but I recently created a new piece of advice for myself. It occurred to me as I was running along the coast, and I found myself puffing out my chest, correcting my stride and lifting my head tall as I spotted some club mates running towards me …. why was I not running like this before? It had been a long day, and I was going through the motions – stupid, I know – so my new best advice to myself was RUN LIKE EVERYONE IS WATCHING … Good running form is important (dancing not so much)
Bonus tip: If you find yourself slowing for no reason – do a quick head to toe self “diagnostic” to get your form back, e.g., is my head looking at the floor, am I slumped over whilst running, where is my foot landing … this should help your refocus and fix where your form is failing
Execution tip #2 = Mix it up: For your long slow runs – vary the terrain somewhat – as adding in some grass/cross country will help train the stabilizer leg muscles that typically get overlooked when simply pounding the cement/tarmac routes.
Bonus tip: Adding in some hills in your long run is the equivalent of sneaky speed work as you are building up power/muscles
Monitoring tip #1 = Monitor your miles/progress: Do keep a training log – be it electronically or even in an old notebook. This will help you see progress in terms of improved times/distance covered and understand when runs are not going as planned – e.g., fatigue, too big a jump in weekly volume
Bonus tip: As part of the monitoring – keep a log of which runners you used and for which run – as this will help you note when you should replace those ones with greater than 500km in them.
Motivation tip #1 = Give yourself a big scary goal: Yes, running has been great for your head, body (and dare I say it, your waistline 😉) but why not focus yourself and commit to an actual running event, e.g., a park run, a 10km, a virtual marathon – whatever gives you butterflies thinking about completing – that will keep you focused!
Bonus tip: Have a look at my website for running (and triathlon) plans for all distances or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if any running queries/questions!
So getting the most out of your running just requires a little more planning (route and session objectives), improved execution (watching form and mixing things up to challenge yourself/muscle groups) and monitoring your progress to know when to push on or pull back!
Enjoy and remember to run like everyone is watching!