The impact of running on our health can simply not be ignored. If you are keen on improving your level of fitness and losing some extra pounds, running should be part of your fitness routine. What then becomes your next goal after adding running to your weekly exercise time table? If your goal is to increase your running speed and stamina, then you are not different from other runners out there.
Have you been on the look out for tips on how to run faster? Stress no further, your answer is right here!
Whether you are training for a race or just trying to improve your general running ability and performance, increasing your speed will very likely be high on your list of targets. By understanding the detail behind the basics and mechanics of running, you will, in the long run, improve your performance.
Yes, it is sometimes not fun being soaked in sweat and sprinting up and down a hill, but the health benefits you get in return ares worth every drop of sweat. Believe it or not, there are a lot of tips on how to run faster. Improving your running speed takes training, commitment, determination, focus, discipline and hard work. It is not easy….. It is not meant to be easy…..but it is very achievable!!
It is also very important to take your current level of fitness into consideration before incorporating any new form of exercise into your workout routine. If you have an existing health condition, recovering from a recent injuring or have some health concerns, please consult your doctor. The goal here is to get fit and faster, not to get injured and stuck on the sick bed.
Below are some great tips on how to run faster. These tips do not promise to turn you into a world-class sprinter overnight, but they do, with hard work and commitment, get you fitter and faster. Let’s go!…..
1. Use The Right Training Gear
When it comes to running, the importance of being in the right gear is often under-estimated. The right gear can help you feel more comfortable and lighter on your feet. Using the right running clothing (lightweight and breathable) and running shoes play a role in knocking off some seconds, if not minutes, off your run time. There are currently a lot of specially designed running shoes that mimic the movement and feel of barefoot running.
Avoid worn-out running shoes as they can lead to injuries and discomfort. Inappropriate clothing and shoes prevent you from running at your full potential.
2. Lose The Extra Pounds
The more extra pounds you carry, the harder it is to run at a fast pace. Getting rid of excess weight positively impacts how efficient and fast you run. This does not require depriving yourself of food as this will have a negative effect on your ability to train effectively and harder. It is also important to note that this tip does not apply to everyone as not everyone has that excess weight to lose. Please consult a physician before giving any weight-loss plan a go.
Note, your goal here is to lose fat, not muscle.
Studies have shown that you cut 2 seconds off your mile time for every pound you lose. Weight-loss surely pays!
3. Use The Right Running Form And Technique
Running is not just a matter of placing one foot in front of the other. It definitely isn’t. Perfecting a good running form and technique plays a major role in helping your body to operate as efficiently as possible. Efficient running increases your speed and helps to prevent injuries.
Ensure you maintain a good form by:
- Not slouching your shoulder (run tall and relaxed).
- Keeping your back straight, head up, look forward (not down to the ground) and keep chin parallel to the ground.
- Keeping arms at a 90-degree angle and swing naturally from front to back (not side to side).
- Just slightly lifting your knees. Keep knees slightly flexed as your foot hits the ground.
- Working on your foot strike. Work on landing on your mid foot (balls of your foot) directly under your body and rolling forward onto your toes to push off. Avoid heel strikes as this slows you down and wastes your energy.
4. Work On Your Breathing
Working on your breathing is a very vital aspect of your overall running technique. Your goal here is to avoid shallow breathing. Taking deep breaths allows more oxygen into your bloodstream, which in turn ensures your muscles have enough energy for better performance. Shallow breathing, on the other hand, limits the supply of oxygen to your muscles.
The tip here is to use both your nose and mouth in breathing, relying on belly breathing instead of breathing into your chest. You can practice this breathing technique by ensuring your belly inflates when inhaling and deflates when exhaling.
Another tip here, is to work towards establishing a relaxed and rhythmic breathing when running. To start with, try taking a breath for every 2 strides. Adopting and mastering rhythmic breathing really does a lot of good to your running efficiency. Erratic breathing causes a lot of unwanted tension in the body during intense running sessions. This unwanted tension wastes a lot of energy, which is the last thing we want when running.
5. Strengthen Your Core
Strengthening your core does not only give you a nice set of abs, it also positively impacts your running ability. A strong core helps you to efficiently run faster and smoother. Working out your midsection helps to improve your running posture and strengthens your lower back.
6. Lift Some Weights (Strength Training)
You’ll be surprised to know that, some of the best running workouts does not include any running. Strength workouts like squats and lunges gives you that strong and lean muscles needed for efficient running. The stronger you get, the more powerful your strides and the easier you are able to shift through your running gears. Improving the strength and mobility in your ankles can also help in speed generation. Single-leg hops is a great exercise for improving your ankle-strength.
Even though the aim here is not to be a bodybuilder, perform 2 to 3 strength training sessions a week and you’ll surely not regret it. You do not always have to add weights to your sessions, you can just perform bodyweight strength exercises and still achieve your desired results.
7. Attack The Hills
Adding hill sprints to your weekly workout routine does a lot of good to your speed and running efficiency. Hill sprints have been proven to help build up your running speed and muscle strength overtime. It builds those leg muscles (glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves) needed in generating and maintaining speed.
Running up a hill is not always fun, but besides improving your leg strength, speed and stamina, it also helps in burning any excess fat you might be carrying.
If you happen to find yourself in a neighbourhood where hills are not within reach, you can equally jump on the treadmill and give those legs an uphill ‘beasting’!
8. Incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Another great tip on how to run faster is to conduct High Intensity Interval Training sessions on a regular basis. Improving your cardiovascular health plays a major role in improving your running ability. A HIIT session is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health.
HIIT is basically any form of exercise that shoots up your heart rate and brings it down rapidly. It involves short intervals of intense exercise at almost 100% effort followed by a recovery period. It also helps in burning calories in less to no time.
A HIIT session is an ideal way to add speed training to your weekly routines by sprinting for a set distance or time and then slowing down for another set time. To get faster, you simply need to run faster. Speed training helps you to achieve this.
9. Increase How Often You Run
Running more often is another great way of improving your running speed. Gradually increasing your weekly running mileage contributes towards improving your speed in the long run. Your mileage increment will have to be gradual as you wouldn’t expect to move from running 5k to a marathon within a week.
10. Include Plyometric Training
Plyometric training is an effective way of building your explosive speed. It involves explosive and quick exercises that helps to improve your muscles explosive power. In other words, plyometric training is basically jump training.
Plyometric exercises include, box jumps, tuck jumps, broad jumps and single-leg hops.
Research has shown that the higher jump, the more likely you are to run faster. It is therefore a great idea to add plyometric exercises to your workout time table.
11. Use Jump Ropes
This tip works in a similar way as number 10 above. Adding jump rope workouts to your routine is a great way to develop fast feet, balance and coordination. It helps to develop your lower-body strength which in turn helps to boost your explosive speed.
12. Drink Coffee
This will surprise a lot of us. Due to the potential risk of getting dehydrated, a lot of us will easily agree that taking coffee before a run is a BIG NO, but some studies suggest drinking coffee before running may increase athletic performance, speed and intensity. The key point here is to keep an eye on your sugar intake. There is absolutely no need to dump a cup-full of sugar into your cup of coffee.
13. Watch What You Eat And Drink
Taking junk food and sweets is never ideal for fast running. These junk foods and sweets may give an instant energy boost due to their high fat and sugar content, but this energy boost rapidly diminishes leaving you feeling slow and worn out.
Nutrition and hydration plays a vital role in our overall health and level of fitness. Not eating right before and after running could result in fatigue, dizziness, nausea and muscle cramps, just to mention a few. These conditions negatively impact your athletic performance.
Taking foods with high-carb content such as pasta, before a run, will fuel the body with longer lasting energy. For high tempo run, running in a high-carb state will help you as the body will have lots of energy to really stick with the high tempo.
14. Incorporate Regular Stretching
After giving the body an intense running workout, taking 5 to 10 minutes to stretch might be the last thing on our minds. The importance of regular stretching, especially after a workout session is often under-estimated. Regular stretching helps to relax tight muscles and improve flexibility. Our athletic performance is severely impacted if our body has a limited range of motion. With regular stretching, there will be less worry about having a limited range of motion.
Regular stretching (especially dynamic stretching), helps to prevent injuries, improves flexibility, improves overall physical health and helps to keep your speed goals on track.
Yoga is a great way to increase overall flexibility and physical health. Besides the flexibility and stress-relieving effect of yoga, it also offers a range of health benefits.
15. Rest And Recover Properly
Rest is very essential to injury prevention, recovery and improved athletic performance. Running every day without taking days off will not result in the improvement you’ve been training for. It is very important you give yourself at least 2 rest days a week. Pushing yourself too hard without days off will only result in exhaustion and injuries.
It is also very vital you get a good night’s sleep. Ensure you get around 6 to 8 hours sleep per night. The more well-rested you are, the more likely you are to run faster. Adopt a fixed sleep pattern and ensure you go to bed at about the same time every night. Sleeping well improves your overall level of fitness.
16. Get Psyched-Up And Be Prepared For Discomfort
Be prepared to push yourself during speed training and expect to get very tired, uncomfortable and breathless. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but your body will adjust to it as time goes on.
Psyche up yourself by getting some music to keep you going. Some studies have shown listening to high-tempo music while training can lead to an improved performance. Listening to music takes your mind off the discomfort, possible tiredness and relaxes you. This relaxation has a positive impact on your speed and overall performance.
Be Patient And Train Progressively
Stay committed, consistent and keep working hard towards your speed goal. The above mentioned tips on how to run faster does not work overnight. You need to be patient and allow time for your speed to improve.
Your hard work and commitment will soon pay off!
I hope the above tips on how to run faster will help you towards achieving your fitness and speed goals. Feel free to leave suggestions, comments and questions you might have in the comments section below.
Your suggestion might help someone out there!