Learning how to run faster is not as hard as you might think. Genetics aside, there are many effective methods you can practice that will help you increase speed. Whether you’re a long distance runner or a sprinter, the following six tips can be adopted by anyone to help them achieve faster running times.
Focus on Form
When you go out for a run, do you just start running? Do you put any thought into your form? Everyone has their own natural running form. Nearly everyone looks different when they run. However, if you were to ever watch a track event, take a look at the sprinters during their race. You will notice that they all have very similar running forms. They know how to run faster than the average person, and they practice the correct running form that will give them every speed advantage they can muster.
What is the correct running form? The main principles you should be focused on are:
- Increase stride – The fewer steps you have to take, the faster you can make it to the finish line.
- Run on your toes – Stay off your heels. Your kinetic energy is stored and released when you run on your toes. Use that natural spring to your advantage.
- Swing your arms forward – Point your arms in the direction you want to go. Focus on moving forward, not side to side.
- Minimize excessive movement – All your energy should be focused on propelling you forward. If you’re doing too much twisting or swinging, you’re wasting valuable energy that could instead be used to get you to the finish line quicker.
If you find yourself running the same distance over and over again, but your time isn’t improving, try changing things up a bit. You can’t just run the same 5k or 100 meters over and over again and expect to get consistently faster. Your body adapts to the stresses you place on it. Give it a reason to get faster.
Interval training is great way for any runner to get faster. If you’re a 5k runner, run some 200 meter, 400 meter, or 800 meter intervals. Run these distances as fast as you can. You’re not trying to pace yourself here.
Choose a rest time between each sprint that will get your heart rate under control, but not so long that you’re able to carry on a conversation without being out of breath. Run several of these sprints in each workout. Over time, start to cut down on your rest time between sets. Eventually, you’ll be able to run faster for a longer period of time.
If you’re a sprinter, using intervals of 40 meters, 60 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters can help you maintain your top speed for a longer period of time. The faster you can get to your top speed, and the longer you can maintain it, the quicker you’ll get to the finish line.
You can combine those distances as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout so that you can also improve your recovery times between working sets. HIIT can improve both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. You should give it a try.
How to Run Faster? Lose Weight
This one is a little bit of a catch 22. Many people use running as a means to lose weight. Common sense tells us that the more weight we have to carry with us, the more we’ll have to work to get from point A to point B. Try strapping on a backpack with just 20 pounds of weight added. Go for a run, and you’ll soon realize how much more difficult it is to maintain your speed. Now imagine how much easier it would be if you were 20 pounds lighter.
Focus on getting rid of unneeded body fat. Don’t just lose weight for the sake of getting faster. You still need your muscle if you have any intention in getting faster. Body fat is just an anchor that will slow you down. Pay close attention to your diet, and try to get your body fat percentage lower. This tip has the potential to be the most effective in helping you to run faster.
Easily overlooked by many, getting enough rest is imperative to helping you achieve your goal of running faster. Most people, in their quest to run faster, start pushing themselves harder and harder. While this is a good mentality to have, it can be detrimental if you aren’t giving your body enough time to rest and recuperate. You’re limiting your progress if you’re muscles and nervous system aren’t given the opportunity to recuperate, and you increase the risk for injury.
It can take up to 48 hours or longer to recover from repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise. Going out and sprinting every day can be very detrimental to achieving your goals. While it is possible to run every day, this is something that has to be worked up to, and your diet needs to be perfect. Give yourself a day off after a strenuous workout.
Another tip to teach you how to run faster is to focus on your breathing. What does breathing have to do with being faster? Oxygen plays a vital role in energy metabolism. Without oxygen, we turn towards our anaerobic energy producing pathways. While this pathway mostly uses glycogen for energy, if you can raise the threshold at which you begin to switch from using fat for energy to using carbohydrates for energy, you can greatly increase your muscular endurance.
Taking deep breathes and then exhaling quickly will get you more needed oxygen to produce and maintain fatty acid metabolism. Try to get your breathing on a rhythm. Whether you inhale over 3 strides and then exhale over 2, or you inhale over 2 strides and exhale in 1, find your rhythm based on your speed and try to stick to it.
I shouldn’t even need to mention this one, but many people go out and run with their same tempo and pace, and then wonder why they aren’t getting faster. It’s as if they believe they should be getting faster automatically with the same amount of effort.
If you want to learn how to run faster, you’re going to need to push yourself both mentally and physically. It’s going to hurt. Your muscles are going to burn and your mind is going to tell you to take a break. You need to push through these signals. Give your body a reason to get faster. Break through those artificial ceilings and you will get faster. You might be surprised at the amount of mental pain you can actually push yourself through. However, many people give up and are afraid to challenge themselves. Don’t set limits.
Use these 6 tips to help teach you how to run faster. More than likely, you could benefit from adopting every one of these 6 methods. If you are already doing some of these tips – good job, now go out there and do them even better next time. Never stop trying to improve. Find ways to make improvements on top of improvements. There’s always something you can do to make yourself better. Keep experimenting and you’ll find your groove. Do you have any tips that help you run faster? What is your experience with interval training? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.