When you’ve established your endurance base in running, you’re likely to work on your next endeavor – how to run faster. And while professional runners and some athletes make it look so easy, you’ll find that increasing your speed isn’t always automatic. You need to dedicate time to it in your training. If you’re looking to improve your pace in training runs or races, here are some actionable tips for how to get faster in running.
How to Get Faster in Running: 8 Steps
1. Practice and perfect your form.
The foundation of your speed training lies in having the proper running form.
Keep your upper body tall and shoulders relaxed. Your arms are swinging forward and backward naturally and hands are gently clenched. Hips are under your shoulders, while your head is looking forward (not down).
Lastly, keep your strides short and feet close to the ground. If you’re running competitively, check your form every mile or two to help cut seconds or even minutes off your finish time.
Essentially, having the right form will help your body move with less effort, so you’ll have more energy to dedicate to gaining a faster pace.
2. Stretch every day.
Inflexible joints and tight muscles can impede your pace as you’re unable to move efficiently. And since your body has limited motion, this could even lead to injuries. That’s why an essential part of your speed training drills is making sure you’ve stretched and prepared your muscles adequately.
Stretch before and after every workout, particularly your hip flexors, to improve flexibility, mobility, and stride. Spend about 10 minutes stretching your calves, hips, and quadriceps to help achieve your speed goals in running.
3. Do interval sessions.
Speed work on structured intervals is vital to your speed training drills. This means combining high and low intensity to build endurance and speed as well as improve explosiveness.
For instance, you can do a 400-meter repeat. Warm up for five to 10 minutes, run one 400-meter lap at your 5K pace, and then jog slowly for one recovery lap. Begin again with two 400-meter repeats with recovery laps in between. Once you’re stable, you can bring it up to five or six repeats.
For optimal results, run at the specific pace you’ll be running during your next race (or your goal pace).
4. Work on your strength and endurance.
Because you use your core so much in running, spending time working on it is in your best interest. Having a lean and strong core benefits both your speed and strength. It improves your running posture, enhances efficient breathing, and allows the rest of your body to work harder.
In your speed drills, be sure to add in some core-focused movements. Spend a minute or so in the plank position. Throw in some V-ups, bicycle crunches, and dead bugs at the end of your run.
It’s not just your abs, though. Bodyweight exercises like lunges, push-ups, and squats can help build more muscle and also reduce the risk of injury.
Similarly, when working on your strength, incorporate activities that develop your cardiovascular endurance. This can include CrossFit, spinning, soccer, swimming, and the like. Building up your endurance means that your body better learns how to conserve and utilize energy. You’ll slowly be able to allocate more of that energy toward moving faster.
Both strength and endurance contribute to speed.
5. Take it to the hills.
If this one sounds like it’s going to burn, that’s because it will. Hill runs and sprints (or doing so on any inclined surface) are a form of resistance training that builds your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. It helps you pick up your pace and improve your running efficiency.
Once you’ve built your endurance base, it’s time to take your speed drills outdoors. Begin with about 15 minutes of easy running. Then, move on to a hill with a moderate slope of up to 200 meters. Run up with hard effort for about five to six repeats (with a maximum of 10). Be sure that your running form doesn’t collapse throughout the reps. And always recover by walking or jogging lightly on your way down.
This is pretty intense, so be sure to give your body ample rest as needed.
6. Improve your eating habits.
An optimal diet increases your energy and improves your performance in training and everyday activities.
On top of your speed training drills, these healthy eating habits can help you get faster:
- Avoid simple sugars and junk food that inhibit your speed training and recovery.
- Increase the amount of real, natural food you eat, like salads, fresh fruits, organic meat choices.
- Fuel up with plenty of healthy carbs, like oats or potatoes. You’re going to need the calories!
It’s important that you consume sufficient carbs and protein for fuel during speed drills and/or races. Consider consulting with a registered dietician or nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the nutrients that you specifically need with your lifestyle and training habits.
7. Get sufficient sleep.
Fast runners are well-rested individuals — they adjust their sleeping routines to maintain a high level of performance. If you’re wondering how to get faster in running, having enough quality sleep is key.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Take a warm shower to calm your bodily energies. End your screen time at least an hour before sleeping and read (an actual book) instead. If possible, keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom. Switch to a bedside lamp and decrease your room temperature slightly, as the human body falls into sleep more easily in cooler temperatures.
8. Don’t skip recovery.
Rest is a critical part of your speed training as it helps your muscles start fresh and improves your injury prevention efforts. Plus, your brain needs a little break from high-intensity activities. But this doesn’t mean you should deactivate completely.
On recovery days, engage in easy and light physical activities. Whether it’s lowering your mileage or slowing down your pace, recovery reduces stress on the body and repairs microtears from your last workouts.
Remember, too, that your active recovery doesn’t have to be running. Yoga, rowing, and swimming are also effective options.
Make sure to also stay hydrated, eat healthy macros, and sleep.
Learning how to get faster in running takes hard work but doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated. With the right speed training drills, proper nutrition, sleep, and recovery, you’re well on your way to improving not just your speed and pace but also your overall fitness.
For better recovery sessions, using an electric muscle stimulation device like PowerDot can help. PowerDot helps improve blood circulation, facilitates muscle recovery and mobility, and reduces muscle spasms and inflammation caused by injuries. Thus, it helps strengthen your muscles and improve your training performance.
Learn more about how to improve your agility.
Shop PowerDot’s collections today.