Do you have the need for speed? Running can be such a rewarding exercise whether you do it casually as a workout or compete in races. Improving speed when you’re running requires a few different training techniques and timing methods to help you step up your pace. If you’re new to running, start with a distance goal first before you work on speed. If you’ve already achieved a distance goal and you’re ready to get there just a little faster, then lace up your running shoes and check out these tips for improving your running pace!
Have a goal: When you want to make improvements in your fitness performance, set a goal for yourself. Don’t just exercise. Train! If you consistently run a 12 minute mile, challenge yourself and set a goal to run a 10 minute mile. Or if you enjoy races, set a goal to take a few minutes off your last 5k run time. Setting a goal will give you a sense of purpose and you will feel more motivated to work on your speed to achieve that goal. It may be helpful to use a pace calculator to set a reasonable goal for yourself.
Pick a partner: Of course you’ve heard the benefits of training or running with a partner, but a friend will be helpful in improving your speed, especially if they’re just a bit faster than you. If not a friend, then consider joining a local running club. Runners more experienced than you will not only push you to improve your pace, but they will also have great knowledge and experience to help you along the way. This is called “training up.” The social commitment to your training will also help you stay goal minded!
Fuel up: You might be able to survive your morning run on a cup of coffee and a few bites of breakfast, but to run faster, you’ll need more fuel. You’ll need more protein and carbohydrates to fuel your body for faster training than what you’re used to. Balance complete nutrition throughout your day. Try pre-workout and post-workout snacks to get you through a workout and help you recover afterwards. It’s important to listen to your body’s needs.
Pump up the jams: Faster paced music may help you pick up the speed. Running speed can be impacted by the beats per minute in music. Ever notice your speed drops when a slower song comes on? There are lots of new apps for your music device that will help you kick it up a notch. Apps such as Tempo Run and Rock My Run sort music by tempo, which will help you pick the pace that’s just right. There are lots of other running apps on the market, such as GPS or distance trackers, too.
Try sprints: Track workouts can be very helpful when you are training to improve your speed. At a full-size track, there are four laps to one mile. Try a challenging sprint workout on the track. It’s perfectly flat, the distance is marked for you on the track, and it is often empty of people. Sprints will help engage and strengthen your fast-twitch muscles, the muscles that help with your speed and quick reactions. For a challenging workout on the track, walk or jog the straight sections of the track and run as fast as is comfortable or sprint on the curved parts of the track. You will alternate the slow and fast speeds. This type of workout is only necessary once a week.
Shift gears: Another great workout that you can do on your normal running course or at a track that will help you get a feel for your different paces is called, informally, a gear shifting run. Begin a run at a slower, conversational pace for three to five minutes. Next run at a medium pace for one to two minutes. You shouldn’t feel like you are speeding, but it needs to be faster than your easy pace. Then, for 30 seconds to one minute, run at a fast pace that pushes your body. You will become more aware of your different paces and comfort levels with this exercise.
Head for the hills: To increase your speed, you will need to strengthen your leg muscles. Hill runs or walks help you build leg and lung strength. Seek out hills that you are comfortable running and take 30-60 seconds to climb. Maintain an even steady pace when running up, and take care not to let your feet hit the ground too hard on the way down. If you live in a flat area or don’t have access to safe hills, adjust the incline on a treadmill to mimic a challenging hill!
The most important thing to remember when trying to improve your speed and pace is to….pace yourself! Speed improvements aren’t going to happen overnight. Diligent training is important. Don’t forget to celebrate your goals when you achieve them!
>>Read More: 6 Tips to Perfect Your Running Form