Tag Archives: running faster

5 Strategies to Become a Faster Runner

You’re a very committed runner. You never skip a workout, you fuel properly and even rest when all you wanted was to log some miles. But, even so, you never seem to improve your race times. You’re not alone.

In fact, this is one of the biggest issues that strike runners who are focused in increasing their speed, along with their mileage.

To help you become faster, we have put together five tips to change things up in training and stimulate better results:

Sprinting intervals

sprinting-intervals

You can’t become a faster runner without practicing running fast. Short sprinting bursts are a great exercise for improving your personal best, along with building your strength and endurance. And because they last only a short amount of time, they are easy to incorporate into your running plan.

There are many different ways of incorporating short repeats into your training. Whether you choose to time your intervals or use the terrain to your advantage, it’s important you don’t push yourself too much, too soon. Keep in mind that a fast pace doesn’t mean an all-out sprint, but a faster pace than your usual.

Tempo runs

Tempo runs are similar to high-intensity intervals, but instead of doing short sprinting bursts, you have to run slightly faster than your normal pace for a longer time period. A tempo run should challenge your body, but not as much as a sprint: if you’re able to hold a conversation, you’re going too slow, but if you can easily answer short questions, it means you’re at the right pace.

These types of runs will push your physical threshold, which will help you improve your endurance and speed. If you have never done a tempo run, start out with 10 minutes, and build up to 40 minutes, every 7 to 10 days.

Negative splits

negative-splits

This strategy involves running the second half of a run at a faster pace than the first half. This is a very simple way to make every run a good run and, despite what you may think, it actually helps to improve your PR.

To incorporate negative splits into one of your runs, start at a good, steady pace. After the first half of the run, your body is properly warmed up and it should be easy to increase your pace on the second half of the workout, so you end up with a faster overall time. Out-and-back runs are a great way to inspire negative splits: run at a comfortable pace to a destination, and increase your speed once you head back home.

Run hills

The next time you get out for a run, make sure an incline is part of your route. Running up hills is the perfect way to make you a faster runner: it strengthens the same muscles you use for sprinting and builds your body’s endurance, which can be useful when you’re fatigued and struggling to pick up the pace.

Whether you choose to run on the treadmill or outside, you can either opt for short and fast reps (8 x 20 seconds) to build strength and power, or longer reps (8 x 1 minute) to build speed and endurance.

Run on different surfaces

different-terrain

If you’re used to running on flat terrain, get yourself to a soft-surface trail to challenge your muscles in different ways.

Running on undulating routes and on different types of pavement avoids repetition and forces your body to engage muscles that normally go unused while you run a consistent road or track gait.

 

4 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Runners

All runners share a common goal: to be better runners. It doesn’t matter if you started Ease Into 5K last week or if you already have a few races under your belt; you want to become faster, more efficient and more injury resistant.

But just running isn’t going to be enough. It is important to incorporate strength training into your workout plans. Not only do these exercises help you build muscle power, but they also fire up your metabolism and strengthen your bones against age-related deterioration.

To become a stronger, faster, more complete runner, make sure you add these four running specific strength training exercises to your running routine:

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight-Squats

If we had to pick just one strength training exercise for runners it would be squats. They strengthen the entire lower body, by targeting running-specific muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, hip flexors, and glutes. Squats can even help you strengthen your knees and prevent knee pain and injury.

Begin this exercise by standing with your feet hip distance apart, with your toes facing forward. Slowly lower your body and sit back like you are sitting in a chair behind you. Make sure your knees don’t cross the plane of your toes when your glutes, quads and hamstrings are engaged. Straighten legs and come back up to standing to complete one rep.

Bodyweight squats can easily be added to your post-run routine and, even though they don’t require any equipment, you can always try modified versions that combine the squats’ movement with dumbbells, a band or a swiss ball.

Push ups

push-ups

The upper body is often neglected by runners when they train. Strong arms, chest, shoulders, as well as a strong core are essential for overall fitness and powerful, faster runs.

Push-ups are great for the upper body. They help strengthen the chest, core, biceps, triceps and back in just one move and without any type of equipment.

The exercise is very simple: in a plank position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, bend elbows and descend down until the chest nearly touches the ground. Push yourself all the way up to plank position for one rep.

If you are a beginner, you can start with your knees on floor or even opt for a wall push instead. Depending on your fitness level or where your train takes places, there are several variations of the traditional push-up position, that you can easily incorporate to your training plan.

Planks

Plank

Most runners are probably tired of hearing about how they should strengthen their core. But there’s a reason! A strong core – your abs, obliques, lower back and hips – is essential for improving stride, form, breathing and speed.

The plank is the perfect exercise for strengthening every muscle in your core. Begin in a push-up position, with your arms straight (palms below shoulders) and weight balanced evenly between hands and toes. Align the body straight from the top of the head through the heels. Tighten up the abs while lifting through the chest to create as much space as possible in between the chest and the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 1-3 minutes.

You can progress by alternate lifting each leg or using a balance board as support for your hands.

Lateral lunges

lateral-lunges

As a runner, all you want is to keep on moving forward. But this repetitive, unidirectional movement, along with muscle weakness, can be the cause for the most common injuries among runners. That’s why it’s so important to train your body through other planes of movement, like backwards or sideways.

Lateral lunges help you train often-neglected muscles like the hip flexors, quads, calves, core, hamstrings and glutes, helping increase stability at your joints, improve your balance, and prevent injury.

To perform a lateral lunge, begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Then, step three to four feet out to the right with one foot while sending the hips back and squatting to a 90 degree angle at the right knee. Try to sit down with your butt, keeping your back as upright as possible, your abs tight and chest up. When coming back to standing, engage the glute to power off the ground. After finishing all reps on this side, repeat on left side to complete one set.

What strength training exercise best works for you? Tells us all about it in the comments below.