Some people are naturally fast runners, while others lag behind no matter what. Just because you fall into the latter category does not mean you are destined to always come in last. Learning how to run faster is entirely possible when you take advantage of these nine strategies.
#1. Interval Training
Interval workouts build the type of stamina needed to maintain a faster running pace for longer. During intervals, you perform brief, intense training such as sprints, followed by a second period of rest that is approximately twice as long as your training interval. According to McMaster University researcher Martin Gibala, intervals strengthen the cardiovascular system and increase coordination to provide a more efficient stride.
#2. Tempo Runs
Similar to intervals, tempo runs are sessions in which you maintain a somewhat fast pace rather than a full-on sprint. Instead of running in short bursts, the goal is to keep up a moderate pace for a longer period of time before easing off into a slower gait. For best results, tempo runs should be added intermittently into your workout routine. Fitness editor Leta Shy claims that if you want to know how to run faster, you should perform a tempo run every seven to ten days.
#3. Negative Splits
Most people naturally slow down during the second half of their run. A great way to counteract this tendency is by performing negative splits. During a negative split, you run at a normal pace during the first half, then increase your speed slightly during the second half. The concept of negative splits is so effective that many marathon and endurance runners employ it; coaches such as Jay Johnson encourage it as well.
#4. Running up and Down Hills
If you are running only on flat ground you may have a hard time developing leg strength, something that can ultimately help you become faster. Incorporate a few rolling hills into your routine or use a treadmill program that includes varying inclines. After mastering some hills, you’ll notice an immediate increase in speed once you go back to running on level ground again.
#5. Sprinting after a Run
You probably think of sprints as something that’s done in the beginning or middle of a workout. After all, who wants to complete sprints when they are already tired? According to personal trainer Ben Hwa, performing between four and eight post-workout sprints that are 70 to 100 meters long trains your body to exert great effort even when it is tired. For best results, shoot for around 80 percent effort during each after-workout sprint.
#6. Use the Right Form
If you want to know how to run faster, take smaller steps. It may seem counterproductive, but some research shows that a shorter stride could actually increase speed. According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, runners who shortened their stride noticed decreased hip motion and reduced impact to the knees. Landing with a flat foot is also recommended, as doing so takes some of the pressure off the heel or ball of the foot and reduces your odds of developing an injury. Knowing how to run properly can make a huge difference.
#7. Warm up with Running Drills
Start your workout with drills such as skipping, high knee raises, jumping rope, or “hot feet” exercises. Running coach Spencer Casey claims that these types of drills stimulate the central nervous system, ensuring it is ready for the task ahead. Runner Robert Cavanaugh also states that running drills “can make a significant difference toward improving your running form and pace.”
#8. Eat the Right Foods
You’ll naturally have more energy if you consume the right diet. Just before a run, include a small snack that contains a little bit of protein mixed with some simple carbs. Drinking a cup of coffee approximately 30 minutes before your run will give you more energy, and some studies show it may even help you run faster and for longer distances. Beetroot may also provide some benefits, as research from St. Louis University suggests that individuals who consume it before a run can complete a 5k faster.
#9. Stretch after your Run
Skip your after-run stretch, and your pace could suffer as a result. Stretching on a regular basis will ensure good flexibility, something that is essential to maintaining the right stride and form during a run. Not only that, but it will greatly reduce your risk of injury as well.
Just because your run time is not where you would like it to be does not mean you are without hope. Follow these nine tips, and you too can achieve a noticeable increase in your speed and endurance.