If you’ve taken up running as a serious athletic endeavor, you’ll soon realize that it requires a lot of commitment.
Whether you want to improve your stamina or build speed and core strength, there are many tips on how to get faster at running.
We’ve compiled some of the best tips experts and coaches have to offer. Incorporate these into your training routine, and get ready for that next 5K!
How to Get Faster at Running for Starters
As a starter, you’ve likely just gotten into running.
You have no idea about what to know, how to begin and are looking for tips and tricks to put you on the path to success. Take advantage of this initial energy and propel yourself headfirst into the world of running.
If you can capitalize on this starter adrenalize, you can propel yourself onto higher levels.
It is important to start your workout right and ease your body into the exercise. When you’re getting into running, make sure you develop a warmup routine that includes stretches and some light cardio.
A similar cool-down routine should be repeated at the end of your run, and keep it stretch heavy. The goal is to slowly release the tension from your muscles and stop lactic acid from building up.
Forget this important step, and you’ll soon find yourself dealing with soreness, cramps, and muscle swelling, all of which is as painful as it sounds.
The amount of food and energy your body needs depends greatly on your exercise level. In fact, the References Intake Report divides the daily calorie count requirements into 3 bands for sedentary, moderately active, and active individuals.
Running certainly takes up a lot of calories, and if you’re planning on doing it a few times a week, you’ll need to take a close look at what you’re eating.
As someone moving from a sedentary to an active lifestyle, the people who fall into this group will need to take extra care to stay hydrated. That means drinking 6 to 8 ounces of water prior to your run and an additional 10 to 15 ounces for every 15 minutes of run time.
Follow up with 16 ounces at your next mealtime.
Every runner is different, so you’ll have to adapt your water intake depending on how much you sweat, how hot it is in your region, and other factors like weight or body mass.
Remember, the average person is supposed to drink 8-ounce glasses of water a day. The requirements are a lot more for athletes. Also, look into oxidant heavy drinks like coconut water and green tea.
Learn Proper Technique
The biggest issue when you start running is learning the proper technique.
If your form isn’t right and you push your body too far, you can end up damaging your knees, muscles, and ligaments. That’s why it’s always better to have someone helping you in the very beginning, as opposed to after you’ve learned and internalized your bad form.
Some tips include pushing off the ground, engaging your core, reducing your stride, and lining your keep up with the rest of your body. You can study the form of professional runners or listen to sports commentary to improve your technique independently.
Never underestimate the importance of good equipment. That includes everything from breathable running tights that allow air circulation to high-quality running shoes with soft soles to protect your feet.
In fact, a 2019 study used a sample of runners who shifted to the Nike Vaporfly 4% from a range of older, less advanced running shoes.
The results showed a clear increase in stride length and a position impact on other aspects of running mechanics like plantarflexion velocity and displacement of their center of mass as a result of vertical movement.
While you don’t need to purchase an overly expensive pair of shoes, or any particular brand, investing in a comfortable pair of running shoes is essential to your physical health if you plan on taking running seriously.
When you’re starting out, trying to do longer distances can actually hold you back.
It seems counterintuitive, we know. After all, isn’t it better to put in more time on the track than less? But research shows that spending a few sessions running sprints can help improve your performance immensely. This is especially helpful for beginners who can only put in a little time.
With sprint interval training, you’ll see a clear boost in your endurance, core strength, and the amount of consistent energy you’re able to maintain through the run, as opposed to just the beginning and end.
How to Get Faster at Running for Beginners
The following tips are for people who have been running for a few months, put in consistent work, but aren’t entirely sure what to do next.
Your initial rush hasn’t run out. In fact, the little time you’ve put in has only motivated you to push forward and take the sport seriously.
If that sounds like you, you’re probably a beginner. Congratulations! Not many starters make it to the beginner level. This means you have the drive and the motivation to become a runner. These strategies are designed to help you get to the next level.
How to get faster at running? Simple, strengthen your core.
Research shows that endurance training is the best way for beginners to learn how to run longer and faster. You’ll see quicker results with less time on the track if you optimize your workout efficiency with some well-placed strength training.
That can mean repetitive gym workouts like lifting weights, squats, pushups, lunges, or other athletic activities like swimming, boxing, and tennis. Alternating your exercise regimen is often a good strategy for beginners and will improve your overall fitness level.
In the initial stages of running, it’s easier to build up your mileage gradually.
After two months of consistent training, you can expect to attempt your first 5K. That’s 3.1 miles. In order to get to this point, you’ll have to put in at least 30 minutes 5 days a week for 8 weeks.
Keep running 5 km for 4 weeks, then add another 2 and repeat. Give your body time to adjust to the longer distance before you push it further.
Balance and posture are incredibly important for runners. When your muscles aren’t in alignment, you risk putting excess pressure on your joints.
This can ruin your stride and pace, as well as cause immense damage to your body. Learn how to let go of tension and establish a routine to stretch out and loosen your muscles.
The biggest hurdle beginners run into isn’t the physical limitation but the mental block. Once the initial energy boost wears off, it becomes increasingly harder to put in the work day-in and day-out.
That’s why one highly recommended tip is to join a group or team.
When you have like-minded people working out and training with you, there’s a lot more incentive to train. You can’t slack off and let the team down. You’ll have more motivation to show up and put in the work.
If you want to get faster at running, you need to be consistent in your efforts.
That doesn’t mean you need to run every day, just as long as you’re getting some form of exercise. You can create a schedule that includes strength training, running sprints, stretching, and swimming to get the most out of your week.
All of the other workouts will directly contribute to increasing your stamina and speed on the track.
How to Get Faster for Intermediate Runners
The following tips are for people who have attained a certain level of skill and success at running. That means you’ve been training for several months, have participated in multiple 5Ks, and steadily worked your way up.
However, despite competing at a considerably high level, you’ve probably been stagnating for a while. These strategies will help you get past the slump.
For people who live on or near hilly terrain, you have a prime opportunity right in front of you.
Running uphill is one of the hardest tests of endurance. It burns an intense amount of fat, boosts your speed, strengthens your core, and does wonders for your stamina. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
Now that you’re an intermediate runner, it’s time to take things to the next level. Very few casual runners make it past the beginner stage, so if you want your name among the chosen few, you’re going to have to put in the work.
Planning weekend trips are a great way to get in some extra hill training. But if that isn’t feasible, you can always get a treadmill and try out some hill sprints indoors. Or better yet, visit a nearby gym for some professional guidance.
Strengthen Your Core
If you’ve reached a plateau in your running journey, your best bet is to take a break from the track and instead work on strengthening your core.
Spend some time in the gym and build those ab muscles. Explore a variety of interesting exercises like side planks, Russian twists, and Romanian deadlifts to get you started.
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a break from running can actually help you in the long run. When it comes to running, always be sure to log your progress. Generally, if you’ve been following the same routine for a while and aren’t seeing any improvement, there’s no point in pushing forward with a failing strategy.
Take a break. Re-evaluate your goals and game plan. Then tackle it from a different angle.
One direction you can take is that of lateral exercises.
Remember, running may be a highly intensive workout, but like all exercises, it utilizes a finite number of muscles. When you repeat the same motions over and over, it strengthens those limited muscles till they max out. At this point, continuing the same series of actions begins to show little to no improvement.
Now you’re left wondering why the strategy that worked so well to get you to this level isn’t taking you any further.
For runners facing these issues, a solid change in pace is to try lateral exercises. These workouts include lateral lunges, side shuffles, step-ups, and a host of other sidewards movements. The goal is to work the muscles along your body.
As soon as you shift to these exercises, you’ll feel a new burn in your body. That’s because these aren’t muscles you’ve been working in any of your runs. However, they’ll have a massive impact on your mobility.
Not only do lateral exercises strengthen your lower back area, but they also help improve control in your knees, hips, and thighs. This improved skill will translate into your running, and you’ll notice a definite improvement.
Endurance runs, not to be confused with interval training, are another great way to increase stamina. For intermediate runners who find themselves hitting a mileage threshold, endurance runs can offer an ideal solution.
In this strategy, runners push themselves by attempting to increase distances at a low to medium pace.
That means you don’t need to time yourself to try and sprint the distance. Instead, you should take breaks and go at a slower pace. The goal is to train your body to run longer tracks than it is used to.
Once you are able to meet your ideal distance target, keep hitting that target consistently for a few weeks. Then, you can shift to another strategy and work on issues for pace.
How to Get Faster for Advanced Runners
For people who want to compete professionally, there is no final stage to reach.
No matter how good you are, you can always get better. If you are willing and ready to push your body to its highest capacity, the following exercises are for you. Note that these are major workouts, and ideally, you should have a coach guiding you along the way.
Interval training, also known as Tabata training, is the opposite of endurance runs. Here the strategy is to fully engage your body with short, intense bursts of running followed by a complete stop.
The goal is for each burst or interval to have the same maximum pace. Research shows that training in this manner can help strengthen muscle and endurance.
A study specifically monitoring the progress of intermediate runners who used this strategy for two weeks, completing 6 sessions, separated by 2 days of rest. Overall, there was a clear improvement, with the participants averaging three and a half more meters in a 30 second period.
The trick here is not to overdo the training since it takes a huge toll on the body.
There are two ways to do this –
- In a 400 m curved track, sprint the 100 m straight portion, walk slowly around the curve, then sprint the 100 m consecutive straight potion until you’ve completed 8 sprints.
- Time a 2-minute high-intensity burst, then take a 1-minute break. Complete four bursts.
Remember to break up your interval training with one or two days of complete rest. That doesn’t mean you should fill in those slots with strength training or some other type of workout.
Simply take a break and recover. When you shift back to your regular runs after a period of interval training, you’ll find the same distances easier and note a clear increase in speed.
Fartleks are similar to interval runs but lower in intensity, and they last longer. Here, again, you alternate between a burst of energy and a recovery pace. This is different from interval runs since you don’t actually stop. The alternating of high intensity and low-intensity running works both your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds.
For competitive runners, this will give you the ability to tap into last-minute reserves and move past another runner. The goal of this exercise is to both push and help you recognize your limits. Initially, try doing some unstructured fartleks.
This is when you run at your maximum speed for 20 to 60 seconds and then lightly jog for the same amount of time, only to repeat until you run out of gas. Since there’s no fixed time, you need to meet its relatively low pressure.
Once you get the hang of it, move on to structured fartleks. That means you set a time increment and a set number – for example, 1 minute running, 1-minute jogging, 15 sets.
To become an expert runner, you need to have complete control over your body. However, developing this level of intense discipline is no easy task. One strategy that experts recommend is to add tempo runs to your workout regimen.
The goal here is to spend anywhere between 10 to 45 minutes maintaining a steady speed. That means you shouldn’t start out at 90% capacity because you won’t be able to keep a steady pace.
Instead, begin at 70% or 60% and keep it going throughout the run. You may find yourself thinking the run is too easy at the beginning. That’s a good thing because you’ll be draining every last reserve of energy to maintain it by the end.
Scientifically, tempo runs are meant to help push your anaerobic threshold. When an exercise gets too intense, your muscles begin to produce lactic acid. The buildup of this acid is what causes pain and heaviness in your muscles until you’re forced to stop. If you have a low anaerobic threshold, you’ll stop sooner, and if you have a high threshold, you’ll be able to run longer.
Athletes train their bodies to push their anaerobic threshold to the maximum until they have superhuman endurance. That is why this exercise is only recommended for advanced runners.
How to Get Faster for Sprinters
There are many different types of running, and sprinters often need an extra kick to compete in such high-intensity runs.
These exercises are designed to help you push past your running barriers and reach your fastest pace. Used along with some of the previous strategies, and you’ll be sure to see results.
If you want to get the most out of your run, you should shorten your strides and make sure you hit the ground with the balls of your feet.
Actively practice your form and take smaller steps while propelling yourself forward. Initially, it will feel odd to alter your running stride purposely. But over time, you’ll notice a clear improvement in your run times as you sprint.
For sprinters, there is nothing more important than perfecting breath control. If you can practice rhythmic breathing, you’ll ensure your muscles get enough oxygen as you sprint.
That is the key to maintain a high running pace. To accomplish this, you should try deep abdominal breathing.
Many sprinters join yoga classes as a way to perfect the initial control required as you think about each inhale and exhale. Later you can take those teachings and time them to match your steps. When your breathing is in line with your foot movement, you’re automatically performing at a high level.
Start your routine right with a few targeted warmup drills. Using the fartleks approach of alternating high or medium-intensity running with low-intensity jogging is a good way to get your body in tune.
A good pace to set is a 50-yard sprint with a 10-yard jog. Keep it going for a few sets. Once your heart rate is up, move into some workout sets, round kicks, high knees, and long strides are a few to get your going.
If you want to know how to get faster at running, the only answer is to put in enough time and work.
There are endless strategies you can try as long as you have the drive and motivation to put in the effort day in and day out. All of these tips only work if your practice is consistent.
Remember to drink enough water and not push your body too hard. If you’re a beginner, work your way up. And if you afford to get professional help, definitely do so!