One of the most common questions that runners have is how they can improve their overall speed. Dedicated runners usually obtain a good level of fitness through regular workouts, and they can generally go for miles without stopping. But many often end up hitting a plateau in terms of how quickly they can cover those distances. If you find yourself wondering how you can improve your running speeds, here are some helpful tips that could help you shave time off of your pace.
Focus on Form and Stride
Many runners don’t actually think much about their workouts. They simply head out the door with a distance in mind, and soon find themselves lost in thought as they listen to music in their headphones. But if you concentrate on maintaining a good running form and a natural stride, you’ll learn to be a more efficient runner that can cover longer distances at a faster pace. You should run with your back straight, standing tall and leaning slightly forward, while landing with the mid-foot rather than the heel. Swing your arms in a natural movement forward and back, while avoiding moving them from side to side. Add in long, natural strides that allow your legs to flow smoothly, and you’re likely to see noticeable improvements in efficiency and speed.
One of the surest ways to improve speed while running is to simply run fast. You can’t just decide to do that on your longer runs however, as it takes time and conditioning. You can switch up your workouts to include sprint training though, which involves running fast intervals over shorter distances. Running a 50 or 100-meter dash, then taking a short break before doing it again will help to build muscle, as well as improve cardio efficiency. Both of those are key elements to running faster on longer runs as well.
It is debatable whether or not stretching can help avoid injuries while working out, but it can definitely improve flexibility and loosen up the muscles. This has the benefit of shortening the time it takes for your body to warm up while on a run, which is important when you’re looking to improve your times over longer distances. You should also stretch on your rest days too, as it will keep your body limber and relaxed at a time when muscles tend to tighten up.
Let’s face it, hills are the bane of a runners existence, often pushing our muscles and lungs to the max. But if you want to run faster you shouldn’t avoid hills, as the effort to get up, and down them helps improve your overall level of fitness and ultimately allows you to run faster too. And once you’ve learned to conquer the hills, it’ll bring a nice sense of satisfaction and confidence to your running as well.
Running may be an excellent workout, but there are other exercises that can help you get fit and improve your speeds too. For instance, cycling is a good alternative to running in terms of building lean muscles while still working the legs. Sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups are also great for the core, which is integral for improving your running times as well. Lifting lighter weights can help build strength and tone muscles without adding bulk, which can help to maintain your speed over longer runs.
Don’t Forget About Your Shoes
I’m not sold on the idea that wearing one specific shoe over another will make you a faster runner, but there is something to be said for finding the right pair of shoes that work for you. Your shoes should be comfortable on your feet and provide plenty of cushioning from the road or trail. What that means for each individual runner is truly a personal matter, and finding the shoe that works best for you will certainly help you run better. Also, don’t forget to replace them with a new pair every 300-500 miles, as once the support starts to go, it’ll put extra wear and tear on your legs that will eventually slow you down. Keeping your legs fresh are an important key to achieving improved personal times over longer distances.
The key to improving your running speeds isn’t about working harder, but more importantly running smarter. Wanting to improve your time is a natural part of the sport, and these tips can help you achieve that goal. Don’t forget to be stay hydrated, and be mindful of what you eat, as those elements can have an impact on the efficiency of your runs as well. With a bit of focus and planning, you’ll soon be taking precious second off your run times, and pushing the limits of just how fast you can truly go.