If you want to make your mark on the running scene as a speed demon, there are certain steps (no pun intended) you have to take on the road to becoming a little quicker on the pavement. A few different habits and commitments can unlock your speed potential, even if you may be starting off with a bit (or a lot) of a slower pace than you’d like.
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced runner, it never hurts to have some strategies up your sleeve to improve your performance. Before you start pounding the pavement, check out these six tips on how you can accelerate your running speed – and look more legit on the running path.
Begin training for a 10k.
There is nothing like the spirit of competition to drive you toward your goals. That’s why training for a 10K is a great running booster! You’ll have a goal in mind that will help you achieve your desired running speed. And even if you’re new to running – maybe you haven’t even tackled a 5k yet, let alone a 10k – you can rest assured a 10k isn’t necessarily a super-intimidating feat. Even a newbie can tackle 6.2 miles of running in less than six months with the proper preparation.
Run for a longer period of time once a week.
Endurance is everything if you’re trying to increase your running speed. So how can you build your endurance? One way to do it so to commit to one long run every week. Running longer will develop your aerobic capacity, give you more energy, and make your cardiovascular system more efficient. Start increasing your running mileage by adding 2-3 miles (or whatever works for your current level) or by adding a second run to your day.
Start doing fartlek workouts (even if you’re still trying to figure out how to say it).
If you’ve never heard of a fartlek workout, don’t panic. Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play”. It’s a clever way of increasing your speed by blending fast and slow runs. So if you’re a running newbie, you can build your speed by mixing walking and jogging. More advanced runners could do a mix of jogging and sprinting.
This phase of training helps you to improve your running performance by incorporating high-intensity and low-intensity workouts while reducing overuse injuries.
Add some strength training to your running regimen.
Increasing your running speed isn’t all about driving your legs into the ground. Balance is key. Squats, planks, push-ups, and other strength building exercises have the potential to help you increase your running speed by making you faster and more powerful. You’ll increase your ankle flexibility and develop good segmental alignment when running. Your body will also be strong enough to withstand the changes that come with utilizing more of your internal energy.
Try strides and hill sprints.
If you’re looking for a neuromuscular workout that will improve your running economy, you can’t abandon strides and hill sprints.
Strides – basically short periods of fast-paced running – prepare your body to move comfortably at all speeds, and incorporating them into the last few miles of your run will help you to improve your power output and oxygen processing power.
If you’re ready to elevate your running prowess on a steep incline, hill sprints are a great power booster, not to mention, pretty quick. If you just give a hill sprint your all (we’re talking 100% or close to it) for 10-12 seconds at a time, you can increase your running strength through the resistance you feel while going up the hill. And like we said, more strength means more speed.
Don’t skip recovery.
You can’t expect to reach your speed potential if your muscles are sore and worn out. Your body needs to repair those muscles you’ve been working all week or you put yourself at risk of injury (and you won’t be doing much running if you’re on crutches). It may sound counterintuitive, but taking a break here and there isn’t just an option – it’s pretty mandatory. Take at least a day to relax and stretch your muscles. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you and reach levels that weren’t even possible for you three months ago.