6 Tips To Help You Run Faster

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October 5, 2018

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Whether you’ve just started running or you’ve been hitting the pavement for a while, it’s normal to wonder how to run faster and for longer.

Maybe it’s so you can smash your PB on your daily run, train for a marathon, or simply feel like your fitness is improving.  

No matter why you choose to lace up and go, you can work towards improving your running speed by following these tips!

How to run faster

With any fitness goal, education and a strong plan are the best ways to set yourself up for success.

You might think that to run faster you need to run more, and while the frequency of your runs plays a part, there are other ways you can make progress. 

Follow these tips and you’ll be outrunning your goals in no time:

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1. Focus on your running form

Good form might already be second nature if you’ve been running for a long time, but if you haven’t been running regularly, it’s important to understand how your form can impact your performance. 

Here are some running techniques to ensure good form:

Breathe into your belly

As you run, try to breathe air into your belly rather than into your chest, and use both your nose and your mouth to inhale and exhale. 

“Shallow breathing” is when you take smaller breaths of air into your chest, usually through your mouth. You want to avoid this when running as it can limit the amount of oxygen to your muscles, which can make running much more difficult.

Keep your gaze forward

When you’re a beginner, it can be tempting to look down while running. 

While it’s important to ensure the path in front of you is clear, you should keep your head up and your gaze forward. A good way to do this is to find an object in the distance and focus on it. 

Some studies suggest that having a target in sight can also give you the motivation to reach your destination faster. According to a 2014 study published in the Motivation and Emotion journal, those who participated in physical activity and who adopted a narrow focus of attention, compared to those who looked around the environment, perceived a target as physically closer. Narrowed attention also increased the subjective ease of the physical task and reduced the time to walk to a finish line.

Avoid hunching

Another benefit of keeping your gaze ahead is that you’ll be more likely to maintain good posture and avoid injury. 

Ensure your head is up and your upper body is straight — hunching your shoulders or carrying too much tension in your upper half can lead to neck, shoulder or lower-back pain.

Swing your arms

Bend your arms at 90-degree angles and as you run, swing them back and forth to help propel you further with each stride. 

Aim to bring your hand back to your hip — or further — and avoid clenching your fists.

Protect your knees

To reduce the impact on your knees and joints, make sure you land on your midfoot as you hit the ground and bend your knees slightly.

Try to keep your feet pointed in the same direction you are running, as opposed to turning inwards or outwards, to avoid long-term knee pain or injuries.

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2. Try a HIIT workout

HIIT training is a great way to help build cardiovascular fitness, running speed and overall stamina. 

If you’re stuck for ideas, try a workout from the On Demand section of  the Sweat app that requires minimal equipment and can be done from the comfort of your home!  

3. Mix up your running style

Rather than just trying to make each run a little bit faster, giving some of your running sessions a particular focus or structure can be a way to see more significant improvements in your speed and endurance. Here are some ideas:

Speed intervals

This is a form of HIIT training. While there are a few different ways you can use speed workouts to boost your running performance, a good place to start is to alternate between sprinting or fast running and jogging. 

To do this, jog for several minutes at a comfortable pace, then incorporate 30-60 seconds of hard sprinting, before returning back to a jog or walk, depending on how hard you pushed yourself. 

If you’re running outdoors, you can either time your intervals or jog until you reach a certain landmark, then sprint until you reach another landmark a short distance away, before returning to a jog. You could also head to a park and sprint the length of the field.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that sprint interval training significantly improved running speed, power and performance for trained trail runners, so this style of training is a great way to improve your speed and endurance.

Hill runs

Incorporating regular hill runs into your training can help improve your muscular strength, power, speed and overall fitness. Incorporate a range of different hills into your running route or pick a single hill and practice repeatedly sprinting or jogging up it. 

Tempo runs

Simply put, a tempo run is a long run at a consistent pace. You want to be running at a speed you can sustain for your entire run, but that will start to feel challenging by the end. 

When you incorporate tempo runs into your training, you will improve your metabolic fitness and increase your VO2max, or how effectively your body uses oxygen for metabolism. This happens as a result of an increase in your lactate threshold (LT), or the speed that you can run before your muscles begin to fatigue from a buildup of lactic acid.

Alternating length of runs

Gradually increasing your distance will help build up your stamina over time, and once you get used to longer distances, it’ll be easier to pick up the pace. 

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4. Try strength training

Incorporating strength training twice a week can benefit your running. Building muscular strength means your muscles can work with more power and efficiency per stride and help to reduce your risk of injury. With more power in your legs, arms and core, you’ll likely find you have more running speed too!. 

A 2018 systematic review published in Sports Medicine journal found that strength training 2-3 times per week had a positive impact on running performance in time trials! There are several great strength training programs in the Sweat app, such as PWR or BUILD, or you can pick and choose from the On Demand section.

5. Schedule rest days

It’s important to balance your training days with rest days so your muscles can recover and grow. Remember, muscle growth happens during rest, not during the workout!

To help optimise your recovery, make sure you incorporate a warm-up and cool down before and after each workout, including your runs.

6. Stretch regularly

Active recovery sessions such as yoga can help to stretch and lengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. Yoga also offers a range of health benefits and can complement your running journey.

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Create a plan and get running!

If you want to start running faster, create a plan for your weekly routine that includes some of these tips and you’ll be picking up the pace in no time.   

If you want to track your progress, you can also make a note of your times for running distances such as five kilometres, 100 metres, or one kilometre! Every few weeks, try again and see if you can beat your previous time. Following a plan and tracking your progress can also  motivate you to continue working towards your health and fitness goals

If you’ve been running for a while, joining the discussion in the Sweat forum can be a great way to connect with other runners in the community and share your journey.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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