Do you remember the Olympic runner Usain Bolt? He can run as fast as 27.8 miles per hour. With a record like that, he has to know how to get faster at running.
While us mere mortals probably won't be able to run a mile in just over two minutes, there are a few things you can do to run faster. If you know how to get faster at running, you will reap more benefits than just a shorter race time.
Increasing your speed can be a great motivator, and knowing how to get faster at running can help you overcome the monotony of your routine. But how exactly do you do that?
How to Get Faster at Running
Image by Skinny Runner
Whether you run for personal enjoyment or to participate in races, you probably want to know how to get faster at running. Running is an excellent way to exercise, and running faster can help keep things interesting.
Running slowly is easy. If you know how to get faster at running, you'll be able to push yourself and improve in ways you never thought possible.
No pain, no gain
Let's start with pushing yourself. In almost anything, you need to get a bit out of your comfort zone to get better. Running is no exception.
If you feel comfortable on a run, odds are you can probably go a bit faster. You don't have to do anything crazy. Start by running a faster pace for a short distance.
You can also push yourself by testing out different routes. Instead of sticking to the same old trail, try a new one on your next run.
However, don't overdo it. There's a difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Some minor discomfort is normal, but if you experience severe discomfort or pain, stop what you're doing. Consult a doctor.
Another easy tip for how to get faster at running is to check your stride. If you run with a long stride, try and shorten it. Take more steps at smaller intervals, and make them quick.
The quicker you can get from one step to the next, the faster you'll be able to run.
That also means you should try and reduce how much of your foot touches the ground. Instead of your entire foot, try and stick to your toes.
Work on bouncing off of one foot and onto the other.
The tortoise and the hare
If you want to understand how to get faster at running, take a hint from both the tortoise and the hare. On the one hand, slow and steady wins the race. However, there's something to be said for running a fast pace.
To increase your running speed, try alternating slow with fast. You can use your slow pace to warm up and cool down, and it's also helpful when you feel like you need some sort of break on a run.
But then go back to pushing yourself. Go a little faster than you think you can, and try to maintain that pace.
Switching between fast and slow gives your body a chance to recuperate from the fast but also to push your limits.
Climb a mountain
You don't have to climb Mount Everest, but get comfortable with running up hills. Uphill running forces you to run a little harder than running on even ground.
You have to speed up to get over the hill, and you can use that momentum to build up your speed on a flat plane.
Your first hill doesn't need to be super steep. Just start with a small incline and build from there. As you become comfortable running up small hills, move to bigger hills.
The easier you can run up a hill, the easier it will be for you to get faster at running.
Fit and healthy
While weight loss shouldn't be your primary reason for running, losing weight can make it easier for you to run faster.
Shedding excess pounds means you won't have as much weight to carry. The slimmer you are, the easier it will be to up your speed.
Again, don't run to lose weight to be skinny. Do your best to love your body at whatever size, and run because you enjoy it.
This is one tip for how to get faster at running that you probably didn't expect. But resting is just as important as training.
Running works your entire body, and sometimes your body needs a break. That's not to mention that your muscles actually keep working when you take a rest day.
You also need some rest to avoid injury. Don't underestimate the potential for an overuse injury.
So pull up some Netflix and grab a (healthy) snack. Give yourself a break, because your body needs it.
Let's go back to the tortoise and the hare for a moment. Both animals had some smart strategies, but the tortoise won the race. Why? Because the tortoise kept a steady pace.
If you try and run too fast, too soon or for too long, you might end up doing more harm than good.
It can be easy to want to start off sprinting but don't. Whether you're training or running a race, you don't want to use all of your energy at the beginning.
Start off at a comfortable pace and adjust that pace as you need to. If you feel a burst of energy, you can go a little faster. But make sure you pay attention to your body.
Our bodies are very good at telling us when something is good or not. Don't be afraid to slow down a bit if you need to.
If you're training for a race, there's more to do than just run. As you prepare for the race, you should also learn about the course.
Figure out what turns it has or what hills you will have to do.
If the race is local, try and run all or part of the course before the race. Knowing where you'll be running will allow you to better prepare for the race both mentally and physically.
If you can't test out the course ahead of time, at least visualize it and try to run a similar route.
The last thing you want on race day is to find out the course is much different than you thought it would be.
Before you head out on your next run, make sure you have the right gear. There are tons of shoes on the market, and some are better than others.
Make sure you have shoes that fit and are good for your feet. Misfitting shoes can cause a lot of issues when running, and those issues can then slow your pace.
You should also wear well-fitting clothes. Don't go too tight or too loose. If you run when it's dark or close to dark outside, be sure also to wear reflective clothing.
Even if you run on a running trail, you want to make sure people see you.
The right clothing and shoes can make a world of difference for your running speed.
Strike a pose
During your run, you want to keep an eye on yourself. Of course, you don't want to overwork yourself. That's a given.
But this time we mean that you should make sure you maintain a good running form. A big mistake you can make when learning how to get faster at running is not learning proper running form.
Bad running form can slow you down in many ways. First, it can lead to injury which is never good. Also, bad form can cause excess tension which can throw you off.
So keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. Keep your arms at your sides. And focus on the course ahead.
Stay on track
When it comes to the day of the race, there are a few things you can do to shave seconds or minutes off your finish time. You don't want to waste any time during a race, especially if you want to win a medal or beat a personal record.
One of the easiest distractions during a race is the water stations. Now, you should stop for water when you need it. But don't stop for any longer than you have to.
Chug that cup of water and keep going.
Another easy distraction is bathroom stops. Yes, they're convenient. But going to the bathroom can add minutes to your final time.
To avoid this, make sure you get to the race early enough to use the restroom before everything starts. Before and during the race, only drink water that you need.
Avoid the temptation to drink too much water, because that can cause you to have to stop during the race.
Why Run Faster?
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Unless you're training for a race, you may not have a reason to learn how to get faster at running. But a race isn't the only motivator for increasing your speed.
Even if you are planning for a race, most of your motivation should come from within you. Yes, a better final time would be great. But you should do it for more than just the time on a stopwatch.
In most parts of your life, you probably want to improve. Whether it's at work or school or in your personal life, improvement is something to work towards.
And you should look at running in that same way. If you don't want to get better at running, it can become boring. Running the same route at the same pace will get real old, real fast.
Even if you're only able to increase your speed a little, that can be enough to maintain your love of running.
You probably started running as a way to get active. And that's a fantastic reason. Running is an easy way to get and stay active.
Now that you're active, your goal can switch from getting active to get fit. If you understand how to get faster at running, you can apply that knowledge to improve your overall fitness level.
See and feel progress
Lastly, there's nothing better than seeing and feeling like you've made progress. Your running speed is an easy way to measure your growth as a runner.
If you can see the progress on a stopwatch, it can motivate you to keep running and to keep working hard to get even faster.
Hit the Ground Running
Knowing how to run is just part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding how to get faster at running. You need a steady pace, proper running form, and the right running gear. Your running routine should also include some hills as well as full rest days.
Running is one of the best ways to get active. Training for a race can give you the motivation to learn how to get faster at running. But even if you don't plan on racing, understanding how to get faster at running can help you become a better runner.