It’s running season – time to celebrate! With so many fall races coming up right around the corner of all kinds of distances, there are more runners than any other time of the year lining up on treadmills and hitting the sidewalks and trails. While running really can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, everyone always has room for improvement. Check out these 8 ways to increase your speed and nail your best time yet!
One of the best ways to increase your speed is to incorporate interval training. Alternate between 2 minutes of sprinting and 1 minute of recovery for 20-40 minutes. If you have a goal pace in mind for a future race, aim for 0.5 mph faster than that pace during the speed interval. To recover, walk or jog, whichever feels best but also challenging to your body.
Practice makes perfect, so perfect your form.
Stand tall and relax your shoulders, keep your arms swinging back and forth as opposed to out to the side, and land on the middle of your foot with your feet directly under your hips. Focus on your form during your next few runs and watch your times go down!
Focus on your breathing! To be sure that your muscles are getting enough air to power your body through your fast-paced run, inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth. Taking deep breaths through both the nose and mouth will allow your body to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to your body, fast! Oxygen is like food for your muscles, so those quick legs will thank you.
Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and injury free. So, be sure to stretch after each run for at least 5 minutes. Target your hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Holding each stretch for 30 seconds on each side at least twice will help you recover and take on your next run with fresh legs.
Grab a six pack.
Abs, that is! Incorporating more core work into your routine can help increase your speed. A strong core is the key to proper running form. Add 5 minutes of core work (abs and back) into your routine every other day to start seeing and feeling the benefits.
Hit the weights.
Strength training will increase the power in your legs, giving them more ability to propel you through your runs. Focus on your large muscle groups like your quads and hamstrings, but don’t neglect your inner and outer thighs to protect yourself from injury. Just two strength training sessions a week can be enough to make a difference in your run times.
Pour a cup of coffee an hour before your run and watch its surprising effect on your time!
Caffeine has been shown to increase speed and coffee is one of the healthiest forms. If you’re really getting serious, don’t fret, caffeine is still a cleared performance enhancing substitute. Elite athletes and weekend runners alike can benefit from a hot cup o’ joe!
Refresh your gear and treat yourself to a new pair of shoes.
Your shoes take quite the beating when you’re logging serious mileage. A good pair of running shoes won’t last much longer than 300-400 miles. Keep track of your mileage to be sure you do your feet a favor and replace your shoes on time. If it’s been a while since you’ve rotated in a fresh pair, you’ll certainly feel the difference!
Start incorporating these small changes into your runs and watch your times decrease slowly but surely. Increasing your speed is no easy feat (no pun intended!) but it can be done. Be patient and consistent and your hard work will pay off when you cross that finish line!