Most runners ultimately want to run faster, right? Maybe not every day, but overall it’s nice to be able to measure progress with our speed. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with just running at a comfortable pace, setting a goal to get faster is one way to stay motivated and it’s easy to see measurable improvements over time.
It seems simple, right? To get faster, you just need to go at a faster pace. Of course that is easier said than done! Many runners will naturally get a little faster over their first few months/years of running just because they get better at it with practice. Eventually, however, we need to become more focused and intentional about speed goals if we want to see progress. Here are some ways to adjust your training if you want to get faster..
Want to Run Faster? How to Adjust Your Training
Yes, that’s right! Sometimes running less can help us to become a faster runner. Ever notice that as you increase your mileage you get slower? (That is happening to me right now!) Your legs are more fatigued and there is less time to recover between runs. By running less you can be more specific about your training and allow yourself adequate time to recover.
The reduction in mileage doesn’t need to be drastic. Just enough to allow yourself to focus on 1-2 quality workouts per week, with at least 1 easy run and enough recovery time. Many runners thrive off of running 3 days a week. And you don’t need to reduce your mileage forever. It can just be for a few months while you work on your speed and get more comfortable with faster paces. Then you can slowly start adding in more mileage again.
Check out the benefits of running 3 days a week!
Add Speed Work
In order to run faster you need to teach your legs to move at a faster pace and improve your aerobic capacity. The best way to do this is through speed work! Depending on your goals, you can do workouts like fartleks, short intervals, or tempo workouts. Here are a few workouts that you can try:
I know I said you should run less to get faster, but another strategy is to run more. It really depends on your goals. By increasing you mileage you will build endurance and have more opportunities to work on your speed. However, you need to carefully plan out your training to do this effectively. Not all of your runs will be fast. In fact, most of them should be slow. For more experienced runners looking to get faster for longer periods of time, this can be a helpful strategy. New runners or runners focused on shorter distances are probably better off with low to moderate mileage.
You may also like: 4 tips on how to slow yourself down when running
Add Strength Training
By building strength in your legs and core you can help your body to move faster. A running-specific strength training program can help improve running economy and performance, as well as reduce your risk of injury. One of the challenges of getting faster while strength training is the timing of your workouts. You may want to first follow a 4-6 week strength program as your main focus before working on your speed. This will allow your body to adjust to strength training. Then, you can continue to strength train but shift your focus to your running.
When you are focusing more on strength training, make those workouts your priority. When your focus is on running, you can run first and do a strength workout later in the day or the next day. It’s often recommended to strength train on the same days as a hard workout, to keep your hard days hard and your easy days easy.
Work on Drills for Form
Running faster also requires good form. If your form breaks down as you go faster, you may be more likely to get injured. Try adding in some running drills before a workout (after a warm-up and some easy running) twice a week.
It’s been said that hills are speedwork in disguise. Hills can be a great way to get stronger and faster, either in addition to or instead of traditional speedwork. They can also help you to become more efficient, Start by doing about 4-5 repeats that take about 60 seconds each. Allow yourself time to recover between each interval. You can slowly increase the number of reps and the time (length of the hill) over the course of a few weeks.
Adjust your Workout Schedule
There were many different strategies that I just described, and you shouldn’t focus on all of them at once. Think about your overall goals and what you want to focus on for the next few months. Make adjustments to your workout schedule to allow for quality sessions that will help you get faster with adequate rest and recovery. Of course you will also want to make time for strength training, foam rolling, etc.
If you find that you are feeling burned out now, or running isn’t going great, take a few weeks off (or cut back significantly) before you start focusing on speed. A few weeks of lower mileage, cross-training, or complete rest might be just what you need to start improving!
Get a Coach
One other strategy is to get a coach to help you get faster! Often times a coach can recognize ways you can alter your training that maybe you haven’t thought of. Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in our own training it can be difficult to see the big picture and make appropriate adjustments. Even though there aren’t any races in the foreseeable future, a coach can still be highly beneficial with helping you to reach other goals.
Have you ever focused your training specifically on getting faster?
Do you like hill repeats?
Do you find that you are faster when you are doing higher or lower mileage?
You may also like:
- Tips for Overcoming a Running Slump
- 8 Reasons To Take a Break From Running
- How To Run a Speed Workout in the Heat
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs and Organic Runner Mom to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.