All runners know the feeling of going for a jog and thinking they're setting a good pace, only to look at their time-tracking app and realize they're moving alarmingly slow. Willing yourself to go faster doesn't seem to help; if you're not running on a treadmill, you can't force yourself to pick up the pace by making the surface beneath you move quicker.
Let's face it: Running faster means practicing faster. You have to develop a sense of pace awareness that sets a steady pace while running. As you follow a steady workout, here are some sneaky ways to make your body respond.
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1. Run Hills
Most runners who want to improve their times avoid hills because it takes longer to cover an incline. But practicing on hills strengthens both leg muscles and your lungs; and it builds up your endurance, which will lead to faster times.
2. Move Your Arms Quicker
Moving your arms more swiftly tends to make your legs move faster too. It can be a challenge to sustain a high level of movement, but it can give your body the burst it needs to set a new pace.
3. Turn on Inspiring Music
Turn on something with the right beat and crank up the volume. It's hard not to move your body in time with good, stirring music.
4. Download a Zombie Running App
There are some great apps out there that can motivate you to run faster, such as Zombies, Run, a video game-turned-app that makes you run faster to avoid getting eaten by zombies.
5. Run Occasionally on the Treadmill
If you want to develop a sense of pace, running on a treadmill will help. You can readily set the pace you're aiming for so you'll learn what it feels like. Then you can seek to duplicate that feeling when you run outside.
6. Fix Your Form
Proper running posture is essential for speed. Your upper body should be tall and relaxed, and your feet should strike the ground with the foot landing under the hip rather than in front of it.
7. Try Speed Training
Interval training is great for workouts when you're short on time, and it can build the endurance necessary to run faster miles. Run at a quick pace for two minutes, then walk for one. Repeat this several times.
8. Stretch Before and After
Stretching daily, including days when you don't go running, improves flexibility, which can increase your stride length and help prevent injury.
9. Build Lean Muscle Mass
Bulking up will obviously slow you down. In contrast, one or two strength training sessions per week that build lean lower body and core strength may significantly improve your endurance. Spinning and walking on your cross-training days can also help your muscles prepare for longer, faster runs.
10. Get to Sleep
When you're sleepy, the rest of your body follows suit. It's difficult to muster the energy necessary to run quickly if you're short on sleep. Alter your sleeping patterns so you obtain more quality rest at night, and be sure to get a full night's sleep before a race.
11. Set a Goal
Running faster requires mental endurance. For many people, setting a goal helps a lot. Try not to stretch your goal too far too quickly, if you want to avoid injuries. If you're currently running a 10-minute mile, aim for an eight-minute mile pace by the end of the summer. Increasing speed by small increments reduces the chance of overuse injuries.
12. Change Your Shoes
You should wear new running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If your sneakers are older than that, they could be slowing you down and causing injuries. A new pair of shoes may be just what you need to attain faster run times.
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