Which runner do you know that doesn’t want to run faster? Who wouldn’t want to do a better time or run a faster PR? No one I know. Rarely will you find a runner who is contented with just being average; and if you think you have, then I’d go so far as to say, they’re visitors ( for want of a better word) and not really runners at all. Runners are a mostly competitive lot. Whether we’re competing in races or among each other or even with ourselves, the goal is always to improve. While improvement can vary to include better form, more endurance and/or strength, it ultimately translates to becoming more pace efficient or a faster runner.
- Speed work: tempo runs, hill repeats, interval and fartlek training increases your anaerobic capacity. It’s important to keep these speed workouts short and focused to avoid over-training.
- Racing: 5ks and 10ks are good for cultivating a competitive spirit and encourages you to put your best foot forward each time through establishing PRs and pitting yourself against others.
- Rest and Recovery: Just as important as training is resting. The body needs time to recover and heal itself after racing and training hard (reducing inflammation and joint pain and speed up healing times when you’re injured), it’s why any good training plan includes rest days. Sleep is also very important for this reason as well as to improve performance.
- Cross-training: builds strength, develops complimentary muscles and fosters all-round better performance ( breathing, flexibility, endurance) which translates into increased speed.
- Protein and Muscle Recovery Supplements: provide a faster turn around and an added energy booster pre and post workout.
In essence, there really is no magic to faster running. While there is such a thing as a natural fast runner, he or she still has to work to harness that ability. For the rest of us, we simply have to work harder. Practice really is everything. As is the case with anything, so it is with running; the more you do it, the better you become. Next week I’ll touch on some approaches to proper running form that can also help improve your pace; but for now, let’s stick to the standard methods above that has worked for me and many other successful runners.