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Race Faster – 10 Different Ways to Improve Your Running Speed!

Marcus Sladden

Marcus Sladden

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As runners, we are always looking for ways to race faster. Whether that is specific running sessions or adding strength training to your running. Here are ten tips to improve your speed to chase down those personal bests! 

10 WAYS TO RACE FASTER

  1. Add Strides Into Your Training

    Strides at the start of your run to warm up, and strides up a hill at the end of your run build your neuromuscular system.


    This is that feeling you get when you are running with a good technique and you feel like you are running on clouds. Implement strides at least once a week and you’ll see yourself race faster and stronger!

     

    Try adding 3 x 30m stride outs at the beginning of your speed sessions and at the end of your easy runs to teach your body to run with the best form under fatigue.

  2. Consistency Really Is Key

    There is no point running for 4 hours one week, only to run for 20 minutes the next week.

    Running takes time and consistency to progress, it is much better doing 2 hour running weeks back to back and progressing slightly as the weeks go by.

    Always follow the 10% rule when increasing time or mileage.

  3. Train For Your Own Capabilities, Not Those Around You (ESPECIALLY Not Elite Runners)

    It is very easy to get sucked into the trap of ‘if I train like an elite runner, I’ll be as good as one’. Sure, you’ll get some gains, but at what cost?

    run faster
    Elite runners run as their full time job and they also have a big team around them to ensure they recover after each session with nutrition, massage etc.

     

    Train at your own level and who knows, you might be lining up with the elites one day.

  4. Set At Least 3 Goals For A Race

    These don’t have to be big goals. Setting small goals that you know you can accomplish can be a great way to make sure you finish a run feeling a lot better about yourself if things didn’t go quite right and you didn’t get the time you wanted. You’ll also probably find you’ll race quicker thinking about goals such as:

    1. Don’t let my shoulders tense up, imagine they are nice and relaxed, your hands are holding Pringles and you are not allowed to break them so you can’t tense them up.

    2. Keep my cadence at around 175-180 to avoid over-striding when my body gets fatigued.

    3. When I see the last 200-300m give it everything I’ve got, if I finish the race feeling like I gave it my all it’ll leave me feeling more elated than if I just gave up due to not thinking I could get a certain time.

    These are just examples, but it could even be beating a fellow competitor or making sure you pace correctly! Small wins help!

  5. Practice Mental Visualisation (Mid Race)

    We hear it all the time: ’Visualise yourself crossing the finish line’ it works!

    My favourite in terms of visualisation is when you feel like the race is getting tough and the self doubt starts to trickle in, imagine a temperature gauge in front of you, as you start to lose your pace, the temperature also drops, you need to imagine keeping the temperature hot if you want to do well in the race.

  6. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate 

    Pre, during and post, just a little bit of dehydration can effect performance or your overall health. If you have run a race or a long run, ensure that you are drinking as soon as you finish.


    Dehydration also reduces your body’s ability to maintain your core temperature, because less blood is available to be sent to your skin, and your sweat rate decreases.

    Acute, pre-exercise body weight water loss at or above 3% may decrease endurance performance. So make sure you are at least getting an average of 2 litres of fluid in a day!

  7. Work On Your Running Form In The Latter Stages Of A Race

    There is no such thing as a perfect running form, but there is such a thing as ‘better’ running form.

    When it gets to the latter stages of a running race, ALL of your form goes out of the window and you just try your best to get through the race as quick as possible.

    The best thing to think about when you are starting to feel fatigued is the little things:

    • Don’t allow your shoulders to roll forwards
    • Keep your hips up and facing forwards
    • Run with a tall posture
    • Can you up your cadence ever so slightly?
    • Drive your knee just that little bit harder
    • Swing your arms more.
  8. Build Your Lactate Threshold

    Your lactate threshold is the pace you can sustain for around an hour, or to the point in which your body accumulates more lactic acid than your body can get rid of, creating that burning feeling in your legs.

    Lactate threshold training is so important. It is the bread and butter session for runners to improve as a whole!

    Threshold runs should be done as a maximum of 30 minutes when you are at peak fitness. A good starting session is 3 x 1 mile at threshold with 90 seconds recovery between each rep.

  9. Get Scientific With Your Running

    Fitness assessments such as a VO2 Max test or blood lactate testing can play a huge advantage to your running game.

    Having the specific scientific analysis of what your body is capable of will give you the opportunity to train more specifically to your level, rather than playing the guessing game from previous race times.

    This is a much better way of structuring your training rather than field tests, because it is very specific to your own body and how it feels at present time. Re-test in the lab every 6 weeks or so to measure progress.

  10. Avoid Overtraining

    When you train, you create micro tears in your muscles and what do you think is the only way for those micro tears to heal? You got it, REST. Otherwise you are asking for an injury to happen.

    Not only does overtraining have a negative effect on your body, it also has an impact on your mental health.

    When this happens, easy runs feel harder than the should be, you’re not hitting the times you should be and the fatigue hits you way earlier than it should.

    If you feel these warning signs, take a few days off to heal. You’ll come back faster and happier for it.

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into different ways that you can switch around your training to make you faster. Here we cover just 10 ways to run faster, click here for 90 more ways

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