As an avid runner and ½ marathon/Ragnar/race enthusiast I’m frequently asked by clients how they can increase their speed. Many believe that they must increase time spent training or push themselves to the point of pain and misery. I’m happy to say, that’s just not the case. When asked how to increase speed, my answers are simple; adjust your workout routine, vary the intensity of your runs, don’t forget to train your core, fine-tune your breathing and don’t take too much time off.
Adjust your Workout Routine
Although speed is what we’re aiming for it cannot be achieved by strictly running, you’ll need to adjust your workout routine to include things like interval training, resistance training, strength training and plyometrics. Adding just 5-10 minutes of the before mentioned training to your workout routine or after an easy run will help increase your cardio, endurance, muscle strength and overall running economy.
Vary the Intensity of your Runs
Most runners tend to run at a slower comfortable pace or at a full-blown sprint. Not many spend time at that “in between” stage but it’s in this middle area where you build your slow and fast twitch muscle fibers which lead to increases in speed and endurance. Adding in hills to your weekly routine is also super helpful. Hills have proven to increase muscle strength, enhance cardio capacity and boost overall speed. A standard training week of running should include three types of runs; a short run focused on speed, a medium distance run with a focus on both speed and endurance with hills incorporated or hill sprints at the end, and a long run with a focus on slowing your pace and going for distance and endurance.
Don’t Forget to Train Your Core
Not many realize how instrumental the core is when it comes to running. Most think that the core is just our abs but in reality, our core is made up of all the muscles in the midsection; chest, abs, back and sides (aka obliques) which all work together to stabilize the body. A strong core helps to improve posture, stability, control, balance and speed while running. Not to mention a stronger core helps to reduce chances of injury and preserves energy while running by keeping key joints in line and on point.
Fine-Tune Your Breathing
It sounds funny to think about “learning how to breath” since we’ve all been doing this since the day we were born, but when it comes to running there is definitely an art to it. Running at a faster pace takes practice, and so does the breathing that accompanies it. The best method is to focus on breathing through both your nose and mouth smooth and continuously while inhaling and exhaling. This will ensure you get the maximum amount of oxygen which is key in aiding your muscles to push you along. Another tip is to try “belly breathing”. This entails taking deep breaths to fill the stomach, not just the lungs and then exhaling completely.
Don’t Take Too Much Time Off
Just like with any exercise routine it takes time to build up your skills, strength, and endurance. If you take a long break you almost always feel as though you’re “starting from scratch”. If you feel like you need to take a break from running make sure that you’re supplementing with other exercise options like HIIT, plyo, yoga, resistance or strength training. Rest days are imperative but be sure that your rest day doesn’t turn into a rest week or rest month. So many people allow themselves excessively long breaks and spend too much of their time just getting back to the shape they were in when they quit initially before taking another break. Don’t let this vicious cycle get the best of you.
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