Everyone wants to run faster. Whether it’s breaking a 30 minute 5k or hitting a sub-3 hour marathon every runner has a goal they haven’t reached yet. Here are four tips to improve your running and help you hit that next PR.
Form: It’s hard work to run faster than you’re currently comfortable. Wildly moving elbows, over-striding and breaking at the hip all make it that much tougher. Developing proper posture and a good foot strike position can go a long way to help. The base of any good program should focus on eliminating form faults that hamper your ability to get where you want to go. Try taking a video of yourself to see what your form looks like then think about what could improve. Of course, every runner has a different natural gait, making it a good idea to get together with a coach for a gait analysis before comparing yourself to the professionals.
Turnover. Moving your feet faster is a good way to run faster, right? Increasing your cadence, also known as step rate, has two big benefits. The first is that it can decrease your risk of injury by lowering the amount of time your foot spends in contact with the ground. It’s hard for your body to get injured in the air. Less time being pounded into the ground means less stress on your legs. The second benefit is that it can make you faster and more efficient because less time spent on the ground means less friction and faster movement. Elite distance runners have an average step rate of 180-220 steps per minute while less experienced runners typically average around 165. Use a metronome to help you find your current rate then work to gradually increase it. Striders and short repeats are a great way to work on this skill.
Power. The more power you put into the ground with each step the more will be returned to your body for the next one. The key to building power is strength training. You can run hills, hit the gym for box jumps or jump rope, they’ll all help you run faster. Sit-ups and push-ups are also great exercises for runners. They build the core stability and strength that’s needed to maintain proper form late into any race.
Practice. To run faster, you actually have to do it. To be ready for speed on race day you need to get comfortable at race pace or even faster. Speed work, whether it’s on the track, road or trail is the key to better race times. Repeats at a variety of distances and speeds all have a purpose and should be part of your training plan.
Use these four tips to run faster for success racing this spring. Challenge yourself to improve in each of these categories and see what you can accomplish.