When you first start running your goals usually center on distance. You may set a goal to run around the block, to run a mile, or to run a 5k. After you run for a while you typically add time to the goal equation. In other words, you begin to ask the question “how can I get faster?” Here are some steps to seeing your times improve if you’re fairly new to running:
6 Steps to Run Faster
1. Consistent slow, base-building running. Over time this improves your cardio capabilities and builds running muscles. The pace of this run is called “conversational pace.” In other words, you can carry on a conversation during the run without getting short of breath because you’re running slow enough to do so. Most coaches teach that 80% of our weekly running should be at this pace. I personally believe that the percentage can be even higher for newer runners.
2. Increased volume. Continue to increase the number of miles you run each week, but do so carefully. Never increase your weekly mileage more than 10% at a time. Every 2 or 3 weeks you should decrease your miles during that week for recovery purposes.
3. Weight loss. Any excess weight that we carry slows us down, so as you continue to eat healthy and lose weight you will naturally see improvements.
4. Cross training. It will be helpful if you do more than run. Stretching, light weight lifting, yoga, cycling, swimming–any of these will help you improve and give your legs a break.
5. Speedwork. Personally, I would not worry about speedwork as a new runner. I would substitute hills for speedwork. Hills are actually speed work in disguise without the pounding and risk of injury. When running a hill, shorten your stride, keep your head up, and pump your arms with the feeling that your elbows are reaching behind you. Your pace will actually slow down while going uphill, but your effort level will stay the same or even increase a little.
6. Cadence. “Cadence” refers to how many steps you take per minute. Strive to increase your cadence to 170-180. A higher cadence ensures a shorter stride. In turn, a shorter stride produces better form and protects against injury. An uninjured runner will be able to train more consistently. All these factors often lead to faster times.
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