Wouldn’t you love to run faster and harder? You want to do that without risking injury and without feeling like you’re pushing your legs harder than they can physically go.
Running isn’t just about the power that you have in your legs while running. There are elements involved in the start, in your posture, and much more. If you want to boost your running speed, you need to get all the elements working together and your body working in the best way.
And running faster isn’t just about speed or power. You want to make sure your running is efficient. It’s all about using the energy in the right way throughout your training to boost your fitness levels and improve your skills.
With that in mind, it’s time to focus on these eight very simple but effective tips to improve your running speed. Anyone can run faster with these top tips.
Get Your Running Stride Just Right
Before you even think about improving your start and your posture, you need to make sure you get your running stride just right. This will instantly improve your speed.
Your stride will affect the amount of energy you use during your running. A short stride will mean more steps, but it also means that your legs don’t need to work as much with each step. If your stride is too long, your muscles must stretch more, and you need to burn more energy to pull your body back into a straight position. It takes longer for your legs to pass each other into the next step.
You’re not just running slower but inefficiently. There is just so much energy wasted, and you don’t get anywhere sooner, despite covering more ground with each step.
If you watch some of the best runners out there, you’ll notice that their strides remain short. This is the case for long and short distance runners – although you’ll see it more with short distance runners as they need the higher speeds in such a short space of track.
Whatever your height and leg length, the best sprinters will run at 180-steps per minute. Their steps are light and short, and they don’t tend to put the weight on the whole foot. This will differ for those who are running long distance, but there are still many steps in one minute.
You can find out your current running speed by running flat for a minute. Count the number of steps that you take. You can count how many times one foot hits the ground and multiple that by two to make counting easier. You’re getting it just right when you’re around the 180-step mark.
Your stride should always stay the same. You just want to change the pace that you run when you switch between long and short distances. However, if you are going up a hill, you will usually find that your stride shortens. Likewise, going downhill will require longer steps – you use the gravity to pull you down and widen the steps to protect your body from injuries.
It’s likely that your stride is way off the 180 mark right now. Don’t worry too much about it. Your first step is to make changes to boost that. Start by taking shorter strides. This will force you to fit more steps in within a set amount of time. You’ll then put less energy transferring your weight between feet while running.
You don’t want to have both feet on the ground for too long. As soon as your front foot steps on the ground, pick up the back foot to pull it through. Even when your front foot is down, you want to get that off the ground as quickly as possible. Think of it like you’re running over hot coals or a bed of nails. You want to prevent the pain seeping through the soles of your feet, so you need to pick them up as quickly as possible.
It’s possible to improve your stride and turnover by doing running drills. These involve skipping and butt kicks to help build the calf muscles. Stronger calf muscles will make your legs bouncer to help boost your running speed. You’ll also protect your ankles while you run!
While improving your running, avoid stepping on the heel. Strike with the side of the foot and roll onto the ball instead. This means you don’t have to pass the energy right through your foot and will protect your heel and shin from the impact from the ground.
Boost Your Interval Training
Interval training is a strong way to boost your running speed. You’ll also boost your fitness levels and burn more calories. You’re in a complete win-win situation with any type of interval training.
Interval training can also be called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and is recommended to those who want to burn calories consistently at a high rate throughout the day to help with their weight loss efforts. Well, it helps runners in ways that they never initially expected.
Let’s start with what interval training is. It’s the process of moving at a high-intensity rate and then dropping the speed down to a medium to low rate. This cycle repeats until the whole timing has come to an end. The slower pace is time for the heart rate to drop back to normal, while the high-speed sections are times to get the heart rate right back up.
To help your running speed, you will need to do most of your interval training at speeds. Start by pushing yourself as fast as you can for the higher rate and then slow right down to a jog. Do this for 30-60 seconds at a time, keeping your high and slow paces at the same amount of time. As you get better at the interval training, you can make your rest period shorter than the high-speedperiod. Try to make your rest period half the time that you go full out.
Your body is forced to take in more oxygen. This means your body continues to burn calories while building on your muscles. Stronger muscles mean that they work more efficiently, so your running speed is boosted instantly. At the same time, your heart can handle more. High speeds start getting easier, so you can push yourself faster and further.
And to top it off, your muscles’ cell structure change to help improve your running speed. Muscles will rip and tear while exercising. This is completely normal and the reason you can feel pain after a workout. The benefit is that they repair stronger. Your cells get used to the type of workout and repair in a way that they’re able to handle the same type of workout. Of course, you keep pushing yourself, so your muscles continually change.
You don’t just have to run to get the benefits. With running, you’ll just notice your run speed increase each time you do the exercise. However, you can also do this type of workout through swimming, cycling, rowing, and more. There are plenty of HIIT fitness classes and DVDs available, so you can even do them at home or in a fitness suite!
Interval training is just one type of training you want to add to your weekly routine. Make sure you add some sprint sessions and slower, long distance running. By doing various types of workouts, you will find it much easier to vary and be entertained with your exercise routine. You can also add in some fitness classes to build on your heart rate capabilities, calorie burning, and endurance.
Get Running on the Treadmill
This can seem counterintuitive, but it is a powerful way to boost your speed when you’re running. There are a few reasons why you need to take to the treadmill to boost your speed.
The first reason is a safety aspect. With the treadmill, you have a belt. Clip it on, and you will remain on the treadmill, keeping you upright should you get the pace wrong and find you need to slow it down. You’ll also can stop the treadmill quickly if you start to come off, so you cause less damage as you hit the floor. There are railings on treadmills, allowing you to grab them to steady yourself while you’re running.
This safety aspect will give you the confidence to push your running speed. You’ll feel like you have the support needed just in case it all goes wrong.
The second reason is linked to the treadmill’s ability to pull your leg back for you. Running on the ground means that you put all the effort into push yourself forward. While this is excellent for burning calories and you will need to move back into road running eventually, it’s not the best to start with improving your speed. You’re wasting a lot of energy by pushing yourself forward on the road.
Treadmills pull your front foot backward. All you must focus on is your stride and the pace you’re running at. You put in less energy to improve your pace.
The third reason is that you get out of the elements. The wind and rain are going to affect your ability to run faster. You could end up running into the wind, giving you something to push against. If it’s been snowing, you’ll have to deal with a slippery ground underfoot. These instantly change the way that your run, as you factor in the changes.
When you’re on a treadmill, you don’t need to factor any of this in. The treadmill surface will never change, so all you must focus on is the actual running. You find you focus much more on the actual speed instead of anything else that can affect you.
Of course, the speed that you run at on the treadmill is going to be slower than the pace on the road. This is because you must put the effort back into to move forward for the leg turnover. You’ll need to factor this in when you keep pushing the speed up on the treadmill. Therefore, it’s so important to use the treadmill as a training tool to boost your speed gradually.
Try getting up to a certain speed on the treadmill to boost your endurance and capabilities. Your muscle strength will develop, and you’ll get used to the pounding of feet on the treadmill. This will help you use the energy on the road. You’ll have better endurance when you take the running onto the tarmac.
Build your speed up to the speed that you were doing on the treadmill, meanwhile continually boosting your speed on the treadmill. You’ll get used to turning your legs over at a quicker pace and figure out the best way to land with your foot to avoid injury and avoid wasting too much energy.
The idea with treadmills is that you incorporate it into a bigger routine like you would with your interval training. Just opt for treadmill running one day a week to build on the speed instead of building on the power behind your muscles.
Consider Minimalist Running Shows or Barefoot Running
Your running shoes have weight to them. This weight could make all the difference in your running speed and pace. If you take off a few points of a pound, you could find that you shave a few extra seconds off your time.
There are just so many types of running shoes available now. Science and technology are making running shoes lighter and more efficient. You don’t need to opt for barefoot running to get rid of the weight if you really don’t want to – and let’s face it, barefoot running isn’t for everyone, and there are many experts torn on the idea of it.
Some of the minimalist running shoes just offer some protection for your feet. The idea is to have a buffer against the rubble and possible broken glass, without adding too much weight. You don’t get the cushioned sole to help take some of the impacts on your legs, so you will still feel the tarmac under your feet.
These minimalist styles can help to work with the shape of your foot to improve your running stride and pace. You work with the shape of your foot and find shoes that allow you to run naturally and work on your posture. There’s the encouragement to step on the outside edges of your feet rather than the heels to boost your running speed and use up less power.
Your current sneakers with the cushioning and extra material will just add on weight. Instead of powering yourself through the running, you’re wasting energy on picking up your heavier feet. Your muscles must do extra work, even if you don’t initially think your running shoes weigh that much. Take them off after your
workout, and you’ll feel just how much lighter your feet feel without them on. It shouldn’t be like that, right?
Don’t instantly jump into the minimalist shoes. They will take some getting used to, as your feet will be used to the arch support and other elements. Try using them on the treadmill to get used to the feeling of everything under the soles of your feet first. Do this once or twice a week – and you can even start at a walking pace if you want and build up to a run.
From there, work on getting used to them outside. Start by walking in them and just get used to moving around and the feeling underneath with them. You will then be able to work your way up to a run and will soon wonder what all the fuss was about!
As you get used to the minimalist running shoes, you may consider barefoot running. Again, work your way up to this and think about the type of surface you will end up running outside on. You’ll also want to read up about barefoot running to make sure this is something suitable for you – as I said, the experts are still divided on it.
If you’re not convinced about barefoot running or minimalist running shoes, then at least consider new sneakers. As your shoes get older, the rubber starts falling away, and you end up with extra drag. The cushions aren’t as effective for holding in the force from hitting the ground, and you end up with more leg and feet problems. Stress fractures are a higher risk.
Replace your sneakers every 300-500 miles. This will be a personal amount of time, depending on how often you run and use your running shoes. Try to keep a pair just for exercise, instead of using them casually, as this will just eat into your running pace.
Make sure your running shoes are always properly laced. You want them tight enough not to slip off your feet, but not so tight that they stop the blood from flowing around your body properly.
Now don’t forget about getting your running shoes professionally fitted. There are many companies that will have you run on a specially designed treadmill to see your running style. They will recommend certain types of running shoes to work with your arch, running style, and posture. The recommended shoes will also have your running needs in, such as better endurance, better speed, etc.
Focus on Your Breathing More
You need to breathe while running. Okay, so that sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised by some people who don’t have breath, especially when they’re running at a fast pace. They try to take a deep breath and hold it like that until the very end, especially if they’re sprinting 100m or 200m or so.
Instead of trying to hold your breath, allow the oxygen to flow in and out. This oxygen is feeding your muscles and working on your system. It’s giving you the energy you need and powering your whole system to do more throughout the training session.
When breathing in and out, make sure you use both the mouth and nose. I know you’ll have been told to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, but using both will help you get far more oxygen in and out of your body.
Breathing through the nose will help to get in pure oxygen. You cut out the dust and other particles from entering your system because they are collected in your nose hair, but you are limited to the amount you can breathe in. Your nasal passages are smaller than your mouth passages, so you’ll find it hard to get all the oxygen that your body needs, especially while running.
If you just breathe through your mouth, you’re still limiting the amount that you can get in. Using both nose and mouth allows you to get far more air into your system and your body will be able to utilize it quicker.
When breathing out, you get the same benefits. You have more space to let out all the used-up air from your system, so you have space to take in more oxygen with the next breath.
You will find that your mouth gets dry as you breathe through your mouth. This is perfectly normal and you can rectify it. On the odd breath in, you can keep your mouth closed and allow the salvia in your mouth. Allow it to swirl around and then swallow it. You don’t want to spit out the saliva as this just causes your mouth to get drier.
While breathing in, try to avoid just filling up your chest. You’re not using your full lung capacity when you do this. Breathe in to fill up your stomach almost. You get the air right to the bottom of your lungs, add far more oxygen to your system. Your body has more oxygen to supple to the muscles so they can work more efficiently. You’ll find that lactic acid builds up isn’t as bad, and you have more flexibility for thebetter running style.
Taking deeper breaths will also mean that you widen your chest out and you don’t panic as much. It’s easy to take shallow breaths for faster running because you think you need that for more oxygen. This can end up causing hyperventilating, so you don’t get anywhere near enough oxygen into your system. Focus on slowing your breathing right now, open the chest, and allow the air in.
If you struggle with timing your breathing, focus on breaths based on your steps. For example, for four steps you can breathe in and then another four steps you can breathe out. This can adapt for your running speed and the amount of oxygen your body needs. You may find that when you start out you can breathe in and out for each six steps and it gradually slows to every three or four steps instead.
Add and Lose Weight at the Same Time
The advice can be confusing at times. Running faster involves adding some weight while losing other bits of weight. It’s all about adding weight to the right parts of your body.
Your muscles power your body. With leaner and denser muscles, you will find that you have the power to push you through faster speeds for a longer distance. While denser muscles will mean, more weight is adding to your body, it’s in a good way. The extra pounds will be energy efficient and mean better endurance.
To get the leaner muscles, you want to do more than practice running. It’s important to build on your weight training and improve your interval training. Bodyweight training is just as powerful as free weight training for building muscle. As you get stronger, your muscles weight more so you’re constantly adding weight to your body to push, pull, and crunch.
While you need some stronger muscles, you don’t want to bulk up your muscles too much. This isn’t about having a bodybuilder’s frame. You just want a day or two of strength training on a weekly basis. You can include them into some of your interval training or do them through circuit training. Aerobic fitness classes often involve some bodyweight training to help tone instead of building up too much.
But you want to manage the amount of weight that you gain. It’s all about building muscle and giving your body some efficient weight. What you don’t want to gain is a lot of fat.
If you currently are overweight, you’ll want to look at reducing your weight as much as possible to get yourself into a healthier BMI. There are plenty of diet programs that will help you do this, and your running training will also provide some benefits.
Make sure the food you eat gives you the energy to get you through your workouts. You need protein and plenty of it to build up those muscles, while starchy carbs will give you energy throughout the day. Fiber and healthy fats are also good for you while you exercise a lot.
Did you know that you can cut off two seconds a mile for each pound that you lose? If you are 50 pounds’ overweight, that’s 100 seconds that you’re instantly shaving off your time, and you’re not going anything extra to manage it. You’re working your way into a healthier body.
While you’re losing weight, you’re also improving your running speed in other ways, so you’ll end up shaving off more than those 100 seconds. And your running training is making it easier to lose the weight to reach all your goals!
If you aren’t overweight, you don’t want to start dieting for the sake of your running time. Even if you are overweight, you’ll want to make sure the weight loss method you use is healthy for you. It’s always best to talk to your doctor to ensure your efforts are good for your overall health.
There is the risk when losing weight and exercising that your body won’t absorb all the nutrients you give it. Not getting enough vitamin D and calcium will lead to weaker bones, and you could put your feet at risk of stress fractures.
Keep Your Head Up and Your Back Straight
Your posture will play a major role in running speed. Looking behind you or at your feet creates drag, so you end up adding seconds to your time. Your body must work harder to get through the drag, so even if you run at the same speed as when you look straight ahead, you will end up putting in more effort. This isn’t necessarily a good thing! It’s certainly not good for your energy levels.
A good posture will streamline your performance.
Think of it like swimming. When swimmers want to increase their speed, they get rid of anything that can create drag in the water. They will keep their head in line with the rest of their body, looking at the bottom of the pool apart from when they need to come up for air. When they do need to breathe, they turn their heads in a way that works with the surface of the water and their positioning while swimming. Anything other than the perfect position adds something extra to pull through the water.
The same applies to running. You’re just replacing the water in swimming for the air around you. Yes, air will drag!
Keeping the straight back means that you can use your arms properly – more on that in the next point. Bending over will add to the amount of body that you’re pushing through the air and prevents you from taking in those deep breaths to help you run quicker and more efficiently. You won’t be able to get the oxygen to every single muscle that needs it, leading to cramping, fatigue, and dips in speed.
To top it off, good posture will also help with your balance. If you lean forward or look behind you at your competition, you will change your center of gravity. Just the slightly wrong step could have you toppling over your feet. When you turn back around, you can lose your focus and side step instead of running straight forward, affecting your speed for the rest of the race.
You can practice the good posture and keep your head straight forward while on a treadmill. Opt for a treadmill in front of a mirror and watch how you run. Look at how your back changes position when you move your arms and focus on the straight neck and how your chest can open.
It’s then easier to transfer these skills to the road. You’ll be able to focus on powering the legs fully, rather than working on your good posture. There’s no need to worry about your balance faltering because there’s nothing to throw you off!
For those who struggle with their posture, yoga can be a powerful exercise. Just one session a week can help you improve your flexibility, rearrange your alignment, and even help you with your balance!
Make sure your feet always point forward while running. Your hips should be straight, facing the front of your toes. If your feet naturally turn outwards, you’ll want to work on that before increasing your speed. You run the risk of injuring yourself if your alignment isn’t right.
Avoid letting your whole foot touch the ground. You could turn your toes up towards your shins, so the weight is placed on the outside edge of your feet and onto the balls. This will mean your muscles must power a smaller surface area, so you get to focus on the speed.
Let Your Arms Power You Through
There are mixed reviews over how the arms can help you with your running speed, but you just must look at sprinters to see how they can help. All sprinters will use their arms to power them forward. They put their whole body into the race to use every single muscle. This way you get power from all aspects of your body, making sure you have enough energy to get to the finish line first.
When you have good posture, you’ll find that your arms move better. You can get them all the way back and all the way forward. You only need them to go up, so the hand is about eye level.
As you step forward with your right leg, pull your left arm past your body and up to the eye level. As your left leg travels forward, bring your left arm back and pull your right arm forward. Push your arms through the air and use the force from them to push you right through the space in front of you. Your arms can distort the air to get rid of some of the drag.
It’s all about aerodynamics when increasing your speed. Another top tip for boosting this is by keeping your hands open. Closed fists will just make you tense up your shoulders and upper back, so your posture falters. Your muscles aren’t relaxed enough to take in all the oxygen and keep pushing you forward through the air.
When your hands are open, the rest of your body is relaxed. Keep your arms, so the outside of your hands is facing the front to reduce the amount of extra drag that is added to your body.
If you are running down a hill, swing your arms loosely around your body. This can help to keep your body upright, so you don’t trip and topple down the hill.
Those who are into long distance running will find that the arms are used less. You will still want to keep your hands open but won’t need to use them as much to power through. In fact, using them less will help you run faster for longer since your body isn’t using excess energy for seemingly no reason. Even when running long distance, let your arms move naturally. Clenching them at your sides will just cause problems with your posture.
It’s Time to Boost Your Running Speed
Running speed is more than just increasing the speed that your feet go one in front of the other. While this is an important part, you need to think about your whole body, including posture and use of it.
Start running faster on a treadmill or try out a sport that helps to take some of the pressure off your legs and joints. Think about cycling and spin classes to help get the right hip movement. From there you can focus on boosting the speed without the higher risk of injury and then focus on building your muscles for outside running.
There is going to be an element of adding weight, but you want to do that in the right way. Add the weight to your muscles by toning them and building them up for more power. As for fat and clothing, strip down the weight as much as possible. If you’re considering a weight loss plan, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re fuelling your body right for your goals.
Find someone else to train with you. This is one of the best ways to push yourself as you work on the competition against each other. Your training buddy can also watch your posture and let you know if there are areas that you can work on. Find someone who has the same goals as you to increase your running speed.
Make a pact with each other that you will push one another. There will be days that you’re tired, and the last thing you want is to go to your training session. Having a buddy who will pull you out of bed and push you to put all your effort in will help you in the long run – even if you hate them at that exact moment for getting you out of your comfy bed!
If you don’t have a training buddy, find a way to take your mind off some of the pain you will feel. Music is one of the most powerful and preferred ways to improve your endurance while training. It’s useful for all types of training, even if you’re focusing on long distance running for the day.
Now it’s time to get to work and start running faster. You can do it!