Helpful Tips To Increase Your Speed
It doesn’t matter if you’re running competitively or just running to get fit, it’s important to set yourself goals. Improving the way you run will help you get more out of the sport. Not only will you get the endorphins from the exercise, but you’ll also get an amazing sense of achievement every time you set a new personal best.
But how do you get faster? It’s not just about trying harder or moving your legs quicker. There’re all sorts of small details you can change to improve your speed. In this article, we’ve found some of the most helpful tips to increase your speed.
It might seem counterintuitive but improving your strength will make you a faster runner. Being fast isn’t all about being lightweight. Look at Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, he’s over 6 foot 3 and weighs 94kg. To be fast you need to be powerful, and that means having muscle. Weight lifting helps increase both speed and endurance. Working your upper body and core improves your breathing and posture, so you’ll be able to maintain high speeds for longer. This is super important in improving your personal best, because it’s not just about achieving high speed, it’s about maintaining it for the duration of your run.
To understand how weight training will improve your speed, you need to understand the different types of muscle fiber. Basically, you have two types of muscle fibers: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 muscle fibers are crucial for endurance activities, whereas type 2 muscle fibers are used for powerful bursts of movement. To increase your speed and keep it there, you need to train both types.
Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a sports scientist to work out that losing weight is going to make you faster. But, if you are running regularly and eating well, then you should reach a good running weight naturally. You shouldn’t obsess over every pound in order to increase your speed, because there are better ways of increasing your speed (keep reading to find out). However, it’s still interesting to know how much weight can have an effect on speed.
The reason that weight has such an impact on running speed is down to the bouncing motion of running. If you think about it, every step you take you are propelling your bodyweight upwards and forwards. Therefore, the less your body weighs, the easier (and faster) you can propel yourself. You could shave seconds off every mile if you lose a couple of pounds.
Buy New Shoes
You won’t believe how many people are out there running in tired old trainers that they’ve had since high school. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re looking to set a new personal best, you need to invest in the right gear. Running shoe technology has come a long way in the last decade or so.
Having said that, there is no ‘best running shoe’. Different running shoes are made for different types of running, different body shapes, and different weight classes. That means it’s going to take some research to find the perfect running shoe to increase your speed. The amount of research you decide to do should depend on how much you want to increase your speed. Investing in a new pair of trainers will almost certainly make you faster if you are replacing old ones.
The Nike Vaporfly 4%– which retails at a whopping $250 – has been proven to make runners around 4% faster and has been used to win marathons all around the world.
Buy New Clothes
Just like a set of new running shoes, the right clothes can help shave seconds off your personal best. This can be because of the weight of the clothes, air resistance, and even the compression on your body. Firstly though, there are a couple of big no-nos when it comes to choosing your running outfit.
Cotton is definitely one of these. Not only is it a heavy material to start with, when it gets wet it holds that moisture in. That means, as you sweat, you’re getting heavier and heavier. You also don’t want to wear anything too thick, even when you’re running in winter. It might feel like it’s cold outside, but your body temperature will soon start raising and you’ll be stuck in too many clothes. Old running shoes are also a bad idea, not only will they make you slower, but they could also cause you an injury.
On race day, most runners will strip down and wear as little as possible. That’s because it gives them an extra competitive edge and because you’re more likely to overheat in a race. So, whatever you wear during training, try and find something thinner and lighter when you want to increase your speed.
Increase Your Stride Rate
This is where we get a bit more technical. Your stride rate is how many strides you take in a minute. This has a huge effect on your speed, especially over long distances. If you take a look at an elite long-distance runner, you’ll find that they have a stride rate of around 180 strides per minute.
To work out your stride rate, you should run at a speed that you could keep up for around 5K. Then, count every time your right foot hits the floor over one minute and multiply the number by two. It’s important to find a natural running rhythm because otherwise, you might find that your stride rate is much higher than you expected. When you’ve worked out your stride rate, you can start to increase it until you are comfortable at a faster pace. Try to increase it in one-minute intervals. For example, run slightly faster for one minute, then slow back down for one. Eventually, you will be able to keep pace at your new, improved stride rate.
Anyone who runs – or does any sport – competitively will know about interval training. It is one of the best ways to increase your speed because it actually allows you to practice running faster. Instead of just running at one pace for your whole run, you sprint in short bursts and then go back down to a jogging pace. This allows your body to get used to running at faster paces than you would race at.
Here’s how to do it –
1. Warm up for around 5 minutes at a relaxed and consistent pace.
2. Speed up to your normal pace for 5 minutes.
3. Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds.
4. Return back to your normal pace for 1 minute.
5. Repeat step 3 and 4 up to 7 times.
6. Return back to an easy pace for 5 minutes.
Tempo runs are another brilliant way to build your speed and strength. This method is similar to interval training, but instead of sprinting, you maintain a fast pace for a long period of time. It’s important not to sprint all out because you need to maintain the pace for around 10 minutes before slowing down again.
There are a few different types of tempo runs that might benefit you. But the general idea is that you need to run at a pace that is slightly faster than your race pace for a sustained period of time.
Practice Good Form
This should be the first thing on your mind if you have just started running. Maintaining good form throughout a run is essential to speed, endurance, and avoiding injury. If you have bad form, it can be frustrating trying to correct it, but ultimately it will make a big difference to your running. Here’s what you should be concentrating on whilst you run –
Head – this is the first thing to go when you start to get tired, but it’s important to keep looking in front of you. Gaze directly ahead and don’t look up or down. This should keep your head in line with your neck and spine.
Shoulders – Pull your shoulders back when you run and imagine you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.
Arms – This is essential to speed. Make sure your arms are at a 90-degree angle and moving up and down from hip to chin.
Hands – This won’t make much difference to your speed but it’s important to keep your hands relaxed so you don’t waste energy clenching them.
Torso – We already talked about the importance of having good core muscles for running. Keep your core tight at all times, this should help you maintain good posture.
Hips – Your hips should be slightly behind your torso. That said, you don’t want to lean too far forward.
Knees – Your knees should be in line with the middle of the foot and shouldn’t raise too far off the floor.
Feet – You should aim to hit the ground with the middle of your foot. Also, make sure you’re using the foot to push yourself off the ground, not just lifting your legs up.
Ask almost any competitive runner and they will tell you about the benefits of hill training. It comes down to one simple premise really – if you can run fast up a hill, you can run fast on the flat. It’s like when swimmers train with weight on their legs or arms – the harder you make it in training, the easier it will be on race day.
There’s no greater way of building up speed and power than running up a hill. Your legs will become stronger, your aerobic capacity will increase, and your body will become more efficient at using oxygen. The only problem with hill training is the injury risk. It’s much easier to fall and hurt yourself. So, the best way to tackle this is to hill train in short bursts. Don’t run up hills when you’re already tired.
The best way to increase your running speed is incremental. You’re not going to achieve Usain Bolt speeds overnight. Instead, you need to work out your running pace (which we talked about in the Stride Rate) section. Then, set about increasing it in small increments. You could measure your stride rate at the end of every week and see how much you improve.
Goal setting isn’t just a great way of increasing your speed, it also helps make running more fun. It gives you something to work towards and, eventually, will provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
Create A Training Plan
Like goal-setting, a training plan will also help make the process of increasing your speed easier. Although, this shouldn’t be focused on the results side of your running. Instead, take all of the training tips we have mentioned above (tempo runs, interval training, hill training etc.) and work them into a training plan. By using all of these methods together, your speed will increase without you even noticing it. Plus, it will allow you to inject more variety into your running schedule. No matter how much you love running, it can get pretty boring if you’re going around the same track over and over again.
Know Your Course
This one is more for the racers out there. Some runners will just want to increase their speed for their own personal best, but if you are racing you need to be a bit more tactical. It doesn’t matter if you’re running 5K, 10K, or even marathons, you can learn your course and shave valuable seconds off your overall time. Getting to know your course allows you to mentally prepare for the race. For example, if there’s a particularly tough uphill section, you can conserve energy beforehand. It’s also important to remember not to start too fast. Sure, you’re full of energy and adrenaline but it’s more important to finish strong than start strong. You could even run the course multiple times before race day so there are no shocks.