As soon as you’ve achieved those key distances – maybe a 5km or 10km run was a big challenge not long ago, and now you’re ready to progress – you may start looking at how to get faster at running. The following tips will explain how to get faster at running with consistent work.
Finding a good hill on your local running route and adding some repeats will assist in speeding up your pace on the flat. The quads can easily take over controlling the running stride, though the true speed powerhouses are the haunches. Take short, fast steps up the hill, maintaining a tall posture – leaning into the hill means your knee drive suffers due to less range of motion for the hip flexors. Extend your leg fully behind you at the latter end of the stride. Careful not to lean back too far coming back down, and keep the strides quick to stay balanced.
Do some glute kickbacks for extra engagement pre-hill. Done with correct form hill running can improve strength in glutes and hamstrings, and also helps improve VO2 max as they are both big muscles, using lots of oxygen.
Work on your running technique
When it comes to running form, the more natural the better, though many of us tend to complicate this by over-analyzing every stride when out running. There are some very simple things you can work on to improve your technique: first up, engage your core, particularly the lower part. The simple way to do this is to imagine you need to stop yourself from peeing, or if you do Pilates, zip up and hollow!
Engaging your core gives your legs and arms a strong foundation to propel you faster. Running with quicker, shorter steps decreases the amount of impact on the ground, and the more time you spend on the earth, the more kinetic energy is lost, therefore increasing your cadence is a form adjustment vital to getting faster. Speed up your cadence by listening to music with a faster BPM than usual or there are metronome apps that will assist you too. Finally, make your arms do some work. As you run think elbows back with each stride. As the legs tire the arms will provide momentum to send you forward.
If you suffer from frequent niggles or injuries then it may be worth investing in some coaching sessions to improve your form overall – in turn you will find your speed increases too.
Run treadmill or track intervals
On your longer runs, you’re probably holding back on speed so you can complete the distance. Running sharp intervals on the treadmill or track with rests in between mean you can work a lot harder for a shorter amount of time – this is easier both physically and mentally, as although it’s tough the finish line is easily in sight! Add one of the following into your normal routine, after warming up and include a cooldown:
✓ Run 20 seconds at a challenging but manageable pace
✓ Jump onto the sides to rest for 10 seconds
✓ Repeat for 10 minutes
✓ Run 200m at a fast but manageable pace – push yourself!
✓ Walk for three minutes to recover
✓ Repeat five times
These workouts will increase your VO2 max, meaning oxygen can flow around your body and be utilized faster, helping to increase speed.
Add in agility training
This is the fun part – as a runner just moving forward you may not feel like you need agility training, but it actually brings together all of the above ideas – working your glutes, improving technique, and increasing your fitness; as well as working small stabilizing muscles and assisting with balance. These drills can be done at anytime, anywhere, and minimal equipment is required! You can do these in a circuit of three, and done before a run they can help fire up muscles.
Find an elevated surface that is stable and challenging yet manageable to jump on. Starting in a squat position, explosively leap onto the ‘box’, stand up straight, engaging your glutes, then jump back, landing into a squat. If you have any sort of Achilles issue then step back down. Repeat ten times.
For this exercise, a rope ladder in the gym, paving stones outside or even an imaginary ladder could be used! Starting at the short end, quickly step the left foot in, followed by the right – then reverse the step. Follow the ladder around twice clockwise then twice counter-clockwise, swapping to the right foot first.
Hop in a diamond
Standing on one leg, hop in the shape of a diamond. Repeat for ten hops then repeat counter-clockwise. Don’t be surprised if one leg is easier than the other! It may take a little while to master the balance of this, but you should feel this burning in your glutes pretty quickly.
Right now running faster may seem like an impossible feat, but with consistent work and commitment you will improve your race times – set yourself a 5 or 10K challenge every three months or so to measure your success!