Monday, November 21, 2022

How to Become a Faster Runner

So you want to be a faster runner? There are things you can do and all kinds of workouts you can incorporate into your regular running routine to help. But first, here’s the running formula for speed and pace, as it relates to time and distance.

  • Speed = distance / time (6 mph)
  • Pace = time / distance (10 min. miles)
Here are the two formulas for time, if that’s the unknown variable you want to find.
  • Time = distance / speed 
  • Time = distance x pace
And there are two formulas for distance, if that’s what you’re trying to calculate.
  • Distance = time / pace
  • Distance = time x speed
It really just depends on if you’re a pace person or a speed person. But either way, if you know the pace, you can figure out the speed and if you know the speed, you can figure out the pace.

SPEED (dist./time)

PACE (time/dist.)

5 mph

12 minute mile

5.5 mph

11 min. mile

6 mph

10 min. mile

6.5 mph

9 min. mile

7 mph

8.5 min. mile

7.5 mph

8 min. mile

8 mph

7.5 min. mile

8.5 mph

7 min. mile

9 mph

6.7 min. mile

9.5 mph

6.3 min. mile

10 mph

6 min. mile

Of course you can get even faster than the numbers on this chart. So let’s find out how.

3 Types of Runs to Make You a Faster Runner

The three types of runs that will make runners faster are:
  1. Speed workouts
  2. Long runs
  3. Hill repeats

The most obvious type of workout runners need to utilize to get faster is speed work. Speed workouts come in many forms and varieties. You can do fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”) where you decide to run to a tree, a mailbox, or a street sign as fast as you want, then you go at your normal pace, then you’ll do another fartlek, as many as you want. It’s interval training without strict intervals or speeds. Or you can find hundreds of speed workouts online with pre-defined speed intervals.

Adding longer runs to your repertoire can be as simple as a 6-miler once a week, or you can work up to 10-15 mile runs. You can certainly work it into your plans for training for longer races and even create an off-season where you don’t include long runs.

Hill workouts can be done on a treadmill set to an incline or outside. If done outside, find a location where there’s a significant hill. Then you run up and down it over and over again. Hill repeats strengthen your legs while giving you an opportunity to practice your form. Speed is NOT the goal on the hill workouts. It’s the act of running up the hill that will make you faster on flat workouts. 

The Essential Workout Runners Need

One essential workout runners need to get faster is strength training, or weight training. Strengthening your muscles as well as stretching them will keep you balanced and ultimately make you faster. Running requires lots of work, effort, and energy expenditure in your calves, quads, hams, and glutes. So be sure to do a lower body workout at least once a week, followed by adequate time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H those all-important muscles for your favorite cardio activity: running. 

Two Things Most Runners Don’t Think About

Two things most runners don’t think about that will improve your speed is to focus on your form and to incorporate recovery days. I can’t go into all the specifics of proper form here because it can get pretty nuanced, but it includes landing on the balls of your feet (not your heels), leaning forward from your ankles (not your waist), and loose arms with relaxed shoulders. 

Lastly, definitely remember to include recovery days. YOU NEED DAYS OFF! Even if it’s only one day a week. You don’t need to be completely immobile on your days off. You can walk a mile or two at a leisurely pace. Or do yoga. Or a simple 20-minute stretch routine. Just don’t run at least one or two days a week. It helps your muscles recover and come back stronger. It also helps prevent injuries. Because who wants to show up race day morning and get an overuse injury during your warmup? Rest days are for recovery. Just imagine your muscles getting stronger and it will help you “stay still” for a couple days.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

What’s your favorite speed workout? Share in the comments.

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