How to run faster
I get a lot of messages and requests from people asking how can I run faster? We all want to run faster; it's a common thing. Many people want to run a faster 5k, run a faster 10k. I get asked frequently, 'How can I run a faster Parkrun time?'
I can’t profess to know the answer to running faster for everyone and we are all different so what works for one might not work for everyone. Some people recover quicker, some people adapt quicker, some people are more prone to injury and mentally we are all so unique: motivation, resilience and determination do play a factor but motivation is obviously very important. A target for many people is a new PB over 10k or a Parkrun time, so I’ll try to keep my ideas simple and offer some advice to run a faster 5k or 10k.
To run faster over 5k/10k, for most athletes there are four things that can be done to learn how to run faster. The results are not immediate and if you want the fast food version of training (immediate results) it doesn't exist. It does take time to see your times improve. The four things are:
1) run more slowly 2) run a bit more and do it slowly 3) do speedwork once a week (this is important, well all of these points are really) 4) listen to your body and take a rest/day off when needed and don’t ignore injury. The rationale for each is as follows:
1) Run more slowly. Running is an aerobic activity (95% of energy use is from aerobic energy). Optimum aerobic development occurs best at slower paces - these changes include increase mitochondrial development, capillary density and CV strength. I ran a 5.27 pace per mile for a marathon (2.23) and my training pace was 7.30 per mile. There’s a reason Eliud Kipchoge runs at 7.00 per mile for most of his runs. Running more slowly brings big improvements. You improve your aerobic capacity by running slower and that can be much slower than race pace (2mins/mile slower is often good). Aerobic capacity helps you to run faster when it counts - when doing speedwork, races and aiming for times. It's suggested that around 80% of your running should be at a slow pace. Personally for me, I do most runs at 7.30 mile and race at 5.20-5.30/mile. https://www.thepowerof10.info/athletes/profile.aspx?athleteid=4322
OK. I've not raced in ages. I've been building Fitwins and have no time but that's another story.
2) Run more ( and do it slowly). The more volume you do at a slow pace the bigger the development of your aerobic capacity. I could run at sub 6 mins miles every run I do, but that achieves nothing other than stupidity/Strava bragging/injury in the the long term, so try to run more slowly - and you will enjoy it more 😊
3) Do speedwork. To run fast when you want to (parkrun/time trial or race) you should try to do some form of speedwork. This is important as you will only learn to run faster and use the energy systems for running fast by doing some form of faster running at or faster than race pace. How much faster running/speed/recovery times are all unique. In my opinion, for 5k and 10k, fast running should not be longer than 20mins maximum. There are multiple ideas and formulas that are often suggested - Yasso 800s, pyramids and track intervals and reps. We are all unique and personally for me I get bored running round in circles, in straight lines up and down and my brain hates the thought of running round and round in loops. It would drive me nuts. For me, I do fartlek. I’ve attached an image of my Fartlek which is an out and back run. The session is 30mins, with 20mins of speedwork. It’s simple, I run for 2 mins fast and then jog slowly for 1 min (continuous running) ten times, so I go out for 15 mins and come back for 15 mins. My faster efforts are at 5.00 to 5.20 mile pace and I jog slowly on my slower 1 min recovery. For motivation, I only time the 20mins and try to go close/beat my previous time for the 20mins worth of fast effort. I wear two watches, one on each wrist. One is cheap £5 Casio and is used to just run a 30mins timer so I know when to jog slow/run fast, the other times the 20mins of faster effort. For me this session used to get me used to running faster and helped with my form. This session can be done for all abilities that can already run a 5k non stop. Run close to or under 5k pace so if you’re a 30mins runner over 5k, try run at close to 9mins/mile on the faster efforts
4) Listen to your body. This is obvious common sense. Don’t do speedwork when tired or run hard or cover long distances if you are in pain. Don’t ignore injury. Tiredness and fatigue are signs you need a rest. Try a short, easy run if you feel but keep it short and if in pain/stop. If you are feeling great most days, that’s good - keep running.
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SET YOURSELF A GOAL. Write down a target of what you want to achieve. Eg. xx miles in one week/month. FITWINS offers monthly distance challenge to motivate you to achieve your goals.