FFF: Five Ways to Run Faster

What runner has ever said “I want to run slower”? Of course, we would love to be a faster runner.

I am not a coach so this is just my opinion based on what I have heard and read.

I know you all believe that in order to get faster, you need to strength train, do speed drills and run hill repeats among other workouts.

I am sure that these couldn’t hurt. They may also get you faster finish times.

But here are some other ways to improve your speed:

1.  Proper Arm Swing

When I first learned to run, my coach repeated “To run faster, swing your arms faster.”

However, you also need to swing them correctly:

  • Bend your elbows between 70 and 110 degrees (So approx. 90 degrees)
  • Keep your hands closer to your heart
  • Stay relaxed through your shoulders. Do not let them raise up.
  • Allow your arms to swing toward the midline, but do not let them swing across your body.

BBC SPORT | Health & Fitness | Are you running properly?

I know when I get tired, it all falls apart.  My shoulders raise up and my arms drop.

2. Improve Stride Mechanics

Proper stride can help you run faster. If it’s too long, then your legs have to cover more distance with each step.

Then of course, how your feet land is important.  You need land on your mid-foot rather than heel striking or running on your toes.

Power your running with big stride

And NO shuffling… (Do any of your race photos have you looking like you are walking?)

3. Increase Cadence

Stride cadence refers to the number of strides taken per second, Optimal cadence is generally considered to be somewhere around 180 strides per minute.

A higher cadence will typically translate to a shorter stride and better form. So you should be running faster. A lower cadence can mean you are over-striding, which will slow you down.

Your cadence shouldn’t change with the distance covered.

To increase your cadence, you can practice with an app or music. But most importantly, you need to improve your form:

Use a tall posture, stacked in a straight line from head to heels, with a slight, full-body, forward lean putting your weight over your toes.

Running Cadence: What It Is, Why It Matters and How To Improve It | RunRepeat

Yeah, easier said than done…

But for some reason (without trying), I have a higher cadence. I think it’s because when I run I naturally take short quick steps and try to pick up my feet.

4. Run or Race More Often

In many cases, increasing your weekly mileage will help to increase your overall speed. You should be running at least three days each week.

If you’re already running that often, vary the distances and your routes.

I also feel that running more races will also improve your speed.  Races will give you that adrenaline to pick your pace.

My pace is always faster in a racing situation.

5. Don’t Run Alone

Many runners find that they push themselves harder when they run with others. (I know I do!)

You can often find a running group in your neighborhood for free. Ask about groups at your local running store, at work, or your health club.

I would recommend running with someone who may be just a little faster than you are.

Happy Running?  Do you want to run faster?  What have you done to get faster?  Has it worked? Any other tips to share?  







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16 thoughts on “FFF: Five Ways to Run Faster

  1. for me in the past year, the biggest help to running faster was mixing up my run workouts and adding in speed intervals. I am sure my form could use some work as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, after running with you in Florida, I can attest to the fact that you have a fast cadence! I agree if we did all these things, we could get faster without doing speedwork. I happen to think speedwork is fun, but if it’s not your thing there are definitely other things to do. And yes- frequent racing is a form of speedwork. In the months leading up to my marathon PR (long, long ago) I didn’t do any formal speedwork, but ran a race every other weekend. Those were the days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, if we did ALL those things… but who does??

      I need someone to make me do speed work and then I would and I’d probably enjoy it.

      I agree, I was faster when I raced more (like almost every weekend)


  3. I have a naturally long stride (long legs, LOL). It’s really hard to increase my cadence because taking even slightly shorter strides feels really awkward. I know I swing my arms more across my chest than straight forward, especially when I’m feeling fatigued (unfortunately, race pics don’t lie). Even after 17+ years, I’m still a work-in-progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All good tips, although running more & racing more can also be harmful to some people — people who are prone to overuse injuries, for instance.

    My cadence is slow, but I’ve never really seemed to be able to increase it. And when I worked with a coach, she actually didn’t want me to!


    • I guess More means different things to different. I’m a low mileage runner even when I trained for a marathon. I like consistency.

      I’m surprised about cadence. It’s linked to speed but who knows. We’re not elites so maybe it’s not that important.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to want to run faster but right now I just want to run without needing breaks all the time! But these are ALL important things to do if you want to improve your running in general! I do try to keep my training with my coach in mind so that at least I am upright and not shuffling. And usually I remember my arms when I’m going uphill since that seems to help 🙂


  6. Like you said, easier said than done. It is possible to completely change your running form, however. Several years ago I saw a video of myself running at a race and was horrified at how bad my form was. I saw a PT and with her help was able to gradually change my running form and get it back to how it should be. It took a ton of work but was worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

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