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.
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.
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.
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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