There is so much information on the internet about how to run faster. But this can be overwhelming and not that helpful. If you are new to running, your focus may not be on speed - and rightly so. But if you have completed an event and want some practical tips on how to get faster for next time, then read on!
Improving your running form
Everyone has their own unique form. There are however some factors that make for an efficient running form. This will help you use your energy more efficiently and propel you forward faster!
Related article: How to Run Well and Avoid Injury
As you run more, you’ll start to feel the effect of any muscle imbalances and tightness. It is important to address these early by instilling good stretching and recovery habits from the start. Imbalances and tightness will be present by the fact of pregnancy and giving birth. It can take up to 7 months for your body to realign itself. If you are running before your baby is 7 months old, then you'll need to bear this in mind.
Things like breastfeeding and carrying your baby or children will also create imbalances (think of your child on one hip). Plus if you have a desk job you will be spending long periods of time sitting and working over computers.. This will cause tightness in certain places and will affect your running form.
So even if you have only started running, you may already have muscles to stretch and imbalances to strengthen. These two things will help to improve your running form straight away and with no extra running effort!
The right running shoes (and size)
There is nothing that will ruin your form more (and make you run slower) than running in a shoe that doesn’t fit. If it is too big your foot will slip and cause blisters. If it is too small you’ll end up with black toenails.
So the right fit is important. As is the right type of shoe for your foot shape and running style. If you don’t know much about the differences in running shoes then I recommend going to a specialised running store (such as Shoe Clinic) and speaking to the staff there. You’ll also get valuable insight from their treadmill analysis into how you run.
The golden rule of shoe fitting is that the shoe should feel comfortable. There is no such thing as wearing a running shoe in. It is either comfortable or it is not. If there are any areas of discomfort - however slight - these will be exacerbated the further you run.
Nowadays there are also plenty of options for women’s feet. Giving you a better fit. But don’t be afraid to try men's shoes - particularly if you have wide feet like me!
If you are breastfeeding or have recently given birth you may have noticed that your shoes don’t fit the same. This is due to the hormone relaxin present in your body. It doesn’t leave until you have finished breastfeeding so if you are planning to run during this stage it is worth getting a new pair of shoes that fit properly!
Training to run faster
In order to get faster you need to practise running faster.
But this does not mean that every run needs to be flat tack. Or that you run as fast as you can until you can’t anymore, and you crawl home exhausted. It is about adding structure to your runs.
The other mistake that runners often make is to run hard days hard and easy days too hard. This means they are not properly recovered for their next hard day. Therefore, they don’t get the benefits of the hard session and just slowly exhaust themselves (which means you won’t get any faster!).
The general rule is that only about 20% of your running each week should be hard, the other 80% should be easy. However, pace and speed is not always the gauge of this. A long run is usually a slow pace, but because of the length of time you are out there it can feel hard (or at least the 2nd half might feel hard).
The important thing is to vary your training paces by putting in some harder training session/s into your week. This is where a coach can help you to programme in these runs and help you pick runs that will improve your running.
Here is a idea of how you can structure your week if you are running 3 or 4 times a week
Cross training can be another type of exercise you enjoy such as cycling, swimming, yoga or strength training. If you are starting out running then I suggest starting with three days per week and adding in cross training after a few weeks. This is because it can take up to 3 weeks for your body to adapt to the new stimulus.
If you are starting a running programme or trying to run regularly then the first step is to focus on consistency. Finding the number of days and times each week that you can dedicate to running.
The next steps from there will be to take the tips in this blog and start adding in more structure to your training. But only do this one you have built up your fitness base. Running is for the long term and requires making small and consistent steps towards your goals. You’ll initially make significant gains in fitness when you start. But a little patience and restraint will go a long way to allowing you to continue running for many years.
These are things that a good coach can help you with. You don’t need to be training for an event to want to get faster, or improve. Nor do you need to be a serious runner to want to be able to run consistently and injury free. A coach can help you keep your running enjoyable and provide variety to your training.
Please contact me if you want to talk about how I can help you with your running journey.