If you’ve been running for a while and you’ve started to increase your mileage, your next goal may be targeted towards running faster. Many people think that running more often would be the obvious solution but as hectic as our days are, there are many other ways you can pick up the pace and improve not only your time, but help you recover faster from an intensive run. Here’s five ways you can run faster without running more.
Try Interval Training
With any type of workout, you want to gradually build up your intensity to avoid an injury. If you are new to interval training, you want to alternate between walking and a sprinting pace for about 30-60 seconds. The goal is to work on intensity and not duration. A 30-minute session consisting of a warm-up, cool-down, and the actual sprints is all your body should require from a time perspective. With there being so much focus placed on the timed runs, it’s best to do this type of workout on a treadmill where you have more stability and an even surface. The more you start doing these type of speed intervals, the more your normal run pace will start to feel slow and your pace will become a little faster. Start off slow and gradually build up the speed of your intervals. You can also decrease the amount of time for your recovery once you start to feel comfortable with doing sprints on a regular basis.
Do a Tempo Run
Get outside and work on your speed by incorporating some tempo runs. With a tempo run, you normally go faster for a longer period of time and one that you can sustain. You want to feel comfortable when you run but at the same time, you want to feel challenged. Your breathing will be much faster but you should still be able to carry a conversation with someone. By doing tempo runs, you want to condition your body to perform past it’s lactate threshold, by doing this over time, you are able to run fast and longer distances. If you are new to tempo runs, start with maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and then build your time from there. Again, you don’t need to run for a long period of time, 30 minutes is sufficient.
This has to be one of my favourite running workouts. I don’t know if it has something to do with the fact that I’m a trail runner but hill workouts can not only be challenging, but improve your running speed. Hill training not only improves your lung capacity but strengthens your legs and butt as well. Depending on the size of the hill that you choose to do your hill repeats on, ensure that you start with a few repeats and then increase as you become stronger. Be aware of your breathing and use your arms as momentum to get you up the hill. Again, it’s about the intensity of your repeats and not so much on how many you do. If you are new to running hill repeats, try walking down the hills on your recovery and then build it up to a slow jog.
The Importance of Rest Days
For some people, rest days are easy but for other people, not so much. One of the biggest mistakes new runners can make, is not taking enough rest between workouts. Muscles need recovery between workouts, especially training sessions such as hill or speed workouts. Rest days also prevent overuse injuries, restore your glycogen stores, and it prevents mental burnout. Most new runners don’t run every day so cross-training is essential and important (the topic of discussion next week from a Certified Exercise Physiologist) to training and something you want to think at incorporating into your training schedule. Where rest days play an important role is after a race or between high intensity workouts. If you are new to running and are doing some hill training and/or speed training, take at least two to three days off in between for your muscles to recover. This doesn’t mean you have to stop working out completely, it means you can workout at a lesser intensity. Try a cross-training activity such as cycling or rowing.
It goes without saying, you are what you eat. If you put junk into your body, it’s not going to perform well. What you eat all day long affects your running. It’s not just about pre and post-run meals anymore. Science has proved to us over and over again, that a whole foods and plant based lifestyle can actually increase a runner’s performance. If you read my blog post last week, Nutrition 101 – Whole & Plant Based Foods for Runner’s, you will see how eliminating certain foods from your daily eating regime can actually benefit your running by improving your speed and decreasing your recover time. When you fill your body with nutrient dense foods, it allows your body to fight off disease and illness and become more efficient. It’s nature’s way of giving back to your body for keeping it so active.
Eat clean & live green!
Your Compassionate Coach,
P.S – Next week we have our own Art McDonald, a Certified Exercise Physiologist (CSEP), who is going to be giving his advice on the importance of cross-training for runners. You don’t want to miss this one!