You want to speed up but you don’t know how. Looking at your training sessions as well as sleep and nutrition will all help.
You’ve been running for a new years now and you feel like you’ve hit a plateau. You’ve completed a number of races, of varying distances, and each time. Now you want to crank things up a bit ans start getting faster, so that you feel you’re making some progress. What’s the best way to do this without risking injury ?
Getting faster as a runner depends on a range of factors. The right training, combines with good nutrition and also adequate rest will all help. Firstly, let’s look at your training. How often do you vary the type the type of runs you do ? If you run at the same pace, and you feel comfortable at that pace, your speed will never improve. In order to get faster, you need to train different energy systems in the body, which means pushing out of your comfort zone. Long, steady runs are great if you’re training for a half marathon or marathon, but even then, you wouldn’t do them more than once a week.
So how do you get faster ?
Firstly, be prepared to work harder and take your nutrition more seriously. When you run, you need to have sessions where you feel uncomfortable for periods of time, where you know you are working hard. Here are some sessions and tips that are worth giving a try…
- Try tackling more hills
You may hate them but when you get fitter on an incline you’ll be able to run faster on the flat. Trust us, it will eventually get easier and you’ll get a lot fitter. Aim to do a hill session once a week where you run up a hill for about four minutes, jog down to recover (in about two minutes) and then run back up again. Repeat this effort three times. Even just changing your running route so that you incorporate more hills into your steady runs will be great for your fitness. When you get stronger at tackling hills, running on flat surfaces will seems so much easier.
- Try a threshold run once a week
Threshold runs are ideal for improving speed. A threshold run should be completed at an 8.5 out of ten intensity level meaning that you are not completely breathless but are on the edge of discomfort. You should be able to manage to speak a few broken words, but no more than that. Try five intervals of five minutes at threshold, followed by three minutes recovery where you run at a comfortable speed.
- Run with someone else
Try to run with someone from your running club or gym who is slightly faster than you. This is a great way for you to push yourself that bit harder and be motivated to keep going when the going gets tough.
- Strengthen up
Strength and conditioning is a hot topic for runners and with good reason. You need to strengthen your muscle to power your body through some tough sessions. Squats, lunges and core exercise such as the plank and side plank are all good choices.
Sleep yourself fit
Getting faster is not just about how you eat and train, it’s also about how much rest you get. Sleep is especially important if you are training hard. Here’s how to get better quality sleep and improve your chances of being well rested.
- Be consistent with your sleep patterns: minimal amounts mid-week then one long weekend lie-in is not going to fool the body into thinking it has recovered. Consistent sleep every night is better.
- Go to bed earlier rather than having a lie-in: the body carries out its internal repairs between the hours of 10pm and 2am.
- Lock down early: start preparing to go to bed earlier, so that you’re actually in bed earlier. Avoid checking emails late at night or anything else that will fire up your brain and potentially keep awake.
- Avoid stimulants in the evening: caffeine, sugary drinks, sweets, alcohol – even social media – anything that stimulated the mind is a bad idea.
- Be strict. Ban technology from the bedroom!