Once you have a race or two under your belt, you may be wondering how you can quickly increase your running speed and thus, your race time. We’ve outlined 5 actionable tips to increasing your running speed for your next race, but above all, increasing your running speed requires discipline, stronger muscles, and a laser-focus on the road ahead, so let’s get started.
1. Practice Good Form
You may be surprised to learn that oftentimes, the greatest results come from reassessing what you’re currently doing and simply fine-tuning your efforts. Luckily, this practice can be applied to running and increasing your speed. When you run, make sure you’re standing tall but relaxed and hitting heel to toe as your foot swings under your hip, swinging your arms back and forth at a low 90-degree angle (not side to side). Beyond your form, you’ll want to be looking forward as much as you can while you run, and breathe from your stomach (belly breathing).
2. Speed Up with Some Sprints
To quicken your speed, we recommend shifting your workout routine by working in some speed workouts, agility exercises and faster-paced running sessions. By incorporating sprints, you’ll build muscle, improve your acceleration techniques and acclimate your body and breathing demands to a faster pace all while increasing your overall running speed.
Another speed workout option are Tempo Runs which are like the high-intensity intervals but you make a point to not run as fast as your can. While holding your speed back, you want to keep your fast (but not too fast) pace for a longer period of time (10 minutes or so). One strategy: If you’re running fast enough, you’ll be able to answer short questions but not have enough breath to hold conversation.
3. Hit the Trails
While enjoyable, running can get quite monotonous, especially if you stick to the same routes and pace everytime you run. Increase your speed with the varying terrain of the great outdoors by running along some outdoor trails. With plenty to choose from in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can quicken your pace on race day by changing up your runs with hills, unpaved paths and whatever the trail throws your way. Don’t know where to start? Check out our favorite 10 trails in DFW for trail running [enter link].
4. Take Longer Runs
We encourage runners to increase the length of their runs every two weeks or so. Forcing your body to run longer than your used to will improve your mental strength, stamina and endurance, plus, it’s always nice to change things up. Remember, it’s better to start ‘slow’ with a reasonable goals than trying to tack on an extra mile or two to your run that you’re not prepared for. Rather than running for just 20 minutes, try running for 30 minutes or adding an extra half mile or so. Oh, and be sure to bring plenty of extra water for after your run as you recover.
5. Strength Training
Want to really take things up a notch? Strength training will help to improve your muscle mass and increase your running speed. If you don’t know where to start, it’s best to focus your strength training efforts on your legs since they bear the brunt of each step when you run. By doing exercises like straight leg raises, squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises, and leg presses, you’ll be strengthening your knees, hips, ankles which can help you to avoid leg injuries while strengthening your body which will naturally increase your muscle mass, and thus, your speed.
Remember with all these tips, you’re wanting to challenge your body to work harder, get stronger, and run faster. Best of luck, and we’ll see you on race day!