As you continue through your running journey, it’s very common to create new goals. Run a new race. Add distance to your long run. Complete back-to-back races. Run faster.
While everyone is different when it comes to running goals, running faster and creating a new personal record (PR) is usually on the list. Here are a few simple ways to run a little faster for your next race.
1. Add in Speed Work
In order to run faster, you have to, well, run faster! Instead of expending all of your energy by running as fast as you can, take one run a week where you focus on speed. The easiest way to do so is adding short intervals throughout your run, where you run at a faster pace, then take some time to recover. This can be as simple as running to the next tree, or head to the track and run 400 meters, 800 meters, etc. And don’t forget, hill training is speed work in disguise!
2. Do More Strength Training
Stronger legs allow the faster paces to feel more attainable. Add at least two days of strength training to your plan. It doesn’t have to be heavy weights in the gym, as body weight exercises work just fine. Be sure to focus on the muscles that are associated with running – squats, lunges, hips, abs, and even your arms and back.
3. Take Easy Runs Easy
When you have your mind set on running faster, it is easy to make every run fast. The truth is that your body needs time to recover! Therefore, make sure that you truly run your easy runs easy. These should be 1-2 minutes (per mile) slower than your race pace. It’s not always easy, and may even seem counterintuitive, but your body will thank you.
4. Fuel Properly
Another area to focus on is nutrition, both during a run and in between. Make sure that you are fueling your body for the run ahead by focusing on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, etc. Sure, we all want to treat ourselves from time to time – just don’t do it all the time! Also, keep an eye on your fueling methods during your training runs. Staying hydrated and fueled will keep those legs moving forward a little easier during that goal race.
5. Take Care of Your Body
A new goal can sometimes cause tunnel-vision, meaning you work hard no matter what. While that drive is important, it is also necessary to take care of your body. If you are absolutely exhausted, an extra rest day may be in order. Take the time to roll out your muscles or get a sports massage. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. All of these (with the above steps) will help with that goal race!
Megan is not a doctor, running coach, or nutritionist. All statements above are based on her personal experience. If you have specific questions or are trying something new, please contact a medical professional.