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How to run faster: 10 tips to increase your average running speed

Wondering how to run faster without getting tired? Follow these ten tips to get started. Have you reached a plateau in your running? Maybe you haven’t broken your weekly parkrun best in a while, or maybe you’re just not seeing results despite how hard you’re training? Don’t worry! It’s completely normal. Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been running for years, there’s many things you can do to inject a little bit of speed into your training – helping you run faster. This blog post will highlight ten tips on how to run faster, from weight training to enjoying a lazy day on the sofa. And yes, the odd bit of Netflix will help you run faster.

How to run faster

Many people think the key to running faster is running more often. And while this is a good starting point, you should combine running more often with structured training for the best results. Keep reading to find out more about each tip, helping you increase your pace and break through that plateau you may or may not be experiencing.

Here’s our ten tips for how to run faster:

1. Many runners avoid lifting weights for fear of becoming “big and bulky.”

We hear it time and time again, but unless you’re following a proper “gym bro” training split and eating a diet excessively high in calories, weight training will only make you a stronger and faster runner.

2. Introduce interval training

Interval training mixes periods of high-intensity running with rest periods, whether walking or gasping for air. Interval training teaches your body to run faster, becoming more efficient and improving your

aerobic and cardiovascular fitness. Want to try a basic interval session? Run 4x 800m repeats with a 400m jog recovery between intervals. Aim to run these intervals above your current 5k pace, but ensure to sustain your effort to the end.

3. Add tempo runs and practice fartleks

Your tempo pace is a moderate to hard intensity that you can sustain for up to 40-minutes. If you’ve ever raced a 5km race, it’s a few seconds slower per mile than your current time. Tempo runs teach the body to run more efficiently, filling the body full of lactic acid and improving your lactic threshold (allowing you to run faster for longer without getting as tired). Fartlek sessions (Swedish for “speed play”) are much less structured sessions. Get creative with it – run to the next car as fast as you can, jog to a lamp post, run a hard effort to the next tree, and so forth. There’s a lot of “play” in these sessions but that’s what makes them so great.

4. Run hills

Ah, hills, who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with these beautiful yet gruelling beasts? If you’re looking to run faster, we’re sorry to say it, but you should be running more hills. Hills strengthen the legs, the aerobic and cardiovascular system, and we’re about to state the obvious: make running on flats seem a lot easier!

5. Improve your eating habits

Wondering what to eat to run faster? If you currently recover after a run with a bowl of coco pops and a cup of tea, then improving your eating habits may help you run faster. Likewise, it’s not just recovery that’s important – you need to fuel adequately before a run, especially before heading out the door before a Sunday long run or those harder interval Sessions. If possible, limit processed foods (sorry coco pops), sweets, cakes, biscuits, and ready-made meals. Eat whole foods where possible, but remember to treat yourself occasionally.

6. Stretch regularly

Runners are known not to be the most flexible bunch. But even so, we know the importance of stretching. Adding as little as ten minutes of stretching daily helps prevent injury, allowing you to train harder to become a faster runner. You should also perform dynamic stretches before running and static stretches after running to improve performance and reduce your risk of injury.

7. Prioritise sleep

Ah yes, you may be upset over the coco pops, but you’ll like this piece of advice: prioritise Sleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends healthy adults get between seven and nine hours of shut- eye each night. Sleep is when your body recovers, repairing muscle tissue and regenerating cells. And in other words, good quality sleep is needed to increase adaptation – making you a stronger and faster runner.

8. Run with a group

Running with a group isn’t for everyone; some people prefer to go all Forrest Gump and run solo. And that’s absolutely fine. But running with a group is a great way to run faster with less effort. When running in a group, you can tackle an interval session for the added motivation or let the miles fly in by joining a group for a Sunday long run.

9. Stay consistent

Results don’t happen overnight. If you’re searching for how to run faster in a matter of days, we’re sorry to break it to you, but it’s not very realistic. Instead, you need to remain consistent with your training – incorporate a mix of training sessions into your routine to become a faster runner. Expect results in four to six weeks – you’ll only get faster from there.

10. Don’t forget to take rest days

Seen as sleep is so important, why not set a later alarm on your rest day? And if you’re thinking, “wait, rest days?” Then you’re in for a shocker. Rest days are important for recovery – paired with quality sleep, it’s how the body recovers. You should include at least one rest day a week, but if you’re just starting out, we’d suggest two to three, maybe running every other day, to begin with? Failure to take rest days increases your risk of picking up an overuse injury, prevents your body from recovering (and becoming faster), and may drain your motivation for training. So, do yourself a favour and kick back once in a while! Your body will thank you for it with a little added pace on your next run.

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Matthew graduated with a degree in Sport and Exercise from the University of Durham. He now lives in the Lake District and spends his time cycling tough climbs and writing for active brands, helping others achieve their endurance goals.

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