“I want to run FASTER” is one of the most common things I hear from my running friends.
Running faster is not actually something I think about a lot. I am so happy to be simply running that I have become addicted to long slow runs, often with no route in mind. I love the freedom that running gives me and sometimes I don’t plan out a route, distance or goal time – I simply RUN for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Chatting with two of my friends from my local parkrun last Saturday and they were both saying how they would love to run 5k under 30 minutes. They have both come close but not done it yet.
Now I am all for setting goals (even if it is just a goal to go out and run) and they have set me the challenge to get them running a sub-30 minute 5k.
The things I need to be mindful of:
- They aren’t teenagers….
- One of them has a history of serious illness.
So whilst I need to be mindful, I know that with the right sort of training and mindset it WILL be achieved.
So I have consulted my own training journal and taken some advice from running specialists too and here are the top tips to turn YOU into a faster runner:
Run Faster 1 – A Proper Warm Up
A 5k run for most people is working to a high intensity. You wouldn’t see a sprinter shoot off the blocks without a warm-up. They have done everything to warm their muscles up and go off the starting gun at full pelt.
The days when I crawl out of bed, still sipping coffee, 40 minutes before I go off for my 5k timed run are the days when the whole run is unpleasant. My muscles are cold and my brain doesn’t play ball.
Now my routine is to do:
a) A 5 minute brisk walk.
b) A 5 minute slow jog.
c) Some dynamic stretches (this is a great link for dynamic stretching for runners)
Please don’t do static stretching before running, your muscles don’t like being stretched like that when cold (poor muscles…).
Run Faster 2 – Interval Training Runs
Interval training keeps coming up as one of the top ways to become a faster runner. My running club includes them in training sessions and they really do work.
In a nutshell interval runs are when you run a short sprint section followed by a recovery slower pace.
Beginners can try 10 second sprints followed by 50 seconds of slow jogging as a recovery. Repeat 5 times and that’s an interval session.
Runner’s World have a great link to interval training
If you are new to interval training then you can use a simple technique to throw some faster sections into your run – try picking a tree or building in the distance and then sprint towards it. Recover for a minute or so and then pick something else to run to – perhaps a house or a parked car or lamp post (Don’t try and sprint after a fast moving object….I have tried!).
Just 1 interval session a week will do wonders with improving your pace.
Run Faster 3 – Run Some Hills
Now before you click off this page (I know some of you hate the thought of hills!) I promise you that you will learn to love them
A common error in starting off with hill training is to pick a hill that is far too steep and/or too long.
Don’t make it impossible – pick a nice gentle hill, preferably somewhere pretty.
I have found that adding hilly runs to my running week has made running on the flat naturally faster and perceptively easier.
Here is a link to more information on hill sessions
Run Faster 4 – Tempo Runs
Once every two weeks I treat one of my runs as a Tempo Run. I run it approximately 10% faster than my normal pace which for me means running approximately a 9 minute mile instead of a 10 minute mile.
The simple way to pace it is to run and feel slightly out of breath – if you had a friend with you it would be difficult to carry out a full conversation. You need to feel challenged yet comfortable.
If you haven’t done a tempo run before start out with 5 minutes at this new pace and see how you get on. Adjust it for the next session and see if you can do 10 minutes. Over the coming weeks, build it up to a 20 minute tempo run every 10 days.
I hope I have helped you think about how you can run faster, I am off to draw up a plan of action for my two sub-30 minute friends, I won’t embarrass them by mentioning their names but if you are reading this…. we can DO IT.