Running is a sanctuary for some, and it is hell for others. But whether it is because you're trying to get to the finish line in hope for some hardware, or it is because you want it to be over with, try these 6 tips on how to get speedier!
I've dabbled in the marathon game for the last decade, so I've had a lot of family and friends who have reached out asking how to improve their running, particularly their speed. The truth is, there are definitely days where my body is telling me to give up on the sport and to enjoy a casual boutique fitness routine like other women my age. Then there are days where I feel fast, confident and those feelings translate throughout my entire day proving to myself that I'm not ready to throw in the towel. Needless to say, I am no expert, but I have studied my personal relationship with running, and here is what works for me.
1) Make it a priority.
At the beginning of each week, make a calendar appointment for each run. This not only holds you accountable, but it keeps running top of mind. As Des Linden, winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon says, "Keep showing up." I personally know I can only "show up," if I run first thing in the morning. If I do run later on, I'm slow AF, because it's the last thing I actually want to be doing, and it becomes less of a priority which makes it difficult to focus.
2) Incorporate HIIT.
I used to be an advocate for dedicating my work-out time to simply running, until around 25 years old. I started to recover much slower, and I noticed that my muscle tone was also fading. My marathon time kept hovering around the same speed, and I finally decided to try Orange Theory. After 3 weeks of OTF twice a week, my long runs improved by 30 seconds a mile proving that both strength and endurance training is necessary for speed. Orange Theory and other boutique fitness concepts can add up as an expense. You can always find their workouts on Youtube and replicate them yourself in your own gym!
3) Reconsider yoga.
A lot of runners don't enjoy yoga because they do not feel they get a very good work-out for spending an hour of their time in the studio when they could have been logging more miles. But, if you don't think flexibility and the core strength you get from yoga isn't enough, maybe the health benefits will be. This should be an entirely separate blog post, but yoga prevents cartilage breakdown, increases circulation & can decrease race recovery time which we all know can benefit our speed and our body long-term.
3) Don't cut out the suga!
When I ran my first marathon with my husband, I remember seeing his bag packed with a miniature bottle of maple syrup and a ziplock full of starbursts & sour patch kids. I thought he was crazy, but he ended up running a personal best. As I got older, I began incorporating candy into long work-outs & runs myself. Not only was it something bright & sweet to look forward to on those 2 - 3 hour runs, but it gave me a great deal of newfound energy! This doesn't mean you're quite as free to do this on your off-days, but for hard workouts or races over an hour where you're trying to get stronger or faster, choose simple sugars that can be absorbed fast, and enjoy not having to think twice about it.
4) Enjoy the process.
Another Des Linden reference here. The woman finished two seconds behind the 2011 Boston Marathon winner, and then she came back 7 years later to win it in 2018. Des can clearly teach us all something about being patient. So be nice to yourself, and have fun with the sport of running! For a lot of us, it is an incredible way to see new cities and meet new people with common interests at the very least.
5) Drink water.
Although, I probably hold the personal record for running on the least amount of water, I am aware how important drinking water is for speed and strength training. I've started drinking 8 ounces of water before each meal to force myself to hydrate, but it's not easy for me. As you run further and faster and begin to sweat, your blood volume decreases which can cause your heart to work much harder. So give your heart a break, work with me to hydrate throughout the day and watch the miles fly under your feet!
6) Run smart.
If you don't already run with a watch, buy one that costs $25.00 today off of Amazon, and invest in a Garmin down the road. Then, whether you are running three miles or eighteen miles, consider reverse splits, which essentially means over the course of your run, start slower & end faster. This allows you to conserve your energy for the latter half of your run. It takes time to adjust to this style of racing, but after a few attempts you'll recognize your strength and speed are there for you at the end of your loop, out & back or finish line.
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