Now that I’ve finished marathon training – and successfully run my first marathon! – I’m looking at how to run faster. I have more goals to hit, including a sub-51-minute 10K, and it’s going to take more than just a few runs per week to get up to speed, pun intended. So what are some ways to increase running speed?
Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), what I do when I’m not running is just as important as what I do during a running workout. Getting faster at running doesn’t happen just on the road, track, or treadmill (although that certainly is part of it). Here are five ways to get faster at running, including how to gear your runs. Most of these are about reducing the chance of injury – because when you’re injured, you can’t run at all.
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1. Foam Roll
Taking care of your muscles is one of the most important things you can do in your quest for faster running. Get a foam roller, and make sure you roll out your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, IT bands, and lower back. Ideally, you’ll have time to foam roll before and after a run. I also like to foam roll before bed – I find it oddly relaxing.
2. Stretch (or Do Yoga)
Got a yoga mat propped in the corner of your closet? Put it to work. You don’t have to do a full yoga routine (although if you want to take a yoga class or do yoga on a rest day or on a non-running day, that’s even better). There are a few great stretches you can do to keep your muscles loose and reduce the chance of injury. If you’re looking for a more formal yoga program, try Yoga for Runners: Enhance Your Stride yoga class with Claire Petretti Marti. It’s specifically for runners and works your hamstrings, psoas, quadriceps, and more.
3. Strength Train!
I’m a big proponent of strength training. Kettlebells are great for this; you can use a single kettlebell for:
- Kettlebell swings
- Single-leg deadlifts
- Goblet squats
Building strength in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings helps power you up hills and control your descent downhill, and also helps protect your knees.
4. Perform Running Drills
There are a bunch of running form drills you can do to increase your running speed. Two simple ones are:
- High knees
- Butt kickers
The drills are performed pretty much
5. Plan 3 Key Runs a Week
If you’re looking for ways to run faster, you don’t have to run every day. Plan for three key runs a week: one interval run, one tempo run, and one distance run. An interval run can be as simple as running hard for one minute, then recovering at an easy pace for one or two minutes. When you run intervals and tempos, make sure you warm up by running an easy paced mile. Again, reducing the likelihood of injury is just as important as building speed.