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When I was still a CrossFit competitor, running was always my worst enemy. I just can’t seem to find a way to beat my competitors at it. So, I asked my friends who competes at marathons and triathlon for tips on how to run faster. He gave me a bunch of tips but a lot of them are hard to apply for beginners like me.
So I searched for more answers until I came up with 19 tips that could help a beginner like me run faster as soon as possible and I’m going to share them with you in this article.
1. Build Your Aerobic Capacity First
Aerobic capacity is simply the amount of oxygen consumed during physical exercise over a period of time. Training your aerobic capacity will not only give a positive impact on your overall health but also on your running performance.
There’s a lot of ways to do this, but one thing I like is following the Maffetone Method, a training method that helps improve your aerobic capacity.
In an article published in 2015, Dr. Phil Maffetone showed a direct relationship between the maximum aerobic pace and competition proving that building your aerobic capacity has an impact on your running speed.
To do this, find your maximum aerobic heart rate by subtracting your age from 180. Then try to run as close to that number as much as possible.
2. Shed That Extra Weight
Sure, you can find huge football players who can run amazingly fast. But those people have been training for most parts of their lives and get big for their sport. Plus, most of their weight is muscles.
For runners, being overweight not only affects your speed but also increases the risk for knee and hip injury.
When you make ground contact, your knees receive a force of about 3 times your weight. That said, the heavier you are, the more impact your joints receive.
To shed that extra weight, you have to exercise at least 5 times a week along with a proper diet.
3. Observe a Proper Diet
A common misconception regarding diet is simply eating less. Well, partly that’s true. But more importantly, eating a balanced diet.
Have a mix of high-quality protein, good fat, carbs, vitamins, and other minerals from different food sources. Not only that this will help you shed that extra pound, but it will also fuel you for your runs.
4. Run More Often
Sure, you can row, swim or do something else every once in a while, but if you want to be a faster runner, there’s no better way but to run more often.
As I was trying to be faster at running, I found that running at least 4 times a week is just right to help me improve without causing burnout and knee pains.
5. Mix Up Your Running Workouts
Have a mix of running intervals, tempo runs, easy runs, and long runs.
You can easily gain access to running programs with a proper mix of running modes via fitness apps such as the Huawei Fitness app. They have a program for improving your 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon pace.
6. Give Yourself a Break
Running is a very high-impact activity. I suggest giving yourself at least 2 days per week of rest day to avoid the risk of injury and fatigue.
Now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll just sit on the couch and do nothing. Try doing other activities such as lifting weights, swimming, running, hiking, or any other sport.
7. Stretch For 30 Mins a Day
Running is a very repetitive sport, therefore, it causes the involved muscles in the hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves to tighten which limits your range of motion.
One way to undo this is by diligently stretching for at least 30 mins a day. You can do it after your sessions or later in the evening.
Just note that it shouldn’t be done right before you run.
Here are a few stretches’ you can do to improve your running performance. I recommend holding each position for 2-3 minutes.
8. Do Strength Exercises
Strength is as important as aerobic capacity when you’re trying to improve your running performance. And one way to develop them is by doing strength exercises specific to what you need as a runner.
Strengthening your muscles not only improves your run but also decreases the risk of injury.
Here are a few strength exercises you can do to help you run faster.
9. Wear a Lighter Running Shoe
While there are a plethora of running shoes out there, they are made for different purposes. Some are good for daily training, some for long-distance and some are made to run fast.
If you want to be faster in a short time, consider switching to a lightweight shoe like the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, you can buy them from Amazon.
10. Wear Light or Less Clothing
While you run wearing whatever you like, wearing light or less is always better not only for being light but also for breathability and comfort.
Tops like Under Armour Streaker 2.0 (link to Amazon) offer a light and breathable blend of polyester and elastane that dries fast allowing you to stay light and comfortable on the run. Or better yet, go shirtless.
For women, choose a similar shirt or wear a lightweight sports bra.
11. Use a Running Watch To Track Your Progress
You don’t need a running watch to be faster, but they’ll be useful to track progress and monitor your performance over time.
Invest in a watch with a built-in GPS that offers a more accurate reading. Plus, you no longer have to bring your phone in your runs. A good budget fitness tracker that I use is the Huawei GT2e, it has everything you need to track your performance including built-in GPS, average pace reader, heart rate, and VO2 Max. Plus, it features built-in running courses that you can choose from. You can check its current price on Amazon.
12. Focus on Proper Form
Though running may seem like a straightforward sport of putting on your running shoes and go, there’s a whole lot more involved than just that.
A proper running form will help you run faster with less effort. In other words, you will be able to run faster for longer.
Start by keeping your head looking straight ahead and your shoulders loose and relaxed. Then work on your running posture by opening up your chest. Lastly, land with your midfoot and roll into your forefoot. If you’re a heel striker, not to worry, some shoes are great for heel strikers like the GlideRide 2.
Watch the video below for more run form tips.
13. Build Core Strength
Wait, what? Core strength? Isn’t running more of a leg dominant workout?
I hear you. Though it may seem like running is a leg-dominant workout, it’s a combination of different groups of muscles in the body all performing their tasks. But what holds all of them together is your core.
Your core keeps your body in the right posture so that your whole body can work efficiently.
14. Do Interval Training
Interval training is the alternate burst of high and low-intensity running. It helps improve metabolism, burn fat, improve VO2 Max and develop your speed.
Here’s an example of interval training:
4 sets of:
No rest in between
15. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep helps speed up muscle recovery, reduce stress, regulate your weight and improve your mood which will help in your overall health and therefore your running performance.
Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep daily. If you’re having a hard time sleeping early, stick to a sleeping routine to help you fall asleep at the same time every day.
16. Find Friends or Group to Run With
Though running is not typically a team sport, running with friends or a group will make it feel more enjoyable. It will encourage you to run more and rise to the challenge of your peers.
17. Start Running Uphill or Hiking
Running uphill or hiking up the mountains will help build strength and endurance that is very specific to the muscles involved in running on the road.
Plus, hiking on rocky mountains will also improve your balance and core strength that could help provide confidence and proper posture respectively.
Though these tips are easy to do, they have a huge impact on your overall performance.
If you’re having a hard time applying them all at once, start by doing at least 2-3 of these tips. You can start by sleeping early and fixing your diet. Then you can add strength exercises, core exercises, and interval training to the mix.
That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the number of things that you’ve added to your daily routine.