Have you recently got into running or are you an experienced runner? Sometimes we get caught into the same old routine of training. We go on our daily run at the same distance and never see improvements in our running speed or endurance. Why is this? It’s because you have to train with intention. What is your goal? Do you want to run a sub 20 minute 5K? Do you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Here are some ways that you can run faster and be a better runner in general.
400 Meter Repeats
Most people who ran track in high school know that 400 meter repeats are some of the most gassing workouts out there. Basically you’ll run 400 meters at the pace that your goal is at. I typically will shoot to run about 20–25% faster than what my normal running pace is. So if I’m running a 8:30/min mile on average, I’ll try to run a 6:30 min pace or less at the minimum on each 400. Doing these is a great way to get your VO2 max up and also train your muscles to run faster.
There’s a number of apps that can help you with this but set a timer when you’re running for about 2 minutes of jogging followed by 30–45 seconds of running as hard as you can run. Repeat this about 6–10x. By the time you get to the last interval, you should be gassed. If you’re not, lower the rest time.
Increase Stride Turnover
This can feel a bit weird at first but try to run with a faster stride cadence. The Apple Watch has a feature on it that shows stride cadence. Try to get it to about 180spm. My normal stride cadence was about 160spm. When you run, try to keep your feet under your hips when they strike the ground. When running longer distances you want the form to be more of a kick back than a stride forward like a sprint. Landing with your feet in front of you puts you at a greater risk for injury and will fatigue you more.
Another great way to help stride cadences is to do some runs downhill. This can be a bit difficult to find but I’ve found that empty parking garages are a great spot to run downhill with just the right incline for downhill running. The first time I did this, I could not believe how my legs felt. My neurons felt like they were trying to fire faster than ever before and towards the end, I eased up when I could feel that my calves were on the road to cramping up.
Focus On Strength Training
Everyone should know the importance of strength training by now but it cannot be overstated. When you cross train and strengthen different muscles, you lower your risk for injury while also strengthing the muscles that are important for speed. I know my hamstrings are weak so that’s been my main focus as of late.
Resting is an essential. If you’re going to be focusing on increasing stride cadence and have your neurons fire a little faster, you will need to rest. The neurvous system needs a chance to recover.
Spend a recovery day doing some yoga and loosening up the body. The more you open up your muscles, the better stride you’ll have and the less likely you’ll be to get injuried. Flexibility is one of those things that is easy to neglect but proves consequential in the long run.
Nutrition is also key. I utilize EAA’s (essential amino acids) to help recovery go a little more smooth. It seems to help. Without optimizing nutrition, you will not be able to recover faster and train as often. Trust your body and try not to over do it.