Increasing Your Speed

Last week, I was talking with some friends and fellow runners about speed. I've gotten dramatically faster since my first race in November 2011 where I finished a 5K in 23:58. My 5K PR which I ran about three weeks ago is 20:38 on the same course. That's 3:20 faster than a year and a half ago.

As I've started running more, I thought I'd share my tips for running your best race.

1. Amping up mileage makes you faster. As I've started running more, I've gotten faster. I used to always shoot for 15 miles/week, but now I go for 20. This past week, I ran 20.4. While that's certainly not as many as a lot of runners run, it's still more than I normally ran as you'll see below. (There's a man in the run club in my town who logs around 100 miles a week - that won't ever be me - but so impressive!)

2. Longer runs make your shorter races faster. I used to run around four miles, max. I still ran about 15 miles a week, but for the most part, my runs were 3.1 to 4 miles each. I've noticed a definite improvement in my race times as I've increased the distance of my runs. I typically try to run a longer run (10K - 7 miles) each week and for the most part, most of my runs are above 3 miles. (I should add that I'd like to run 20-25 miles a week, but that's not always possible with everything we have going on. I'm happy to be able to get in the runs I do.)

I track my workouts and runs and while writing this post, I went back to look at my stats for the prior months.

As you can see, I drastically increased my running days in April. To be fair, I should add that a few of those days, particularly near the end of the month, were short half miles or miles as I was dealing with a ton of pain in my leg This also decreased my average run length. As we're one week into May, I've already run 20.4 miles and I feel great. I want to keep it up!

While I was looking back at my stats, I decided to look at my average 5K time. In January, four of my runs were 5K's. In February, two of my runs were 5K's (for some reason, I don't have the times recorded for those). Five (or exactly 1/3) of my March runs were 5K's and in April, I only ran two 5K's which were both races. 

What does this mean? It shows me that when more of my runs are longer (as was the case in April and January), my 5K time is better.

3. Treadmill running makes me faster. I've run more on the treadmill lately than I'd like to admit, but the truth of the matter is I'm not running outdoors by myself early in the morning (when I squeeze in many of my runs). I've noticed that I'm running substantially faster outside than I am on the treadmill. I really think this has helped. 

I always start out at 8.2 mph and increase from there, generally to around 9 mph. I sometimes kick it up to 10.1 mph (the fastest my treadmill at home will go) and run some intervals.


4. Train like you're racing. When I run, I run like I'm racing. I don't run a 7:30 pace. I know that there's a lot to be said for training runs and pacing yourself, but for me, I've found that I race better when I've been running like I'm racing. 

There you have it: My tips for running faster. If you have any to share, please send them my way!

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