How to run faster: 3 basic principles

runner moving fast

Can one method make everyone run faster?

There is no one ultimate mode of training that will make all of us reach the top of the Olympic podium, unfortunately. Every runner is different; we’re built different, we have different levels of talent, motivation and what works for one athlete doesn’t necessarily work for another athlete. This makes planning out your training fairly tricky, because how do you know what will work for you specifically?

Three Basic Principles

Fortunately, even though there is no set training method to make us all run the fastest we possibly can, there are simple principles that can help us all run faster. These may seem fairly obvious principles, but you would be surprised at how few runners actually implement all three into their training.

1: Consistency

If you’ve been a runner for a while, you’ve most likely known of a runner or two who have been running for a while, but have never been that fast. However, one day you see this runner again, and they are miles ahead of the rest of the pack. Why is this? Well, they’re most likely not a naturally talented runner, but they’ve become the most consistent runner.

First off, let’s define what I mean by consistency. Consistency is where you stick to your training plan, for a long period of time, without any major breaks. This is when you don’t skip out on a run because it’s raining, or it’s ‘too cold’, and day after day you get out there and do the run you planned to do. In short, 6 weeks at 30miles a week is far more beneficial than 1 week at 60miles a week.

Consistency makes you faster in a multitude of ways. First off, by a rule of thumb, you lose fitness 3 times faster than you gain fitness, so if you don’t miss your runs, you won’t get set back. Consistent training also exposes your heart to regular aerobic & anaerobic work, which allows it to become stronger and more efficient, which will make running faster feel easier. Finally, training without any major breaks continues to develop the strength in your legs and tendons, without experiencing any atrophy. In short, the stronger your tendons, the more efficient you become, therefore making a faster pace feel easier than it did before.

2: Progression

If you see a training plan for a marathon runner, you will see that the start of their training consists of easy workouts and lots of recovery, yet as the weeks roll by you will see harder workouts and longer runs. Why is this? Because If you stick with the same training over a long period of time you will stop getting faster, and instead just maintain current fitness levels.

What do I mean by progression? I mean increasing the frequency, intensity, time or type of workouts in a training period. For example, say for the first 3 weeks of your training plan you are running 25miles a week, a plan including progression will start increasing your mileage to 35miles a week for the next 3 weeks.

Progression allows you constantly continue developing strength, resistance to lactic acid and speed. If you do not have a progressive running regiment, then your improvement will eventually slow, and you will stop getting faster.

3: Rest

This may sound counterintuitive, but resting more actually makes you faster. You’ll often find that the top level athletes are the ‘laziest’ people when they’re not training, and this is because they are focusing on resting as much as possible in order to train as hard as possible.

By rest I mean spending more time being still, sat down or lay down. The best way to improve the amount of rest you get is by increasing the amount of time you spend sleeping each night. The every day person should get around 8 hours of sleep every night for optimal health. For runners? Try 9, or even 10 depending on how much running you are doing at the time.

When you’re sleeping, your body increased the amount of melatonin produced, which is one of your body’s most efficient ways at healing itself. Therefore, if you spend more time exercising, you need more sleep than you would if you didn’t exercise, because you will take longer to recover.

If you can rest more, you can recover faster. If you can recover faster, you can train harder. If you can train harder, you can run faster.

Try and focus on these 3 key principles for the next couple months, and see just how much faster you become.

For personalised or beginner training plans designed to make you faster, fitter and healthier, click on the ‘training plans’ heading.

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