Getting faster is not easy. Progress is slow but with diligence, hard work pays off. Running at the same pace day after day might be enough for a new runner to gain a bit of speed. However at some point, running the same pace day after day will not yield the same returns.
Whether you are running speed work or not, doing these three things can enable you to become a faster runner. If you aren’t doing speed work but have been running for over a year consistently, now is the time to start.
1. Add Plyometrics To Your Workouts
Why? Running is a series of single leg jumps done over and over again. Performing plyometric exercises will strengthen the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon works together with other muscles and tendons in the body to spring you forward while running.
When: Perform plyometrics at the end of your run or during strength training sessions.
How: Perform 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions of exercises such as jump lunges, single leg lateral jumps, or jump squats a minimum of two times per week.
2. Do Strides
Why? When done properly, strides train the body from a neuromuscular standpoint to increase leg turnover rapidly while maintaining proper form.
When: These can be done after you’ve completed a dynamic warm-up or at the end of a run.
How: Strides are essentially short sprints (50-100 meters) with a focus on form. From a standing position, start to run and pick up speed quickly so that within 10 seconds, you should be at a quick pace (a bit faster than the pace you would run a mile race at). Focus on form and once you’ve been running at the fast pace for 10 seconds, gradually slow down while maintaining your form. After each stride, jog easy for approximately 30-45 seconds before performing the next stride.
Perform 4-6 strides, one to two times each week.
3. Run With Someone Who Is Faster Than You
Why? To challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and to make faster paces more comfortable.
When: Whenever your schedule allows.
How: No matter what type of run you plan to do with your fast friend, make sure to make a game plan so you aren’t left far behind them, feeling defeated. One option is to run with your faster friend when they have an easy run on their training schedule. To get the most out of running together, their easy pace should not be faster than your tempo pace. Another option is to run with a friend who runs about 10-15 seconds faster per mile than you normally do. This is a pace you should be able to sustain, but is more challenging than your go-to pace.
*This post originally appeared on Women’s Running where I blog weekly.