3 Ways The Beginning Runner Can Improve Their Speed

Posted on: 10 November 2015


If you are a beginning runner who has just completed your first 5K, half, or full marathon, you may be looking to get faster on your next go-around. Here are three ways to decrease your times.

1. Opt for Strength Training Over An Expensive Shoe

You may have been bombarded in the past by salespeople trying to sell you a specific brand of shoe according to your gait and natural pronation. However, USA Track and Field expert Jason Fitzgerald says that you don't have to buy a certain shoe to correct your form. Instead, he says you should focus on mobility drills (exercises that improve flexibility) and strength training. If you aren't fond of weight lifting, you can incorporate strength training in your runs by choosing hilly paths.

2. Start Incorporating Tempo Runs

You may have been focusing on mileage beforehand, but now you can start focusing on time and pace with tempo runs. Some people try to increase their speed by sprinting quickly from beginning to end—but that is a sure-fire way to burn out. A tempo run on the hand is where you slowly increase your speed throughout so you can increase both your distance and speed. The definition of a tempo run can depend on your goals. For instance, progression tempo runs mean that you slowly increase your speed throughout your run so that you are mindful of your pacing. Other tempo runs may push you to improve your lactate threshold or practice your race-day pace. It's helpful to pick just one of these types of tempo runs so that you can set clear goals. Make sure you where a timer or stop watch and run the same route so you can have a better idea of your progression.

3. Choose Your Running Buddy Wisely

There's no denying that a running buddy can make your run more bearable, but make sure you have the right running buddy during speed training. If your partner likes to run slower or they aren't setting the same speed goals, you may be more inclined to hold back at their pace. Psychologist Thomas Plante says people often "gravitate towards the behavior" around them, so if you want to get faster, you may need to look for a buddy or running or group that's a little better than you. You may not be able to keep up at first, but switching back and forth between slower and faster running partners will challenge your body's slow and fast muscle fibers and help you increase your speed and distance.