Running is one of the most popular world sports, meaning it is probably also one of the most competitive sports, whether thats at your local 5km Parkrun or at the olympics. This blog should give you a better understanding on How to be a faster runner and will include many training tips and useful accessories with the goal to increase your motivation for fitness. I will also be going through some cross country tips as well as how to combat injuries such as pain in the front hip or Achilles tendonitis.
How to be a faster runner
How to be a faster runner is quite a broad question as countless coaches will be able to give you a different answer. However there are some simple principles most runners should follow. I will be first covering these so a foundation can be built on the way to answering the question of how to be a faster runner.
- Being consistent — This is a typical answer you will see on every page telling you how you can improve your fitness. This however is because it is so crucial that you actually remain consistent. Doing high quality sessions is great, but is useless if you then have 2–3 days off in a week or train everyday for 3 weeks and then have a week off. Even if you do low intensity workouts or steady runs in between your quality session days, it is far far far better than doing an extremely high quality session twice a week with the rest of the days being completely inactive.
- Low intensity workouts — As mentioned low intensity workouts or low intensity runs are key in chaining together bigger session days. An example of a low intensity run would be 1 hour at an easy pace. Say if you could run 5:00 minute miles for an hour i would say this easy pace would vary between 6:20–7:30 per mile depending on the elevation of your run as well as how you feel. Low intensity workouts consist of aerobic exercise meaning your body is using fats as its main source of energy. This can also be know as Fat oxidisation. Using the aerobic energy system will improve the bodies ability to oxidise fats and therefore improve the bodies ability to provide energy via fats. This aerobic energy system is generally used in races upwards of 1500m and is also used during the recovery process. Therefore it is import to attribute Low intensity workouts to around 50% of your weekly milage. This percentage however varies, usually lower than 50% for 800m runners and below and possibly larger than 50% for 10km upwards to marathon and further.
- High intensity workouts — The Opposite of low intensity workouts would be high intensity workouts and i would ideally suggest doing 2–3 of these workouts a week. An example of this workout would be interval training. Interval training is probably the most common form of a High intensity workout and usually involves a repetition of a set distance with then a set recovery in between each repetition. The complexity of this type of training can vary. An example of this form of training for a 5km runner would be 5–8x1km with 90 seconds static or active (jog recovery). The aim would be to run at slightly quicker than your goal 5km pace. For example if you want to run 15 minutes for 5km you would do 5–8x1km roughly between 2:55 & 2:58.
This type of training is advantageous as it simulates your race pace and also increases your Heart Rate more than low intensity and also means you’re achieving higher cadence (step rate), which is useful to work on as it generally makes race pace feel slower.
What pace is a 3 hour marathon?
Following on from developing your performance foundations, it is then important to work on small changes which take you from a good runner to a great runner. “What pace is a 3 hour marathon” is quite a random question. However, it poses the question of knowing your paces and the paces you’re capable of. Some people have concerns with Heart rate training zones, it is important to know how running at set paces can dictate what adaptations you gain from your session or run. https://www.polar.com/blog/running-heart-rate-zones-basics/provides an insight on certain training zones. I would suggest investing in a HR monitor as well as a running watch so you can track your runs intensity as well as the distance. I would suggest a Garmin forerunner from personal experience. A chest HR monitor is advisable as they are more accurate. Having this equipment gives you better understanding and tracking for the subjects i will discuss below this paragraph.
Garmin watch — https://amzn.to/2DFbsvj (Amazon)
Heart rate monitor — https://amzn.to/2sFpzyB (Amazon — cheaper alternatives)
A common question is “what is a tempo run” or “what is a threshold run” or “whats the difference between a tempo and a threshold”. The common answer is they are pretty much the same thing. I believe this type of training technique should be included into your training plan at least once a week. Distance runners from 1500m upwards should always research and consider doing tempo runs. I personally don’t know a single elite athlete who doesn’t incorporate this form of session into their training so why shouldn’t you? It is extremely prominent in Jakob Ingebrigstens training as well as his brothers.
In short, a tempo or threshold is a sustained effort at your lactate threshold pace. Depending on your best distance event, tempos can be as short as 10 minutes at your lactate threshold pace or upwards to 2 hours at a slower pace for marathon runners. Lactate threshold pace is the pace you can run before your body starts to drastically increase its production in lactic acid. Training at this pace allows the body to improve its lactate threshold, which ultimately allows the athlete to go at a quicker pace for longer. Which is basically the goal of improving at running. A typical shorter tempo session would be 10 minutes at lactate threshold pace. Each week you could increase then length of your tempo by 2 minutes until you reach 30 minutes. Then you can gradually increase your pace.
A longer tempo session for the marathon would be 20–30km at roughly marathon pace.
Daniels’ Running Formula is the best book to read for all training techniques. But this book popularised the tempo training method.
Daniels Running Formula — https://amzn.to/35ShvZt
Standing out in a crowd
This is not so much a training technique but how to be a optimist or ratherhaving the correct mindset in order to perform and train to your maximum capability.
It is important to know that everyone has their limits and not every session should be pushed to the limit. You need to have certain goals for each session and a purpose. It is then important to fulfil that training purpose by not going over the top and pushing to your limits. Some people say as you get older you are looking how to stay young because onceyou pass your late 20s your body starts reacting negatively to things it didn’t use to. For runners this is usually the case for people who do not sensibly assess their effort during a session and because of it push their body to the point where it breaks (causing an injury).
On the other side of this it is important to know that running is hard and there is no point training hard if when it comes to races you finish and then come up with countless excuses on what you could of done different. To avoid this as much you need to have a set race plan and unless something drastic changes, stick to that race plan at all costs. Race plans vary for the individual athlete but i suggest not setting off way too quickly, but also never be at a point where you feel like you could run at the pace all day.
The most important mindset to have is belief in yourself. It sounds cliche but you should never think “i cant do this”, because doubt is a huge contributing factor in how you perform. You always need to go into races in optimism, and be sensibly optimistic.
People are always looking for answers for“burning 500 calories” or “workouts for flat tummy”, but the reality is none of these methods work if you’re doing these techniques without any nutritional help.
In this section i will not be talking about healthy foods for a balanced diet as you will find much more scientific articles on the internet which provide a great insight into what you should eat. I will be focusing on the specific foods and drinks which have in some way or another been proven in improving performance.
Beetroot juice — Beetroot juice is high in nitric oxide and without getting into detail nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax and therefore widen. This is beneficial for athletic performance as a wider blood vessel means more blood can be transported each heart beat and therefore more oxygen can reach the muscles through the blood. I would argue that beetroot would be beneficial for any sports person in any sport. Beetroot also has the same effects. Carrots also provide some nitric oxide.
Beetroot juice shots — https://amzn.to/2qhoEDB
Coffee — The three main performance advantages of coffee are;an increased fat oxidisation, feeling of a lower perceived effort and an increase in energy and alertness.
To get the maximum performance benefits out of coffee i would suggest only having one when needed. This therefore means your body doesn’t become to rely on coffee for energy and the energy effects of caffeine will be greater when you need them before important sessions and races.
I would recommend having either black coffee, an espresso or a flat white and to avoid milky coffees. From personal recommendation i would suggest using some form of coffee machine as its more convenient and using pods usually tastes better.
Coffee machine (Budget) — https://amzn.to/2LhK0ba
Coffee machine (Best) — https://amzn.to/2DD1Q4e
Supplements — Rather than talking about supplements such as iron tablets, i will be discussing supplements such as isotonic drinks which aid hydration and performance. As well as recovery drinks. From personal experience the most beneficial hydration and recovery brand I have used is 226ers. To the best of my knowledge this is a Spanish brand dedicated to endurance performance. With 226ers and any other similar company i would suggest having a workout drink and a recovery drink. The workout drink should be drank in the build up and during exercise and the recovery drink should be taken within 15 minutes of finishing exercise, in order to maximise recovery and training benefits.
Workout drink — https://amzn.to/34Ytsga — This electrolyte drink should be consumed slightly before and during exercise as electrolytes aid muscle function and hydration. Furthermore electrolytes help maintain blood acidity levels and therefore help with buffering lactic acid.
Recovery drink — https://amzn.to/2YnYziI — As mentioned i would advise that you take this within 15 minutes of finishing your training session, however you can also take this anytime you feel you need extra recovery. I usually mix the powder with water but it can also be consumed with milk.
*Depending on how this first article does i will upload a part two in which i will cover:
Diet (Worst food to eat)(best food to eat), Recovery, Muscle rolling/stretching, Gym, mechanics and Altitude*
*Within this article i have used affiliate links to certain products i find useful, If you decide to purchase any items after following the links, I may receive commission. I would never suggest products I have not used myself, so every product featured i believe is worth while.*