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At some point after you start running and have been at it for a while, you may want to improve your pace or how fast you run. While there are many ways to do this (just do a google search and you will see) I am going to talk briefly about a few of those ways.
Shorten your stride: While this may not seem obvious and in fact can seem contradictory, by shortening you stride your feet will be in contact with the ground more. This will result in a higher turnover (how many times your feet hit the ground in a minute) which uses less energy than a longer turn over. If you have a long stride, it is going to take your foot longer to hit the ground, come up, reach & hit the ground again. By shortening you stride you shorten this.
- Doing this is fairly easy, you can set a timer on your phone for one minute and run your usual pace while counting each time your right or left foot hits the ground. At the end of the minute, multiple that number by 2 and you have your stride turnover. You want this number to be high, around 160-180. I have been using an app called Running Cadence (runzi) that works to do this counting for you. As far as I know it is only available on Android, I used to have an iPhone but went back to droid so I’m not sure what there is available for iPhones right now.
- Try Intervals: By doing intervals, you are challenging yourself to move further at a continuous increase pace to build endurance. If you have never tried intervals before I would advise doing 1-2 minutes walking or jogging depending on your running level then run for 15-60 seconds again depending on your level. Apps like RunKeeper let you set up intervals for free and you can choose your pace as either slow (walk/jog) steady (jog/run) or fast (run/sprint) and designate how long you will do each interval. One note, under the repetitions category it will tell you how many more times you want to repeat the ‘set’. This does NOT include that first set you see at the top but rather in addition to. I’ve forgotten this several times and added on more unwanted repetitions by forgetting that detail.
- Add in hills: Look around your town and find some hill you could run. Running hills requires both strength and endurance so adding these into your training routine will build up more muscle as well as increase your overall endurance. Doing this will keep you going longer and faster, which in turn will increase your pace. Now running hills isn’t suggested for newbies, it is best to do this after you have a couple of months of running under your belt, it is also best to do this no more than once a week to prevent injury.
- Negative splits: The whole goal here is to run a mile faster than your previous one. So if you are running two miles and you finish mile one in 11:34 you would want to run mile two in a time faster than that even if it is only by a couple of seconds. So like 11:32. RunKeeper also tells you this information after you complete a workout which doesn’t really help you in the moment. I would use a stopwatch and a route you know is exactly one mile, a local track would be great.
- Be consistent: If you are training for a race or just want to run a certain distance faster, you can do this just by running it. If you want to improve you mile, work on your mile time by running it more frequently. Do the same distance each time say every other day and you will notice that it will take you less time to do that distance as your body adapts to it.
There are many ways you can improve your pace. I hope this give you some insight on some of those ways and that it helps you choose which method to use, not to mention, doing these can keep you from becoming bored! Enjoy and have a lovely day!