For competitive runners, running a faster mile is something you’re likely always thinking about. Whether you’re trying to beat the others in your age group at your next half-marathon, or you’re simply looking to beat your own personal best time, marking these types of achievements is a great way to challenge yourself to become a better runner.
Grab your watch or pull up your running app, because it’s time to start tracking your run times! Here are some helpful tips and tricks for running a faster mile — no matter your skill level.
Interval Training and Your Workout Plan
Interval training is a fun and effective alternative to your usual long runs. Here’s how it works: you’re going to run as fast as you can for a short burst, then add a period of recovery in between, where you’ll jog slowly or even walk. Then, you’ll do it all again.
The idea of high intensity interval training (or HIIT) is that it improves your overall fitness level, which allows you to run faster during your longer runs. Incorporating an interval workout into your routine once or twice a week could make a huge difference in your speed when running longer distances. Remember to practice controlling your breathing too!
Try this: run as hard as you can for 200 meters, then jog slowly or walk for 200 meters. Repeat this sequence six times if you can. If you typically run outdoors, try it with telephone poles: run as hard as you can to the first pole, then jog to the next pole and so on.
Build up Your Endurance
Even if you’re only trying to improve the speed of your one-mile run, you’ll still want to build up your endurance by running longer distances. You might want to build up a long running playlist and keep your phone with you in an armband to make these longer runs more entertaining too.
Start by incorporating one long run per week into your training schedule. If you typically only run one or two miles, try adding an extra mile once a week to build up endurance. Increase your distance by 10% each week until this longer run is up to seven or eight miles.
Work on Your Form
Want to improve your speed by getting back to basics? Work on your running form and stride turnover.
Taking shorter, faster steps helps you to run more efficiently and use less energy, so give yourself some drills to learn how to improve your stride. Try this: run in place as quickly as you can for one minute, observing how you feel when you try taking shorter, faster steps. You’ll notice when you use less energy and things start to feel more efficient!
You’ll also want to work on your posture while running, including your arm motion. Be sure to run with your back straight and your arms pumping gently and efficiently in order to increase your speed.
While lifting weights may not seem like the most important thing for a runner, strong muscles provide essential health benefits that make you a better athlete overall. Instead of pumping iron, try a few simple bodyweight exercises a few times a week to build long, lean muscles.
When you get back from a run, try doing ten push-ups, ten lunges, ten squats and a one-minute plank to build core strength. Instead of doing these strength workouts on your recovery days, simply tack them on to the end of a run with a cooldown after so that you can fully rest on your days off.