running in the stadium

You can read about various ways to improve your condition and speed but if you’re missing these three key elements, your progress will be slow.  Quickly improve your speed and condition with these three tips.

Run consistently

Running consistently is the easiest way to get fitter and faster and it’s also what many people miss.  Go for a run here and there, and you’re not very likely to see much improvement in speed or fitness. 

Try running every week, or even better, try running 2, 3, or 4 times a week consistently and you’ll notice an improvement quickly. 

Do be careful to increase your frequency and distance gradually each week to avoid injury.  Immediately going from being an occasional runner to running 3 times a week is not a good idea.

How to do this

To be more consistent in your running, try recruiting a running buddy for accountability, join a group, find a reputable training schedule to follow, book it in your diary, and/or pick a time of day that you know you’ll get it done, like the morning.

Strength Train

If you want to gain some speed and improve your fitness, strength training is key.  Building strength improves your muscular fitness and naturally you’ll be able to go faster with less effort.

How to do this

This doesn’t mean you have to pick up lifting weights at the gym.  This can easily be done with a few simple exercises at home, or following a run.  Anything from 5 to 45 minutes one or two times a week can make a noticeable difference.  Choose exercises that are better for runners to get the most out of your time.  My favorites for runners are the plank, the bridge, lunges, push-ups and squats. (I’ll post some video examples of this soon.)  There are variations of these exercises that you do to make them more or less of a challenge. Cross training with strength building activities such as Pilates or yoga is also a good option.  

Rest

It may sound strange, but getting adequate rest is a key to getting faster.  Wear your body down with tough workouts or numerous kilometers of running—and not enough rest—and you’ll likely see slow improvement in fitness or speed.  Get adequate rest to recover from hard workouts so that you get stronger and so you can get more out of subsequent run sessions.

How to do this

It’s often recommended to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night.  This could be a good place to start.  If you’re logging numerous kilometers in a week, you’ll likely need to get about 10 to 30 minutes of extra sleep an evening to adequately rest up and recover from your weekly mileage.

Taking some days off in between runs, hitting a spa, getting a massage, or putting your feet up in the evening are also good forms of rest. 

What has helped you get noticeably fitter and faster at running?  Share your experience and suggestions in the comments below.

Laurie

Laurie is an endurance athlete, a professional running coach & lifestyle coach, and the founder of House of Running. She helps people make running part of their healthy lifestyle through on-on-one coaching and fun group training programs. Read more about Laurie here.

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