How to Run Faster
Learn how to run faster and how to run longer without getting tired.
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In the article “How To Start Running” I taught you how to get started running and offered important tips if you’re just starting out. Whether you’ve been incorporating the advice you learned in “How To Start Running” or you want to take your running to the next level, this article will give you six quick and dirty tips to run faster and run longer without getting tired.
Quick and Dirty Tip #1 for Running Faster: Lose Weight
Think about carrying a box of books up a flight of stairs. Compared with simply carrying your own body weight, the consequences of lifting 1, 5, or 10 extra pounds with each step can have you instantly huffing and puffing. Now imagine what happens when you carry 1, 5 or 10 extra pounds with each step you take during a 3 mile run. If you travel 3 feet with each stride, and cover about 15,000 feet during the run, you’re taking 5000 steps. If you lift your body 2 inches off the ground each time you step, that’s 10,000 inches, which means that if you’re just 5 pounds overweight, you had to generate over 4000 foot-pounds of extra force to get you through that run. So if you're overweight and you’re going out and hammering every run workout, but not focusing on how to eat healthfully to achieve weight loss, you're overworking your body. For more advice, I’d recommend you check out the article “What To Eat Before And After Exercise”. Having run competitively at 209 pounds and 170 pounds, I can tell you which running weight is better in terms of both speed and joint impact. (Obviously if you don’t have any weight to lose, this tip isn’t for you.)
Quick and Dirty Tip #2 for Running Faster: Increase Cadence
Aside from being skinny and being from high-altitude places, the fastest runners in the world have another defining characteristic: they take more steps per minute than the rest of us. In running terms, that means they have a higher cadence. Specifically, a cadence of 90 steps per minute is ideal. If you’re used to plodding along, this cadence will make you feel like you’re playing hot potato with your feet. Next time you’re running, count the number of steps you take in 20 seconds, with either your right or left foot. Now multiply by three. That number is your cadence. If you can take 30 steps in 20 seconds, then you’re on the right track to minimizing ground contact time and running faster.
Quick & Dirty Tip #3 for Running Faster: Use A Treadmill
Because that belt keeps moving underneath you no matter what you do, a treadmill is a great way to teach yourself to keep your cadence up and keep you moving forward. Like an indoor bicycle, there are fewer stops--such as stoplights and street crossings--so a treadmill can really help you focus more on the proper running form discussed in “How To Start Running”. During your training, try to include tempo runs, in which you set the treadmill at a slightly faster speed than you are comfortable with, and allow your legs to experience more rapid leg turnover. That trains the nerves and muscles in your legs to move faster.