I guess if you ask any runner that question most, if not all, would say a resounding yes. But what are you doing about it?

Petro Mamu

Petro Mamu finishing Limone Extreme in 2014 – beating Kilian Jornet to the line!

First of all, what is your definition of getting faster? Is it to run a mile faster, is it to run a PB at a certain distance or is it improving your overall efficiency as a runner and as a product of that becoming a faster runner? They are very different things and as such require a different approach to achieve the desired result. The answer is probably in the specificity of your training plan but there is quite a lot of overlap between those three objectives. So lets look at a mile.

How to run a mile faster?

Let’s say your mile time is 8 minutes. How do you get faster? It’s more than likely going to be a combination of various training sessions and targets that will help you achieve your goal.   You will want to increase your speed, strength and economy. You will obviously have to take into account your age, training level and set a realistic but challenging target. SMART thinking comes to mind.

  • Speed – to cover the distance faster
  • Strength – to ensure you have the strength to maintain the speed
  • Economy – to enable you to run efficiently at speed
  • Time – you need a period of time to build up

Training for these attributes would probably look something like this.

  • Track/Road Workouts and/or Fartlek sessions (typically once or twice a week) – building up consistent times for reps of 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,200m, 1,600m and even 2,000m. Two miles repeats are also a good session to build up specific strength and endurance.
  • Threshold Runs (typically once or twice a week) – These are paced to increase your running economy at intensity. Typically run at ten mile or half marathon pace.
  • Long Runs (typically once a week) – Long runs to build strength and endurance and improve running economy.
  • Recovery – Either days off or a gentle recovery run or cross training.
  • Races – Perhaps try some races at 3,000m or even 5,000m. Focus on achieving consistent lap times.
  • Buy New Kit – I have always found a placebo effect from wearing new running kit but it doesn’t seem to last long!

Note: At marathon distance and longer you would not tend to run the full distance of the event in training but ‘time on feet’ would become more important.

Now, I am not training to improve my mile time, although that would be an added bonus, the point of this is that depending on what your goals are for your focus races, you should incorporate a variety of training sessions and specificity in your schedule to give you the best chance of achieving your goal. Whether your goal is completing the distance or improving your PB or indeed racing against others for the podium, you have less chance of getting there without a training plan and most importantly putting some specificity into your training.

What I have discovered is that sometimes you need that injection into your training to take it away from the staleness of just running. I did that recently by getting myself a coach. It’s slowly transforming my running away from the boring schedule that I had of running countless miles and to a journey that has milestones and objectives. Get yourself a coach to inject some life into your training. You will thank me for it!

Note : the above is purely my opinion and thoughts on getting faster. Please consult a coach!!! 

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography



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