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Desiree Davila is the fourth fastest female marathon runner in the country. And she’s hoping to use her swiftness to crush the competition at the Boston Marathon on April 18, 2011. She spilled her 6 best tips to shape.com, so you can get your feet moving too.

•Speed comes from being consistent: “I've been fortunate enough to not have any major interruptions in my training for quite some time,” says Davila, who finished the 2010 Chicago Marathon in 2:26:20. “Just logging the miles and putting in the hard work has played the biggest role in my improvement.”

•Use strength runs to get fast: “The majority of my marathon training is long runs, long tempo runs, and longer repeat sessions—like, five by 2 mile and three by 3 mile repeats with recovery in between,” says Davila. This strategy strengthens your endurance so you have the power to build up your speed.

•Build speed with key workouts: “I do mile repeats or 1000 meter repeats at a pace that’s 20 seconds quicker than my marathon pace to teach my legs how to turn over more quickly,” says Davila.

•Get centered: “I’m a big fan of yoga,” says Davila. “The stretching aspect is important, but it's also great for core strengthening.” Having a strong core improves your running form, making you more efficient and speedier.

•Be light on your feet: “On race day I'll switch to a light-weight running shoe that weighs in at a cool 6.4oz,” says Davila, who’s sponsored by Brooks and wears the Glycerin 8 for training and the T7 Racer for speedier runs.

•Relax! “When I'm hurting in a race and starting to fade, I can get rigid—my arms come up high and I'll make ‘crazy runner face,’” says Davila. “I say the words 'calm' and 'relax' to remind myself to release the tension, which allows me to move more fluidly and ultimately faster.”


Kimberly A. Daly is a staff writer at SHAPE magazine. She has also held positions at Glamour, Fitness, and Good Housekeeping. Kim loves to read, write, and run. When she's not flipping through the latest issue of National Geographic or putting together a health or beauty article, you can find her doing laps of New York City's Central Park. Check out her blog Running With It on shape.com.

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