Want to start running faster and feel like you're doing all the "right" things, but not seeing results? These factors can impact your speed in ways you might not realize.

By Elizabeth Waterstraat
Updated March 09, 2020
Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Running faster is within your reach—it's not just for the genetically gifted. Sometimes, the simplest things can hold you back, like how you eat, sleep, and think. Obviously, you have to put in some quality training. But many runners are surprised to learn that what they do outside of their workouts makes a big difference in their pace and how to run faster over time. Here's how to make your running faster without training more.

How to Run Faster: 1. Be Efficient

Balancing work, home life, and your social calendar can get tricky. When life gets busy, your first instinct might be to skip a run here and there. Inconsistency can impede your progress. To make yourself less likely to skip out, try doing everything in your power to make going for a run seem attractive when it's time. Each night, assemble a workout bag with your running gear, water bottle, and recovery snack. In the morning, grab it and go! (Related: Real Runners' Favorite Ways to Carry Water)

How to Run Faster: 2. Work Smarter, Not Harder

How can you run faster without adding extra miles? Work out with a purpose. Before you embark on a workout program, set a meaningful end goal that you find motivating and challenging. Then, consult with an online program, a reputable book or a running coach to design a program that maximizes your time and minimizes junk miles. That means your training plan should focus on quality, rather than quantity. Your training should be specific to your goal and your ability level. Running extra miles beyond what is necessary may break you down and wear you out. Find out what it truly takes to reach your goal, then aim to do just that, not one mile more. (Related: 10 Things to Know Before Your First 5K)

How to Run Faster: 3. Vary Your Training

Running the same route or pace day after day can keep you stuck at a plateau. Vary your training distances, paces, and terrain to become a stronger, faster runner. Include drills, fartlek, hills, speedwork, long-distance, and easy runs as part of your training. Your body will adapt to the new challenges and your motivation will stay fresh from the variety. (Related: Basic Drills and How to Do Them)

How to Run Faster: 4. Eat Right

Learn how to fuel yourself before, during and after workouts. Through proper nutrition, you'll grow stronger and improve day-to-day performance. Starting a workout low on fuel is a sure way to underperform and fall short of your workout goal. Proper nutrition leaves you energized during the workout and helps you to recover after it. Start with a carbohydrate-rich pre-workout snack. During workouts, hydrate well and include an energy source for runs lasting longer than 75 minutes. After a workout, rehydrate and consume a snack within 30 minutes. Daily nutrition also counts–eat a variety of wholesome foods to improve your body composition and health (both which improve your running!).

How to Run Faster: 5. Affirm Yourself

If you're wondering "How can I run faster?" your inner monologue probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But positive self-talk is an integral part of confidence and success. Often, reaching that next level in sport is simply a matter of believing you can. More than 66,000 thoughts float through our minds on a daily basis. Imagine the energy you could harness by making most of those thoughts self-affirming and positive! Before a challenging run or race, create a powerful affirmation that you can focus on when you find yourself with fear, doubts or insecurities. "I can do this" or "I am strong on the hills" are phrases you can repeat to yourself throughout your key workouts to build confidence in your abilities. (Related: Be Your Most Confident Self–Inside and Out)

How to Run Faster: 6. Be Serious About Rest

Instead of training more, rest more! Resting as hard as you train is important for progress. Rest allows you to recover stronger from the breakdown that occurs when running. Follow hard days with easier days. After a hard workout, get a good night's sleep or a short nap to kick off the recovery process. Include other recovery modalities such as massage, stretching or yoga.

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