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Top 5 Tips for Running Faster 5k, 10k and Half Marathons

By Edited Oct 9, 2016 0 0

Run your best race and set a PR

Run Slower Tomorrow

If you are interested in running your best times possible when signing up for a race, these five things will help you do just that – run your best when you need to.  I’ve been running for over 25 years and these five things will help you get there.

5. Ensure you do speed work

Endurance is a given, anyone who is a runner loves to build endurance.  Who doesn’t love to talk about the 5, 10 or 15 miles they ran this last weekend.  Endurance training invigorates the soul and gets all your endorphins pumping but it doesn’t build the type of strength or turnover speed needed to propel you just a bit faster.  If you are unfamiliar with speed work / interval training, please see my article here.  Regardless of being a newbie or a veteran on the track, interval training will get your motor to the next level and will help you get to a faster pace.

4. Take the headphones out!

I know iPods and smart phones are predominant in today’s culture, but leaving these devices at home when you run can have many benefits.  I do not run outside with any type of headphone or music device.  I know some of you will say: “but it makes me run faster” and to that I say just try running for 1 month without the headphones and you will notice the benefits of not using them.  At the most basic level, when you go on a run you should periodically check in with the different parts of your body to determine if all systems are functioning well.  Are my muscles stretched out?  Are my lungs feeling okay?  Am I running too fast?  Does my knee feel okay from when I tweaked it last week?  Taking the headphones out lets you enjoy the run and check in with your body parts without the distraction of someone singing in your ear.  With more focus on your body during the run, you will be able to shave off a few seconds from your pace & have a safe run!

Take the headphones out

3. Negative splits

If you are not familiar with the term “negative splits”, this is a term for running each successive mile slightly faster than the previous.   For Example, if your goal is to run a 3 mile race in 24 minutes.  You could run this race by following Option A, B, or C in the “Goal Times” chart below.  All options show the same results but the way you feel during the race and your ability to finish strong will differ.

GOAL TIMES

 

 

 

Option A

Option B

Option C

Mile 1

7:50

8:00

8:10

Mile 2

8:00

8:00

8:00

Mile 3

8:10

8:00

7:50

Total

24:00

24:00

24:00

 

There are a couple of reasons that running negative splits work to your advantage.  The first is that it does take your body some time to warm up to race pace.  After the first mile, blood is pumping, joints are lubricated and endorphins are flowing.  The second reason is that if you are running even just a smidge past your lactate threshold in the early part of your race, your body will suffer with trying to clear it out for the rest of the race.   The “Actual Times” chart below shows that Option C will likely yield the best result due to negative splits.

ACTUAL TIMES

   
 

Option A

Option B

Option C

Mile 1

7:50

8:00

8:10

Mile 2

8:02

8:00

7:58

Mile 3

8:14

8:04

7:50

Total

24:06

24:04

23:58

 

2. Be sure to warm up properly on race day

As mentioned above, it takes some time for your body to warm up when running and it often takes 1-2 miles of running to feel completely warmed up.  This might sound like a long way to run to warm up but if you do a 1-2 mile easy jog on race day finishing about 20 minutes before the start of your race, this will help your overall time.  Just imagine the gun going off and you are in full form within a quarter-mile of having started.  Your lactic acid will get cleared out faster and your muscles will thank you for it the entire duration of the run.

Warm Up Properly

 

1. Taper training before a race

Tapering training before a race is the most logical thing to do (which is essentially rest your muscles), but can seem difficult when you have followed a strict training plan.   The week before any race you should not over exert your muscles and for me that means doing only easy short runs running a maximum of 20-25 minutes, 3x times in race week.  For me , I don’t run the two days before race day to get the greatest amount of rest for the muscles. 

Hopefully some of these tips are new to you and I highly recommend trying all 5 of these tips next time you are training for a race.  Give them a try and good luck on setting a new PR!

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