All runners will go through phases of wanting to up their speed. Maybe it’s become a personal goal to beat your previous time at an event or maybe you want to prove to yourself that you can do it, whatever the reason improving your mile time is definitely achievable and so we compiled a list of top 10 ways to improve your mile time from our Fit Experts.
Stop doing the same workout
This one may or may be a surprise, but if you are trying to build up your speed, doing the same workouts over and over will not help you get new results. Try adding more variety in your routine to help work on different points to benefit your runs. Things like interval running (periods of high intensity running, alternating with low intensity running, walking or rest) are key in speed training but make sure it’s not always the same. Try adding extra repetitions or varying speed throughout your run. Also, mixing it up with some additional strength training will help you take you to the next level of running.
FOCUS ON SPEED TRAINING
If you’re really serious about improving your mile time, take some dedicated time to concentrate on specific speed training. Whether you follow a dedicated speed training guide or tackle this challenge on your own, this is a great time to familiarize yourself with a track (or treadmill) . Running on a track is a great way to monitor your speed at a pre-set distance. A great example of a speed training exercise is doing intervals of 200m (½ lap). This means you do 200m (½ lap) of speed running followed by 200m (½ lap) easy. Work your way up to doing this multiple times in a workout or doing the speed run for a longer distance and soon you’ll see results! A good starting point is to integrate speed workout into your routine about twice a week.
Give your body time to recover between workouts or big events. It happens to the best of us. You finish up a great day of training or race with that extra adrenaline and excitement in your system and are ready to jump right into the next thing right away, but as hard as it may seem make sure to let your body rest completely first. This could mean getting a full 8 hours of good sleep between workouts or maybe a couple weeks of no intense running after a big event like a marathon. Rest looks different for everyone, do what’s best for you!
FUEL YOUR BODY
This is pretty solid advice for ALL running but it bears repeating. Running any distance, any time on an empty fuel tank is not only difficult, but it could be harmful to your running and body. Make sure to keep hydrated especially on hot days or days with tougher speed workouts. Days you know will be tougher, make sure to grab drinks with electrolytes and have those on hand constantly. Eating food with the right nutrients will also be helpful to keep you going through all your workouts. Carbs, peanut butter and bananas are amongst runner favorite snacks to fuel up. Especially when speed training, aim for light, nutrient dense foods to fuel your body.
RUN EASY TRAINING
On days your training calls for “Easy” miles make sure they are actually easy and feel comfortable. We’re not talking “easy” in terms of time or distance but in the level of intensity of these runs. A good way to know if you are at a comfortable pace is to see if when running, you can hold a simple conversation while on the move. Need to catch up with a friend you haven’t seen or spoken with for a while? This might be a good time for that overdue catch up!
RUN WITH SOMEONE FASTER THAN YOU
We all have that runner friend who seems to go faster than you feel you can. Maybe it’s someone you know from a run club, or maybe it’s someone who runs at the same park as you. Next time you coincide, see if you can run some miles together. Maybe you do all your miles together or maybe you keep up with 1 mile by their side, either way, running alongside someone faster than you can help push your steps just enough to help you speed up. Who knows, soon you might have them beat!
Not a very popular or favorite amongst most runners, but a necessary one nonetheless. Working on strength in your shoulders, arms, abs, etc. may at first seem unnecessary for running but we promise it will make a difference on race day. A strong upper body will help you finish strong and feeling great, especially with speed and long runs. This is because your arms help drive you forward and build momentum to keep you going even when your legs feel tired. The good news is that you don’t need to workout with heavy weights, just adding a little additional weight can help to build upper body strength. Exercises like push-ups and tricep dips are great bodyweight exercises to build strength efficiently.
Going hand in hand with the advice to make sure you give your body some rest time, it’s important to remember not to over do it. In the middle of a great training cycle it’s easy to want to keep the good feeling going but it’s important to remember overtraining could lead to injury. Whether following a training guide or setting your own program, the most important thing to remember is that you know your body best, you know when you’re reaching your limit, so if you feel any workout is too much on any particular day or you’re feeling off, it’s totally ok to adjust or modify when necessary.
While working on speed, it’s pretty normal to want to see quick results but, more often than not, that’s not the case. Being fast takes some training time. Speed training is something that you need to build upon and work towards step by step. So remind yourself, especially during those tougher workouts, that every step is helping you towards your faster goals.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Believe it or not, your mind is extremely powerful when it comes to running. As much as running is a physical activity it is very much a mental one and having your mind in the right positive space is crucial to improving your mile time. Having thoughts of failure like “I can’t do this” or “this is impossible” will affect your run negatively. Thinking positive and encouraging thoughts while you run will help motivate you, make you feel better about the challenge you’re tackling, and and actually help you get to the finish. So when you’re on the go make sure to believe in yourself and keep those thoughts positive so you can reach your speedy goals!
While we cannot guarantee that you will be breaking World Records with these tricks to improve your mile time, we can say that these are tried and true ways our Fit Experts have personally improved their mile times and still enjoy running.