When it comes to running, your main concerns would be the distance you can cover and how fast you can cover a certain distance. Whether you are new to running or a professional runner, achieving these two feats can boil down to the quality of your running pace. Long-distance running such as marathons doesn’t just involve endurance, but also a comfortable, steady pace. Regardless of your reason for joining marathons, there is always that drive to push yourself to do better. Here, we’ll share different ways that you can improve your pace during training runs.
Start Your Own Training Plan
Getting faster and achieving better times in running is not an instantaneous or overnight achievement. You need a training plan that can help you gradually improve different aspects of your finish time. Using a running pace calculator can help get a definite goal to reach during a certain time frame. If the 5k or 10k event you want to join is still a few months ahead, you can set your training plan in weekly increments. The figures from your calculator or tracking app should be recorded as a guide, and your actual running stats should likewise be recorded for comparison. A week of training to achieve your first running pace target should be enough time for you. You may fall short of your goal and feel fatigued on the first day, but you can gradually improve in the subsequent days until you end your week reaching your first target. Repeat the process, but with a longer distance covered or faster finish time for the following weeks until you get used to running faster and keeping a steady pace.
Practice Maintaining Good Form
Maintaining good running form from start to finish is a good practice that can save you from injuries, improve your endurance, and increase your speed. Work on your most comfortable foot strike and ensure that it should land underneath your body. It doesn’t matter if your feet strike forefoot, midfoot, or heel first as long as your hips are positioned in a straight line over where your foot lands. This form helps to evenly distribute your weight on both legs, avoids taxing your muscles, reduces the risk of injuries, and gives you more efficient, fluid strides.
Keeping an upright posture is another good form you should maintain. While competitive and professional runners may look like they are in a leaning position, they are actually running straight and tall. When you try to speed up your running, your body does a natural forward lean from the ankles – the form you see when runners sprint. Thus, there is no need for you to consciously lean forward or slouch when running, as you only tend to lean forward from your hips and not your ankles. This poor form reduces diaphragm expansion, which makes you feel short of breath faster
Pay attention to your arm swings. They may look like they don’t contribute much to your running, but they actually play a role in improving your form and acceleration. Swinging your arms forward and backward helps maintain your balance and coordination. This is important in managing curves and turns while running at high speed.
Work on Your Cadence and Sprints
Your cadence is the number of steps landed per minute. Ideally, you should have at least 170 steps landed in a minute to have a good cadence.
Sprinting is a good way of increasing your cadence and finding a comfortable stride that can improve your pace. During your practice runs, do short sprints to improve your acceleration and cadence. Being able to change your running pace through sprinting can allow you to muster short bursts of speed when you need to during a race.
Practice Hill Training
Boost your stamina, cardiovascular strength, and breathing by undergoing hill training. Running upwards on a sloping terrain produces more gravitational resistance which will push your heart and muscles to new heights as you struggle to run uphill. Your lungs will also expand larger and faster than usual, especially if your uphill run is hundreds of feet above sea level. Establish your tempo pace while running uphill and downhill. Repeat this type of training several times until you get comfortable with your tempo pace.
Practice with a Treadmill
A treadmill can be an efficient adjunct to your actual field or course training runs. The weather can be unpredictable at times, and you may not be able to do practice runs as scheduled. This indoor running simulator can help you maintain your established cadence or stride frequency. Since you have the option to turn up the pace of your treadmill’s running surface, you will be bound to keep up with the speed you set. Thus, you have a continuous pace training until you can maintain your new pace for the actual race.
Pay Attention to Your Core
Core exercise is useful in running and is not just for bodybuilding and gym workouts. Strengthening your core muscles can help you tap on more power as you run. A strong core can help you breathe efficiently and lowers your tendency to slouch while running, which is a good safeguard for the spine and hips. Also, having strong core muscles can stabilize your torso while running, which contributes to the efficient transmission of energy and force from one leg to the other as you run, giving you a good rhythm while you run.
Increase Your Strength Training Sessions
Lifting weights can contribute to muscle strength and endurance during running. The primary causes of muscle pain and loss of strength are the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles and the development of micro-tears in the muscles. Repeating this process if tearing and healing can strengthen the muscle fibers and delays the onset of lactic acid production, which will allow your leg muscles to make stronger strides to achieve faster speeds, while also lessening the muscle pains as you run.
Working on ways to improve your running pace not only involves training your leg muscles. Running involves all the muscles in the body. Thus, an effective training regimen for improving your pace should involve your upper body, particularly your core muscles, your hips, spine, and arms. When you create your training plan that works out all your muscles on a regular basis, you are well on your way to achieving a better running pace and even set your own PR.