Breathing and posture
Far too many runners get tired too fast not because their muscles are fatigued but because they can’t breathe. Part of the problem with not being able to breathe properly on a run is the runner’s posture. If the runner is slouched with their shoulders rolled forward and their core compressed they can’t get a full breathe. The solution is to run with proper running form. Shoulders rolled back core extended and head looking forward. This will allow you to take a full breathe and get that oxygen transfer happening.
Forward lean- don’t strike with your heel
The way running shoes are designed is to cushion your heel and protect you from the impact of running. This is a problem. When you strike with your heel you are actually applying your brakes. You have to overcome the fulcrum created by your heel landing in front of you. To fix this you need to land on your forefoot and under your body. This will give you more forward momentum and less braking which in turn will help your speed. Just watch Usain Bolt as he breaks the 100m world record.
There is a big misconception about stride. People generally think that if you lengthen your stride out in front of you then push with your toes you will be faster, this is not so. The way to lengthen your stride is behind you. You still want a forefoot landing so that your momentum is still going forward but bring your stride out behind you. You can do this all while maintaining your same cadence.
Intervals are a great way to work on your speed. If you can incorporate intervals into your weekly running regime it will help increase your overall speed in no time. The distance for running intervals is different depending on who you talk to. But as a general rule you can use lamp posts or telephone poles to mark intervals. After warming-up, try sprinting for two lamp posts, then recover for two, and keep repeating the pattern until you’ve covered a mile. Then increase this distance as you feel necessary.
Hill training/stair training
Not everyone has hills where they live so if you don’t you can substitute running stairs. This is a great way to build leg strength which in turn will help you become faster. Be prepared though as hills will tire you out very quickly but once you get used to them it is actually pretty fun. Remember to keep your cadence around 180/min and you will need to shorten your stride to keep your foot strike and posture while running the hills. Be careful on the down hills as well because of the increased risk for injury.
Rest days are crucial to becoming a faster runner. You will be working very hard with the intervals, hill running and lengthening your stride. Your muscles need time to recovery. That is why if you look at any given running program there are scheduled rest days.
Pacing is not something that you think about when you want to become a faster runner. But if you want to decrease your 5k or 10k race time you need to pace. This means that when you start a race do not go like a jackrabbit for the first 3-5 miles then slow to a turtle’s pace for the remainder. If you start with a good pace that you can maintain over the miles you’ll see that you are passing the people who sprinted from the starting line.
There are many great books out there about how to run faster and running form. A couple of books that I have and still use are “Running with the Whole Body: A 30-Day Program to Running Faster with Less Effort,” “Evolution Running: Run Faster with Fewer Injuries” and “The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance.”