Running is an awesome form of exercise, for anyone. The benefits are famously amazing, and it does truly great things for your body. This much you probably already know. If you're already well into your running though, things aren't always smooth sailing, especially if you track your progress. As far as running goes, one challenge is more common than others, and that is how to run faster.

Every now and then, you may well need a few tips to push yourself that little bit further. We all do. If you really want to improve that running time and learn to run faster than ever, there are a few great ways to give it your best shot. Here, we're looking at some of the biggest factors in what you need to work on to hit that new milestone and be the best runner that you can be.

 

Practice

 

Women running on a track

 

First up is practise. If you really want to improve your running time and learn how to run faster, there's nothing that can really beat practising. That's the tried and tested method of making sure you're getting better in what you're doing. If your training is infrequent, there's no way you're going to be able to track your improvements. You can't expect your body to magically get better, after all.

Keep up your training, keep it regular, and keep it strong. Go for regular runs and keep on pushing yourself. They say practise makes perfect, and it usually gets you as close as you can get. That's always the best place to start.

Develop

 

Runner adjusting their running shoes

 

Practising is the first step to getting better. That much makes sense. Taking things up a gear though is developing. Doing the same thing over and over can only get you so far. Doing it differently and improving how you do it, however, is another way to get impressive results.

One of the biggest things to look out for to improve your running time is how you’re doing it. Pay really close attention to your technique. Make sure your tweaking and perfecting it where you can, and buy the right shoes (here's a guide from runners world) to make sure that you have the best advantage that you need personally. On top of that, push your endurance levels too. The more stamina you have, the further you’ll be able to run, or the faster you’ll run in the least time. Theoretically at least. (Take a look at our fundamentals of endurance training here)

Diversify

 

Man running outdoors on a sunny day

 

Next up; diversity. If you want to improve your running time and learn how to run faster, you need to mix it up even more than just how you're doing it. You need to actually change what it is that you’re doing. That way, you're pushing your body to the limits of what it can do and making it better at other things as a side effect. The result? A better running time.

Things like changing the terrain, the speed, the distance, even the weather can all help you here. They all have a huge impact on your performance as a whole. As you mix them up, they all add different strengths to your overall run, and that can do miracles for your running time.

Cross Train

 

Woman using a leg press machine

 

This one is a little more out there in terms of what you might expect, but it works. Cross-training. Not necessarily using a cross trainer, don't get us wrong, but cross-training. It's a great way to work on even more areas than running can, and again, gives you that all-important side effect as a result.

You can do pretty much anything in terms of cross-training and experiment to see what helps your running performance. Some people try strength training to build stronger legs and have more power in their running. That helps the plyometric aspect of things. Other cardio works too though, like cycling and rowing, for example. They use your legs differently and build them in other ways where running might not. When you get back to running, you could be astounded by the impact it can have. Think about it.

Fuel

 

Close up shot of post workout food, protein shake and running shoes

 

When you’re improving your performance in any exercise, your nutrition is always going to be a massive factor in your overall success. As the old saying goes, you get out what you put in, and that really applies here too. You need to eat the right things in order to get your body to perform in the way that you want it to, no matter how fast you're running.

With that being said, different foods do different things. If you’re running a 200-metre sprint, for example, that's going to take way different fuel to what a marathon is. (speaking of which, here's how to train for a marathon just in case.) You need to be eating complex and simple carbs in perfect harmony for what it is that you're doing. You need to fuel your recovery on top of that, but we'll get onto that. Fuel is everything!

Recover

 

Woman sleeping in her bed

 

Now, on top of how hard you are working to improve your running time and learning new ways to run faster, is how well you're resting. If you're running every day, you're probably doing a fair amount of bad as well as good. That's one of the easiest ways to actually worsen your performance, and even put you at risk of injury.

It's the same for any exercise really; you need to be resting just as well as you're training. Take days off when you need to, use a foam roller or get a massage once in a while, and stretching is everything too. Oh, and sleep! That is absolutely vital to making your body recover well and give you the best shot at improving your run time.

Motivate

 

Motivated couple running together

 

It's not all about the physical aspects in improving your performance, either, you know. There's a huge mental aspect to whatever exercise you’re doing. Whether it’s strength training, running, boxing or yoga, it all needs the right headspace.

With running in particular, you need to make sure you have that winning mindset. You need to know that you can, and you will improve. You'll be able to push yourself as hard as you can. Keep that end goal in mind, and don't let things go sour if it doesn't happen. Take a step back, reflect, refuel and re-motivate, and go again, and again… and again. Don’t give up.

Track

 

woman tracking her running progress

 

Finally, we have tracking. Progress tracking, specifically. No matter what your goal is, you need to know this one. Monitoring your progress is pivotal to your overall success. We don't just mean tracking your time here either.

You need to monitor every single one of the points that we’ve been over. Check what you’re eating, how you’re running, where you’re running, when you’re running, and anything else you do too. See what is and isn’t working for you personally; talk to other runners about it. Do whatever you need to do to be able to track and improve. If you truly want to learn how to run faster, you need to know where you're starting from.

 

 

These are all huge parts of the formula to success. You need to try out all of them and see which have the most significant impact on your training. Keep things controlled and don't expect the world. Improving your running time doesn't have to be an impossible dream. Keep working, tweaking and trying. The rest is up to you.

 

 


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.