How to Run Faster

You’ve tried to beat the clock. Tried to make it in 7 minutes or less. But alas, it just isn’t working for you. It’s a challenging goal that not many achieve, so it’s no wonder. But, with a few tweaks to your running game, it is 100% doable. We’ll cover ways to make your workouts more effective, how to prime your mind, and how to keep your body in top condition. On your marks? Ready, set, go!


Part One of Three:

  1.  Do intervals. One of the best things you can do for your distance time is to run in intervals. That means that the next time you go for your run, cycle between 60 seconds of a leisurely jog and 30 seconds of flat out booking it like you’re running from the feds. As you get used to this, knock down that 60 second break time to 50, 40, and then 30, when you’re running at a 1:1 ratio.
    • Similar to interval training is Fartleks (that’s Swedish) or speed-work (it’s like long-term interval training). On certain days, try to allot 20% of your running time for speed-work purposes. Here’s a quick example of effective speed work:
      • Spend the first 4-5 minutes just running at your normal pace
      • Run the next 10 minutes kicked up a notch (ideally at a pace of 7.5min / mile)
      • Spend the next 60 seconds running as fast as your legs will take you
      • Then slowly and carefully work yourself back down to your normal pace
      • Continue this program expanding the speed-work by 15-second (or 30 second) increments
  2.  Do endurance running. You’ll soon find here that keeping your body guessing is imperative to increasing your speed. Running 1 mile (1.6 km) as fast as you can go is good, but being used to running 3 will do you favors, too. When you’re used to running 3, 5, 7 miles, telling yourself to run just 1 at a faster rate is easy peasy.
    • Work yourself up slowly if you haven’t been doing endurance, long-distance running. Aim for running around 5 days a week, dedicating a day or two to running longer instead of faster. Up your distance each week by 1/2 a mile if you can.
  3.  Work on your 14 and 12 mile (0.4 and 0.8 km). Running a mile is a chore. But running 1/2 a mile or even 1/4? That’s child’s play. You could run 1/4 of a mile way faster if you knew that was all you had to run, right? So start there. When you go all out for 1/2 a mile, you have way more wiggle room for the second leg.
    • You don’t have to increase your pace for the entire mile to shave off time. Running 1/4 of mile at nearly-all-out speeds can take away seconds on the final time of an otherwise ordinary run. Just make sure you don’t strain yourself running too hard initially!
  4.  Shave off mere seconds each time. Having a goal of losing even 30 seconds can seem lofty and daunting. Instead of setting goals that seem out of reach, aim for losing 1 or 2 seconds every time you run. When the finish line is in sight, you’ll feel that blast of motivation that propels you just that much faster. Your body will go faster without you even realizing it.
    • This is an effect that will only be felt over time. Days will pass and you won’t feel like you’re getting anywhere until one day you wake up and a minute is gone from your mile. It will take some patience and trust, but the effect will accumulate.
  5.  Crosstrain. Nobody ever got fit doing one thing and one thing alone. To be at your body’s peak aerobic fitness, you need to work it across all playing fields. That means running, biking, swimming, boxing, basketball, jumping rope, Piyo — whatever you can get your hands on. Working different muscle groups different ways will give you that edge that your mile times have been lacking.
    • Ever thought about doing a triathlon? Swimming and biking are two great skills to master in addition to being able to pound block after block of pavement. Consider it on the bucket list!
  6.  Run differently. How? Well, it doesn’t really matter. Just switching it up will do your body good. Need some ideas?
    • Run hills. You know what it feels like to run on flat terrain after a hill? Like a piece of cake, that’s what.
    • Run different tracks or trails. Different surfaces, different inclines, different everything — it all can affect your running game.
    • Run at different times of day. Your body may actually be faster at morning or at night.
    • Run different ways. Switch up between interval training, speed work, and long-distance running.
  7.  Look to your form. If all else fails — you’ve been running hills, doing Fartleks, rocking the long-distance runs and nothing is working — take a look at your form. Maybe you’re literally not running efficiently. Here are a few things to consider:

    • Do you keep your eyes focused ahead of you, head up? Looking up or down can put strain on your neck and back.
    • Are your arms tense? If you ever notice them being flexed and not loose, give them a quick shake. They should be held at a 90 degree angle, propelling your body forward as they move back and forth.
    • Good running is quiet running. Your feet should strike around your heel and roll onto your toes, calves moving you onto the next step. They should land directly beneath you and feel light and springy.
    • How’s your breathing? If you’re breathing from your chest, you’re wasting energy. Make sure you’re breathing from your gut, or diaphragm. Your stomach should be expanding with each intake of breath.

Part Two of Three:

  1.  Run with music. Sounds too easy to be true, but it works. When you’re getting ready for a run, you may want to have music categories for different distances. When you’re running and hear a song, you’ll know if you’re on track or if you need to change your pace. Start off with some of your favorite upbeat songs, and have the beat increase as time goes on so that you continue to be motivated.

    • has a number of great songs that are perfect for 7-minute miles. You’ll find yourself falling in stride with the music, unable to break the beat even if you wanted. A playlist that is at 100% speed can provide the just-right environment you need to power through.
  2.  Run with someone faster than you. If you don’t know anyone faster than you, join a local running club or triathlon club, you’ll meet plenty of fast runners. As you’re running behind them, follow their pace and watch their movement and legs…without realizing it your rhythm and pace will match theirs and make your strides longer and pace faster.

    • But not super faster than you. Watching someone lap you is just frustrating. You want to aim for a friend that’s about 30 seconds faster than you are — not much more, not much less.
  3.  Figure out a plan. So often we’d like to do things with ourselves and that liking to do things just isn’t strong enough. We need to set ourselves out on a path that we can’t deviate from. So figure yours out! How many times a week are you willing to run? What days and when? What kind of running? What will you do?

    • A weight loss plan might not hurt, either. Losing even 5 pounds can put a bit more pep in your step. If there’s some wiggle room in your diet (that is, you could make some improvements), consider this idea. The lighter you are, the easier it is for your body to carry you.
  4. Set target goals. Look to decrease your mile time by a set amount of seconds each week until you reach your goal of 7 minutes. Start every run by saying if it’s a Maintenance Run, Challenge Run or an “I’m Feeling Lucky” Run. Setting expectations for yourself will encourage you to run with a purpose in mind, not wanting to break your promises.

    • A Maintenance Run means you’re running just for the sake of getting some exercise. Feelin’ good, blowing off some steam, releasing endorphins and the like.
    • A Challenge Run is great when you’ve had a stressful day and have lots of energy (channel that energy to your run). Aim to knock off somewhere around 15-30 seconds every mile.
    • An “I’m Feeling Lucky Run” is just that — a rare day where everything has fallen in the right place. Use this excitement to try to beat your own personal record. Decide and plan your run before and finish it with the goal you had. The motivation to prove to yourself how awesome you are may take you through to the finish line.
  5.  Keep a log. Because these awesome things you’re doing deserve to written down. That and you’ll forget one of those numbers you pegged last week and wonder what the heck your goal should be for the next day. And in a year’s time you can look and see how many thousands of miles you’ve run. Awesome.
    • Seeing the numbers concretely will show you just what you’re capable of, what you’ve already motivated yourself to do, and where the next feasible step is. You’ll make so much progress that breaking stride won’t even seem like an option.

Part Three of Three:

  1.  Get good running shoes. Running shoes should fit you well. Running is a very repetitive motion, and even the slightest discomfort will slow you down. In addition, continued use of ill-fitting running shoes can cause injuries such as plantar fasciitis, heel problems, and back pain. The extra $75 is definitely worth it.
    • If you can spring for it, go to a specialty shop that can get you a shoe that’s perfect for your foot. They’ll take a look at the structure of your feet, your running style, and be able to hand you the shoe that will be your runner’s golden slipper.
  2.  Eat right. Since you’re burning so many calories, it’s 100% necessary your diet is in order (especially right before a run). A runner’s diet should consist of mainly fruits and veggies (skin on, if possible), lean meats, and dairy products. The more color and the more whole (and the less processed), the better.  Shakeology is the perfect compliment to any runners diet to make sure you are filling in the gaps.
    • If we’re getting specific, dairy products from animals, fish, and anything that’s related to a seed or has seeds is great, too. And, of course, refuel after your runs as well. Your muscles need to repair themselves!
    • Though it shouldn’t be a staple of your diet like the aforementioned foods, look into energy gels like Gu. It’s a blast of sugar and energy that can give you that zip you’ve been looking for, even if it is temporary.