Perhaps you’re new to running and looking for ways to improve quickly and effectively. Or maybe you’ve been running for a while and feel like you’ve hit a plateau — don’t worry, it happens!
There are plenty of ways to improve your running speed and endurance to surge ahead of the competition – even if you’re just competing with yourself. Read on for twelve tips you can use to stay motivated, hone your abilities, and run faster for longer periods of time.
1. Refine Your Form
According to the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, improving your running form allows your body to move with greater efficiency with less exertion. This means that fine-tuning your form can allow you to pour more energy into your endurance and speed.
So if you’re looking to perfect your form, it’s vital that your upper body remains upright, with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. For bonus points, try to avoid tilting your head or slumping your shoulders. Filming yourself running is a great way to spot exactly where your form can use improvement.
2. Start Strength Training
Strength training is important to master. It will allow you to dramatically improve your endurance and speed. Building up your muscles can also bring your form into better alignment, which reduces the risk of injury. Ideally, runners should regularly train their upper and lower body.
Plyometric training — which includes exercises such as box jumps, burpees, tuck jumps, and squat jumps — engages your fast-twitch muscle fibers. It helps build speed and power by training your muscles to contract at a more efficient rate. Fast-twitch muscle fibers support powerful, explosive movement, whereas slow-twitch muscle fibers are geared to support endurance activities. Hone your slow-twitch muscle fibers with long-duration, lower intensity repetition training. Studies demonstrate that integrating 2-3 low-to-moderate strength training sessions into your weekly exercise regimen can benefit your running performance.
Runners should also remember to prioritize exercises that support flexibility, particularly in the knees, ankles, and hips. All too often, these are the most common victims of running-related injuries. Ideal joint-flexibility improvement exercises include elevated heel squats, tibialis raises, and Nordic hamstring curls.
3. Improve Core Strength
Studies confirm that core strength is key for anyone interested in running faster and longer. Good core strength, particularly in your lower abs, is necessary to sustain your running form and will help keep your spine stabilized.
One study demonstrated that an 8-week core training program tested on male college athletes may have enhanced the subjects’ running economy –– which refers to the energy required to maintain a consistent, sustainable speed. The best news is that core workouts are easy to get into; just 2-3 15 minute core workout sessions per week can dramatically improve your running speed.
4. Incorporate Hill Runs
Hill runs are a great form of resistance training. Despite being the bane of most runners’ existences, hill runs are shown to improve both speed and VO2 maximum. VO2 maximum is a measure of how much oxygen an individual is able to utilize during intense exercise. It’s generally considered an excellent indicator of aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness, meaning that hill runs are one of the best ways to get faster at running.
One study demonstrates that twice-weekly hill runs over the course of six weeks can improve 5-kilometer running speeds by an average of 2%. Hill running is also an excellent overall body workout, which strengthens not only the glutes, hamstrings, core, quadriceps, but also the calves and upper body.
5. Eat Healthy
While it’s important to understand which exercises can help you meet your speed and endurance training goals, you can’t neglect the effects your diet will have on your overall fitness. Healthy foods and fuel provide cleaner energy, help repair muscles, and can help prevent lasting injuries.
By now, most people know that protein is essential for building muscle. Nevertheless, vitamin and mineral rich foods, antioxidant-rich superfoods, and foods with anti-inflammatory properties will all help reduce muscle soreness post-workout, and prevent lasting pain or injury.
Cutting out empty-calorie foods — like sugary snacks, sodas, starchy, fried, or heavily processed foods –– is the best way to start. From there, try to replace these foods with lean proteins, leafy greens, and whole grains to ensure you’re getting the macro and micro nutrients you need to improve your running speed.
6. Listen to Music
Many people enjoy taking their playlists with them on a run. Listening to music is a great way to get into the zone, stay in the zone, and maintain a consistent speed, especially if you select music with a steady rhythm and beat.
Today, studies have found that listening to music triggers dopamine production, which is a great way to distract yourself from feelings of fatigue or discomfort. This will also make it easier to continue pushing yourself. In fact, listening to rock or pop music can actually boost performance by up to 15%, making it a fun and easy way to increase running speed.
7. Start Sprinting
If you’ve found that you’ve reached a plateau in terms of your speed and endurance, it may be time to start sprint training. Sprint training has been shown to improve endurance, strength, and power performance.
Studies involving trained athletes showed that consistent sprint training led to increased speed, endurance, and power. Add sprint training to your weekly workout regimen and practice in structured intervals.
8. Add Tempo Runs
Tempo runs involve 10-45 minute runs at a steady pace that should be slower than your default. Tempo runs push you to reach your anaerobic threshold, which is simply the exertion point at which your body begins to produce lactic acid. By improving your endurance and speed with tempo runs, it’ll take longer and longer for you to reach this threshold.
As you undergo longer and more varied tempo runs, you will be able to train your body to run faster and longer. It’s important to note that your tempo run pace should feel challenging but sustainable. You should be running just hard enough that you wouldn’t be able to carry a conversation.
9. Jump Rope
While you may associate jumping rope with schoolyard games, it’s actually a great exercise for adults too! Jumping rope can benefit runners by improving coordination, keeping you light on your feet, and strengthening your cardiovascular health.
Adding jump-rope to your exercise regimen helps hone muscles that are critical to running, and strengthens your ankles and knees to prevent injuries. Also, it’s a fun way to mix up your usual exercise regimen.
10. Run More Often
Sometimes the best solutions are the easiest to overlook. If you’ve found that your speed and endurance have hit a plateau, it may be time to consider running more often. That said, it’s important not to push yourself too hard; runners still need days off to rest and encourage sustainable muscle recovery and growth.
Just because you’re running more often doesn’t mean that your runs need to be monotonous. Variety is the spice of life, and the secret to running faster and longer. This study shows a correlation between heightened running performance and the volume of simple, short-interval, and tempo runs. There is also an overall correlation between increased weekly mileage and faster running speed.
11. Focus on Recovery
You can even optimize your days off to maximize recovery speed and minimize pain. Consistently using a foam roller while you’re stretching can prevent soreness, mitigate or ameliorate injury and tightness, and allow you to run faster. Stretches that open up your hips and focus on cultivating flexibility in your joints will also allow for increased stride length.
Sleep is also vital to recovery. Getting enough sleep is important for running performance, as much of the healing process happens while a person is unconscious. Giving your brain a rest from high exertion activities is also correlated with improved emotional health.
12. Drink Kenetik
Those of you dedicated to improving your running speed and endurance should consider fueling your exercise regimen with a ketone beverage like Kenetik. Loaded with exogenous ketones, Kenetik is a clean source of steady energy. It’s stamina, speed, and focus packed into a bottle that’s easy to grab on your way out the door.
At this point you may find yourself wondering, “what are exogenous ketones”? Well, “exogenous” means “external origin”, and ketones are an energy source normally produced by your liver when your body runs out of glucose to burn. Fats are transformed by the liver into ketones, which have remarkable antioxidant properties. Ketones can also reduce inflammation and facilitate muscle fiber resynthesis, which can cut down your recovery time and get you back in the game faster than ever.
People can encourage their body to make its own ketones (“endogenous” or internal origin” ketones) via intermittent fasting or a commitment to a keto diet. However, the plant-based ketones provided by Kenetik will simplify your endeavor by providing you with a drinkable (and delicious!) source of sustainable ketone energy.
When powered by ketones, your body can do up to 28% more work with the same amount of oxygen than with carbs alone. Both neurons and muscles prefer to use ketones as fuel. Persevere like never before, shorten your recovery time, and get back to training more quickly.
Kenetik is the only ketone drink approved by the American Brain Council, and is not only plant-based, but soy, dairy, and gluten free. Kenetik is keto and fasting friendly, with zero added sugars. Power your pursuits with Kenetik and elevate your performance.