For years, many people have taken to the streets and trails to run 5K’s, obstacle races, and marathons. Most people may do it for fun, but there are others who want to dominate their age group and can’t keep their competitive streak under control and “just have fun with it”.
For those people, I’ve listed a few ways to improve your running time that will help you beat your friends and earn bragging rights throughout this summer season.
Improve aerobic capacity
The first thing you should do when trying to improve your running time is to make sure you have a good aerobic base. Run longer distances at a conversational pace (you should be able to speak in sentences) that will feel easy throughout the duration of the run. This will build a “bigger engine” and allow you to work at higher intensities without feeling as fatigued. Without an adequate aerobic base, you’ll stall out as you try to push yourself towards the ends of races and time trials.
Improve maximum speed & power
If you want to run a faster time, you have to get faster. By increasing your maximum speed, you also increase what is 70% of that speed, and this allows you to run a faster 5k time. By doing speed work, you also improve running economy. This will reduce the number of “energy leaks” you have, which will improve your ability to put all of your effort into moving forward. If you’ve never done speed work before, build up gradually and with longer distances (100-200m) to start, as this is a very intense form of training and you don’t want to injure yourself doing too much too soon.
Running shorter intervals at your desired pace will you understand and feel how that time will be during your run. By focusing these intervals on shorter distances that gradually get longer, you will be able to build out your specific pacing and special endurance required for your race pace. Begin with 400m runs at your goal pace with plenty of rest between reps. Gradually increase the intensity by either decreasing the rest, or increasing the distance you run.
The benefits of resistance training for middle to long distance running are many, but to keep it short and sweet, you’ll improve your leg strength and power, running economy, improve resiliency, and improve neuromuscular coordination. All of this can help improve your time trial performance by 2-4% over a few weeks of training, and if you really want to drop your times, you should absolutely be incorporating some resistance training into your training weeks. Two total body training sessions a week is a good place for most people to start with, focus on the quality of your movement first before increasing the weight or volume done.