Harder, better, faster, stronger is more than just a Daft Punk song. It’s what so many people want to achieve with their own conditioning, fitness, and strength. This might explain why the term “how to run faster” is searched for approximately 33,000 times on Google per month (with nearly three billion search results).
People are always looking for that extra edge, and running faster is an edge in almost any sport you can name.
Tips on How to Run Faster and Longer
What most people will find, though, is that there is no magic pill or secret formula to running faster. Anyone wondering how to run faster and longer won’t be surprised at the answer: hard work sustained over time. More specifically, athletes need to sustain hard work in a few key areas:
Focus on Technique
One of the things that sprinters work on over and over again is their start off the line. Long distance runners will focus heavily on form, too. Why? Because technique—efficiency of motion, essentially—can shave seconds off our times, allowing us to be as fast we possibly can be. If you want to run faster and longer, it’s important to not only get out there and practice, but to practice the right way. This starts with proper running technique.
Add Elevation and Altitude
Improving output and conditioning means introducing new challenges to your workouts. Working hill or altitude training can teach your body to do more with less oxygen—to perform under increased gravitational strain. Head to your local hiking trails, or choose the mountains for your next trips so you can get some alpine runs in. This will improve both your respiratory strength, lending to better short-term and long-term endurance.
Improve Your Core Strength
Your core is the epicenter of all movements. Gains in speed and endurance will not come without a solid core. Make sure you dedicate time to both static (planks and wall sits, for example) and dynamic (medicine ball workouts, for example) abdominal workouts. This will help you not only run faster and longer, but to perform better overall.
Recruit Your Fast-twitch Muscles
Fast-twitch muscles are the muscles you use for short bursts of high intensity movement, such as sprints, jumps, and even throwing a punch. Developing your fast-twitch muscles will train your body to recruit more of these muscles and improve your running, especially in the speed and quickness department. Sprints, lateral motion drills, and agility exercises, along with plyometric circuit work can make for a very effective fast-twitch exercise program.
Tools that Help Runners Push the Limits
There are a number of tools that can help runners push the limits. For starters, many high-performance athletes will use a heart rate monitor. By understanding their different heart rate zones, they can keep their bodies in hard and maximum zones to tap into their anaerobic system.
Other athletes will employ special training masks that simulate running at altitude. Athletes can wear these masks during their normal workouts to improve respiratory strength, another key aspect of one’s speed and conditioning (see hill and altitude training above).
Finally, treadmills allow runners to control speed and elevation for optimized workouts. Special treadmills, such as the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ line of produces, enable athletes to train beyond their maximum capacity—“overspeed training,” as it is commonly known. Using unweighting technology to reduce injury risk, an athlete can train approximately 8% to 13% faster than his or her maximum speed.