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It’s been said if you want to run fast, you have to practice running fast. (What? Thought Ryan Hall or Lolo Jones got that quick with just luck?!) Read on for 25 ways to have a harder, better, faster, stronger workout, smoke the competition, and maybe even set a speedy new PR.
1. Nail good form. The key to running (at any speed) is to practice proper running technique. That means keeping the upper body tall yet relaxed, striking the ground with the mid-foot landing under the hip, and swinging the arms forward and back (not side to side!) at low 90-degree angles.
2. Count your steps. Get familiar with stride turnover, or the rate of steps taken while running, regardless of pace. The fastest, most efficient runners have a cadence of around 180 steps per minute and keep their feet close to the ground with light, short n’ speedy steps. To find your magic number, run for one minute, count the number of times the right foot hits the ground, and multiply by two.
3. Get low, get high. Short on gym time? Quick! Try speed training! Interval training, or alternating periods of high and low intensity while exercising, are just one way to build speed and endurance — and burn major calories in less time too!
4. Stride right. There’s a reason you see all those “real runners” doing short sprints before the big road race. Striders (or strides) are a series of comfortable sprints (usually eight to 12, between 50 to 200 meters each) to improve acceleration technique.
5. Run the ‘mill. Feel the need for speed? Chase it down on the treadmill! Because the speed belt assists with leg turnover, it’s actually easier to run faster. Plus, the power to push the pace is right at your fingertips. A word of advice these geniuses could have used: Get on the machine before turning up the dial.
6. Stretch it out. The jury is still out on whether static stretches before runningreally prevents injuries . But leaders of the pack know stretching daily (target those hip flexors!) increases flexibility for better strides.
7. Pick a pace. Fartleks is a funny Swedish word (yes, our inner 10-year-old boy finds it hilarious) meaning “speed play.” Alternating jogs and sprints will gradually build up speed and endurance, plus you call the shots on when to switch it up.
9. Lighten up. Even if barefoot running isn’t your thing, sneakers are gettinglighter and lighter to mimic the foot’s natural movement and improve stride. Try a minimalist pair to see if less weight means more energy for faster feet.
See also: 20 Must-Haves for Cold-Weather Running
10. Get to the core. Fast and fit go hand in hand. Stronger core muscles(especially the lower abs) allow runners to tap into more force and speed out on the road. The best part: Just 15 minutes of core work a few days a week is enough for a faster finish .
11. Breathe in, breathe out. Just do it much faster! Learning how to breathewhile running at faster speeds takes practice. Use both the nose and mouth while inhaling and exhaling to get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles. Also, try belly-breathing (not to be confused with belly dancing!), which means filling the stomach, not the chest, with air on each inhale.
12. Skip the sweets. Junk foods guarantee a sugar high, but they also slow us down. Stick to whole grains and pasta instead, which provide long-lasting energy — without the crash.
13. Play with toys. Who doesn’t like new toys? Try a running parachute for added resistance, or if your budget allows, see what it’s like to go for a moon-walk, er, run on an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.
For the full list of 25 ways to run faster, go to Greatist.com.