Being fast is one of the first things we brag about growing up. You sprint to one tree and then the next, raising your arms in triumph if you're the first one there. It feels good to be fast. But as you grow and mature, sit at your desk, gain weight, and lose some of that childlike spirit, you start to slow down. Well, let's change that.
Whether you're a miler or marathoner, a weekend jogger or a competitive racer, we can all be faster, even if it's just by 10 percent. "It's a nice goal," says two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper. "It gives people something to quantify their effort. And it's a significant improvement, but it's also within reason." We roped in national champions, authors, coaches, and pros to learn the secrets of how to speed our runs up little-by-little at every distance.
Run a Faster 5K
An important part of getting faster is understanding the difference between quantity and quality in runs. “People think if you just run more than you are now, more volume and longer runs, then you’ll see the subsequent improvement you’re looking for. That’s not necessarily the case,” says 2002 U.S. 5000m champ Alan Culpepper. “If you’re a 25-mile-a-week runner, you’re better off keeping your volume consistent, and adding in quality sessions at your goal race pace to really ensure that your body has adapted to race scenarios.”
Since the 5K is still a relatively short distance, there’s a tendency to focus on speed work without having a strong aerobic base. Culpepper instead suggests a 12-week program with the first half spent focusing on volume and consistency, and the second half transitioning to faster pace work that will help you put the "icing on the cake."
Key Workout: Run 3-8 minute windows of your normal runs at faster than race pace. Getting out of your comfort zone for short sustained periods, rather than high mileage at slower pace, will help you adapt to race scenarios and reach your goal.
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