How to Run Fast

Those of you who have read my blog for a while probably clicked on this post out of curiosity more than anything else. I am probably the least qualified person to tell you how to run fast.

But while I enjoy representing the 10+ minute mile runners out there, I do have dreams of someday running a 5k under 30 minutes.

It’s funny that when it comes to running, it seems that the most simplest statements have made the biggest impact for me. I’ve mentioned it before, but my husband once said to me “All it takes to be a runner is to RUN”. So simple, but so true. That’s when I finally started calling myself a runner.

So what is the simple statement about running fast?

It’s actually from my Karna Fitness Boot Camp leader Christie who says,

“To run fast, you have to run fast.”

Told you it was simple. But it’s true. If you don’t run fast, you’ll never get faster.

So yesterday morning, I decided to run fast.

I hadn’t planned on it – actually I had planned a typical morning run with Katie. But she slept through her alarm. She has a seven month old baby who still doesn’t always sleep through the night so she gets a pass! But I knew I had no excuse.

My neighborhood is just one big loop that is exactly 0.4 miles. I started out and ran as fast as I could. I looked down at my phone at the end of one loop (I tend to use the RunKeeper app on my phone in the morning because it is too dark to see my Garmin) and I realized I ran that first 0.4 miles in 3:50. Ooh that’s fast for me. I decided to see what I could do. I walked for about ten seconds and ran the 0.4 miles again. Then walked ten seconds. Then did it again. And again. And again.

Whoa. An average pace of 9:46? Me??

Even though I walked every 0.4 miles, I still ran faster overall than I ever have in my adult life.

Maybe I really could run a 5k in under 30 minutes…

But those two miles weren’t pretty. They were downright hard. I haven’t breathed that hard and pushed myself that hard in a long time. But oh did it feel good to see that time. I couldn’t stop smiling all morning.

I think I will be seeing a lot more of those loops in my near future.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to get faster? 

31 Comments

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31 Responses to How to Run Fast

  1. i’d definitely keep doing hiit training like that. i always find it crazy how much faster i can finish a mile if i do periods of sprinting, even if i walk some of the rest of the time!

  2. Miz

    (Im here for the tips :-) cant help. YET!!)

  3. running hills helps too, b/c then when you DO run on flat ground, you feel like you are flying! But I wouldn’t recommend doing hills more than once a week. Good job girl!

  4. Speedwork intervals FTW here. I’m not a fast runner either – average 9:30ish, but once each week I go out and do informal intervals. I run as fast as I possibly can, as long as I can, then jog slowly or walk for 2 minutes. Then again. And again. For about a half hour. I don’t worry about mileage or time – just pushing myself as hard as I can and then recovering.

    I ran a 26ish 5k in November and think this is why :)

  5. What a simple thing, but so true! I think if you run frequently and are in shape, you have to push yourself in order to improve your pace which is exactly what you did! keep it up and you will get under a 30 min. 5k!

  6. See – you CAN do anything you put your mind to! I remember when I saw those smaller numbers on my Garmin the first time – I actually think I squealed! Little by little you push yourself harder – and those numbers start to go down! So excited for you!

  7. Meg

    That is an amazing foray into speed work! I think if you keep doing one day of interval work per week (hills, intervals, fartleks, tempos, pick-ups), you’re going to dominate Iron Girl and really surprise yourself in the half. You will definitely get that sub-30 5K sooner than you think.

    Because I was a track runner in high school and college, I still love interval workouts. It helps break up my training plan and keep me from getting bored. However, it can lead to an intense addiction to the Runners World forums which is a great resource for finding new speed workouts to try…

  8. Great job! My first half marathon took me 3:21…. last year I PR’d a 2:04. This year I’m aiming to beat 2 hours! It took me four years and lots of hard work, but it is SO worth it. :)

    I followed the training plan in a book called Run Less, Run Faster – it advocated less mileage but strict speed workouts (and they are HARD!), and lots of cross training.

    I’m struggling a bit with my speed this year – I’m still averaging just under a 10 minute mile, but nowhere near where I need to be to run 13.1 in under 2 hours – but I know hard work will get me there.

    Running faster is key, and it does get easier.

  9. You and Katie get mad props from me for getting up so early with little ones and thengoing to work. I have been working out at night but that just isnt working because I use the tired excuse faaaar too often. But, I am so not a morning person and cannot for the life of me pull myself out of bed. 10 am would be my ideal run time. My child and job laugh at that hahaha. I am hopeful this summer I can turn into a morning runner. At least twice a week. Ugh.

  10. Girl THAT’S AWESOME!! I believe that using the Galloway run,walk, run can make you faster. I started running around 10:59 miles and my last half was 9:12. Getting fast is hard and frustrating but every time you push you make progress! Way to go!

  11. Yay for running fast!!!!!

  12. Go Callie! I want to see you break 30 minutes on Saturday!

  13. Great job! I always feel awesome after runs like that – back in October, I did a half marathon relay with my husband. I was hoping to run around 11 minute miles and ended up running 5 miles at an average pace of 9:59. I had a runner’s high for a week. Keep it up! You’ll get to your sub-30 5K.

  14. I love reading all this advice! I did my second-ever speed interval training today and so enjoyed it. I am stuck in the 10:30 rut because I’m comfortable there and it’s a nice, easy run….but like you, I want a sub-30 5k! I’m going to incorporate speedwork once/week and see how that goes, and I’m also intrigued by the periods of sprinting/walking too. Glad to have found your blog. :)

  15. Guess what?!?! You probably run faster than I do! Does that make you feel better? :) hee hee

  16. after years of focusing on just running farther, I am too trying to get faster :) i have found that I can’t throw in the recommended multiple days a week of speed work without getting hurt, so my goal is one good speed session each week. I try to mix it up between intervals, and tempo and hills are so good for getting faster too

  17. I love reading your blog everyday. You are very inspirational and relatable. I find I get into ruts with my workouts and don’t push myself out of my comfort zone. I guess it’s time for me to start adding some speed workouts into my running routine. :)

  18. Brandi

    I run light poles. I will start out slow, then go to 10k speed, then 5k speed, then recover and repeat. I did that the other night for 3 mi then did a timed mile…9:26!!!! I couldn’t believe it! I consider myself an 11:30 runner!

  19. This is some of the best advice you can get. When I started running I was running around 11 minutes miles, but slowly I saw myself get faster if I broke my runs up into intervals. Instead of thinking that I had to run for 20 minutes, I would tell myself I only had to run for 7 minutes then I got 1 minute of walking. Today for longer runs, I still use this method where I run for 9 minutes then walk for 1. I used this method this past weekend and got a half marathon PR. This morning I decided to push myself with a 4 mile tempo run of a nice warm up mile then 2 fast miles and a cool down lap. My 2 miles in the middle were 8:49 and 8:28. I never thought my legs would go that fast. You can do it and your body will surprise you. Good luck.

  20. That’s AWESOME!! I did something similar the other day and I loved the feeling of pushing HARD.

    I used to just train for races to finish…in my first marathon and in my first half, I purposely went so slow because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish. I don’t even remember pushing that hard! But in my PR races, it felt so hard and so much more rewarding :)

  21. So, as a couple of people said: I came for the tip so I don’t have much to offer, and you run faster than me haha
    I ran in snow all winter (still now actually) so I hope when spring come I will be running at the speed of light :) I also try to do interval training when it;’s not too icy..
    I’m sure with your new green outfit, you’ll run that 5k under 30 min no problem :)

  22. Way to go Callie! That’s the way it starts! Keep pushing and you will get faster! :)

  23. Pingback: First Training Run «

  24. Interesting. I can do a steady 30-to-32 minute 5k, but like you, I find that when I give myself short recovery walks for anywhere from 10-30 seconds, I run faster the rest of the time and end up with a quicker overall pace. When I ran my first 5k, I let myself take short walks intermittently after the first mile and a half, and I ended up with a 28-min 5k. WILD! The next time, after I’d learned to pace, it was 30:30. You keep practicing at getting faster (you’re right how it really is that SIMPLE), and I’ll do the same! I look forward to learning how it goes for you. Maybe the faster we run, the more we’ll get used to the pace, and the more we’ll be able to do it without the walking breaks.

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