Getting Faster

Recently one of my friends asked if I could do a post on how I got faster. It’s really kind of fuzzy for me to think back to the days when I was a newbie. I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about running besides that I liked it, it made me look better, and I thought it was fun. I have really been wracking my brain to think about how I’ve gotten faster over time. Some of this stuff that I’ve been doing is recent, some is a bit older. I hope it helps you!

1. Eating right&taking vitamins I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater, but I went through a period where I wasn’t eating enough of the right stuff, like lean meats and fish. I didn’t eat any meat for about five years and I found myself always being tired. I also used to get sick a lot. One year, I had pneumonia, the flu, and several colds. I was always sick. Once I incorporated lean proteins back into my diet, my energy levels went way up, mad my sickness levels WAY down. Now, I know there are plenty of Vegetarian runners out there, and I think that is fantastic. I toy with the idea every once in a while to go back to it, but ultimately I know it just isn’t for me. I think some bodies need the protein that comes from meats and fish and I am one of those people.

Also, about 5 years ago, I went to my doctors office because my rotator cuff was hurting and Mr. Doc did some blood work. It wasn’t that long before Boston, so of course I was freaking out that anything would possibly deter me from running the race. It ended up being nothing-my rotator cuff just needed some stretching, but I am EXTREMELY glad I went to the Doctors that day: I learned that I am SUPER anemic. I always had a minor case of it when I was a kid, but never as severely anemic as I was at that time. The Dr took one look at my bloodwork and said “Frankly I cannot even believe you’re a runner because your iron levels are so low it’s crazy.” He put me on a high dosage of Ferrous Gluconate (iron) and I have taken it ever since.

High amounts of endurance training wear on a runners/athletes body, and taking vitamins are essential to good health. When I don’t take the iron for a few days, I feel my muscles fatiguing more quickly. I also began taking a multi vitamin, Coq10, and fish oil. Once I began taking vitamins, I felt my body getting stronger, and I was able to move at faster paces, and hold them for longer periods of time. And my hair got really thick and long–#bonus

2. Run with someone who is faster than you It’s a proven fact that running with someone else will challenge you, motivate you, inspire you….really I could keep going for a long time on this one. If you run with someone who is a little bit faster than you are, by default you’ll get faster, if for no other reason than you are trying to keep up. My running partner and I are fairly equally matched, yet we each have different strengths. We know what each of us rocks at, and it makes it easy to motivate one another and get better with and in our training.

3. More Long Runs & the incorporation of “Workouts”. I’m pretty positive that when I ran my first marathon—I did not train well for it. I don’t think I googled training plans, or knew that you should be doing different types of runs x amounts of times throughout the course of a training cycle. I think I was just running and thinking “this is so cool that I’m running a marathon!” That’s great and all, but not really what you want when you are spanning 26.2 miles and hoping for more than “just to finish”.

At some point I realized that I HAD to start doing longer runs to build up my endurance, and different types of runs to make my body faster. I notice a huge difference in my quality of runs when I do not do workouts like yassos, speed work, intervals, tempos….you might not like doing them but take it from me-> they work. And you will be faster once you incorporate them regularly. Plus you feel bad ass afterwards. If your goal is to break a certain time, than you’ve got to spend some time running at that goal time. Tempo runs that have few miles thrown in the middle at your goal paces can help get you the times you want. See this post for more on my tempos, and I have defined some different types of runs here and here. It’s important to remember: they are called workouts for a reason. : they are not easy and they are work.

Since my last marathon, I’ve been incorporating speedwork very regularly into my training. One of the reasons I did that 5k last week was to see where I am at for a half marathon that I’m running this weekend. I inputted my time into a calculator, and it has my predictions as follows:
My last half’s were May-a 1:46, and a 1:52. I was doing nowhere near what I am now in terms of speedwork. I’m pretty excited to see where I’m at this coming weekend! You absolutely can get faster if you are willing to put in the hard work and effort.
4. More Hills, please.Hills are solely responsible for my butt muscles and for my calf muscles that make it tough to put on skinny jeans.(any fashion designers out there reading this, take note: think of the runner when you are pants-designing, won’t you?)Even if you are training for a race that does not have hills in it, you should still be doing hill runs and hill work(like hill repeats). They strengthens your leg muscles, are tough to do, and make you an all around better runner. Plus, once you get to the top of a hill, you can turn around and flip it off because you took it DOWN! I can’t seem to find a nice flat route where I live..I encounter a hill or seven in my everyday runs. I don’t mind because I like to challenge kill myself with them.

Tuesday morning, I did hill repeats. Not the easiest thing, for sure. I was happy when they were all done but man they are TOUGH. During our midweek runs-I pretty much let Kristina bosshog me around for training, and today was hill repeat day. We did four in our neighborhood. Basically we ran up the hill for 90 seconds, ran back down as a recovery, and repeated. You are supposed to run at 5k effort to make it more torturous challenging. By the time we were done-my legs were a bit wobbly. Next week, we will be doing 6 and building up to 10. I’m told that they will make me faster. I’ll keep ya posted 😉

5. Cross Training. As an athlete who’s main focus is to be a better faster running, it’s sometimes hard to find time to cross train. I try to do strength two times a week, sometimes it ends up being just one. But it really helps a lot. Running works out your whole body, yes, but you also need things like weights to make your muscles stronger, or ab routines to tighten your core. There are so many different types of cross training that you can do: swimming, biking, yoga, Pilates, cross fit… Seriously,pick your fave and commit to it for 30-60 minutes a week. Or don’t pick one favorite…do a different one each week!

6. Drive and determination I have a lot of this. I think for me, it has always been a focus to improve my running, and set new goals. This is why I keep getting better..I want it. badly. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that!

There are so many different ways to get faster and improve your performance. Theres no one magic formula. My final advice: Don’t give up, and keep trying, you will get faster, I promise!

Tips on getting faster?


30 thoughts on “Getting Faster

  1. Pingback: Weekly Faves 7/10/14 | Running Southern

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your advice! I definitely need to do better with what I eat and take vitamins. I started doing speed workouts for the first time this year and they made a big difference. Somehow I just never knew that they should be part of a training plan!

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head chica. Those sound like all the speed secrets to me. I like to do 800’s which are great for speed and mid range progression runs of 8-10 miles for building speed 🙂

  4. Thank you for the wonderful advice! All your hard work has really shown and you’re going to do great at your upcoming races!
    I definitely know what you mean about hill work – we used to do 1/2 mile hill repeats up a mountain in high school and while they used to kill us the whole team benefitted from them. It’s my goal to get back to doing them by the end of the summer!

    • My running partner and I agreed that we would NOT have done them without one another–it seriously flew by in the span of minutes bc I had her there with me!!
      We have some mountainous hills in our area too…they are so tough but you feel great after!!:)

  5. Thank you so much for posting this, Nicole!! I am going to have to become more diligent in my workouts to start becoming a speed demon! 🙂

  6. Tons of great advice! I definitely agree that running with someone faster helps, especially on runs when you’re trying to hit a target pace. And being diligent about incorporating speed is huge. There’s nothing like hitting times at a good track workout to make you feel like you can conquer the world. Can’t wait to see how your half goes! You’re gonna crush it.

  7. Love these tips! The only thing I would add is to watch out for overtraining, especially during marathon training. You can be doing all these things thinking it’s making you awesome only to have it all wasted if you don’t recover adequately as well. Nothing more disappointing than having your performance plummet or getting injured before a marathon.

    Excited to see how your half goes! I’m sure you will be awesome!

  8. This is really great advice! I look forward to the day when I break two hours in the half marathon, and continue to work hard to get faster from there.

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