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Expert Tips on How to Increase Your Running Pace

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For a runner, increasing their running speed is usually a goal, especially before race day. As in-person racing events are beginning to come back, we asked an expert to share his tips to help a runner increase their speed. Matt Lawrence, store manager of Fit2Run St.Pete and 5K superstar created this list of tips, tricks, and products to quite literally take your running up a notch. 

Meet: Matt Lawrence

Matt Lawrence has been running since he was 5 years old when he ran his first 5k with his father. Since then, Matt has achieved many personal bests and awards, like becoming a 2014 Indoor NCAA All-American. He coached high school Cross Country and Track for three years and during this time, coached 9 All-State athletes. He has personally raced every distance from the 800 meter to the Half Marathon with a personal best, 4:13 mile(1600 meter) and 1:52 800 meter.

Matt is currently training for a half marathon that he plans to do sometime early next year.

Basic Running Vocab

To preface, let’s go over some basic running vocabulary to help you get the most from these tips!

Comfortable Pace:

A pace at which you could have a conversation with someone if you had a running partner.

Tempo Pace:

An increased pace that’s usually 20-30 seconds slower than your average 5k mile pace. (Example: Someone who runs a 5k with an average 5:20 mile pace, 5:40-5:45 would be about their tempo pace.) If you had a running partner you’d be saying a word every few breaths. So very minimal.

Fartlek(Swedish for speed play):

Fast but short intervals that are incorporated into a run.

Interval or repeat track work:

A specific number of repetitions of any distance with a set recovery time. Example (12x400 meters with 75-second rest) or also can be a mixture of distances so 4x800 meters with 75-second rest and 2x800 meters with 90 seconds rest.

 Top training tips for increasing your running pace

1. Consistency

Consistency is always number one. The more days in a row you’re running the easier it gets to build strength and when we increase our running strength the easier it will get to do the necessary steps in order to increase our fitness.

2. Workout Days

We can’t just run at the same pace and the same distance every day and expect to improve our fitness. If we truly want to see an increase in our pace/fitness we’ll need to include workouts into our weekly running schedule. Usually, you’ll want to have 2 days a week that you’re running a set workout. Whether that’s a Tempo run, a fartlek, or repeat/interval work on the track. The workout days are usually 1 or 2 days apart, depending on the difficulty of the workout. I like to personally have my first hard run of the week on Tuesdays, I give myself Monday to get a good comfortable run in to sort of warm-up my body for the next day.

Here’s an example of how it would look:

Monday:

4 miles comfortable pace

Tuesday:

Workout day ( I like tempo runs or longer track intervals on my Tuesday workouts)

Wednesday:

Easier 3 mile recovery run, should be the same pace as Monday’s run or slower, never faster.

Thursday:

Workout day (I like Fartlek or shorter faster interval workouts as my 2nd workout of the week.)

Friday:

Could be an off day or also could be a comfortable 4-mile run

Saturday:

If Friday was an off day then today you go comfortable 4-mile run if Friday was the comfortable run then today is your long run of 6-7 miles

Sunday:

If you went longer on Saturday then today is an off day. If you took off Saturday then today is your long run day

 

 (The distances can be adjusted but the layout of the week is what’s important)

3. Recovery

A really big aspect of running that sometimes gets overlooked is our recovery and how we’re taking care of the body after runs. We want to reduce the inflammation in the body by rolling out after runs, you can also roll out before runs to warm up which is a good habit to get into. I compare our bodies to cars often because we’re sort of very similar. Just like if you don’t get an oil change, brake work, tires rotated your car won’t run as well; if you don’t do the maintenance work we’ll often see lots of nagging injuries or aches and pains. I highly suggest having some sort of foam roller. There are firmer pro tec foam orbs you can use on your calves, hamstrings, lower back, also on your arches. Or Trigger point has a few options as well. I prefer the Pro-Tec Orb because it’s a ball, which makes it more mobile I think. But that’s just my personal opinion.Icing a few times a week is also a great way to prevent injuries by again working to reduce the inflammation in certain areas of the knees, ankles and shins. If you’re looking for more information on recovering, our running recovery blog post has even more information and detail to help you in your training.

 

4. Nutrition

How we fuel and refuel our body is a huge part of our training. We are constantly depleting our systems and if we don’t put back in what we lost we’ll have a hard time improving our fitness. Extremely important to fuel after a harder run or workout. You’ve essentially got 2 windows of time that you should be refueling the body. The first is 30 minutes after your work. In that time you should be getting something rather small but filling, an example would be a pb&j sandwich, a couple of pieces of bread with peanut butter/honey, bananas with or without peanut butter (peanut butter just gives use lots of protein to help promote muscle building and high in calories and we want to replace those calories that we burned), also apples or a bagel. Again something that is rather easy/quick to make or pack just to help immediately replenish what we just lost. The next would be the 2-hour window. So 2 hours after that workout you should be getting a full meal in, dinner, lunch or breakfast, all depending on what time of the day you work out. For example in college on workout days our coach would have our post-workout snacks ready and we’d have them right after our cool down. We’d then stretch, relax, clean up and head to dinner where we’d get our big meal in.

Top Fast Shoe Picks:

 

Since people are all such different runners, what's best for me on race day isn’t always best for you. Fit, cushion level, and responsiveness can all vary for how a runner feels in a shoe. However, I believe these are the top racing shoes that we carry at Fit2Run. The carbon fiber plates that are integrated into many race-day shoes is what puts these styles in a “fast shoe” category rather than a general “training” one.  Carbon plated technology provides the runner with maximum speed and springiness in every step. Ultimately though, I think it comes down to the fit. There is very little difference between any of the racing shoes when it comes to energy return and responsiveness so then to me, the way to separate them is how they fit on your foot. I believe all three of these models have a true to size fit while many faster shoes get narrow at the toe because they push upwards to try and get your foot to strike in a better spot.

 

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