Okay, now do not get mad at me for what I am about to say. Give me a chance to explain. The easiest way to run faster is to… run faster. Don’t stop reading.
Most of us when we run we run around 80-85% of our running capacity. Every run. Most people do not change their pace in which they run at, unless they are training for an event and their training schedule calls for some ‘speed work’ the last few weeks. Running faster for a few weeks will not make you a faster runner. For things to change, in the body, which will make you a faster runner takes between 6-8 weeks. Oddly enough, that is same amount of time it takes for the body to heal itself… I wonder if there is a connection but that is for another blog post.
You do not have to run faster all the time, either. Some people always run fast, at the same pace, 80-85% of their running capacity. They do not seem to know how to run slow, however, they do not know how to run faster during as race, their body only knows the one pace.
I am getting away from my topic. Why does running faster, make you run faster. I think running is a reflex, or partially a reflex, in the body. There is strong evidence that once walking is started that it is controlled by reflexes, in which we can control. For example, you do not to think about taking your next step or to lift your toes up to not catch on the ground.
When you run faster the reflex changes, your foot strike is going to be different, your arm swing is going to be different, the way your diaphragm is going to contact and relax differently and the list goes on. When you run faster, your body gets used to the new heart rate, breathing rate and the other changes. This accommodation to the new changes happens fairly quick, 2-3 runs, however, they are more neurological changes, not real physiological changes.
For example, if someone starts to lift weights, after 2-3 sessions they will be stronger. What happens is that the neurological system looks at where the nerve impulses should go when you are trying to do a bicep curl. After 2-3 sessions, suddenly he can lift more. The nervous system has figured out to do a better bicep curl, it has to activate more of the bicep muscle fibres, therefore sending more of a nerve impulse to the biceps muscle. You do not waking up after your 3rd session in 10 days and find that your biceps are huge. It takes time for the body to develop and grow new tissue, 6-8 weeks.
Similar experience happens with running faster. If you are consistent, isn’t that the key to almost everything in life, trying to run at a faster pace, soon your faster pace will not feel as fast. Your nervous system has started to change to accommodate for the new stimulus to put to it but the body has not had time to build up the supports around it. So speed work for a few weeks before the end of the training schedule make may you feel faster but it does not give your body enough time to make more long term changes. Once that stimulus is gone from the nervous system, you revert back to running at your regular pace. A little bit of speedwork 1-2 times per week can help you consistently get faster over a long term.
See running faster, will help you run faster.