Become a Faster Runner Without Running a Step

Mark Eller from has some helpful tips to improve your speed without running more. 

Runners are a hardworking lot, so the promise of “free speed” often strikes us as empty, and maybe even a touch offensive. However, once you get runners talking about improvements they have made in their training, gear or diets, they are usually eager to share the discoveries that have helped improve their performances. That’s the goal with this article—to share some well-documented techniques that could help you get faster, beyond the obvious (and undeniably effective) advice to run more miles and train harder.

1. Wear Lighter Shoes

Researchers have established that reducing the shoe weight by 100 grams typically yields about a 1 percent increase in performance. That’s a pretty big gain that could be especially noticeable over longer distances. Not every runner will benefit from switching to racing flats or other super-light shoe models. If the cushioning or shoe stability is inadequate you will lose efficiency and give back any potential performance gains.

Get a Proper Warm-up

It might seem inconsequential, but it can make or break a race or hard workout.” 

3. Lose Unwanted Bodyweight

Like our first tip about the potential speed gains from reducing shoe weight, it’s proven that reducing excess bodyweight can help make runners faster—but only to a point. Losing a few pounds could make you faster, but losing too much weight will make you slower, and potentially lead to other health issues.

4. Add Plyometric Exercises

We said we could make you faster without running more, but we didn’t say anything about adding leaping, bounding and jumping to your training. Multiple studies have shown that adding plyometric exercises to runners’ normal routines produces gains in both speed and endurance. The speed part makes sense intuitively—the explosive nature of plyometrics clearly translates to better top-end running speed. But keep in mind that as your explosive power increases your running economy and endurance usually improves too.

Crank Up the Tunes

Another point that running researchers agree on is that there is a sweet spot of about 180 steps per minute that most elite runners meet or even exceed. A faster cadence leads to better efficiency and reduces the chance that you are overstriding.

6. Stop Running

Perhaps you’re reading this story because you’re feeling a bit desperate to get faster. You’re hitting your target mileage, and sometimes more, every week. You give your all in speed work and other demanding training sessions, but without seeing the results you’re hoping to achieve. If those scenarios sound familiar you are a prime candidate for becoming overtrained.

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