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5 Reasons You’re Not Running Quite As Fast As You Want To

5 Reasons You’re Not Running Quite As Fast As You Want To

Do you feel like you’re running in place even when you’re running as hard as you can?

Many runners feel that way, so you’re not alone. Because if you like running, then chances are you want to run faster. Especially if you run any races. Hey, it’s natural to want to beat your time from your last race. Or to set a PR (personal record). After all, who doesn’t want to run faster?

But even if you aren’t into races, or you are not super-competitive, or you just run for fun and fitness, you still probably want to run faster. It’s human nature.

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Yet the formula for running faster isn’t always simple to figure out. There’s no single workout plan that is “guaranteed to make you run faster in 6 weeks or your money back.” Well, maybe there is … but that doesn’t mean it actually works!

Why is running faster so hard to achieve?

You see, there are several factors that can influence how fast you can run. Here are the top 3:

  • Your genes
  • Your effort
  • Your running plan

The first one (your genes) you can’t control, obviously. Sure, you can maximize the physical skills you were born with. And even the slowest among us can still run faster with the right type of training. But not everyone can be Usain Bolt!

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The second one (your effort) you can clearly control. But if effort is all you rely on, you probably won’t see much change in your running speed. Especially since too MUCH effort can actually be counterproductive!

The third one (your running plan) – well, that’s where you can really make a difference in your running performance!

There are lots of good running plans – which can be both good and bad. The key is to find one that fits your schedule, your current ability level, and that you can “tweak” to fit your needs. But even the best plan still has the potential to “flop” if you are making these 5 mistakes:

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1) You run too much

If a little is good, more is better, right? Wrong! When you first start out, you’ll see improvement when you run more just because your body is getting used to the new activity. But over time, running too much – either too many days a week, or too many miles, or both – will lead to burnout, not success. So you need to have a plan that works right for your fitness level and goals. Then follow it. As you become a more advanced runner, you will need to run more to improve more. But you can’t force that to happen – gaining speed takes time. And be sure to listen to your body, especially on those days when rest is better than pushing harder!

2) You run too little

On the other hand, if you don’t run enough you won’t get faster either. There’s no magic number for the correct number of days to run, but running more than five days will probably get you hurt (unless you’re an experienced veteran). And running less than three days a week won’t give you enough time on your feet to see any improvement (unless you do a lot of cross-training with other aerobic activities). There are plenty of sample running plans to follow that will point you in the right direction. But don’t be afraid to tweak them a little as you learn what works for you, and what doesn’t!

3) You run too fast, too often

If you want to run fast, you need to train fast. Makes sense. But like many things in life, too much of a good thing leads to diminishing returns. So true with running! Speed work has its place in any running plan. But only in moderation. If you run fast every run, you’ll just be pushing yourself quickly into the ground! Be strategic about training fast. And spend most of your running time at lower intensity (meaning, run slow!) so you allow yourself to run more frequently and efficiently.

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4) Your running is too inconsistent

This might very well be the single most important factor of all – running consistently! Being consistent doesn’t mean being rigid and running through injuries or missing family events or running every single day. And it doesn’t mean you have to run the exact same number of days, week after week, month after month. But you do need to keep on running if you want to keep on improving! And yes, sometimes you have to run when you DON’T have the time, or DON’T have the energy, or just DON’T feel like it. The only way to get faster at running is to keep running regularly.

5) Your running is too random

One of the best running workouts you can do is a fartlek. A what? Yep, a fartlek. Basically, it’s a term for running a variety of different intervals (like running fast until the next street sign, or sprinting from one tree to the next). These random “bursts” of speed can be VERY effective (and make for a fun speed workout!) But being too random with your running plan will not give you the results you want. If you use too much variety then you’ll never build up your speed or endurance. Ideally, you want to gradually and strategically build up your miles and increase your pace – your speed will improve as you stick with it!

Running is one of the BEST activities for people of all ages. It’s fun. It’s a great workout. It’s relatively inexpensive (but please don’t skimp on a good pair of running shoes). And it can be very interactive and socially enjoyable, especially if you join a running group or sign up for a race.

So if you want to get faster – either to improve your race time, or just to feel “awesome” while you run for fun – do yourself a favor, and find a really good running plan, stick with it, and before long you’ll be running faster than ever. Here’s to being the best runner you can be!

Featured photo credit: Photo from Funk Dooby via flickr.com

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Kris Bickell

Fitness blogger

5 Reasons You’re Not Running Quite As Fast As You Want To

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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