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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 May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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