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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 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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