Wanting to be a good runner, lose weight or dreaming of crossing the finish line in a new record time means nothing unless you have the motivation to make it a reality.
The truth is, far too many highly qualified, deserving people don’t achieve what it was they were setting out for simply because they stopped trying just a few days, weeks or years from creating a masterpiece effort.
Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Ryan Hall, to name a few, did not get the way they are without extreme amounts of hard work and dedication; yet they are looked on as if they are on another level, they are for a reason.
Now, you may be saying, ‘I’m not interested in being an elite athlete’.
There is nothing wrong with that mindset but what I do want for you is to help motivate you to see your true potential become a reality in your life.
This is a tough sport, results come sometimes years down the line. How much are you willing to take to see your goal, whatever that may be, come to fruition?
Running fast is an art and what is beautiful about this sport is everyone is an artist and can express themselves in their own way.
No one in a world of over 7 billion people can run, think and act like you.
You are special, you matter, you are an artist.
There is nothing more attractive than a disciplined individual who has the willingness to persist in the fact of setbacks. You will learn about yourself and often times you will find just how much potential you truly have by persisting when others let up.
Persistent athletes run faster because they have studied what does and doesn’t work in training. If you truly want to run faster than you have to be persistent.
Easy running will never challenge you. Your body adapts to the stress you place on it, if that stress is too minimal there will be no physical gains from that work.
You can’t drop 5 minutes off your half-marathon time by running relaxed miles everyday.
Care about your craft. Running faster can be done by anyone who realizes this simple fact, anyone can run easy.
It takes skill to run fast and you have the potential to improve just as much as any elite runner anywhere in the world, but to be great at what you do in this sport demands you care more than the next guy or gal down the street.
Nothing can take the place of caring about your art (your goals).
How much you care will be clearly evident in the way you prepare for your races and the end result the moment you cross the finish line. Care more about seeing yourself succeed and you will run faster because you are paying attention to the little things that matter most in your training.
Diet, sleep, motivation are three you can work on.
3. Visit R.D.A.
I don’t want ‘fans’.
Fans are for superstars and I am not one of them.
If you want to feel like a part of a running family and interact with other runners who can help you run faster by their input than I encourage you to stop in and send a hello.
Running faster also occurs when you learn from others who may have done things you currently are dreaming about doing. Find out how they did it and adjust your training to create a similar or better result.
The first muscles of the body that usually tense up first are the facial and shoulder muscles.
You can easily stop this from happening simply by consciously using powerful words as your running such as ‘relax’, ‘smooth and powerful’..whatever you need to do to relax, do it.
You can run faster in your training and racing, simply by learning how to practice running more relaxed.
Too much wasted energy leads to stress, re-direct elsewhere where it counts and you will run faster.
5. Fight The Urge To Run Too Fast, Too Early In Your Races
It doesn’t matter where you are at in the first mile of your 5K, where are you at in the last half-mile?
If you have done your homework in training than you don’t need to concern yourself over the fact that you aren’t in the lead or even on pace the first few miles of your race.
What matters is are you able to react and speed up when the others who weren’t as wise and patient as you were, are slowing in the race.
It isn’t where you are at in the beginning of the race but at the end.
6. Implement Fartlek Running Into Your Training Regiment
One of the easiest ways to make training interesting and break up the monotony of the usual routine.
How many times have we been races, someone passes us and we can’t do anything about it.
It doesn’t have to be this way and if it happens to you or has in the past than implementing fartlek workouts into your training can be your secret weapon.
You want to be able to react when someone passes you or speed up at will, many times speeding up is easier than maintaining the same pace. Far too often we fail to realize that we have far more energy reserves but we get stuck in the same pace and think that is all we have.
If we can sprint at the end of the race when 10 miles earlier we think we are about to pass out is a great indication that we are not using our full potential.
It should also show us that we really have far more in us and how mental this sport is.
We can’t react because we haven’t trained body’s energy systems properly.
Using fat as your main fuel source at race speeds takes high-end, consistent hard work to become a reality
It doesn’t happen by running easy daily, staying in the comfort zone. It happens when you push your body like the great runners do.
Conserving carbohydrates so you don’t experience the ‘wall’ is what occurs when you learn to run longer periods of time at higher heart rates.
7. Lose weight
Studies have shown that weight loss can take off an average of 2 seconds per mile off of your race time.
8. Focus On Your Form
If you feel like your shoulders are riding up too high, lower them. Simple as that.
You usually don’t run into issues like this unless you are racing or doing a hard tempo run but you can easily adjust this in training.
The time to practice running relaxed and focusing on proper form is in training, so that come race day any issues can be instantly corrected while racing.
9. Get Out Of The Comfort Zone
It is a dangerous place that doesn’t take you to new heights, help you reach your capability. Steven Pressfield, calls it the Resistance in his book ‘Do The Work’.
All of our lives since we were young we are taught not to question, to adhere, follow the rules.
You and I are here for too short of a time to comply.
You need to start dreaming bigger, thinking higher of yourself and start working your ass off to see your dreams become a reality.
It may sound harsh but the majority of people simply won’t give a shit if you are trying to not.
I do cause I understand what this sport entails.
I know what you are dealing with but the people who tell you to ‘get a life’, ‘think realistic’, ‘your putting too much emphasis here and not here where I want it to be’ won’t.
You need to get out of your comfort zone.
I am sick and tired of hearing people who have been told their whole life that they don’t have the genetics, not enough talent and the rest of the lies society likes to throw on you, on me.
Start doing something about your training. You have a great deal of potential, act on it.
10. Don’t Expect Running To Be Easy To Run Faster
One of my biggest pet peeves as an athlete is people thinking I have talent.
Dathan Ritzenhein has talent. I watched that kid run 15.18 on my cross-country course at Malone University.
He absolutely destroyed the field that day.
My best 5K in high school was 16.16, nearly a minute slower. He has run 2.07 to my 2.19. Big difference.
I had a Soldier come up to me a few weeks ago and say, ‘Sir (a word I don’t even like being referred by but in the military it is said out of respect), I wish I could run as fast as you.
‘Aim to be better than me. Stop looking at me as better than you because I am not’. What he, like society as a whole, sees, is the event (someone he knows who can run faster than him).
He cannot possibly have seen the last 21 years of endless, monotonous, boring miles, hard work and sacrifice, the process it has taken to run faster than he can run.
11. Inspire Someone By Your Ability
It is completely worthless for me to tell someone I am a 2.19 marathoner without first telling them that they can do equally as good if not surpass this achievement.
Helping other people is one of the most noble acts any human being can do for another.
I wish our world, media outlets and news networks would stop spending unknown amounts of money brainwashing the world that we need more wars and trying to separate the world.
Some believe in the lie. I don’t.
There is not enough love in the world. Our news networks need a story and unfortunately wars are big business but to me, it is about the least inspiring part of life.
I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a Soldier. It is a profession where you either love it or hate it. I am in the middle.
I love the people I work with and am inspired by their dedication to their job but I hate these so-called conflicts that have been created by the elite and it is the Soldier, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marine and Seaman that fights and dies for these people.
Our world economy would not be in the state it is in if we would stop wasting our precious time fighting and start uplifting and inspiring one another to do big things.
You are important.
I don’t give a damn if you are 50 pounds overweight, a 6-hour marathoner, a 30-minute 5K athlete, you matter.
You matter because you can inspire someone to get in shape, to change their lives, to make a dream they thought was impossible, possible.
How can you run faster by doing this?
You’ll run faster because you’ll be inspired by what you have done with your life.
You’ll feel a rush to do something that others thought was impossible and they, in turn, will follow suit.
12. How Fast You Run Doesn’t Give You More Worth
I have a lot of experience in this sport but there are things I learn everyday from my readers, from the emails I receive, from interacting with other runners on different social media outlets that exceed anything I have done as an athlete.
Be motivated to run faster, let it inspire you to do great things with your physical and mental abilities but don’t forget to be humble.
There will always be someone faster somewhere in the world.
There are school children in Kenya running three times a day who have more motivation than I have. It makes me question if I am doing all I can.
I hope I run a fast enough marathon time in the near future to give up my VIP treatment to someone a major race would never pay attention to.
I promise if this happens I will hand pick one of my readers to take my place in the VIP tent, the free hotel etc.
I will work my ass off to try to make this a reality. I believe in Christ’s words that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
13. Invest In The Process And The Event Will Be Something You Would Not Believe Was Possible If Someone Told You
The bottom line is this. Goals should not be meant to be easy.
You only have one crack at this life so you had better start thinking wild goals.
It is only you who can say ‘this is impossible’. Others may tell you your goal is impossible but it is up to you if you want to believe that or not.
You have to act on it everyday. The days you don’t want to even more.
Where is the challenge in picking easy goals.
If you are a 25.00 minute 5K runner, what inspires you to try for 24.59? How about 21.15?
What sounds more appealing, exciting, inspiring?
It could be either and sometimes trying to match what we have done in the past is extremely difficult.
I ran 2.19.35 in December of 2007 and am still trying to better that time but I know if I ran a 2.19.34 I honestly wouldn’t be that inspired.
I know 40 years from now, if I don’t push my body to its utmost limit and try for something wild like 2.15.00 at age 36 I simply won’t get anything out of it.
You have to live on the edge because the comfort zone is not your friend.
You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow, start stretching your limits out on the roads and tracks.
‘I hate every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion‘- Muhammad Ali
14. Change Your Shoes Every 300-400 Miles
You will run faster by staying injury free.
Training in worn out shoes will not assist you in anyway in running faster.
A few small precautions like ensuring you are training in shoes that are in good condition will ensure you are healthy and safer from being injured. You cannot run faster by being stuck on a stationary bike for weeks on end.
15. Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You
This is crucial to becoming a faster runner. A common mistake far too many runners make is this notion that you have to run every day to get the most out of yourself.
You don’t have to train 7 days a week, twice a day to become a faster runner. It isn’t about mileage or how many days a week you run.
What are you putting into those miles and what are you doing with the days you do train are the questions you need to ask yourself.
If your Achilles tendon is feeling stiff, the best course of action is not to continue to run on land.
A great alternative is to get in the deep end of a pool and pool run. Zero impact on your joints and tendon.
Small adjustment, major fitness gains and you can take the injury you would have dealt with by continuing to run on it, out of the question.
Is it going to suck trying to run in the deep end of a pool when all you want to do is train as usual?
What would you rather do. Train in the pool or be out of commission for a few weeks or worse, a few months?
Easy choice right?
More is not always better.
Work smarter, not harder. I ran as high as high as 142 miles a week trying to break 2.22.00 and I broke 2.20.00 running 90 mile weeks.
16. Pick Competitive Races
One of the best ways to run faster is testing your ability in competitive races.
What do you get out of running a race where you win by 4 minutes but run a time that isn’t close to what you wanted to run?
Sure it feels great to win but what about if you get into a race where you may finish 3rd and set a 7 minute personal best?
Which would you rather take? I guess that determines on your goals and who is reading this post.
I would much rather pick a race where I knew I wasn’t going to win but had a much better chance of getting tested, than choosing a race I was sure I could win but not be in the environment to get out of my comfort zone and not improve.
17. Fight The Resistance
Seth Godin, in his book, Watcha Going To Do With That Duck, puts it like this,
Hard work is about risk.
It begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection.
Hard work is about training yourself to leap over this barrier, tunnel under that barrier, drive through the other barrier. And after you’ve done that, to do it again the next day.
Stephen Pressfield, terms the resistance as anything that stops you from living the life you envision living.
What are the things stopping you from achieving your fitness or running goals?
Is it because you think you are too old, too fat, too slow?
You need to get around that thinking and the moment you hear that part of your conscious mind resisting, change the direction of the inner conversation you are having.
I remember very well how I felt when I failed missing my last chance to qualify for the 2008 USA OIympic Marathon Trials at the 2007 Chicago Marathon.
I started to question (for that day at least) if I was capable of a 2.22.00 marathon time.
I ran a 2.51.52 and had to walk and jog the last 14 miles. Two months later I ran 2.19, nearly 22 minutes faster.
You always have the choice of either listening to that part of the brain telling you to quit, that you aren’t good enough or you can take action and order it to work in your favor.
By not letting up when things don’t go as planned.
There is a part of your brain called the amygdala where fear is located within the brain.
It is the part of the brain that is activated when we look in our rear view mirror and see the sirens of the police pulling you over or when you look at your phone and see it is your boss calling
You know that feeling.
You have to fight those feelings of worry, fear and their limiting effects it can have on your athletic performance.
Don’t focus on the things that are out of your control, envision what you do have control over and you will be in a better position to run faster.
You’ll be less stressed and more focused to do so.
18. Use A Heart Rate Monitor
There are many runners who have absolutely no idea if they are running too fast or too slow in training.
I completely agree with the fact that you can still get great benefits without using a heart rate monitor but it still is a great option to consider.
I have used heart rate monitors since I was a freshman in college. I started using them thanks to the advice of my collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, while attending Malone University.
Jack was named the 2012 London Olympics Men’s and Women’s head distance running coach at the games. It took some time to get adjusted to training with heart rate monitors.
I didn’t like a strap around my chest while I was running but I did like having a set heart rate to focus on while doing a tempo run and knew if I was running too slow that all I had to do was speed up and raise it.
It is simple and is a great way to stay motivated during the workout and you leave the guesswork of training intensity out of the equation. If an Olympic coach recommends it I have no concern over recommending it to you.
Again, it is only a recommendation and you should always train what works best for you.
Fight the resistance, dream big and train big. Don’t expect this to be an easy process because it isn’t.
Your goals will test your physical and mental capacity but I promise you that if you stay persistent and don’t waiver you will run faster and demolish any impossible goal you set for yourself.