RUNNING: How to Increase Speed and Pace without Killing Yourself, Getting Injured, or Losing Your Love for Running 

I remember back when I was just beginning running and how overwhelming the thought of a half marathon was. How would I ever run 13.1 ( the .1 is important) miles without dying? How would I ever be able to run just 2 miles? What if I got injured and couldn’t run ever again? How long will it take me to build up the endurance, speed, and strength to race? 

As a beginning runner, these and so many other questions plagued my mind. And let’s be honest, sometimes thinking about running after baby T gets overwhelming. How will I get back to pre-baby running shape? Will I be able to run as fast and as far as before? How long will it take me to accomplish my running goals? It’s at these times that I have to remind myself of my own running story. 

I was the girl that hated running. I was the girl that could barely run a mile, who never wanted to run with my mom when she offered, and thought the treadmill was death. After decided I was going to run, learn how to get good at it, and a 5k win, my confidence soared. I decided to not stop at a 5k, but pushed myself to learn to run a 10k, and  a half marathon. I’ve learned so much through my running journey and I know I will continue to learn the more I run. 

Before I share my tips on how to run further and faster, I must make the disclaimer that I am not a registered running coach, personal trainer, or doctor. These are the things I have learned, through trial and error, blood, sweat, and tears. 

My Top Tips on Running Further and Faster: 

1. Please please please don’t start off thinking you have to run 10 miles tomorrow.  It took me a while to build my mileage up to the point where I was able to run 10 miles. Start slow and I promise your body will thank me. When I add mileage I start with my base that I am comfortable with (say you are running 1 mile comfortably now.) Run 1 mile consistently (a couple times a week) and on Friday or Saturday (your long run day) add .25-.5 a mile to that mile. Run that mileage until you feel comfortable. Repeat until you have reached the distance you desire. 

    2. When trying to run further distances, I try not to worry too much about pace, your long run should be focused on endurance and completing the mileage, not  making a record setting time. This is hard  for me, I will admit, but again, your body will be much happier. 

      3. To avoid shin splints swap out your shoes every 300-500 miles. When you are training, you’ll be shocked at how fast those miles add up! Invest in some good shoes. My favorite brand are Mizunos, but everyone is different. Find out what works best for you. 

        4. Stretch, foam roll, cross train, and mix up surfaces to help avoid injuries! I’ve learned these things the hard way. I used to be a “running is the only workout I will ever do,” kind of person and my running was not as strong. Sure, you don’t want HUGE muscles (think body builder) to run, but you do need to strengthen your body. Strength/cross training has helped me avoid many injuries. Foam rolling is another great way to avoid shin splints, IT band issues, and other annoying injuries runners face.  
        5. When increasing speed have a day where that run you only focus on your speed. I love interval training. Interval training is where you run 1 min (or if going by distance .25-.5 mile) at full speed and run a relaxed run for another .5 to recover. Repeat until your run is done. 

          6. This is obvious, but fuel well. Find out what foods help you to perform well on your runs. My personal favorites: bananas, yogurt, whey protein, chicken, sweet potatoes, greens, peanut butter, almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, etc.

          7. Find a running buddy that keeps you accountable, encourages your distance, and pace. I have a friend, Lexi, who runs for her college cross county team. (She’s good!) Whenever she’s in town, she and I run together. Her pace encourages mine and we push each other through miles. Charissa and I (above picture) have run a lot during our friendship and it always seems like one is pushing the other! Landon and I love running together- he helps my pace, I encourage his distance. 

          8. If training for a race, find a running plan and stick to it! Plans are awesome because they map out speed work, long runs, and interval training for you based on your current running/fitness level. 

          9. Don’t expect every run to be amazing. Some runs will be perfect, other runs you will wonder why you you are a runner at all. Believe me, this is normal

          10. Remember, getting to any level of running takes time! Don’t over do your training (which is how injuries can occur!), be consistent, increase speed slowly and surely, and build your distance consistently, with patience, and over time. 

          Most of all, enjoy the process! It doesn’t happen over night and that’s the beautiful part. It takes time, commitment, tears, lots of sweat, and many magical moments. 

          That’s all for now friends! Happy running.

          Questions of the Day:

          1. What is the longest run you’ve ever run?!
          2. How long does it take you to train for a race? 
          3. Any upcoming races for anyone?