“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”

Oh Daft Punk…and Kanye…little do you know that I have ran to this song more times than I can even count. Something about the constant repeating of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” just does wonders for energy when I’m ready to call it quits.

But, I digress–this post isn’t about Daft Punk or Kanye West.

It’s about getting to a faster race pace.

I was motivated to write this after chatting with a fan about speed work on the Prairie Princess Runners Facebook page. Most people get pretty simple advice on how get a faster pace…guess what it was…two words…

Run Faster!

And yes…you do need to run faster if you want a faster race pace…but there is more to it than that–and that is what I want to share with you today.

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

– Learning to truly embrace the temporary discomfort that comes with pushing oneself to run a little bit faster proved to be a breakthrough for me when it came to increasing my pace.  I think that this “a-ha” moment has changed the way I run for the rest of my life.  If you take anything away from this post–please let it be this.

2. Run intervals and repeats

– For example: tabatas (20 seconds sprint, 10 second rest), 4x400s, 2 x800s, mile repeats, Yassos…there are lots of speed drills to do . It improves your leg speed and you learn what different paces feel like.

3. Run short races

– Gets you used to running fast in a race situation (ie other people, nerves, etc) and moving faster right from the gun (vs a half marathon where you have more time to make up for any slow points).  I did a handful of these for the first time this summer–it was a game changer.

4. Do some anaerobic circuit training workouts

– I did some of these, twice a week for the better part of the summer and I believe it was the game changer that led me to having my a-ha moment that is number 1 on this list. This was all about building inner (mental) strength and outer (physical) strength with these classes.

5. Fartleks

– Fartleks are essentially little bursts of speed in a regular ol’ run. Pick a lamp post and sprint to it and continue at your regular pace. Find a stop sign ahead of you and do it again. This will improve your recovery time as you continue to run after these little bursts of speed.

6. Your head will quit way before your body–build some mental toughness.

– Inspired by Runner’s World Magazine (article is here–read it–you won’t be sorry it has lots great tips to build mental toughness). Remembering that my body won’t quit on me, even when my head wants to, helps me when I’m struggling to keep up a fast-for-me pace in both training and racing.

7. Do some speedy runs on a tread mill

– I know people are always down on the treadmill but I am not one of them. in particular, I like it for nailing a pace as you have no choice but to stay at that pace unless you manually slow it down (or speed it up) and it doesn’t vary like it can outside.

8. Core work

– This is something that I have read works well and it is the only thing on this list that I have not given a dedicated try. I am going to try it this fall to see how it works and if i notice any impacts.

9. Add in rest days and non-speed days.

– You can’t run fast all the time. Eventually your mind and body will call it quits. Take a rest day, active race day or run some easy junk miles to just keep those legs moving between your speed workouts. I find that a hard-easy approach helps me stay healthy and strong.

10. Lose some weight (if you have some to lose)

– The less of you there is to move, the faster you will be able to move. Losing up to 10lbs can save you up to 20 seconds per mile!?!?  Crazy right?! I am confident that losing those 5 lbs before the Dumbo Double Dare helped me achieve my PRs in both those races.   If you happen to be lucky and are lean…then feel free to ignore this tip. 🙂

11. Fast finishes

– This is something I picked up from that aforementioned Runners World article.  Divide your workout into quarters and try and run the last quarter a little bit faster.  It helps you as it gets you used to running faster on tired legs.  It also sets you up with the opportunity for a negative split and a chance to really chase a PR if you are close.

12. Magic Miles

– There are training benefits to doing a “magic mile.”  I have never looked into what they are, but I do know that it is hella good for motivational purposes.  I did a magic mile at the beginning of the summer and then again a few weeks prior to the Dumbo Double Dare and I took off some significant time.  To give this a whirl, run 1 whole mile as fast as you can.  Make note of how long it takes–then try it again at a later date to see how much you have improved.  It is really, truly motivating and it’s also rather fun to go for broke and run a mile at full tilt!

I hope these tips get you moving fast and reaching your goals.  Do you have any to add–please do so in the comments!

Much love,

~Princess Lisa

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13 thoughts on ““Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”

  1. Thanks for posting this! I neeeeeeed to get faster! I like the idea of the magic miles, I love seeing progress like that! And I agree, sprinting all out for one mile does sound like fun! It’s easier than trying to control your pace and save energy for the end of your run!

    • No problem Kristen! I am glad you like it! The magic miles are definitely fun, as is seeing the progress. As hard as it is some days, there is something truly motivating about seeing faster times and even just the feeling of running a pace that you didn’t think was possible before.

  2. Pingback: Motivation Zero? Pay Yourself Fit | Prairie Princess Runners

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