In honor of the 143rd Kentucky Derby, and the 20 horses sprinting for the finish line, we’ve put together some tips to help you increase the speed of your mile.
Unlike a marathon or even a 5K, the mile is a manageable distance that even non-runners are willing to tackle. For experienced runners, the mile is a good way to gauge speed and progress. No matter which category you fall into, these tips can help you run your best mile.
Start with Your Baseline
In order to accurately track how much faster you’re getting, you have to know your starting point. Before you try to increase your speed, get a baseline you can work from. Go to a track, take a stopwatch, and find out just how fast you already are!
Adjust Your Breathing
Learning how to optimize your breathing specifically for running will deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles, which helps them work harder for longer. Most people fall into a 4-count cadence during a run, meaning you inhale for 2 steps and exhale for 2 steps. Try to work on changing this to a 5-count cadence to help you maximize the air you take in. Inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 2 steps.
Perfect Your Form
Proper form is the key to running more efficiently. Poor form usually results in extra, unnecessary motion, which uses more energy than you want. Run with your head up, looking straight ahead. Keep your shoulders back and your body elongated, but don’t tense up. The proper form should actually feel more relaxed. Let your arms swing naturally from the front to the back, not side to side! Try not to take extra long strides either, as this results in more impact on your heel. Shorter strides keep your initial contact with the ground centered under your body, which helps propel you forward.
We realize it might be tempting to skip this tip, but running hills will build your leg and lung strength, allowing you to get faster in the long run. If you live in an area with natural hills, try to run a route that incorporates several. Keep your effort the same on the climb and the descent to avoid using extra energy and/or risking injury. If you live in an area without hills, take advantage of the incline feature on a treadmill.
Run on a Track
Tracks are ideal for runners working on their mile. They are flat, usually not crowded and the distance is easy to measure. Four laps around the track equals one mile. Take a stopwatch with you and practice running faster laps. Another way to train is in intervals. Run the straights as fast as you can, then jog the turns.
Like any other form of exercise, running takes a toll on your body. If you do not rest and allow it to recover, you will not be able to make any progress. Plus, you put yourself at risk for injury. Make sure you take at least one day off per week where you don’t run at all.
Track Your Progress
The first thing we advised you to do is get your baseline. Now it’s time to start seeing your hard work pay off. After two weeks of training, go to the same track you started at, run the same distance and find out how many seconds you’ve knocked off your time.
Do More Than Run
You have to be strong to run. Period. So in order to be at your best, don’t limit your training to running alone. Strengthening key muscles like your core, quads, hips, butt and back in the gym will support your efforts on the track by helping you power through the distance and avoid injury.
Take Your Supplements
Contrary to popular belief, supplements are for runners, too. Check out our blog, Eight Supplements that Support Runners, to learn about eight BPI products and the benefits they offer runners.