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One Tip to Help You Run Faster….

May 8, 2017 | Running, Running Advice | 12 comments

How to run faster

It’s no secret that I want to BQ, and whilst I may have been miles off it at Boston, I’m still darn proud of that sub 4 race.

I can’t decide what race is next on the cards, however I do know that I’m taking my own advice and chilling out, pausing my running coaching and getting back to the gym to strengthen and condition my body…oh and to make sure my arms/back look amazing in my wedding dress!

Over the past few months I’ve met some super speedy runners, who throw down BQs like they are NBD (Mum, that means No Big Deal), so I asked them what their number 1 tip to running faster was…

How to run faster

Ashley – Ironman & 3.21 marathoner 

Vary your paces. Stop running in the grey all the time. You should make your easy days truly easy so you can go fast when it matters. Ideally, one week will include one or two harder speed/tempo workouts plus on long run (which is hard for the sheer fact that it is long!) Every other run should be EASY. The fast workouts help improve your speed, while the easy miles build your aerobic base which is what will help you hold faster speeds over distances. Both are essential if you’re gunning for a PB.

Susie Chan – 3 time MdS finisher and general speedster/superwoman 

Speed work. It’s the necessary evil if you want to run faster. Try doing it with a run group or friends as it is easier running with people – chasing people down and being chased. The good thing about spadework is it’s over quickly and it’s effective.

Sam Murphy – Runner’s World Columnist and running coach

Losing weight. Sounds crass but I’ve seen many runners drop their PBs by dropping the pounds. Quite simply, you have less to carry around with you on the course. Whether that’s making a concerted effort to lose weight, or just cleaning up your diet and focusing on your nutrition, it really can help.

How to run faster

Jenna McHugh – multi times Boston Marathoner

I’m big on mantras and practicing them. Before every race I write down three mantras that I am going to say when the going gets tough. For Boston I used Fierce, Run Bold and Fight. I practiced these during my long runs, then they came naturally on race day. They really help me focus on staying strong and running my fastest. They keep my mind positive and on the task at hand.

Gemma Hockett – sub 3 marathoner 

The tip I want to talk about doesn’t get mentioned as much as some others; clean eating. I no longer eat junk, only eat unrefined carbs and that has helped enable me to become fat adapted. Clean eating has really changed me for the better. Apart from my cheat day Sundays – after my long run – if I can’t grow it or raise it, I don’t eat it.

How to run faster

Chris Oddy – recently ran a 2.33 at London 

Chris is awesome and gave me a few tips to share (and lots of awesome Boston eating recommendations too!).

Running with people who are faster than me, and learning from them. It’s really pushed me to run faster.

It’s not about how many miles you can do each week, but get the strength in the gym to keep your running form good and increase your power so that you have the strength when it gets tough during your runs and races.

Sleep: I’ve found that this really allows me to train better.

Lastly, giving up the booze. I went T-total from Jan-April and felt like I had more energy, allowed my body to function correctly and just generally felt better.

How to run faster

I love that all of their tips are different, proving that training for a marathon or half marathon is different for each individual. What works for you might not work for another person and vice versa. I know as a student dietitian I should have thought about it more, but I’ve never made clean eating a priority during my training, but it could help make big improvements.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give or have been given to running faster? 

Mine would definitely fall in line with susie’s advice. If you want to run faster, you have to run faster. Tempo, Yasso 800s, mile repeats, progression runs and fast finishes on your long runs!


  1. Tommy

    Great blog and some really awesome tips there! ??

  2. Sophie

    Great post and really helpful advice – thank you! For me, going forward, while I’m definitely going to be incorporating speed work and dropping a few pounds, I’m also shifting focus to running trails and hitting the hills so will see how it goes!

  3. Paul

    Great post Charlie! The weight tip is so simple and so right. It’s like driving around in your car with loads of stuff in your boot. You’ll use more petrol or diesel because the car is heavier.

  4. @DPontheGo

    Great advice from people who know what it takes. Ironically, for me, it was running slower most of the time that made me faster. Instead of constantly running close to BQ pace miles or faster on every run, I slowed down for most of my weekly miles and then crushed my speed work. I also signed up for several 5Ks during my training to force myself to race really fast which in turn made my BQ pace seem easy. I also agree with the good eating/no drinking and trying to drop just a couple of pounds to make it easier on your body. Good luck! Hope to see you at the starting line in 2018! Oh, and if you want a great BQ race, check out the Erie PA marathon the day before registration opens. 😉

  5. Debbie Woodruff

    I love this post concept! Good advice from all! Mine (former 3:16 marathoner) would be to follow tour training plan to a T. Do the work, reap the rewards. Of course, injury or even being extra tired can throw you off, but get back on it.

    I’m always careful about recommending weight loss because, while it can help, many runners tend to go all in and think that if a little weight loss is good, more must be better. Sadly there is a lot of disordered eating in our sport.

  6. Lauren (@BreatheBlog)

    Interesting to read these tips. I feel like definitely sleep and recovery are sometimes not priorities for people but are so important. I think diet and weight can make a difference however I still got my BQ not at a lower weight or anything. Especially after my injury I’ve been taking recovery seriously. Also making easy runs easy for sure!

  7. Nicole

    I love this. great tips.

  8. Laura

    For me, the first tip was true- vary the paces more. Keeping the easy really easy and the hard hard helped me see some improvement.

    As others have said, weight loss is a tricky one. I’ve actually gotten faster when I gained about 5 pounds because before I was very injury prone with low bone density. With a higher protein diet, my weight went up but so did my strength. But obviously if someone is overweight, it will help.

  9. Chiswickmum


  10. Andy

    Great post, a must read for newbies and long in the tooth runners alike 🙂

  11. coffeeavocados

    Thanks for the advice! Building some speed is definitely something I’m trying to do with my own runs right now but it’s tough going!

    Coffee & Avocados

  12. Katie Louise Halsall

    Variation in training is where my running suffers! I stick to the same pace far too much. Loved reading through these tips, will definitely be keeping them in mind!


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