How To Run Faster: George Anderson coaching Q&A

Q What would you say is the most common issue that stops people running faster?

A Stooping over from the hips is a real speed-limiting form issue that many runners suffer from. Every footstep becomes heavier and more energy sapping and you’re constantly fighting against gravity.

Q What’s the best way to rectify this?

A Imagine a piece of string is pulling you upwards from the top of your head. Your body will straighten up, and you’ll transmit forces through your body with greater efficiency. Combine this with a gentle forward lean from the ankles and you’ll be harnessing gravity to help pull you along as you run.

Q Is there a common mistake we make when buying running kit to help go faster? 

A Believing that more expensive trainers equate to better comfort, injury prevention and performance. Then again it may be true that you can go out running in any old kit, well fitting, comfortable gear can make enough of a difference to your enjoyment that it keeps you motivated to run. Get some advice from one of the independent specialist running stores to give you a better idea of what you need for your particular running habits.

Q If I want to run faster, what are the key training sessions?

A Threshold sessions are powerful performance pushers. Taking your intensity to around 8 out of 10 and then holding it there for 8-10 minutes before resting and repeating can increase the point at which you would normally fatigue on a longer slower run.

Q What kind of exercises should I be doing in the gym to boost my running speed?

A Free-weight leg exercises such as squats, deadlifts and lunges are excellent for building running strength. Not only do they add extra muscle to the legs to power you over longer distances, they help improve your posture so you don’t get the slumping shoulders so commonly seen in the dying stages of a long run. More explosive exercises like squat jumps and burpees can give you a little extra power that will come in handy for a sprint finish to dip inside a new personal best time.

Q Can I learn to run fast if I don’t enter races?

Absolutely! Races are great for testing yourself and measuring progress, but non-racing runners can still get faster with the right type of training.

Q Is there a successful psychology to running fast?

A Many runners tell themselves that they have only one speed: slow. This mindset is almost guaranteed to put the kibosh on any potential pace improvements. People with a strong faster running ‘psychology’ believe that they are capable of running faster, but for shorter periods of time. They understand that running faster is more uncomfortable than running slowly, but that tolerating a moderate amount of controlled discomfort is perfectly normal in the quest for faster legs.

Q How much faster can I expect to get with the right training?

A Depending on your starting point and the training you have been doing previously, it’s possible to run significantly faster. A 70-minute 10k runner could bring their time down to 50 minutes, and a 4-hour marathon runner could be dipping under 3 hours with the right mix of speedy and slow runs.

Q Are there such things as go-faster foods?

A Some supplements have been shown in lab conditions to improve the amount of oxygen the muscles can uptake. Beetroots, for example contain amounts of nitrate. Creatine is another common supplement that increases the amount of creatine monohydrate in the muscles, which increases physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high intensity exercise. This could allow an individual to sprint flat out for longer, leading to accelerated training effects. The most sensible advice however is to eat a diet that is going to help shift unnecessary body fat, as carrying around extra weight is always going to slow you down.

Q If I train hard to run faster, can I hold onto my speed with a reduced maintenance programme?

A The closer you get to your top-end potential, the more your speed will drop off with a reduction in training volume and intensity. A reduced maintenance program is often necessary as part of an approach to annual training loads, but top speed can’t be expected to be maintained during this phase. 

Q How crucial is core strength to running faster?

The faster you run the greater the forces are that are transferred through your body. A strong core is essential to efficiently balance these forces and provide a firm foundation to work from. It doesn’t matter how strong your legs are, if you don’t have the corresponding core strength it’s like trying to fire a cannon from a canoe.

George Anderson 

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your GP before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.