3 Things That Can Impact Your Running Pace
By Marissa Gainsburg; Photography by Sean Laurenz
Uh-oh, speed bumps in your pace!
You know diet and sleep can impact your pace. But these influences surprised even us.
The Material Of Your Trainers. Your running shoes really do make a difference! In one study, athletes ran nearly three seconds faster in shoes with a polyurethane (versus rubber) sole. The squishy stuff helps reduce fatigue, minimise impact force and improve explosiveness.
A Small Temperature Change. Think the weather matters only if it’s freezing or scorching? Nah. A study found that for every 12°C increase above 5°C, non-elite runners slow down by up to 3.2 percent.
Your Ponytail. There’s a reason most female marathoners don’t whip their hair back and forth: it creates wind resistance. No big deal for training, but if you’re a competitive racer, you’re better off with a tight bun or plait or even one of these sweat-proof styles.
So, ready to pick up the pace? Here’s how…
1 Incorporate Intervals Into Your Run
It’s tempting to start sprinting as soon as you hit the pavement if your goal is to, well, run faster overall. But actually, it’s better to take a more gradual approach with intervals, says Vallair. His advice: Time yourself doing a couple short intervals at a pace that feels sustainable to you, and then work a few intervals of running faster than that into your next workout. “If it takes you two minutes and 30 seconds to run 400 meters at your current pace, for example, then try to do the same distance in two minutes and 15 seconds—and keep trying until you succeed,” he says. Those 15 seconds might seem like a small improvement, but they go a long way.
2 Run Hills
Yeah, yeah, they’re terrible. We know. But! They definitely help you get faster over time. To get the hill effect, start one of your treadmill runs with a slow quarter-mile warm-up on a flat surface. Then, run up a small hill at your normal race pace and go slightly faster at the end. After that, run very slowly down that same hill (you can even walk), and repeat four to six times, suggests Vallair. Finally, cool down with another quarter-mile slow run on a flat surface. “Running uphill at a normal pace equates to a much faster pace on the road,” says Vallair.
3 Go on a Long, Slow Run—But Pick Up the Pace at the End
If you can make a habit of finishing off every long run with a sprint, it’ll become so routine that it’ll be easy to do it during races, too, says Vallair. “You always want to finish strong,” he says. “After all, a strong finish could be the difference between reaching your PR or not.”