How To Run Faster To Lose Weight (Best. Tips. Ever.)

Women's Health |

By Aleisha Fetters

Let one of the fastest women on Earth show you the way.

When you’re running to lose weight, picking up the pace is usually the fastest route to results. And what better person to teach you to run like the wind than four-time Olympic gold medallist, Jamaican American track-and-field athlete Sanya Richards-Ross? (FYI, she was officially the fastest woman on earth for more than a decade.)

Want to build record running speed? Here are her top tips for running faster to lose weight.

1. Visualise Crushing Your Goals

“If you can’t go there in your mind, it won’t happen,” Sanya says. “Before a race, I visualise myself on top of that podium. Visualise yourself hitting your own goals.” Lace up your running shoes, get on the pavement and close your eyes. Imagine how achieving your own goal – whether that’s hitting a new PR or weight-loss goal – would look, sound and feel. Imagine your legs moving so fast you feel like they might fly off. The wind in your face. Nothing but the finish line in front of you.

2. Get in Front of the Mirror

“The more efficient you can become as a runner, the easier it is to become faster. Developing speed requires great posture and body positioning. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no idea what they look like running,” Sanya says. To fix that – and your form – she recommends performing “mirror drills” – basically running in place in front of a mirror.

READ MORE: 6 Kilojoule-Blasting Moves That’ll Make You A Better Runner

With each stride in place, focus on raising your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular with the floor when they’re at their highest point. The balls of your feet should be the only part of your foot to make contact with the floor. Move them quickly to minimise the amount of time you’re touching the floor, she says. Meanwhile, your hands should reach just below your chin at their highest point. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and focus on driving your elbows straight behind your body using your shoulders. Your elbows should stay bent at a 90-degree angle. Perform this drill for two to three minutes a day to reinforce proper form and movement patterns, she says. Speed will follow.

3. Explode in the Weight Room

“If you want to get faster, you have to get stronger,” Sanya says. “Turn those quick-twitch muscles on and that will translate to overall speed and results.” The best way to train the fast-twitch muscle fibres responsible for powering your runs is by performing high-intensity compound lifts like heavy squats, deadlifts and power cleans. Schedule three weekly lifting sessions into your workout schedule for optimal results.

4. Set Small, Progressive Goals

“When you set your first goal, it should be small and easily attainable,” Sanya says. “For example, instead of setting a goal to lose 25kg, try setting a goal to lose 2.5kg in a month. Once you achieve that goal, it gets you energised for the next step.” The same holds true with speed. Set a goal to shave a few seconds off of your 400m time or maybe 30 off of your 1.5km time. Then go from there. “Running is a habit, so be patient and give yourself time,” she says.

5. Befriend Carbs

“The night before a race, I used to load up on carbs,” Sanya says. That’s because your body stores them in your muscles and liver as glycogen, your body’s fastest and most efficient energy source – and exactly what you need to pound the pavement at record speed.

READ MORE: 9 Reasons Why You Need Carbs In Your Diet

Focus on integrating whole, complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes into your regular meals. An hour before and/or after high-intensity workouts, you can benefit from simple, easier-to-digest carbs from workout bars, gels, white bread and chocolate milk. Keep servings on the small side so that you don’t feel weighed down or have mid-run GI issues.

6. Make Your Own Mantra

Sanya’s personal running mantra: “No one can beat me when I run my race.” What will your mantra be? Having one is critical to your ability to push hard through weight-room and running workouts, stay confident and, eventually, set new PRs, Sanya says. She suggests writing it on your bathroom mirror, setting it as your phone background and using it as a daily reminder to believe in yourself. Close your eyes and repeat it to yourself before every run.

Want more? Here’s a six-week running plan that focuses exclusively on weight loss. Need more help? Sign up for the Women’s Health Lean Body Blitz diet and exercise programme. You’ll be all-over toned in 12 weeks!

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