Seattle is a boon for physically active people–runners especially. Our hilly landscape makes it perfect for hill sprints, mid-length runs, and even longer endurance sessions. But no matter where you run, things can get pretty boring pretty fast–even for the most running-obsessed among us–if we always do the same thing every time we hit the road.
If you’re a runner who can comfortably run at least 3 to 5 miles, then it’s worth the effort to improve your speed. Challenging yourself to run faster over time will not only keep your workouts interesting but will also offer you plenty of added health benefits, too. Not exactly sure how to do it? It’s more simple than you may think–but be warned, you can’t be afraid of a little hard work!
3 Ways To Increase Your Average Mile Speed
1. You Got It–Hill Sprints
As mentioned, the sloping hills of Seattle and the surrounding area are an awesome bonus to Pacific Northwest living. As a runner, doing hill sprints or any type of high intensity running intervals on a weekly basis may be one of the most important things you can do to increase your running speed. Incidentally, high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) has also been show to accelerate fat loss, too–helping you become a leaner runner, too.
Pick hills (or specific distances, e.g., city blocks or telephone pole to telephone pole) that you can approach at a faster clip than your normal running pace. Aim to run for at least 20 to 30 seconds as fast as you can, followed by a rest period of equal or longer duration. Do this 3-5+ times during at least 1 run per week.
By regularly working in these sprint sessions, you’ll be building your cardiovascular engine plus increasing the strength and power output of your legs–both of which can eventually translate into a faster running pace overall.
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2. Use a Track or Treadmill Every Now and Then
While perhaps not as scenic as road or trail running, a track or treadmill is an excellent tool for anyone looking to increase their average mile pace. Doing a track workout (most schools open theirs to the public) makes it easy to track your exact distance and speed. Plus, there’s no risk of running into traffic or road blocks (figuratively or literally) that can throw you off your pace. Every now and then, find a track or head to the gym for a treadmill run. Feel free to work in intervals, or aim to maintain a slightly-faster-than-your-normal pace for some serious physical adaptation.
“Improvement in running pace isn’t linear–it’s normal to have some “good runs” and “bad runs.”
3. Test Yourself
If you don’t already, be sure to time yourself while you’re running– especially on your favorite routes. That way, you’ll know from week to week whether you’re getting faster or not. Of course, you have to consider all the other factors in your life that may affect your running speed on any given day, including stress, sleep, and nutrition. Improvement in running pace isn’t linear–it’s normal to have some “good runs” and “bad runs.” But keep track of your runs over time, and be sure to establish some specific measurements along the way to track your progress (think, a timed 1-mile run, a 5k, etc.).
Have you put any of these training strategies to the test? We want to know about it! Share your results in the comments below.