I get asked on the daily how I run so fast. And the truth is, I did not get here over night by any means. My fastest mile time is about a 6:40. I still don’t consider myself a fast runner at all and know I have a long way to go, but that being said, I am proud with how far I have come. And, hopefully, with a little help, I can help you lessen your mile time too.
My first recollections of running were that of the dreaded yearly mile in school. I would spend the entire day leading up to it racking my brain to come up with ways to get out of it. Fake an illness. Fake an injury. Throw up. Die. None of these ever worked and year after year I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out for a loop and a half around the park per my gym teachers orders. The feeling that came with running (aside from dread and total exhaustion) was this burning sensation in my lungs that just hurt and a feeling that I may never cool off again. This was not something I wanted to do unless there was a man with a gun and/or knife chasing me and I had no choice.
Enter college. What a wonderful time for the freshmen fifteen. It thrives and flourishes among the us young adults and overstays its welcome every time. As I fought my own personal battle against it, I knew that it was time to pick up that dreaded passed time of running. I had read many articles on the benefit of running and all the great things it could do for you and how it was the best calorie and fat burning exercise blah blah, but it just hurt so darn much. So, I started slow. I slogged through one mile a day 4 times a week. When I first started I ran at 6.0 mph on the treadmill and cursed every darn minute of it. But then, I started getting smart.
If I stagnantly ran at 6.0 miles per hour once a day for the rest of my life, I might die of boredom. So, I decided to play a game with myself on the treadmill. I would run at 6.0 for a minute and then bump it to 6.2 for a minute and then bring it back down to 6.0 and continue to switch for the whole mile. This made time fly by and I actually started shaving time off of my mile.
The next time I did this I did 6.0 to 6.2 to 6.0 to 6.3 (!!) to 6.0 to 6.2 to 6.3 and so forth and so on. Eventually, after some time I started bumping up the intervals even more and starting on 6.3 until I moved up to where I am now.
Now, it hasn’t been intervals alone that have helped me speed up, but it has definitely helped. In addition to this, I also recommend planking. I do a 3 minute plank every day while my morning oatmeal is cooking. Planks help build a strong core which is essential for running especially far distances or fast paces.
Cross training is definitely a must as well. Now that I do Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide, I alternate her resistance days with runs. I never run and do her workouts on the same day. Her resistance circuits are very good for building cardio endurance while simultaneously working major muscles that runners often neglect (I’m looking at you glutes). If that’s not your speed, pick something else that will work other parts of your body whether it be yoga (great for core too!) or weight lifting or swimming or heck anything! It’s amazing how good not always running can be for you!
Finally, be mindful of your diet. I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but your diet is key to your success. When I was in my first year out of college, my diet was just junk. I ate barely anything other than cereal and eggs and was eating way too little for the amount of exercise I was doing. On November 1st, 2013 I was rushed to the ER because my iron and hemoglobin levels were insanely low. I should have noticed this at the time since running for even 5 minutes at a 10 minute pace was essentially torture, but I chose to ignore the signals and ended up in worse shape for it. Anemia is a HUGELY common occurrence for females especially those that are active. I still take iron pills every other day to ensure that this won’t be me again. Within a matter of months of getting my iron situation sorted out, I had gone from struggling to run for 5 minutes to running 5 miles at a sub 7 minute mile pace. Listen to your body, it can tell you more than you’ll ever know.
Sorry for the long post, but I hope it was helpful! Any questions? Ask below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org