The Half Marathoner
The Half Marathoner
Ask a Running Coach: How do I get faster?

Ask a Running Coach: How do I get faster?


The questions you guys asked in last Friday’s discussion thread were fantastic and thought-provoking — and go far beyond what I can answer!

That’s why I’m glad I had the chance to connect with running coach Sarah Axelrod of the Boston-based Fitness Protection Program, who shared her thoughts on what many of you asked on Friday: how to become a faster runner.

Here’s a few highlights from our conversation:

The ‘long game’ is important to becoming faster

“The mindset of just being consistent in your training, staying healthy and building volume is really the best way to get there and to not be in a rush to get there, I think, is the other thing that's really the key because ultimately I'm playing a really long game. I still want to be doing this when I'm 80. I really do. I think that would be amazing and I would rather have that than pretty much any single race time that could possibly fall out of anything that I would be doing.”

Running ‘as consistently as possible without stopping is the number one thing’

“People want to get faster. [You do that] not by doing more speed work and more magic workouts for any distance, but by running-specific strength training on a really consistent basis.

“Being able to run as consistently as possible without stopping is the number one thing that's going to make you faster. And you will be able to do that if you run easier and if you make sure you're keeping your body strong... it’s a little bit counter-intuitive to say that you need to run easier in order to ultimately get faster.

Why you need to go easier than you think

“It's really hard for a lot of runners to do because we get really caught up in, I need to do more. I need to work harder. I need more speed workouts. I need more of this. I need more of that. On my rest day, I'm going to go to a spin class because that's good cross training. And spin classes really just going to tire you out and then you're not actually going to recover from your harder day.”

Running slower won’t slow you down — but injuries from training too hard sure will

“Whenever someone talks about hating running, my first thought is you're probably going too fast. You might have a much nicer time if you were willing to slow down a little bit.

I have a four-year-old daughter, and in the years before my she was born... it was not acceptable to me to run slower than 10-minute miles — ever. It hurt my feelings. It made me feel bad if I had a run where I was running slower than 10-minute miles. My easy effort pace is a little slower than 10-minute miles now after three years of heart rate training. But I honestly really don't care about that anymore.

What happened? I had a lot of injuries in that period. I injured my IT band and that took a very long time to come back from.”

More about Sarah Axelrod:

Hope you enjoy the conversation! Love to know your thoughts when you have a moment.

— Terrell

P.S.: I’m including only a few brief highlights in this email, but I’ll post a full transcript of our conversation on our website.

P.P.S.: I’m new to podcasting/audio, so please forgive what I’m sure will come across as my newbie approach to this. We’ll do more of these — I plan to interview coaches about your questions as often as possible — so hopefully these will improve as we go along!

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