Female runner

Q&A: Rapidly Reduce Distance Running Times

“Is it possible to go from running 1.5 miles in 18 minutes to 14 minutes in six months”

This goal is absolutely attainable and can be achieved in a variety of ways. Running, like any form of exercise, is just as mentally challenging as it is physical. When frustration or stress arise in regards to an athlete’s performance, it often becomes a roadblock and limits growth. The fact of the matter is, however, that limitations of physical growth and improvement are nearly always a result of an athlete’s mentality. Here are a few tips to drop the time you need off of your distance running time.

Interval training
The most important note on improving running times is to remain consistent. Whether it be running the distance that you seek to improve, or running any distance at all, rapidly dropping time can be accomplished through consistent effort. In regards to overcoming the mental obstacle of reaching your goal, interval training will help.
Mixing in sprint work and training other, shorter, intervals—400 and 800 meters, for example—can go a long way for both a distance runner’s mentality and physical ability. The toughest portion of a measured run is always the final stretch. Fatigue sets in, self doubt creeps up, and all you have to lean on is your training. By simulating the effort required for longer runs in training, your perspective of the final stretch of your actual race will change. Building belief in your ability to finish strong will be much easier if you’ve previously allowed yourself to succeed in different ways.

Strength training
Stamina and endurance are crucial to improving running times, but the prospect of strength—and the benefits it brings to runners—cannot be overlooked. There is a common misconception about strength and endurance training being counterintuitive, but the truth is quite the opposite. Strengthening your legs and core as a runner will lead to greater speed, improved endurance, and balanced athletic ability. All keys to improving time.
As far as lifts that are specific to building endurance, squats, deadlifts, and lunges are excellent exercises. Beyond the benefit of strengthening the muscles you will rely upon in your race, mixing strength training into your regimen will keep your training interesting and offer a change of pace to alleviate stress about your results. Once more, taking care of and improving your mentality.

Gradually increase distance
Most experienced runners will tell people about the 10 percent rule, which simply claims that runners should only increase their target distance by 10 percent a week. If you are unhappy with your mile time, you won’t do yourself any favors by forcing 1.5 mile runs. With the six month timeline in this specific instance, setting time goals for distances under a mile is a great place to begin.
One mile is roughly 1,600 meters. Running 1,000 meters a day for one week, with the intention of improving time by the end of that week, would be an excellent starting point. Per the 10 percent rule, your next week of training would include running 1,100 meters every day and so on, and so forth. Setting reasonably achievable goals on a week-to-week basis will help a runner to improve endurance, confidence, and of course, time.

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