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Running - How do I get faster?

kayonaise2kayonaise2 Member Posts: 15 Member Member Posts: 15 Member
I completed C25k last year, using the NHS podcast that works you up to running for 30 min. Since then I run twice a week or so, starting and ending with a 5 min walk and running for 30 min in the middle.

My struggle is that I'm VERY slow and don't seem to be getting any faster. Over Christmas I took the time to do a couple of runs that were actually 5km and it took me 50 mins! On my regular runs I struggle to get my average time per km below 10min.

My stamina seems to be ok, as running for 50min didn't seem that hard even though I'd never done it before - I could just keep going. But how do I master going faster over shorter times?
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Replies

  • L1zardQueenL1zardQueen Member Posts: 8,758 Member Member Posts: 8,758 Member
    You have to keep doing it. Like practicing the piano, my finger dexterity was horrible but over time it has been improving. Keep plugging away and enjoy your time.
  • cmriversidecmriverside Member Posts: 31,907 Member Member Posts: 31,907 Member
    Well, yeah, practice. 50 minutes for a 5K is a start.

    How tall are you? I'm 5'7" (171 cm) with proportionally long legs - and I walk at about that pace when I'm trying to keep up my speed, so it could be mechanics. I can walk a lot faster than someone shorter.
    edited February 12
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Member, Greeter Posts: 45,682 Member Member, Greeter Posts: 45,682 Member
    Run interval sprints. Not only are you running faster but it will increase the muscular endurance you need to get used to running faster.
    Jog and warm up, then run fast for 20 seconds. Take whatever time you need walking or jogging to get your heartrate back down and then do it again another 7 times. You'll find that you'll need less and less time for recovery and your speed will pick up with jogging.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 2,903 Member Member Posts: 2,903 Member
    I sympathize. I was a slow runner like you, and I'm still pretty slow now (after running for over a year).
    Have you tried doing intervals? Either alternating slow running with some faster running, or even walking and faster running.
    Something I also do (although I'm not sure if it helps me) is pick up the pace at the end of a longer (slow) run, just to push myself for a few minutes. A few months ago, I could just about squeeze out a few minutes at 8kph, and this week I managed over 25 minutes at that speed.
  • kayonaise2kayonaise2 Member Posts: 15 Member Member Posts: 15 Member
    Thanks everyone! My initial assumption was that it would improve naturally with practice, but I was starting to wonder whether it ever would. It doesn't help that I don't have very good/comparable data from when I started out...

    @cmriverside I'm pretty short - 5'3 (and just under 200lbs, so hauling quite a lot around the park with me). And I do think I take particularly small strides when I run.

    Seems like trying some intervals might help a bit (and mix things up a bit) so I will give it a go, and other wise have some patience!
  • L1zardQueenL1zardQueen Member Posts: 8,758 Member Member Posts: 8,758 Member
    As you get lighter, you will naturally go faster. Interval training is a really good idea. Keep at it.
  • JpednoJpedno Member Posts: 88 Member Member Posts: 88 Member
    I am a slow runner (and also only 5'). But I noticed my speed increased one summer when I was consistently doing leg presses at the gym. I have no proof or science to quote, but I was faster that summer either by coincidence or bc of those leg presses!
  • littlegreenparrot1littlegreenparrot1 Member Posts: 546 Member Member Posts: 546 Member
    kayonaise2 wrote: »
    I completed C25k last year, using the NHS podcast that works you up to running for 30 min. Since then I run twice a week or so, starting and ending with a 5 min walk and running for 30 min in the middle.

    My struggle is that I'm VERY slow and don't seem to be getting any faster. Over Christmas I took the time to do a couple of runs that were actually 5km and it took me 50 mins! On my regular runs I struggle to get my average time per km below 10min.

    My stamina seems to be ok, as running for 50min didn't seem that hard even though I'd never done it before - I could just keep going. But how do I master going faster over shorter times?

    I have been a runner for years, did a marathon last year and am training for an ultra.
    I would consider this a very good pace, if I'm managing 11 min miles for any length of time that's a good day. Any uphill or trail is slower :) Personally I aim for distances rather than speeds.

    Do you have an idea as to what pace you want to hit? You will find a lot of resources online, (Runners world, things like that) specifically for training to hit a 5k in 30 mins for example. You might find that helps.

    A 3rd run a week would help in terms of practice. As well as intervals it can also be helpful to change up the terrain, look for somewhere you can run on hills and /or trails if you don't already. Although it might be slower at the time it helps you get stronger so you can go faster in the end.

    But remember to enjoy yourself, don't get so caught up in chasing targets that it stops being any fun!
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 2,903 Member Member Posts: 2,903 Member
    kayonaise2 wrote: »
    I completed C25k last year, using the NHS podcast that works you up to running for 30 min. Since then I run twice a week or so, starting and ending with a 5 min walk and running for 30 min in the middle.

    My struggle is that I'm VERY slow and don't seem to be getting any faster. Over Christmas I took the time to do a couple of runs that were actually 5km and it took me 50 mins! On my regular runs I struggle to get my average time per km below 10min.

    My stamina seems to be ok, as running for 50min didn't seem that hard even though I'd never done it before - I could just keep going. But how do I master going faster over shorter times?

    I have been a runner for years, did a marathon last year and am training for an ultra.
    I would consider this a very good pace, if I'm managing 11 min miles for any length of time that's a good day. Any uphill or trail is slower :) Personally I aim for distances rather than speeds.

    A 10min km is a 16min mile, quite a way from 11 min miles 🙂
  • littlegreenparrot1littlegreenparrot1 Member Posts: 546 Member Member Posts: 546 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    kayonaise2 wrote: »
    I completed C25k last year, using the NHS podcast that works you up to running for 30 min. Since then I run twice a week or so, starting and ending with a 5 min walk and running for 30 min in the middle.

    My struggle is that I'm VERY slow and don't seem to be getting any faster. Over Christmas I took the time to do a couple of runs that were actually 5km and it took me 50 mins! On my regular runs I struggle to get my average time per km below 10min.

    My stamina seems to be ok, as running for 50min didn't seem that hard even though I'd never done it before - I could just keep going. But how do I master going faster over shorter times?

    I have been a runner for years, did a marathon last year and am training for an ultra.
    I would consider this a very good pace, if I'm managing 11 min miles for any length of time that's a good day. Any uphill or trail is slower :) Personally I aim for distances rather than speeds.

    A 10min km is a 16min mile, quite a way from 11 min miles 🙂

    Didn't notice the miles/kms. Been a long week....

    I stand by the rest of it though, I find it sad when people beat themselves about the pace.
    If your out there doing it you're still faster than if you weren't, and will improve if you stick to it.
  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 3,214 Member Member Posts: 3,214 Member
    Increase your overall volume - two days a week for 30 minutes isn't really enough to even maintain your current level. Three days will allow you to maintain current fitness, but more will help you to improve.

    Increase the length of one or more of your runs. 5k will be easier if you can run 10k. One problem with short runs is that by the time your muscles get fully warmed up, the run is over.

    As stated above, short hard sprints can help teach you leg turnover and improve your lung capacity without stressing the body too much. Do that once a week. If you get to the point of running 25+ miles a week, then more formal speedwork is an option, but you need a good base because of the need to do a good 15-20 minute warmup before you push the muscles or you will get injured.
  • MarttaHPMarttaHP Member Posts: 68 Member Member Posts: 68 Member
    I agree with the previous comments. As a summary I'd say that variety is the key, varying intensities, lengths, speeds for your runs. Regarding intensity, the general guideline given is that 80% of your training should be in the low-effort range and 20% higher intensity speed work.

    I improved as a runner rather rapidly once I started following a heart rate-based running program. I found HR a useful way to monitor the intensity of my training and also it helped me see the improvements in a concrete way; I started to be able to run faster at a certain HR level as well as to maintain a higher level for longer periods of time. Of course plenty of runners do just fine without any extra gadgets, but for me a HR monitor was a great help. (Still using one, training for my second marathon!)
    edited February 13
  • rheddmobilerheddmobile Member Posts: 6,622 Member Member Posts: 6,622 Member
    I think you deserve a lot of credit for running at all with a BMI of 35, I know when I weighed that much walking was enough for me. The easiest way to improve your speed is going to be losing weight - weight gain directly impacts speed, even for much lighter people. If that’s not on the table right now, I would suggest working on cadence. You don’t really want to increase stride length which increases the impact on your legs, and thus injury risk.
  • KarenSmith2018KarenSmith2018 Member Posts: 289 Member Member Posts: 289 Member
    Can you run with friends who's slightly faster than you. I find i get stuck in a pace rut if I run the same route alone etc. I never push myself to run faster - just tick along - thus never get any faster. Going with someone who's slightly faster can help I've found and makes me realise I can move faster.
  • hlr1987hlr1987 Member Posts: 144 Member Member Posts: 144 Member
    The two things that improved my speed most historically were running up hills (do one short run a week where you just run up and walk down a steep hill, steep enough that you shouldn't be able to do it too many times) and actually taking part in 5k races because the atmosphere motivates you to go faster without realising.
    I only run slowly on my own, the motivation to go faster just isn't there. But adding some hill runs every other week is easy, a short workout to fit into your week.
  • glennagaelglennagael Member, Premium Posts: 84 Member Member, Premium Posts: 84 Member
    Good for you for lacing up and getting out there, especially in winter. (even if a fair climate, lots of holidays to indulge in, awesome that you're out running!)

    Have you listened to Not Your Average Runner podcast? She's great, especially if a plus sized or slower paced runner. Good combo of insight to equip you and encouragement to motivate you! Highly recommended.
  • kayonaise2kayonaise2 Member Posts: 15 Member Member Posts: 15 Member
    Thank you again to everyone for your thoughtful and helpful responses!

    I find it sad when people beat themselves about the pace.

    Oh, it's ok, I'm really not beating myself up about it. My reaction to my 50min 5km wasn't "that's a rubbish time", more like "wow, I just ran 5km and I didn't even know if I could do that!". But at the same time, I would like to get a bit faster. Perhaps the structured C25k programme has made me a bit of an addict to visible improvement!

    Thanks to everyones suggestions there seems to be a lot that I can do. :smiley:

    Really heartened to hear that as my weight goes down (which it is, gradually) things will get easier - for some reason that never occurred to me, maybe because I've been fat for so long!

    Hills and longer distances I can certainly do (lots of hills in my city), and mixing things up with intervals and different distances will help make things more interesting as well as hopefully having an effect on my speed.

    Although I'm not a group runner by nature (and it would currently be illegal since I'm in the UK), maybe I will try a parkrun once things open up again. It sounds like that could be a boost.
  • FitAgainBy55FitAgainBy55 Member Posts: 179 Member Member Posts: 179 Member
    kayonaise2 wrote: »
    Hills and longer distances I can certainly do (lots of hills in my city), and mixing things up with intervals and different distances will help make things more interesting as well as hopefully having an effect on my speed.

    Just a note about hill running, when running fast intervals on hills only do the fast part uphill, not down hill -- much less chance of getting injured running fast uphill than down.

  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 3,214 Member Member Posts: 3,214 Member
    kayonaise2 wrote: »
    Hills and longer distances I can certainly do (lots of hills in my city), and mixing things up with intervals and different distances will help make things more interesting as well as hopefully having an effect on my speed.

    Just a note about hill running, when running fast intervals on hills only do the fast part uphill, not down hill -- much less chance of getting injured running fast uphill than down.

    Unless you plan to run a downhill race or even a hilly race. My first marathon was hilly. I trained to run hard uphill but always took it easy on the downhills. Come race day, by mile 20 my quads were trashed. I was lucky that I didn't actually cramp up during the race, but I could barely move for several days afterward. I saw several other racers who had leg cramps during the race. When you run hard downhill you tear the muscle. Your muscles heal so that they get stronger, but if you wait until race day you just get hurt. Training to run the downhills at race pace allows your body to habituate to the harder pounding ahead of time.
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