Firstly, calculate the pace you would need to run at to achieve your ideal time – there are plenty of free pace calculators on line such as Cool Running - and then start practising running at this pace for a set amount of time. This time will depend how much faster you have to run compared with your normal pace. You might be able to stick to the pace for a km or for 30 seconds. Rest and repeat. In your plan, gradually increase the volume of time you are running at your desired pace.
As well as practising your race pace, if you want to get faster you have to practise running faster. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves running at full speed for a short amount of time such as 20 seconds, followed by a minute to recover before repeating the sprint. Before you begin, it is essential to ensure you have done a thorough warm up to avoid injury. Afterwards make sure you do a full warm down and stretch routine, especially stretching out your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and glutes, holding each for a minimum of 20 seconds – which of course you would do after any run anyway...
Share the fun
One sure way of making you run faster is to train with a group of people who are faster than yourself so that you have to keep up your pace.
Now is the time to get to the weights room and work on building stronger legs and bum. Weighted squats are a great all rounder exercise and will help power you through to your new PB.
Get adequate rest and recovery. Listen to your body (not always an easy thing to do, especially if you are fully into your training plan!) and if you need to take a break, give your body chance to recover and build its strength back up. Training through an illness won’t make you stronger. Get better and then get back to training with a new surge of energy and motivation.
Nip it in the bud
As my mum says, “nip it in the bud”. If you feel a niggle when you are training, don’t ignore it. Get it sorted. Treat it, rest it, get expert advice, and stop little problems becoming bigger ones. A sports massage is always a good point of call for starters.
There are three practical things you can do on race day to ensure you keep an even pace. Try them all and see which works best for you.
Follow a pacer. This relies on the pacer keeping an even pace, so it’s good to chat to them in advance to see how experienced they are at pacing (it doesn’t matter how good they are at running, this is a whole different ball game) and what their pacing plan is.
Keep looking at the average pace on your watch to ensure you are keeping on target – not too slow, but also not so fast you burn out.
Have a pre-prepared card (or pre-printed card wrist band to wear) with the times that you will need to arrive at each km or mile marking point.
Adrenaline on race day and the excited buzz from the atmosphere usually results in everyone sprinting off far too fast as the gun fires and regretting it a couple of miles later. Especially if it is a longer race, it is important to pace yourself at the start and resist the temptation to sprint off. Start steadily and get into a comfortable stride pattern. It often takes watches a while to catch up with the average pace you are running at so avoid looking at your watch 2 seconds after you start.
Now go out and PB that race!