Building Pace – With 4 Key Steps

As you become more experienced at running, it’s natural to want to find ways to improve your running pace. This means you cover more ground in the same amount of time, boost your overall fitness, and can expect to get better times in races if you are training for them.

To increase pace of running, it’s important to understand your current speed, and then build in new kinds of training and techniques which, in different ways, can improve your speed. There’s no single way to improve running pace – rather, it involves a mix of approaches which will contribute to making you a stronger all-round runner.

Don’t increase pace of running too fast!

We all want to achieve our goals as soon as possible, but it’s smart to take a gradual, little-by-little approach to increasing your running pace. If you’re not used to doing large amounts of high-speed training and you suddenly load on four more sessions in a week, there’s a good chance you might injure yourself. Instead, start with one pace session each week over the course of a month, gradually building up the distances and speed you run. Eventually, you can add two or even three pace sessions into your training every week.

Establish a target race pace

If you are training towards a specific competition – be that a local 5K or 10K, or something longer like a marathon, it’s invaluable to work out your target race pace. To calculate this, choose a realistic target finish time for the race itself, then divide this by the number of miles or kilometres you’ll be running. That will give you an idea of how many minutes each mile or kilometre should take you to run.

Once you’ve established your target pace, you can then build up your training around this ‘race pace’ – with sessions aimed at helping you meet or exceed this time.

5 ways to improve running pace

Many runners – especially long-distance athletes – focus their attention on long, slow training sessions. Certainly, you need to build up your aerobic endurance and get used to running for many miles. However, this won’t support you in improving your overall pace, and without taking active steps to run faster, you’re less likely to see improved times.

Here are 4 simple ways to increase your pace when training.

1. Try interval training

Interval training covers a range of exercises where you alternate between high-intensity sprints and low-intensity jogging or recovery. You can do interval training on a track, treadmill or even your local park, as long as you have a specific set distance you can repeat multiple times.

Interval training helps with your pace because it makes your body more efficient at clearing lactic acid from your system when you run fast – and that means you can maintain high speeds for longer.

For standard interval training:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes
  • Sprint for 200 metres at 95% of your capacity
  • At the end, pause and wait for one minute, or until your heart rate has dropped below 120 BPM
  • Repeat the exercise four more times

As you get more experienced with interval training, you can increase the distance, reduce recovery time, and mix in activities like hill sprints, ladders and pyramids.

2. Introduce tempo running into your training

Tempo running is a kind of pace training where you run at what might be described as ‘comfortably hard’. This basically means you’re running at a high pace where you wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation, yet are not sprinting either (it’s impossible to maintain full sprinting for more than a few hundred metres).

Tempo training, like interval training, increases your body’s ability to clear lactic acid from the system, meaning you can run further for longer.

For standard tempo training:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes
  • Run at about 75% of your maximum speed for as long as you can – perhaps 15 to 20 minutes

Over time, you’ll be able to increase the speed you run at while also extending the amount of time you run for.

3. Lighten up your equipment

Running in the wrong clothes and shoes can have a big impact on your pace. Some runners choose to invest in lightweight running shoes which shave some weight off their gear. It’s also sensible to invest in appropriate running clothing

4. Improve your running form and method

Correct running form is also essential if you wish to improve your overall pace. Make sure you are running correctly, with your hands and shoulders relaxed and your arms swinging at your sides. In terms of method, you might also find it useful to increase your turnover, increasing the number of steps you run per minute. This will all help to increase your pace.

Finding ways to improve running pace can help you beat your goals and get more out of your workouts.