Fit Tip: Train For Your Best Time

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It's the start of the road race season. If you're a regular runner and training for a 5K, 10K or half marathon, you likely have your sights set on beating your toughest opponent: YOU. Sure, the crowds and the like-minded runners around you are motivating, but there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as beating your own race time. Here are a few tips to help you improve your running time and establish that elusive personal best. 

Do some speed and interval work. Try speed work as high-intensity interval training—mixing short bursts of speed (or sprints) into your regular run. You can also incorporate longer speed work. Try intervals where you run 1/4 mile at a faster pace than your race pace, walk for one minute or slightly longer, and run 1/4 mile again. Repeat the process until you've reached three miles. If you're really working hard for the 1/4-mile runs you might be surprised at your total time.

Treadmills take a lot of the guesswork out of speed training because you can set specific speed levels and easily keep track of time. But if you're outdoors, simply pick a spot in front of you and sprint for a certain distance ahead or a certain time, like 15 seconds.

Woman running on outdoor track

Cross-train. On days that you don’t run, strength train. Opt for plyometric movements for cardiovascular conditioning and muscle building. Or, work your entire body by surprising it with cross-training options like an elliptical, exercise bike, group exercise or circuit machines. 

Run hills. A good way to train for your best time is to power up some hills. Don’t go tackling a mountain after only running on a treadmill or flat roads, but opt for rolling hills and a gradual climb before working up to bigger hills. Doing hill work can get you stronger faster, and increase your power. Hills develop your aerobic capacity and your leg strength. 

Be consistent. A key to running your best time is to run consistently. You change your fitness level when you have a regular running schedule, and if you fall off the running wagon for a while, your fitness level for running falls too. If that happens you'll end up spending your time just getting back to where you were before. Build up from your peak instead. When you start running at a good clip, keep it up. 

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