Improving speed and spending less time in your racing flats.

Want to speed up those race day times?  Follow these tried and true methods for improvement.

Weigh Less

Most use the Stillman height/weight ratio table for distance runners. The average man is allocated 110 lbs (50kg) for the first 5 feet (1.524m) in height. Thereafter, he is allocated 5½ lbs (2.495 kg) for every additional inch (O.025m) in height.  Some ultra marathoners subtract 10% from this total.


  • Eat moderate-sized meals every four hours.
  • Eat an above average intake of carbohydrates of the right sort. a) low glycemic (stored as glycogen) b) high glycemic (sugars)
  • Eradicate certain foods from your diet, starting with bad oils, which are: peanut, cottonseed, palm, palm kernel and coconut. Good oils are: linseed, pumpkin seed, soybean, walnut and canola.
  • Maintain 1-carnitine status, this causes fat to be burnt preferentially.
  • Maintain chromium status, this stops sugars going into fat. Chromium can be obtained from sea-food. Use black pepper on all meals.
  • Maintain omega 3 fatty acids
  • Cut out sugar, Sugar does not turn into fat it is helpful in the formation of triglycerides (fats)
  • Stop drinking soda the phosphorus is depleting calcium from your bones


Run in the morning

The more running you do in the morning the better. This will raise your resting metabolic rate for several hours afterwards and will burn more calories. Running in the evening reduces your metabolic rate and you will burn fewer calories.

Build base mileage before attempting to increase speed.

Mitochondria increase is necessary to improve endurance, the more you have the easier the energy demands of the working muscle can be met.  Mitochondria cannot be increased in a low oxygen atmosphere.

Warm up before running, stretch after

Running research does not show any additional benefits from stretching after running, than the benefits of stretching before running. But do stretch. Stretch warm muscles after walking and loosening up.

Stretching a cold muscle can strain the muscle fibers. Warm up first. I think it’s more beneficial to stretch after you exercise, when the muscle is heated by blood flow and is more amenable to your request.

Improve your VO2 Max 

Simply, VO2 Max is the highest level of performance attainable without the accumulation of lactic acid.  Once lactic acid accumulates performance drops.

Increase your leg turn over, and rehearse your race speed.

In order to run faster you must simply run faster, if your work-out has taken away your leg speed it should be over.  When training most programs focus long slow running, speed work, and hill work without addressing the race speed issue.  It is important you let your legs know what pace you will be racing and rehearse that speed in training.

 Use the weight room properly

Focus on the hip flexors and glutes more.  It is of my opinion that you can not create force with the hamstrings and endless leg curls are a waste of time for a runner.  You should perform most of your exercises using only your body (standing) with your feet on the floor. Insuring a strong core and stable posture will improve overall strength and stability.  A traditional seated leg extension or lying leg curl type exercise is a true recipe for disaster. Running is a closed chain activity that deals with the body’s ability to accept the ground reactive forces as you produce and reduce force in the most efficient manner.

David “Mac” McCluskey is a ACSM Personal Trainer, NFHS certified interscholastic coach, Connecticut State BOE Certified, Certified Strength & Conditioning , Alpine Skiing (giant slalom) , and an accredited & certified NFHS Track & Field coach

12 time Ironman Finisher

2001 Ultraman World Championship finisher (20th overall)

Twice voted the Connecticut Post Track & Field Coach of the Year

Mac is the current head coach of Track & Field and an assistant football coach at South Summit High School in Kamas, Utah.


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