February 16, 2010

How to Become a Faster Runner

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

[Quick note from the Crab: So in case you didn't catch the byline, yes, we've got a special guest post from Cranky Fitness Alumna Merry Sunshine, aka "The Merry!" As you know, she has her own blog Sheesh, but she kindly offered to stop by during our last few Cranky weeks. (We may even try to coerce her into sending over one of her Famous Flow Charts if she gets a chance). This is a special bonus; we also have a new post by Jo today, right below, that will cure what ails ya.' Thanks Merry and Jo!]

I'm always a sucker for articles that promise to make me a faster runner.

Obligatory disclaimer
Before I go any further, I need to put in a disclaimer: if you're already a fast runner, read no further. You're not going to find any useful tips, and frankly you annoy me.

Why is everyone passing me?
I hate it when people run faster than I do. Of course, the problem with that is that Everyone On The Planet runs faster than I do. Yes, even you in the corner there. That's probably why I've always been fascinated by articles like Ten Easy Ways to Run Faster! Or, Improve Your 5k Time While Getting a Flat Stomach by Eating Acai Berries!*

The solution
At last, after endless hours surfing the Internet for quick tips ceaselessly researching this subject, I have finally found the answer on How To Become A Faster Runner.

It's easy. Here's all you have to do.

The people who're faster than you? Take 'em out.

Um, no.
Not what I had in mind, actually.
Take them out of the picture. Stop comparing yourself to them. Think of it as a kind of mental photoshopping.

The "Before" version:

The "After" version:
(After you've X'd out all those damn runners who had the temerity to be ahead of you.)

Voila! You are the fastest runner around! Congratulations!

See, words like 'faster' or 'slower' are relative. The only person you can really be sure of beating is you. Measure your own speeds and work on improving them.

Self-improvement: more effective than sabotage
Yes, I know applying superglue to the bottom of Nitmos' running shoes is more fun. But in the long run, you're the only runner you're always going to be competing with. So you're the one to beat.

The first step? I'm afraid that involves doing some actual running. Well, you knew this day would come eventually. This is the time. Go forth and run a mile, or some K, or however far you can run, and then enter how fast (or, um, slow) you ran into this site (on the Runner's World website). It will then calculate what a good training pace would be for an easy run, a sprint, a long run. Now you have some numbers to compete against.

For additional tips, check out these sites:
Good luck! And once you've broken the speed record for your race, please do come back and brag about it.

Unless you're running in the same race that I am, in which case please be advised that I have superglue. And know how to use it.

Do you have any helpful tips for becoming a faster, better, stronger person? Preferably ones that don't involve superglue.

My not-quite-heartfelt apologies to Vanilla, Nitmos, and Xenia for taking their images in vain. But it's their fault for being faster than I am.

*Yes, Crabby, I did throw those keywords in to attract people who are e'en now Googling for those subjects.


  1. Nice to see you on Cranky Fitness, Merry!

    When I left Florida to go to med school in the northeast, it was a hot, humid August! For the rest of that summer, I was easily faster than any runner I encountered there. No one ever passed me. They were all complaining about the heat and humidity. Since I was Florida summer trained, their hot and humid was a walk in the park for me :-)

  2. I'll put "Move from Florida to New York" on the list of tips :)

    Crabby, thanks for letting me come back to do a guest post!

  3. I've never looked better, Merry.

    Also, love the fact that you made Vanilla look like a villain from a silent film about to tie the heroine to the train tracks. And Nitmos' expression would suggest I just farted in his face.

    Ok, maybe I'm not so flattered by that part. :)

  4. Ha! I love it! I am slow, and I used to be even slower. (10 minute mile used to be my goal pace) So I figured I'd just train for longer distances and assume that if I could run further than everyone else (albeit slower) I'd still have a chance during the zombie apocalypse.

    Go figure, if you run enough you just get faster naturally. I've surprised myself a few times during 5ks with how much faster I've gotten :)

  5. I am actually much more handsome than you made me out to be, but I forgive your oversight as it's not really possible to accurately represent my handsomeness in a drawing... or my ego.

  6. It looks like we are all playing Grab Ass. Figures that Vanilla would choose to grab MY ass.

  7. Yeah, my artistic skills are... pretty much non-existent.

  8. Great advice!

    I'm a really slow runner, but since I'm off in my own little world and am too chicken to race, I don't actually have to acknowledge the fact that I'm a tortoise, not a hare.

    Thanks SO much for stopping by the old Cranky home!

  9. Wait...why is John Travolta holding a hair dryer?

    I am a slow runner, but I get the job done. My first 5K race is in 10 days so I will get to experience first hand what it's like to be passed over and over and over again. Think I will skip over all of your suggestions except for the Running World's "how to dress like a fast runner" - sounds like it will take the least amount of energy and at least I will LOOK fast, right?

    Great to see you over here!

  10. Aw Merry - welcome back, even if it is just for a short short time.

    I'm a sloooooooow runner. But I think I already took your advice. Because most of my running is done on a treadmill (no one else better be on there at the same time!) or in the wee hours of the morning on a lonesome stretch of trail.

    Now, how about some tips on getting my hubby to not *race* through our hikes? :)

  11. Well, on the treadmill at the gym, I cover ground just as fast as anyone else!

    Ouside, on the other hand...Well, on my last 5k effort (I've done at least 4 in 8 years), I finally managed to pace myself. Although my times were nothing special at the first two miles, I did pass a few people in the last 1/2 mile. A novel experience for me.

    But I'll still be starting runs at the back of the pack. And staying there.

  12. Ugh. Need to do hills. Need to do hills. Need to do hills. Need to tattoo - "Need to do hills" on my forehead.

    ...I hate hills.

  13. I've always been quick but never fast.

  14. ahhh we hath missed the Merry up in herre.
    and me? I needed this post.
    though I more need a How to Become a Runner.

    could you do that one for me next?

  15. Yay, Merry!

    I'm a little disturbed by the photos that are always displayed for "become a faster runner" articles. ALWAYS OLYMPIANS. Really? So, I can ready this article, follow it to a T, and become Olympic speedy. Awesome.

  16. I started the Couch(computer)-to-5K a few weeks ago. I'm just happy I can jog for 8 minutes straight!

    This makes me go faster: Guns n Roses' "Paradise City" on my iPOD.

    Love your writing, Merry!

  17. I'm a slow poke, too! But I like to give myself lots of room for improvement so it's cool. Totally agree on being your own number one competitor!

  18. In one of the races I was in last year, there were very few entrants (maybe 15) and I was the first girl to finish. I am 49. I was ahead of at least two alumni of the crew organization we were running for. So although I didn't set any land/speed records, I was faster than THEM. It ALWAYS makes me feel better.

  19. I need to do a whole lot of running before I can finish a marathon with a decent time. Decent according to my standards, anyway. O.o

  20. PFFT! I pass sooo many joggers! ... Joggers running in the other direction. :)

  21. Weight lifting and strengthening your legs will help a lot if you are a smaller guy. Be sure to ALWAYS stretch after lifting or you will lose flexible and make it easier to pull. But like the saying "Practice makes perfect" you have to run to run fast. All that other stuff helps but you will ultimately have to do some sort of sprinting or long distance work out depending on what you will do for track.!


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