I am often asked how I keep a sub-7 so often on my runs. Truth is, I never thought I’d run this pace, and for a lonnnng time I didn’t. Sub-7 is where I live comfortably now, and this was my goal last year. For those of you that have been following me a while, you’ll know that Spring of last year, I said I wanted to make sub 7 comfy, and well, now I have (sort of). Anything below 15 miles, I can comfortably run my normal 6:50 pace, but for me the challenge is:
(1) Making that comfy pace EVEN lower
(2) Making sub 7 comfy for 26.2, which is HARD (for me at least.)
So, a little background… I’ve always loved to run, truly. I was a sprinter in high school, and just generally an athlete in some form my whole life. Transitioning to distance running for me was truly for personal pleasure, never for racing or PRs or anything of the sort. I comfortable lived at an 8-8:30 min/mile and never tried to run faster. FOR YEARS. So what changed?
Basically – my mindset. After starting my instagram @myrunbum I really became connected with a community of runners that was so motivating, exciting, and uplifting. I made a conscious decision to get my head in the game, and a lot changed. Up until 2014 I didn’t even run with a watch most of the time, and if I did it definitely didn’t have GPS. Getting my Garmin Forerunner 220 changed my pace dramatically. Suddenly I could chase myself, and that was fun.
In 2016 I met some friends that challenged me to get sub 7, because they believed I could, and somehow that motivated me to try. I never thought I would run a marathon, so why not try a new goal, and get faster.
So the big question – How did I go from 8 min/mile to sub 7 in less than 2 years?
- ) Cross Training – I added Swimming and Cycling to my training in a big way. Building strength in my quads through biking hills, and power in my core and shoulders through swimming. This knocked me down to the 7:15 range right away. Why? Because I was stronger. I’m definitely not saying taking up extra sports will make you faster, but what I AM saying is think about your overall strength, where are you weakest? What can you improve – then tackle it.
- ) Diet – I’ve always been thin, and in college I was SKINNY. Skinny can sometimes mean being fast, but only if there is power behind it. I’ve probably gained 20 pounds since then (seriously) but its muscle.
I’ve always stayed away from overly unhealthy foods, but I’ve been a lot more in tune with what helps my body perform. Adding protein, proper carbs like sweet potatoes and whole grains, and adding back dairy. Dairy was the hardest to bring back in my life, I have to time it appropriately for stomach issues, but its a life saver on the bones. (PS check out my post on diet for more about what I eat)
- Drills – These suck, and they are hard. A lot of people like doing them on the track, which is fab, and feels old school. If you don’t have a track, the treadmill is great for controlling your speed. Getting faster short distances at a time will impact your speed over all. Another big one for me was running after cycling, it is brutal, but builds insane power in the lungs and legs.
- Gear – Invest in a garmin or gps tracking device, it’s worth it. Technology is remarkable, and should be used to your advantage. Make yourself your biggest competition and go for it. Make sure you’re running in the RIGHT shoes for your body, not just the most popular or best looking ones, and change them out when they are worn.
- CONFIDENCE – This one is huge. I hear so many people tell me they could never run, or run faster, or place in a race. Well I use to think that to, and 13 Marathons, 2 Bostons, several race placings, and PRs later, here I am. YOU CAN. Getting your head in the game is a big player in this. Remember you are in control of you, and your mind will try to convince you a thousand times “you can’t” before you’ve even finished a race. Block it out – come up with mantras to repeat in your mind, visualize the win, the PR, the place you want to be, and apply constant pressure until the negative thoughts break and you’re crushing new paces.
I honestly do not compete with other runners. My run friends on Insta motivate me SO MUCH, and I love sharing what I love with that community. I hold myself accountable to what I am capable of, what I want to achieve, and concentrate on my own goals. Comparing yourself to others can be a dark hole, and a fast track to letting the negative thoughts creep back in!
To be clear, there are no secret sauces to suddenly getting faster, it takes work and it takes commitment. Surround yourself with positive people that support you, and motivate you to be your best self. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail, learn from it, keep going, and never give up.
Have specific questions? What else do you want to read about? Send me an email or leave a comment below!