Last Updated: January 31st, 2021
The heavier you are the slower your…Agree? I strongly disagree…I’ve seen thin runners who struggle with speed? If being overweight makes you slow…then why these not fast? Let’s find out…
Why I’m Skinny But Slow Runner?
You are skinny but a slow runner because you are not running efficiently. By losing 10 lbs you can improve your running by 20 sec per mile. But you are already skinny, so that is not the deciding factor in your case. You can be skinny but may underperform with a heavier runner.
This is because, the key to becoming an efficient runner is training. The regularly you train, the better is your running efficiency. The running efficiency also impacts your VO2 max.
Is it in my genes?
You may not like the answer, but it is true. Also, your genes are responsible for your fitness.
This is one of the main reasons why the East African athletes dominate the major races in the world. Studies show that the genes ACTN3 and ACE are primarily associated with your athletic performances. These genes influence the fibers that make up the muscle and are also related to strength and endurance.
Another example of the gene influence is on your lactate threshold. During exercise or running a by-product called lactate is generated. If there is an accumulation of lactate in the body, this will cause the tiring of muscle and fatigue.
The variation of MCT1 gene is responsible for difficulties in mobilizing the lactate throughout the body. Hence it may cause the onset of early fatigue.
Another way your gene affects your performance is how it builds up your collagen protein. A pair of genes COL1A1 and COL5A helps in building up this protein. They are responsible for strengthening the tendons and ligaments which are essential for any runners.
So, your genes may not directly make you a better runner, but they inherently influence your performance.
What can be the other reasons that I’m so slow at running?
Your body weight is not the sole responsible party for your slowness. And especially for a skinny person like you, they are surely something different.
Here are some of the factors which may be responsible for your slowness:
Practice & Training
Practice and training are the main keys to your performance.
If you have just started to run then you cannot think of speed.
You need to build your base first before you can even think about speed.
Be patient and keep training.
It may take sometime before you may attain the level of speed you are expecting of yourself.
Related: Zero To Half-Marathon Training Plan For Beginners On Couch
Another reason for your slowness may your lack of muscle strength.
So, you may need to improve on that as well.
Strength training will not only help you build up muscle strength but will also improve your endurance.
Also, you should strengthen your lower body muscles so that you can continue your running.
This will make you overall faster so that you can further build your stamina.
- Is Resistance Training Required With Running?
- 17 Insanely Actionable Tips to Improve Your Running Endurance Today
- Top 23 Tips To Run Faster And Longer
If you have started to run, then you should alter your diet accordingly. You have to eat a balanced diet. Protein and carbs are a must and you should also have sufficient fruits and vegetables.
And if you are thinking about skipping carbs, don’t even think about it…
Carbs are the fuel for running and are the only ones which will keep you going…
But instead of simple carbs like refined sugar, choose complex carbohydrates.
The next thing that you need to focus on is protein – your muscles need proteins for strength. So, include lean meat and fish in your diet.
If you are vegetarian then you can eat different combinations of pulses.
Another vital mineral that will have a direct effect on your speed is Iron.
Lack of iron may also slow you down. An easy fix is to include beetroot and spinach in your diet.
These vegetables and greens will also help in recovery.
And last but not least, keep yourself well hydrated.
It’s just not only at the time of the run you should drink water all through the day to prevent dehydration.
How To Increase Running Stamina By Food?
Your running form and posture may also be the reason behind your slow speed.
If you are bending your head and looking down you may end up having slower speed.
Keep your chin parallel to the ground and look at a 45-degree angle.
Keep your shoulder relaxed and tighten up the core.
Your hand should be bent at 90 deg at the elbow and must be next to your waist.
Making these little tweaks can help to improve your speed.
Pains and aches
Listen to your body.
If there is any persistent pain in your knees, ankle forefoot or anywhere else, get it checked.
These pain may be the problem areas that are reducing your speed.
Sometimes the smaller pain may become a big problem.
How to avoid running overuse injuries?
Wrong Running shoes
This is not directly related to you being skinny but in general, if you are running in the wrong kind of shoes or in worn-out shoes, you may end up being slow due to persistent aches and pains.
As a runner you can have any of the below three pronations:
For each type of pronation, you will have a different type of running shoe.
You fail to choose the correct one and you will end up not only slow but an injured runner.
Can I ever become a fast runner?
Well, you can…
In fact, anyone can become a fast or at least a faster runner, if they put in the effort.
Keep in mind the above points and put in the training.
Also, just focus on the current week, don’t think too much about the distant future.
For me, if I overthink this, I tend to stop in tracks.
It better works for me if I just focus on the current run.
Try it out…
It may help you to stick with your running plan better.
And this is most important…
You follow a plan…
This will give you a base to which you can measure your performance.
If you don’t have one handy try out the below one.
This is a basic plan which any beginner can follow and will help you to run a half marathon with decent speed in 24 weeks.
Related: Zero To Half-Marathon Training Plan For Beginners On Couch
How can I become a fast runner?
Well, for starters, focus on consistency…
This is the only thing that will make a real difference…
Without consistency, the rest of your efforts will not bring you any results.
Check your cadence
You can calculate your cadence by counting the number of steps in a minute.
For an elite runner, the cadence is 180 steps per min.
But it’s really OK if you have a cadence of 100spm or 120spm.
You can gradually work on it and increase it and try to achieve 130 to 140 spm (strides per minute).
Resistance training comes with a bundle of benefits.
- Improve stamina (Related: How To Improve Running Stamina In Under 2 Weeks?)
- Better weight management (Related: Running For Weightloss Plan)
- Bone strength
- Imparts Flexibility
- Muscles strength
To improve your speed, you need better stamina and muscle strength.
Resistance training can help you with that.
Although it may seem complicated at first, but with time it gets easier.
Also, you can go to some fancy gym with lots of equipment or you can do it at home with your own bodyweight.
Include a 20 min resistance training 2-3 times a week and you will see the difference.
Working on the core
Your core is an integral part of running.
A strong core not only gives a sculpted look to your body, but it is required for better performance.
When you are running the core keeps the torso upright and makes the pelvis, hips and lower back to work more smoothly.
It stabilizes and strengthens the lower back muscle, giving you the right posture.
So next time when you are running, or even otherwise, try to pull your belly button towards your spines.
Here are some exercise for your core
- Planks and side planks
- Russian twist
- Mountain climbers
- Leg raise
For running faster, you need your muscles to be flexible so that they can work faster.
Proper stretching can quickly get you there.
If you are running early morning, there will be a lot of stiffness in your joints accumulated due to an entire night’s inactivity.
To make them fully functional, stretching is a must before running.
For better speed you need your hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings to be more flexible.
The relaxed muscles make you swift.
Some most effective stretches for runners are:
- Quadriceps stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Calf stretch
- IT Band Stretch
- Downward facing dogs
- Psosas stretch
- Glutes muscle stretch
- Groin stretch
- Spine stretch
You can get more detailed steps here: Strengthening Exercises For Runners: Hip Flexors and Others
When you are running for the first time, focus on your form and you will be able to pick up speed faster.
Here is how you can improve your Running Form
- Your chin should be parallel to the ground.
- Look at a distance 50-100 meters ahead and not in your shoes.
- Your shoulders should be relaxed.
- Do not have a tight fist, you will be wasting your energy.
- Your hands should be at your waist.
- Swing your arms in rhythm to your foot.. opposite hand and opposite foot.
- Tighten up your core.
- You must stall tall and never crunch it.
- Slightly incline your body from the hip flexors
- Never lift your knee too high
- Keep shorter stride
- Your midfoot should land under your knee.
You must have felt sometime while running you run out of breath.
While you are running, you need more and more oxygen to reach your muscles.
So, you must pay attention to your breathing.
You must practice deep breathing and avoid shallow breathing as much as possible.
The shallow breathing is where you are using just your chest.
While you inhale you must use both your nose and mouth and you must feel abdominal swelling.
Related: 8 Essential Breathing Tips for New Runners
Run a sprint
Sprint running helps in improving the form and running efficiency.
Sprinting is not just running from point A to B.
It requires much more effort, muscle activation, and coordination.
So if you master the skill of sprint, you would have built the essence to run fast.
Related: Can A Sprinter Become A Long-Distance Runner?
Running with a faster runner
Have you ever heard of healthy competition?
Let me tell you a story:
During the early 1900, Charles M. Schwab, the steel magnate, wanted to increase his steel production.
However, whatever he did, never seemed to bring any result.
So, he did something like this:
One day, at the end of the night shift he asked one of his managers – How many heats did your shift make today?
Without any words, he wrote a big number 6 on the floor and walked away.
The next morning, Schwab walked through the mill again and found that his number 6 was replaced by a number 7.
When the morning shift reported that day, they thought the night shift is showing off being better than them.
Now they wanted to show the night shift how it is done…
A big fat number ’10’ by the end of the morning shift…
This continued…and soon afterward it became the largest steel-producing mill in the entire plant…
This is what a little bit of healthy competition can do…
Now back to you…
You will also be challenged to perform better if you are running with a faster runner…
This is how human nature is – take advantage of it.
Running to music
If you love music then it is the best way to improve your running.
All you need is an upbeat playlist.
You try to match your stride with the beats.
This way you will not realize how fast you are moving while enjoying your music.
Training under the worst scenarios prepares you for the best.
I totally agree that running becomes more difficult at higher altitudes.
Uphill training is more challenging due to
- Increased dehydration
- Reduced oxygen
- Drop-in VO2 max
- Lower temperature
- Altitude sickness
Once you have mastered the skill to run on the plain, try out running uphill.
Though there are challenges it will boost your confidence for future races.
Treadmill for Newbies
I personally feel a treadmill is a safe and relatively easy way to workout.
This is particularly more helpful if you have just started running.
Running outside may be difficult at first.
The harder the surface gets it becomes more difficult to run on them.
So, that way the treadmill has the belt which provides a softer surface and it is not very hard on the feet.
Another reason is that there are lesser chances of leg turn over or twist which may happen on an uneven surface.
You can run at your own desired pace and inclination.
The latest treadmill comes with so many advanced features and in-built programs.
Another reason why I suggest the treadmill for the new runners is the climate.
If it’s too hot or raining you may drop the idea of running outside, but you can still run on the treadmill.
This will help you be regular for your training.
What else can I do to improve my speed?
Make sure if you are running you are well-hydrated.
Dehydration may lead to fatigue and make you slow down.
You should take fluid intake throughout the day.
If you are running in the morning you must drink a tall glass of water before running.
Also, do not forget to carry your water bottle.
Post-run sip on coconut water.
This will quench your thirst and also provides nutrients for recovery.
I am not kidding!!
Really, Black Coffee does add to your running performance.
Caffeine reduces the perception of effort.
Hence you will be feeling lesser effort than what you will be putting into your run.
This way you will be running faster without actually feeling the pain of it.
For example, you will be completing a mile in 6 minutes and feel as if you would have completed it in 7 minutes.
It also makes your mind more alert and improves endurance.
Sleep is essential not only for runners but for everyone.
Runners particularly should sleep for 8-9 hours.
In fact, you should set up the bedtime alarm to be in bed if you are running early in the morning.
Sleep helps in the post-run recovery.
The real problem is it actually increases the perception of effort and makes the running more challenging.
You are not able to concentrate properly and draggy on the field.
The best practice is to run for 5-6 days a week and giving 1-2 rest days to yourself.
Rest days are very important for recovery.
Your muscles and soft tissues work really hard when you run.
So giving rest day in between you can give a chance for these muscles to relax.
Once in a while, you can take a break from the regular running and go for a relaxed run.
Or maybe try out some cross-training like swimming or cycling.
Invest in a good pair of running shoes.
Your shoes are the most important running gear and you must be very careful while selecting them.
Mostly for long-distance running, opt for a Light Weight Running Shoes which will not tire you out.
The weight of the shoes will not affect if you are running a small distance.
But when you go for a long-distance running you may start feeling the weight of your shoes and slow down.
Ensure that your shoes have a proper cushion without which it becomes very difficult to run on the harder surfaces.
Replace your shoes once you see the signs of worn-out or the cushioning is gone.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
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