How to Run Faster and Longer
Reasons to Run a Shorter Race
Water flows downhill, and runners move up in distance—these are, or seem to be, immutable laws of nature. But to run your best, you sometimes have to counter your instinct. That's why top pros, whether they're milers or marathoners, spend time each year racing under-distance. Training for short races speeds up your cadence and increases the power of your push-off, making you more efficient and ultimately faster when you move back to longer distances.
But the biggest benefits may be as much mental as physical. Chris Solinsky, the first American to break the 27-minute barrier for 10,000 meters, dipped down to 1500 meters for an early season race last April, running 3:35.89 at the Mt. SAC Relays. "If you're too ingrained in longer distances," he says, "you get scared and think that's as fast as you can go." To fight that negative mental energy, check out our list of 10 Mental Tricks to Help You Run Better.
Like Solinsky, many runners plan their under-distance phase for spring. After a long winter of base-building, it's a good time to test your limits and set yourself up to PR in your goal distance later.