A lot of people, especially when they first start running, don’t know their average jogging speed.
Instead of measuring it, they just go by “what feels good.” And even though that is a pretty good indicator, I recommend putting some numbers to that feeling. Anytime you quantify something, it becomes much easier to measure improvements.
After all, how can you improve your running speed if you don’t even know what that speed is? This article is focused around one thing- to help you find and improve your average jogging speed.
Finding Your Average Jogging Speed
The first thing you want to do is identify the distance you want to use. If you’re just starting, you might want to go with one mile. If you’re a more seasoned runner, a few miles will give you a better average pace.
If you aren’t using something measured out like a running track, consider using a website like Gmap-Pedometer. You could also measure out the distance with your car.
Next, you should time yourself with a sport watch. You can use a regular watch, but it generally won’t be as accurate because you can’t see the number of seconds.
Make sure that you jog at your average pace. You want to feel comfortable and be able to carry on a conversation, but don’t take it too easy. You still want to make sure you get a good workout.
Once you’ve completed the run, divide your time by how far you ran. This will give you your average pace for the distance covered. For example, if you ran for 20 minutes and covered 2 miles, your average jogging speed was 10 minutes per mile. This is also known is your running pace.
If you’re into the high-tech stuff, there are GPS watches or devices you clip onto your shoe to determine your average pace. These are useful because they’re easy to use and can give you the current speed. The only disadvantage is that they’re a financial investment.
Once you’ve figured out your average speed, you have a baseline to improve from, right?
Now let’s talk about how to get faster.
Improving Your Average Jogging Speed
Your running speed depends on a variety of different factors. From your running gear to your oxygen uptake efficiency, everything plays a part.
For this article however, we’ll mainly discuss the different training methods you can use to increase speed.
Over the last few years, more and more emphasis has been placed on interval training. This type of running has more benefits than just helping you run faster. It also helps build muscle, burn fat, and improve your overall health.
Interval training basically involves switching back and forth between sprints and slower, easier walks or jogs. The sprinting portion is what actually improves your running ability and wears you out, while the jog just lets you recover your breath and energy.
Technically you can simply rest between each sprint session, but it’s not recommended. By walking or jogging, you keep your heart rate up and build more endurance.
Finally, make sure you have some structure to intervals. You don’t want to stop sprinting “when you feel like it.” Determine a set amount of time or a specific distance, then don’t stop until you reach that goal.
Spending just one or two days on hill runs can have huge effects on your speed. Not only does it give your legs a harder workout, but you also improve your form because hill runs force you to pick your knees up.
Just be careful when going back downhill. You’re actually putting more force on your knees and ankles, so it’s easier to hurt yourself if you aren’t paying attention.
Similar to interval training, fartleks are useful because they throw structure out the window. While interval training typically involves a set distance or time goal repeated multiple times, fartleks typically involve more different types of workouts.
For example, a fartlek may have you jog for 2 minutes, sprint up a hill, walk fast for 5 minutes, run at 70% of your max for 3 minutes, jog for 2, etc.
These typically work best if you plan it out ahead of time or have someone else plan it for you.
The reason this improves your average jogging speed is that it prevents your muscles from becoming over-efficient. Similar to interval training, by changing your speed multiple times, you’re causing muscle confusion.
A lot of new runners don’t realize how important strength training is for running. By building stronger calf and quad muscles, your muscles will have more explosive power and endurance.
A few of the best exercises to start with are the power clean, squat and dumbbell jerk. Just make sure that you incorporate upper body workouts as well, such as pull-ups and the bench press. Of course, don’t forget your core. Building a strong core through abdominal exercises will have you improve.
I’m all about measuring. If you don’t know your average jogging speed right now, I recommend measuring it today or tomorrow. The sooner, the better.
Then you can incorporate some of the techniques mentioned here- as well as getting better gear and improving your nutrition- to quickly improve your speed.
(PHOTO CREDIT on Featured image: 100 meters by quapan, Flickr)