If you’ve already fallen in love with running, then you know how great it can be to lace up and really pick up the pace. Running fast doesn’t just feel great, but also has loads of total-body, research-backed benefits, like reduced inflammation and boosted life expectancy. Still, we’ve all had those days where we feel like a total snail.
Here, experts weigh in on the biggest mistakes you could be making that slow down your run.
YOU’RE BOUNDING TOO HIGH
Your stride says a lot about you. The goal of your run should be to propel you forward, not upward. Any extra upward movement could be slowing down your pace and ultimately, an injury risk. “I see a lot of runners who are too bouncy in their motion,” says Rachel DeBusk, a Seattle-based RRCA run coach. “If you think this is you, think about running under a low ceiling, about 2 inches above your head.”
Another movement fixer? Try looking at a stable object in the distance as you run. If it’s bouncing, so are you, says DeBusk.
GOING OUT TOO FAST
Unless you’re specifically running for tempo pace, your goal should be to run the second half faster than the first half, says Amanda Dale, certified sports nutritionist and endurance coach. “This not only ensures that you have enough energy in the tank to actually finish the workout, but it trains your body to work harder through fatigue — a great skill to have come race day.”
YOU’RE NOT WEARING THE RIGHT CLOTHES
Wearing full tights on a scorching hot day or a loose-fitting T-shirt that catches a lot of drag? Be smart about the garb you lean into when you’re heading out for your morning miles.
“Clothing might seem like a second thought, but it can have a huge impact on your run,” says Alexandra Weissner, RRCA-certified running coach and co-founder of bRUNch Running. “This can be anything from too-short shorts without using something like Vaseline or BodyGlide in those spots that chafe to a pair of running tights that won’t stay up.”
Weissner suggests finding the picks that work for you, and then snagging them in multiple colorways.
YOU’RE MOVING YOUR TORSO TOO MUCH
“Plain and simple: It’s wasted motion,” says DeBusk. “It both slows you down and tires you out.”
To visualize the optimal core stability for a faster run, DeBusk suggests the following exercise: Put yourself in a plank and bend one knee backward 90 degrees, toward the sky. Pulse that foot 2–3 inches toward the sky without letting the raised knee drop and keeping the core completely still. “That trains the body to keep the torso still and efficient during a run,” she says.
YOU’RE NOT PROPERLY HYDRATED
Dehydration can slow you down majorly. This holds especially true for morning runners, who want to get up and out as soon as their alarms go off. “After sleeping for 7–8 hours your body needs to be replenished,” says Cortney Logan, an RRCA-certified run coach. “While you should down a glass of water after getting out of bed, this might not often be enough.” Runners need to know proper hydration.
Logan’s go-to is the three-beverage approach: a glass of water, an electrolyte beverage and a cup of coffee. “Water will help flush those muscles, electrolytes help combat dehydration from your good night’s rest, and coffee has caffeine that gives you that desirable jolt.”
YOU’RE WEARING THE WRONG SHOES
Being in the wrong kind of shoes can be painful and stop a runner in their tracks. “Make sure to get fitted for your running shoes at a specialty shop,” suggests Jonathan Poston, USATF Level II endurance coach. “Test them out for shorter distances before going out for anything more than a few miles.”