It just so happens that she recently launched an online training plan with MyQuest to help runners build record speed.
Let one of the fastest women on Earth show you the way.
When you’re running to lose weight, picking up the pace is usually the fastest route to results. And what better person to teach you to run like the wind than four-time Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross? (FYI, she was officially the fastest woman on earth for more than a decade.)
It just so happens that she recently launched an online training plan with MyQuest to help runners build record speed. Here are her top tips for running faster to lose weight.
"If you can’t go there in your mind, it won’t happen," Sanya says. "Before a race, I visualize myself on top of that podium. Visualize yourself hitting your own goals." Lace up your running shoes, get on pavement, and close your eyes. Imagine how achieving your own goal—whether that's hitting a new PR or weight-loss goal—would look, sound, and feel. Imagine your legs moving so fast you feel like they might fly off. The wind in your face. Nothing but the finish line in front of you.
"The more efficient you can become as a runner, the easier it is to become faster. Developing speed requires great posture and body positioning. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no idea what they look like running," Sanya says. To fix that—and your form—she recommends performing "mirror drills," basically running in place in front of a mirror.
With each stride in place, focus on raising your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular with the floor when they're at their highest point. The balls of your feet should be the only part of your foot to make contact with the floor. Move them quickly to minimize the amount of time you’re touching the floor, she says.
Meanwhile, your hands should reach just below your chin at their highest point. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and focus on driving your elbows straight behind your body using your shoulders. Your elbows should stay bent at a 90-degree angle. Perform this drill for two to three minutes a day to reinforce proper form and movement patterns, she says. Speed will follow.
"If you want to get faster, you have to get stronger," Sanya says. "Turn those quick-twitch muscles on and that will translate to overall speed and results." The best way to train the fast-twitch muscle fibers responsible for powering your runs is by performing high-intensity compound lifts like heavy squats, deadlifts, and power cleans. Schedule three weekly lifting sessions into your workout schedule for optimal results.
"When you set your first goal, it should be small and easily attainable," Sanya says. "For example, instead of setting a goal to lose 50 pounds, try setting a goal to lose five pounds in a month. Once you achieve that goal, it gets you energized for the next step." The same holds true with speed. Set a goal to shave a few seconds off of your 400-meter time or maybe 30 off of your mile time. Then go from there. "Running is a habit, so be patient and give yourself time," she says.
"The night before a race, I used to load up on carbs," Sanya says. That’s because your body stores them in your muscles and liver as glycogen, your body’s fastest and most efficient energy source—and exactly what you need to pound the pavement at record speed.
Focus on integrating whole, complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes into your regular meals. An hour before and/or after high-intensity workouts, you can benefit from simple, easier-to-digest carbs from workout bars, gels, white bread, and chocolate milk. Keep servings on the small side so that you don’t feel weighed down or have mid-run GI issues.
Sanya’s personal running mantra: "No one can beat me when I run my race." What will your mantra be? Having one is critical to your ability to push hard through weight-room and running workouts, stay confident, and, eventually, set new PRs, Sanya says. She suggests writing it on your bathroom mirror, setting it as your phone background, and using it as a daily reminder to believe in yourself. Close your eyes and repeat it to yourself before every run.