The Men's Health Guide to Running Faster

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

With the rise of barefoot-style running and the five-fingered minimalist shoe, the science of stride mechanics—once the arcane province of running geeks—has entered the mainstream. Has running, the most elemental of sports, really become so complex? Does the average guy hoping to go out for a pain-free run really have to fret about all this? MH joined forces with Runner's World to bring you the best answers to these questions. You'll find out how to clean up your stride, strengthen your legs, blast belly fat, prevent injuries, train for a half marathon without losing muscle, and approach that cute speedster in hip-huggers and a sports bra. Happy running!

Speed School

One of the best form fixes you can do it to learn how to jog on the balls of your feet. How? With this plan. Jog 5 minutes as a warmup, and then do each of these drills for 30 seconds.

1. Arm Circles with Skip
As you skip, swing your arms in a forward circular motion as wide and as high as you can. After 30 seconds, swing backward.

2. Cross-Body Toe Touch
Every three steps, lift your leg as high as you can and swing your opposite arm to touch your elevated toes. Alternate sides each rep.

3. "A" Skip with Knee to Chest
Skip, but every three steps lift your knee toward your chest. Alternate sides. This pushes you onto the balls of your feet.

4. "B" Skip
Follow the "A" skip pattern, but kick your leg out in a quick burst once your leg reaches its apex. Try to do it as fast as possible.

5. Fast-Leg High Knees
Do a single high-knee as fast as you can, and then jog a few steps and switch knees.

6. Fast-Leg Butt Kicks
Your hamstrings and quads have opposing functions. Butt kicks warm up both. Do a butt kick as quickly as you can, jog a few steps, and switch the kicking leg.


Boredom Busters

Running can be a head game. Use these motivational tips to come out on top

Shift to Walk Speed
Going long? Break up the tedium by running 4 minutes and then walking 30 seconds, coach Jeff Galloway says. "You'll recover faster and can finish quicker."

Find a Partner
If you spy an interesting runner, compliment her stride or her shoes, says Olympian Kara Goucher. Or join a club (rrca.org). You'll meet educated, fun, and fast women!

Create a Mantra
Think brief, positive, and instructive. For instance, says Runner's World editor in chief David Willey, to fight fatigue when powering up a hill, think, Claw the ground.

Strike Like a Ninja
Listen to your stride: ninja good, elephant bad. "Lean forward slightly," says Scott Berlinger, coach at Full Throttle Endurance. It will help you touch down on your forefoot.

Zoom Up Hills
"Increase your arm swing, as if you were pulling yourself quickly up a rope," says Larry Indiviglia, a coach based in San Diego. "And lift your knees higher."

Ignite Your Stride
If you're tiring during a race or while doing intervals and need a mental boost, imagine you're on hot coals, Galloway says. Hot damn, you'll speed up your stride!

Run for a Cause
"It boosts your incentive. With social media you can now gain support from friends and family noninvasively," says Runner's World chief running officer Bart Yasso.

Outfox Negativity
"If you hit a bad patch, try counting your steps," says Goucher. "When you hit 100, start over at 1. It can help take your mind off your troubles and put you back on track."

Join Treadmill U
"The rhythms of treadmill running boost learning," says coach Matt Barbosa. You can use an easy run to rehearse a presentation or listen to an educational podcast.

—Reporting by Lila Battis and Kevin Cirilli


Running Makes You Smarter!

Sharper memory, better mood, new brain cells. The research is in—running blows your mind! Here's real-world proof

THE ATOMIC PHYSICIST
"I run six times a week first thing in the morning, usually for an hour. Afterward I'm energized: I'm more spontaneous, and in a positive sense I'm more aggressive at getting work done. Running gives me a fresh mind and makes me more focused and efficient."

—Wolfgang Ketterle, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel Laureate in physics

THE INVENTOR
"Running focuses my mind and allows me to think around a subject. I still need a workshop to make discoveries, but on a run I might think of a new avenue to explore. Another thing I learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you're hurting like crazy. The moment you should accelerate is the moment you're the most tired. I found that to be so in life as well."

—Sir James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of Dyson, manufacturer of vacuums and fans

THE TECH WHIZ
"I really started running for meditative purposes. I would pick some problem to have in my head while running—not for the purpose of solving it, but for the purpose of having it bounce around in there. Like when you say you're going to sleep on it; I say I'm going to run on it. Then at some point later on, a solution falls out."

—Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter

THE NOVELIST
"I try not to think about anything special while I'm running. As a matter of fact, I usually run with my mind empty. However, when I run empty-minded, something naturally and abruptly crawls in sometimes. That might become an idea that can help me with my writing."

—Haruki Murakami, author of 1Q84

For even more advice to perfect your running game, visit the musclemorphosis.com.