Pining for a PB? You’re up against evolution itself. Left to our own devices, humans have evolved to run at speeds that require the lowest energy expenditure, according to new research from Queens University in Ontario and Stanford University in California. In other words: We’re born to run slow.
After analyzing data from more than 37,000 daily runs via wearable trackers, researchers found whether runners were heading out for 2, 4 or 6+ miles, they ran at virtually the same pace—one that allowed for maximum calorie preservation.
“Overall, when we go for a run, although a goal may be to burn calories, we move at a speed to minimize them,” according to study co-author Jessica Salinger, Ph.D.
But what works from an evolutionary perspective doesn’t cut it when it comes to racing. To avoid falling into the slow-as-you-go model, try breaking your training runs into five-minute blocks, where you jog four miles and sprint for one; alternately, the one-minute-on, one-minute-off method can help inject some speed into your game as well.
Other tips for building fast-twitch fibers: Go hard uphill and easy downhill, find a faster running buddy to train with, and listen to music with 165 to 185 beats per minute to improve your turnover rate.
While we may be born to run slow, here are some more tips for getting faster:
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