How To Run Faster | 10 Tips To Improve Your Race Time

Have you wondered how to run faster? Are you curious about what you can change up in your training routine to run your fastest half marathon in years? 


This week I give you my top 10 tips on what to do as a runner to make your training and race preparation the best it can be. 



These are the 10 actionable strategies that got me my fastest half marathon in 4 years! The best thing, is that you can implement these yourself to continue moving forward in your running fitness so you can feel good about yourself again… even though winter is coming and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic!



In this week’s episode & blog, I will be talking about the Fastest Half Marathon Strategy in Four Years! We discuss my top ten tips for improving your race time. 



Click the video below to watch the LIVE video within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group



 Let’s Dive into our Top Ten Tips! 


1. Strength Train

Strength training is key for success as a runner. During Quarantine, I developed a fitness program to hold myself accountable and to give my Healthy Runners an opportunity to strength train at home. Using common household objects and through some creativity, we were able to strength train at home! Throughout the strength training during SPARK FITNESS – we did 3x a week to set foundation to tolerate demands of speedwork and increasing mileage.


Click HERE for our previous blog on strength training for runners!


Strengthening the side hip and core muscles at SPARK Physical Therapy


2. Run Without Pain


First and foremost – Running doesn’t need to be painful. I’ve spoken before about my history of hamstring injuries, patellofemoral pain syndrome, shin pain and post tibial tendon problems. Through proper training and medical attention, you can run without pain. Running through the pain will not benefit you in the long run.

We recently dropped a blog discussing the prevention of running related injuries. Click HERE to get all that important info!


3. Get Out of Your Orthotics


Many individuals wear orthotics for daily support and many people use them on their runs. They are great to have and can really offer some help if you’re like me and over pronate. However, through my own experience, I realized that you can train yourself out of your orthotics. Although they are great to have, you may not need to wear them all the time. I practiced training barefoot, building up strength in my intrinsic foot muscles and ankle muscles which eventually gave me more stability in my feet to not necessarily need my orthotics 24/7.



4. Garmin for the WIN!



Use a device to track your workouts to provide more reliable data to know how you can improve. I am huge apple watch guy when it comes to my daily routine. When it comes to my runs, I wanted some more reliable that would show me exactly what I was doing. I found that with Garmin! By having this information I knew exactly what areas I needed to improve in. I highly recommend getting a device that you feel comfortable with to track your runs.

Garmin running watch with heart rate monitor


5. Follow a Plan.

Whether or not you use a coach, following a plan for your training is super important.  Having a structured progressive plan is key to improving your running fitness. By a following a plan you will know if you’re reaching your goals for improvement with reasonable timing for your next race!



Healthy Runner 1-on-1 Coaching



6. Do Speedwork in your training.



Incorporating speedwork matters for your training and it matters how you do it, based on your level of fitness. This means choosing between long interval vs. short interval training. I really didn’t know exactly what I should be doing for speedwork and then I finally figured out what was best! Instead of running straight shot one hundreds down the track, I was able to incorporate more productive and functional choices for my speedwork that would genuinely help me improve for my next race. I talk about these different kind of speedwork runs in a previous blog that you can check out HERE.



Speedwork training on the track



7. Have Community Support A.K.A – Run with Friends!!!



No one said running would be easy, AND no one said you have to do it alone!!! Do it with FRIENDS! Having a support group will make it so much easier. If you don’t have any friends in the area, find a local running group to join. The motivation and community will keep you accountable and motivated to not miss a run and set back your training.



The Healthy Runner Community at our Hartford Half Marathon warm up!




8. Race Before the Race


Before your race, it’s important to  at least do one 5k or 10k before a half and a half during your marathon training.  Try to do this at least two weeks before your race. This will help to push you harder than you would normally in training and it will help to calm nerves for your ultimate goal race.


Hartford 2.62 race before the half marathon



9. Fuel Properly


We’ve talked about this multiple times, but you have to have the right fuel in your body to be the running machine that you are! Foods like oatmeal and bananas are great. We’ve discussed e-fuel and UCAN superstarch before on SPARK and those are phenomenal resources that we have linked below! Don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate as well. Your body can’t run (literally and physiologically) without the right nutrients!


How about these carbs?


Click HERE for our previous content on nutrition for races.


Click HERE for our content with Crank Sports!


On the topic of fueling, of course we have to chat about UCAN! I am extremely humbled to be in the same universe as the extremely knowledgeable and talented professionals featured on the UCAN website.


UCAN’s experts are a collection of dietitians, strength coaches, trainers and researchers committed to innovation. Learn cutting-edge nutrition and training strategies from the very best!


Click HERE for all the info on UCAN and to get a 15% healthy runner discount!








10. Test, Reassess, and Test Again.


What does this mean? It means that you aren’t going to get perfect results with just one day of different training. You will get better with practice! Preparing and executing at a race will take time to perfect.  You won’t get it right from the get go!  You have to reflect on your process just like I did with these 10 steps. You’ll find things that really work for you and things that really don’t work for you, and that’s okay!


Hopefully a few, or all of these tips will help you in becoming the best runner you can be!



WAIT… check this out before you go!


Before your next run, training session or race implement the latest from SPARK… It’s our 5 minute Dynamic Warm-Up! Please take a moment to watch the video, drop a like and subscribe to our YouTube Channel so we can continue creating the best content for our healthy runner community!



You can also listen to Dr. Scotti share this information on the Healthy Runner Podcast…available wherever you get your podcasts!




Here is what other runners are saying about the podcast




Thank you (running friends) for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoy the podcast episode!

Warmest regards,


– Duane


Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS


Have you been running but you are not getting the results you are looking for?  Are you looking for a plan beyond google that will provide structure, is individualized to your busy schedule, and will keep you injury free?


I am excited to announce that I will be expanding my personalized coaching services to guide you in taking your running to the next level!


The SPARK Healthy Runner Program includes:


– 100% customized training plan developed and monitored by myself as your running coach and physical therapist!

– 100% customized strength plan developed and monitored.

– Modifications to your plan as needed.

– LIVE on-boarding coaching call by phone or video chat.

– Weekly workout analysis and accountability.


Click THIS LINK for a FREE 20 minute phone consultation and let’s chat to see if this program is a good fit for you!



⚡️SPARK Physical Therapy
We Help Active Adults Be Able To Run Without Aches and Pains So You Can Feel Good About Yourself Again…
[Even While Recovering From A Global Pandemic]







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“I developed IT band syndrome during my first marathon training cycle last year and ended up in physical therapy for about 3 months. I was told not to run if I had any pain at all. I lost so much time “recovering” that I ended up deferring my registration to the next year. I spent the next summer training for the same marathon when about 6 weeks out, that familiar IT band pain returned. I could barely finish a mile. I didn’t want to go back to my physical therapist because I knew what he was going to tell me. Stop running. I was so frustrated and started to feel like marathons weren’t for me. I stumbled upon the healthy runner podcast and learned that I don’t have to stop running in order to recover from injury! I was skeptical about an online physical therapy session. But I reached out to Dr. Scotti and he was able to give me the tools to mitigate my pain within the first session! I was able to complete my training cycle and made it to the finish line of my first marathon with his help! I highly recommend!”

Kendyl R. (Runner)

“I’d been dealing with Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy (PHT) for about 4 years and had been doing PT, but still had lingering pains. I just figured I’d have to suck it up and deal with it because that was as good as I was going to get. But then, I came across a podcast of Duane being interviewed by Jason Fitzgerald on PHT and how he overcame the injury, and my curiosity was piqued. I met with him virtually and he has been a GODSEND! I’m able to sit as I type this! I can bend over and get in and out of cars without pain! And, I’m RUNNING again!!! It is amazing to be able to do things that I haven’t been able to do without pain since 2016!!! Thank you so much Duane for being an incredible PT!!”

Michelle D. (Runner)

“I suffered from IT band syndrome for four years before seeing Dr. Scotti in April 2020. Before then, I couldn’t run more than about 10 minutes without stabbing pain near my left knee. I’d seen various orthopedists, physical therapists, and chiropractors looking for some relief. My career needed me to run a mile and a half within a certain amount of time, and it was impossible to do so with the knee pain. I saw Dr. Scotti and he immediately got to work! That first visit, he helped me understand the anatomy and underlying cause of my knee pain (aka IT Band syndrome). Once I understood what was happening, the course of treatment made so much sense. Not only did he have online videos of all the recommended exercises to treat the problem, his “healthy runner” Facebook group, Podcast, and YouTube videos held a wealth of information and supplemented my plan. I soon understood that running wasn’t just a casual hobby – it’s a sport and one that deserves dedication and focus. Without his dedication to the sport and his community, I wouldn’t have realized this! Over the next few months, I had many ups and downs – victories and failures – and even some tears! Two steps forward and one step back. Dr. Scotti always checked in between appointments and tweaked my plan if needed. By August, I was regularly running 3-4 miles with barely any pain! If I did get pain, it was because my dedication and focus were lacking – and I quickly picked it back up and overcame. I’m so thankful I took another chance at having my knee looked at and trusted someone else. I run regularly now and am really enjoying it. I can’t thank Dr. Scotti enough and would highly recommend him to anyone having trouble.”

Tracy G. (Runner)

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