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 don’t have enough words to express my gratitude towards Duane Scotti and the Spark Healthy Runner program. When I started working with Duane, I had been dealing with chronic shin splints/posterior tibialis tendinitis for almost a year.

I had worked with multiple other coaches and physical therapists with little success and was at the point of almost giving up on my love for running. Duane is so kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable as both a physical therapist and running coach. Our first virtual meeting lasted two hours because he was so meticulous in his assessment. His strength and running program is progressive and created so that you can continue to build strength and mileage as you heal. His strength program is unique, effective, and fun.

Additionally, his warm-up routine is awesome and includes drills that over time have made me a more efficient runner. His training platform is easy to use, and he is always readily available to chat when problems or questions arise.

Over four months of working with Duane, I have built back to five days a week of running and am almost back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and long run distance. Whenever I have flare ups or setbacks, Duane reassures me and makes necessary adjustments so that I can continue to progress in my running journey. I have had so much success with him so far that I have signed on for four more months so that he can help me to continue getting stronger as I train for the Dopey challenge in Disney World.

If you are struggling with a running injury and are feeling hopeless, you have to reach out to Duane Scotti. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work, but with Duane by your side, you will be able to achieve your goals and more. Thank you Spark Healthy Runner for bringing the spark back to my running!”

Dipti Pandya

You can teach an old dog new tricks!!!  I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach.  I am soooo glad I made the investment in me!  I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier!  The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching.  I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong.  I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot!  The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally.  I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age.  Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!

Gina J.

My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.

I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.

I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!

Katja L.

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