How fast can I run if…?

One of the most common questions I see asked on running message boards is, “how fast can I run if…?” The … can be lots of things:

  • If I start running doing yoga
  • If I start running less miles
  • If I start drinking protein shakes
  • If I lose 10 lbs
  • If I gain 10 lbs
  • If I cross train 4 days a week
  • If I change my long run into a 3 legged race

You get the idea.  A common thread that runs through many of the posts is the runner in question wanting to know if they can get faster by doing something other than running more.  Any response to the contrary usually results in a long list of justifications as to why they will be able to run faster than they currently are by doing less.  It turns out these runners usually have some goal in mind, lets say a sub 20 minute 5k, and they aren’t really asking how fast they can run on certain training but are asking for permission to do less work to hit that goal.  I normally tell people they can’t hit their goal without putting in the work, and normally a bunch of people tell me I am crushing the dreams of beginning runners.

Some of my favorite recent quotes from posts are:

I currently am  running a 5k in 21:30. I’m running a 5k race in 4 weeks. What is a realistic time improvement that can be made by adding speed work to my workouts?
I run 15-20 mpw and swim or bike the other days. I’ve been doing this for the past year. Most of my runs are 6 to 10 miles in length. I’m 38.

I’ve been running for awhile now and would like to get sponsored. Im an upcoming athlete with some good race times: 5k – 17:46; 1 mile – 5:06. i run in the dayton area. what is the best way to contact a possible sponsor and how do i go about asking them about one?

What brand and what type of compression tights should I purchase for a performance race?

Hey guys, I was wondering if I only did speed work (repeat 100s, 200s, 400s, and 800s) at my goal mile pace for the track season, how much do you think I’d improve?

Last spring during track, I was able to run a 5:28. Then midway through the summer I ran a 5:24 on hills in 90 degree weather. I’ve done quite a bit if running since then (including an 18:34 5k road race and a 38:48 10k road race).
1. Should I wear spikes or go barefoot?
2. Will doing only speed work improve my mile time much?
3. Is 4:29 a reasonable goal?

I went on a diet several years ago and when I got down to 172 pounds everyone thought I was sick, dying, or anorexic.  So I’m thinking if I get all the way down to 163 they may just bury me without even asking if I’m still alive.

I’m going into my summer 5K swing now and am wondering if I can get fast on 3 days a week running.

I have never run a 5K in my life.  I am 35, very fit, but do mostly Crossfit and weight lifting.  I bet someone I could run a sub 20 minute in a 5K.  There is a race in 3 weeks so the bet is on.

Anyways, I think 21:55 is honestly pretty slow, but decent considering I didn’t train at all for the race. Just ran my 8-12 miles a week. I did win 1st in my age group and 6th overall, which was pretty cool.

can run now 10K road race at 35:00, but I want to be #1 at most of the competitions.
For this I need to do at least sub 33 (maybe even sub 32)
What do I  need to do and how to make it happen?

I realise the plethora of benefits linking yoga to improved running performance, but I can’t seem to make the time nor the enthusiasm.

How do I improve my mile time ? I run about 6 or 7 miles a week. I run at a high school track and CC pace . So how do i improve my mile time? BTW  Im horrible at sprinting.