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I run a 11 - 12 minute mile. I'm not tired when I run, am not more out of breath than "normal", am not unreasonable exausted; however, I can't go faster. When trying to push myself, it feels that instead of propelling myself forward, faster, I tighten all the muscles in my body up. Observers say it looks as though I'm pulling something when I run, or that it looks like I'm "stuck in 1st gear, the RPMs are high and I need to switch gears..."
Has anyone gone through this? Any suggestions?

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How long have you been running? Assuming you are just starting out, I would run for certain time periods, rather then distances/pace. Run for 20 minutes 3 times a week, then bump it up to 25 min or 30 minute runs. As you run more overall, your paces will improve and you see yourself getting faster.
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Try to focus on relaxing when you shoot for going faster. If you get too tensed up, you'll waste too much energy on bad form.
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:1:
Try stretching out your stride... odds are you aren't running nearly a full stride at your 11-12 minute pace. If you open up your stride more, you'll go faster without much more effort.
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You can also find someone else who runs a little quicker than you. You will naturally try and keep up with that person and that should help you break through that mental block.

Good Luck!
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Good advice here....striding out and relaxing are key....also increasing your mileage/distance....will increase your fitness level and then you'll be able to go faster on shorter runs.

Remember that staying loose starts up top....make sure your jaw is relaxed, not clenched. keep your arms swinging loose, don't clench your fists....keep loose up top...and stride out.
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Short interval work.

Go to the track and do some 200's at LT pace. (about 5k pace). Do a 10 minute warm-up and then do the 200's with enough rest that you feel comfortable, not rested. Leave the track whne you feel you could do one more. Cool down for 10 minutes.

Do this 1- 2xwk, but no more then that. Continue to increase the mileage slowly but streadily.

Most of your runs should be done at conversational pace. That means you should be able to talk while you are running. the words should be broken, but not gasping for air. If you are running to fast, it will be hard to maintain and you will appear clumsy.

Good luck.

Sheldon
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:1:, at least for me. Though, i run for a specific distance rather than time. I just need to know the distance, that's how i measure things. But, the more that i've been running, over the past year now, i have seen my paces start to drop a bit and my times for my runs have been dropping at a reasonable rate. I still have the occasional run (like yesterday's miserable run) where i'm really slow, but i've been seeing steady improvement just by keeping on keeping on and building a base of miles. I haven't done any speed work, but i went from struggling through one mile last august with a pace that i'd imagine being at 13 minutes or more to just having run a moderately easy 7.5 miles this last saturday at 10:30 pace and a tough 3 miles at 8:30 pace.
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