Running faster means working harder, and improvements obviously don't happen overnight. But if you're shooting for a PR, you could shave some seconds or maybe even minutes off your finishing time with smart strategies that have little to do with your fitness level. Whether you're doing a 5K or a marathon, here are some tips to try during your next race:
1. Study the course.
2. Run the tangents.
Even though race courses are measured accurately, many racers run a longer distance (and therefore a slower finish time) by following every curve in the road. A tangent is a straight line that just touches a curve, so the concept of "running the tangents" is to run the shortest distance possible by running straight from one curve to the next.
3. Check your form.
4. Don't lose time at the start or water stops.
Make sure you line up properly at the start, so you don't spend time and energy weaving around slower runners or walkers. At the water stops, don't stop at the first table -- it's always the most crowded. Go to a table towards the end and on the left-hand side, if there are tables on both sides of the street. (Most people are right-handed and naturally go to the tables on the right side.)
5. Avoid bathroom stops.
6. Don't go out too fast.
Also see: How to Finish Races Faster and Stronger