Many new athletes believe that getting in shape, gaining endurance, getting stronger and going faster are all the same thing. Most put in 4 - 20 hours a week of running, biking, and swimming. They find early success with their racing but struggle when they want to improve their race results and race time. The common reaction at this point is to train longer or train harder and if you survive the high risk of injury and fatigue, you will find a small amount of strength and speed improvements.
General workouts result in general fitness improvements, a.k.a. getting in shape. A one hour tempo run, a two hour bike spin or doing laps in a pool are a great way to get in shape, but going fast is a skill that requires specific training.
So if you are interested in getting faster, here are the steps to take:
Technique (2 months) is the first and most important step. Consider a gymnast learning the balance beam for the first time. Running on the beam will certainly not be the first goal. For your sport, learn and master the body mechanics of the activity. Whether it is running, biking, swimming or kayaking, the perfect form is a must to start getting faster. Getting your eyes and brain to synchronize with your muscles is the challenge at this stage. And if you don’t know what the perfect technique is, study it or seek out a specialist to help you. Body position and foot strike are critical to running. Bicycle fitting, saddle position, and knee alignment are important to your biking success. And, head and body position in the water along with arm and kick technique are the keys to success in the pool.