When you sign up for a race, run with friends, or even play a friendly game of soccer, football, or basketball, it’s probably on your mind...whether you’re new to running or you’ve racked up a ton of miles.
What can you do to run faster, set a PR, win your age group, or maybe even take home the whole thing?
Ever thought about it? You know...run faster to boost your mile pace, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or maybe even make it to the Olympics.
Personal trainer, sprinter, Olympic hopeful, and Fleet Feet-sponsored athlete Semaj Street thinks about it a lot.
And he’s on a mission to run faster and inspire others every step of the way…
Do you want to run faster?
Meet Semaj Street
Workout. Sweat. Eat. Rest. It’s a typical day for Street, who trains at the Fit4Life Health Club in Fayetteville, N.C. But there’s nothing typical about this 28-year-old athlete and coach.
“I love seeing how fast the human body can move,” says Street. “I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. Running up and down the halls in the house. Racing my friends in the backyard. And I’ve always been fast.”
Follow Street through a daily workout, and you’ll see why…
And a lot more...and that’s without even stepping on the track to run sprint repeats.
But that’s not where his need for speed and mission to run faster got started.
It was football. That’s where Street spent most of his time after school as a kid.
Practice plays, run fast, and score touchdowns. That’s what Street trained to do. And he dominated, outrunning the defense, racking up receiving yards, and even getting recruited to play college football.
It never really occurred to him to take his football field speed to the track, until one day…
“My mom came to me and asked, ‘Do you want to try summer track?’" Street said. "I loved to run, and decided to give it a try.”
Street ran that summer with the Sand Hills Track Club, clocking fast times for 100, 200 and 400 meter distances. He beat many more experienced track runners.
And then it happened…
He settled into the starting blocks at the Durham County Memorial Stadium, sized up the competition, and took off when the race started...expecting to lead the pack.
“I’ll never forget that race,” says Street. “I got completely smoked. It was bad, really bad. It was such a shock to me, because in football, I’ve always been fast. I’ve never been beat so bad in my life. Running track opened up a whole new world to me, and I decided to keep running, give it a shot, and learn to run faster.”
Setting Records at Barton College
Street’s mission to run faster got him into Barton College to run for the Bulldogs. He trained hard. He lifted weights. He practiced daily drills. And he set school records, racking up more wins and PRs at the Division II school, including:
100 meters: 10.57 seconds (outdoor)
200 meters: 21.18 seconds (outdoor)
60 meters: 6.86 seconds (indoor)
400 meters: 50.55 seconds (outdoor)
How fast is Semaj Street?
Look at it this way. If he raced against 100-Meter World-Record Holder Usain Bolt, he’s within striking distance of overtaking the champion by just ONE second.
And his goal to run faster just got a little bit bigger:
“I want to compete in the 2024 Olympics,” says Street. If he qualifies, Street hopes to compete in Paris, France, in the track events for team Germany.
Inspiring Others to Run Faster
Now Street’s day includes his own training to run faster and get stronger. He’s in the gym, on the track, and training with the Fayetteville Flyers.
But he’s also a personal trainer at Fit4Life where he’s helping clients lose weight, build muscle, and transform their lives.
“I’ve helped 10 clients drop over 20 pounds,” says Street. “I’ve worked with young people in their twenties. One of my oldest clients is 63, and she’s dropped from 174 pounds to 152 pounds. She’s feeling so good, she’s thinking about becoming a bodybuilder.”
He also recently launched Two Six Athletics in Fayetteville to help young athletes learn how to run fast. Think of it like pre-season training in the NFL. The goal: Get stronger and faster to play better when the season starts.
“I’m trying to motivate, inspire, and teach these kids how to run fast,” says Street. “They’re doing things like HIIT and mobility workouts, footwork drills, plyometrics, and short hurdles. Learning how to move and control their bodies at a young age will help them get faster and make a huge difference as they get older.”
6 Tips to Run Faster
Want to run faster? Maybe you’re not gunning for record-setting track times. But you do want to improve your mile pace, finish your first 5K, or run a marathon. Here’s what Street recommends:
Sprint workouts. Sprint half a lap. Walk half a lap. Repeat.
Run hill or bleacher repeats. Pick a hill or find some bleachers. Run up, jog down. Repeat.
Pull a sled. Harness up in the weight room and pull a sled across the gym floor or turf.
Do interval training. Pick an exercise (jump ropes, burpees, box jumps, etc.). Work really hard for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.
Lift weights. Don’t be afraid of the gym. Building muscle and getting stronger will help you run faster.
Improve your technique. Swing your arms/hands from cheek to cheek (or your face to your butt). You’ll generate more power and run faster.
“I love seeing how fast the human body can move,” says Street. “It really excites me. It’s really fascinating to study and train to run faster and learn how to move more efficiently. If you want to run faster, there’s almost always more you can do.”
Fun Facts About Semaj Street
Favorite Running Shoes Nike or New Balance FuelCell Prism V1
Last Movie I Watched Space Jam: A New Legacy
Last Book I Read Performance Enhancement Specialist textbook by the International Sports Sciences Association
The Pescatarian Diet. Mostly fish and vegetables + Orgain protein shakes + a gallon of water a day flavored with lemon, cucumber, & ginger root.
Pre-Race Ritual "I drop down on one knee and ask God to guide me through the race, and help me finish healthy. I take two jumps before I get into the blocks. Then two deep breaths when I’m on all fours. I look down the track with a blank stare and tell myself, 'We out.'"
I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.