Running fast doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For most, it’s a gradual process that improves with each week that you lace up your sneakers. Whether you’re running a race or just looking to improve your workouts, here are some tips on how you can improve your speed.
Take Your Time
Don’t expect to increase your speed in a day. This is an ongoing process that will likely never end, and is sure to fluctuate from time to time. Instead of jumping from 5.0 on the treadmill to 7.5, increase your speed gradually with each week. If 5.0 feels comfortable now, incorporate at least one run at 5.5 the following week, which will help your body adapt to the change in pace and build the muscles necessary to sustain the new speeds.
Do the Right Exercises
A gradual increase in speed isn’t the only way to build new muscle; doing the right strength training exercises is a crucial step in improving your speed, as well. Running.Competitor.com explains, “Taking 20 minutes to do a handful of drills … can dramatically improve your running form and economy (or the ability to run fast efficiently) and increase your stride cadence and racing speed.” Incorporate these into your workout routine.
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Heel raise
- Running backwards
- Slow skipping
Do Interval Workouts
Interval workouts help with a critical aspect of increasing your running speed: endurance. This running exercise combines short, high intensity bursts of sprinting with slow recovery phases. For example: Jog at 6.0, sprint at 7.0, jog at 6.5, sprint at 7.5. But, why is this beneficial? According to Elizabeth Quinn, a sports expert at About.com, “It’s thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.”
Many runners avoid hills: they’re exhausting and rarely easy. However, hill workouts are critical to increasing your speed. An Auckland University study found that runners increased their speed by 2 percent because of increased leg strength from tackling a few tough hills.
If you don’t have hills to run on, do a hill workout on the treadmill. Like interval training, start slow, at an incline you can comfortably jog on and increase it by 1 percent every 3 to 5 minutes. Combine this with running intervals for your best speed-enhancing workout yet.
Improving your speed won’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process that requires a variety of workouts and methods. Try to incorporate interval and hill workouts in your weekly running schedule, and don’t forget to take time for a small amount of strength training, as well. Some of the best runners do one long run a week, and spend the rest focusing on strength and interval training. When your muscles are strong and endurance is improved you’ll see your running speeds increase.