How to Run Faster: Proven Techniques for Improved Speed

How To Run Faster
Photo Credit: Pixabay / Pexels (Edited In Canva)

Running faster is a goal that many people set for themselves, whether they’re competitive athletes or simply looking for ways to improve their overall fitness. Pursuing increased speed contributes to personal achievements and boosts physical health and mental stamina. This article will explore several expert-approved techniques and tips for achieving speed-related goals.

To get started, it’s essential to consider both the physical and mental aspects of running. Focusing on proper form, incorporating specific speed-training exercises, and gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts can help you break through barriers and shave time off your personal bests. In addition, maintaining a positive mindset, setting realistic goals, and staying focused throughout your training journey will be crucial to your success.

By employing a dedicated approach to running and adhering to the expert tips shared throughout this article, you’ll soon discover your untapped potential for increased speed and improved performance. So, let’s dive in and explore the strategies that will help you run faster, more efficiently, and with newfound confidence.

Run Faster Fundamentals

Improving your speed as a runner involves using the right techniques and focusing on your running economy. One key aspect is increasing your stride turnover, focusing on taking quick, light, and short steps as if you’re stepping on hot coals Verywell Fit. This can help you maintain a faster pace with greater efficiency.

Another essential technique is to vary your training sessions to improve different aspects of your running economy. Some specific training methods include:

  • Mile repeats: Running a mile quickly, taking a brief break, and repeating REI Co-op.
  • Mile cut-downs: Gradually increase your speed with each successive mile, with short rests in between REI Co-op.

Performing interval training sessions can also help improve your speed. Sample workouts might involve:

  • 8 to 10 x 200m (or 40 secs) at 1500m to 3km pace with a 200m jog recovery Runner’s World.
  • 8 x 300m (or 75 to 90 secs) at 3km pace with 90- to 120-sec rest Runner’s World.

Cadence is another important factor when it comes to running faster. Aim for a cadence of 170-180 steps per minute to maximize your running efficiency. Monitoring your cadence during a run using a device like a smartwatch or fitness tracker can help you make necessary adjustments to achieve this optimal step rate.

Remember that progress takes time, and staying consistent with your training and practicing proper recovery strategies is essential. By focusing on these fundamental techniques and improving your running economy, you’ll be well on your way to running faster.

Improving Running Form

Proper Running Form

Proper running form is essential for maximizing efficiency and speed and reducing the risk of injury. Key elements of the proper running form include maintaining an upright posture, engaging the core, and allowing the arms to swing naturally. It is crucial to strengthen and lengthen the muscles involved in running, such as incorporating core exercises like glute bridges and side planks.

Stride Turnover

Increasing stride turnover, or the number of steps taken per minute, can significantly improve running speed. The goal is to take quick, light, and short steps as if stepping on hot coals. Practicing this technique by running for 30 seconds at your current pace, recovering with a jog, and then repeating with increased turnover rates can help pick up the pace. Repeat this process five to eight times to increase your stride turnover each time.

Form and Technique

Focusing on form and technique can lead to more efficient and comfortable running, ultimately allowing you to run faster. Some tips for improving running technique include:

  • Keeping your head up and eyes forward
  • Slightly leaning the torso forward
  • Relaxing your arms and allowing them to swing at your sides
  • Landing midfoot and then rolling to the front of the foot
  • Keeping a short stride and avoiding overstriding

Incorporating these suggestions into your running routine can take time and patience, but you will notice improved speed and overall running form with consistent practice.

Speed Training Workouts

A women smiles as she runs in a race.
Photo Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

To improve your running speed, it is essential to incorporate various types of speed training workouts into your training routine. Below are some highly effective workouts that will help you run faster.

Tempo Runs

Tempo or threshold runs involve running at a comfortably hard pace for a set duration or distance. The goal is to increase your lactate threshold, allowing your body to sustain a faster pace for a longer time. To perform a tempo run, warm up for 10 minutes with light jogging, followed by 20-30 minutes of continuous running at a challenging pace. Finish with a 10-minute cooldown jog. Repeat this workout once a week, gradually increasing the duration of the hard pace section as you improve.

Interval Training

Interval training usually includes periods of intense running efforts, followed by periods of active rest or recovery. This type of workout helps increase your stamina and running speed by pushing your body to run faster during intense intervals. A typical interval workout may involve 8-10 repetitions of 400-meter sprints, followed by 3-5 minutes of rest in between each rep. You can vary the distance, intensity, and recovery time based on your fitness level and goals.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek, a Swedish word for “speed play,” is a type of unstructured training that combines faster and slower running periods. Fartlek training allows you to vary your running pace throughout the workout, helping to improve your overall speed and endurance. An example of a Fartlek workout might include alternating between 1 minute of fast running and 2 minutes of easy running for 30 minutes. Fartleks can be customized to suit your fitness level and goals.

Hill Training

Hill training involves running uphill for a specific distance or time, followed by a recovery jog or walk down the hill. This workout helps strengthen your leg muscles, improve your running form, and increase your explosive power. A hill workout can be performed by running uphill for 30-60 seconds, then jogging or walking back down for recovery. Repeat the uphill efforts 8-10 times, maintaining proper form and breathing.

Speed Workouts

Speed workouts, often performed on a track, involve short bursts of maximum-effort running followed by complete recovery. These workouts help to improve your running form, leg turnover, and overall speed. One example of a speed workout is running 100-meter sprints at maximum effort, followed by a full recovery walk or jog back to the starting line. Repeat this process 8-10 times, focusing on maintaining proper form and breathing.

Incorporating these speed training workouts into your routine will undoubtedly help improve your running speed and endurance over time, allowing you to reach your performance goals.

Building Endurance and Stamina

A man runs next to a field
Photo Credit: Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma / Pexels

Endurance and stamina are essential for runners looking to improve their speed. Building these components requires commitment, consistency, and various training techniques.

Recovery

Proper recovery plays a significant role in building endurance and stamina. Giving your body time to heal after intense workouts can help prevent injuries and improve overall performance. In addition to rest, consider incorporating cross-training activities, such as swimming or cycling, to maintain cardiovascular fitness while allowing your running muscles to recover.

Strides

Strides are a simple and effective way to improve running economy. They are short accelerations of about 80-100 meters, gradually increasing your speed to a fast pace before slowing down to a jog. Incorporating strides in your training routine helps to improve leg turnover and running form, promoting more efficient movement on long runs.

Fartlek

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is an unstructured interval training technique. Alternating between faster surges and slower recovery periods, fartlek workouts help to improve endurance and running economy. This type of workout can vary in duration and intensity, making it a flexible option for runners of all levels.

Running Economy

Improving your running economy is crucial for increasing endurance and stamina. Focus on maintaining good running form and posture – including consistent breathing patterns, efficient stride length, and upright posture. Adding strength training exercises to your routine, such as lunges, squats, and core work, can also contribute to better running economy.

Interval Run

Interval runs involve alternating between fast-paced running and slower recovery periods. These high-intensity workouts help build speed and endurance over time. Start with short intervals and gradually increase the length and intensity as your stamina improves.

Endurance and Stamina Development Tips

  • Be consistent in your training regimen.
  • Gradually increase your mileage and duration of runs.
  • Incorporate hill training to build strength and improve speed.
  • Include long, slow runs to build aerobic capacity.
  • Add strength training exercises to your routine to support overall fitness and prevent injury.

Strength and Flexibility Training

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises enhance explosiveness, muscular power, and reaction time. They involve rapidly stretching and contracting the muscles. One example of a plyometric exercise is the box jump. Performing three sets of 10 reps, with one to two minutes of rest between sets, can improve your speed.

Core Strength

A strong core is essential for maintaining proper form and posture while running. Core strength exercises like planks and bicycle crunches can help you maintain stability and balance during running. Aim to include core work in your training routine a few times a week.

Explosive Strength

Explosive strength is crucial for increasing running speed. Exercises like skipping and bounding can help develop lower-leg strength and boost your explosiveness. Skipping improves quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles for a powerful stride.

Leg Strength

Strong legs are vital for improving your running speed. Include workouts that target the major leg muscles, like squats, lunges, and leg presses, in your training regimen. Furthermore, don’t forget about the importance of stretches to maintain and improve flexibility.

ExerciseTarget MusclesSets and Reps
SquatsQuads, hamstrings, glutes3 sets of 12 reps
LungesQuads, hamstrings, glutes3 sets of 12 reps
Leg PressQuads, hamstrings, glutes3 sets of 12 reps

Remember to always start your training sessions with a proper warm-up, including dynamic stretches and light aerobic activities, to prepare your muscles for the workout.

Also, breathing is an important aspect of running. Learn to breathe properly to fuel your muscles with oxygen and prevent muscle fatigue. Additionally, include rest days in your training schedule to avoid overtraining and allow your muscles to repair and grow stronger.

Cross-Training and Recovery

Cross-Training Options

Cross-training is essential to any running plan to help improve speed and prevent injuries. Incorporating different exercises helps work for various muscle groups and can help improve your overall running performance. Some effective cross-training options include:

  • Swimming: Swimming helps build cardiovascular endurance and strengthens your upper body, which is vital for maintaining a strong running form.
  • Rowing: Rowing is another excellent low-impact cross-training exercise that targets various muscle groups while providing a cardiovascular workout. It is particularly helpful for strengthening your core and upper body.
  • Cycling: Cycling is a popular form of cross-training for runners, as it works for similar muscle groups while keeping strain off the joints. This can help with muscle recovery while also improving your cardiovascular fitness.

Remember to include a proper warmup before engaging in cross-training activities, as it helps prepare your muscles for the workout ahead and can prevent potential injuries.

Rest and Recovery Days

Rest and recovery days are crucial for improving running speed and should be incorporated into your training plan. These days, it is essential to allow your body time to recover and repair from the stress of previous workouts. Some tips for rest and recovery days include:

  1. Mobility exercises: Stretching and foam rolling can help relieve tightness and increase muscle flexibility. Make time for these activities on your rest days to aid your recovery.
  2. Proper nutrition: Ensure you eat a balanced diet with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Meals rich in these nutrients will help fuel recovery and encourage muscle repair.
  3. Sleep: Sleeping is vital for repairing muscles and restoring energy levels. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support your body’s recovery process.

By integrating cross-training, proper warmup exercises, and focusing on rest and recovery, you’re setting the stage for improved running performance and speed. Remember to listen to your body and adjust your training plan as needed to ensure you’re prioritizing recovery alongside your workouts.

Nutrition and Diet

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is essential for runners looking to improve their performance. Consuming the right mix of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) will help you maintain energy levels, build muscle, and promote recovery.

A balanced diet for a runner should include:

  • Protein: Consume 20-25 grams for women and 25-30 grams for men with each meal to support muscle repair and growth.
  • Carbohydrates: They are the primary fuel source for runners. Aim for 2.7 to 4.5 grams per pound of body weight per day, focusing on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits.
  • Healthy fats: Incorporate sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds to support cell function and overall health.

Remember to include a variety of vegetables and fruits to ensure you get adequate vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your body’s functions.

Foods for Runners

Some specific foods can be particularly beneficial to runners. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Complex carbohydrates: Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes provide sustained energy for your runs.
  • Lean proteins: Chicken, turkey, and fish help repair and build muscle tissues.
  • Plant-based proteins: Lentils, beans, and tempeh are excellent options for vegetarian and vegan runners. Protein powders (whey or plant-based) can be helpful for easy supplementation.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Berries, leafy greens, and nuts can reduce inflammation and support recovery.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial for every runner’s performance and overall health. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and negatively impact your running performance. Always carry a water bottle, and drink water consistently throughout the day. It’s recommended to:

  • Drink water before, during, and after your runs.
  • Monitor your urine color to ensure proper hydration levels (aim for a pale yellow color).
  • Replace electrolytes lost during sweating with sports drinks or electrolyte supplements if needed.

In conclusion, focusing on a balanced diet, specific foods for runners, and proper hydration can significantly impact your ability to run faster and improve your overall performance.

Structured Running Programs

A structured running program effectively improves your running speed for various race distances, such as 5k and 10k events. By incorporating different types of workouts, varying intensities, and monitoring your weekly mileage, you can make significant progress in your running performance.

5k and 10k Training Programs

When designing a training program for increasing speed in 5k and 10k races, it’s important to include a mix of speed workouts, tempo runs, and long runs. For example, consider incorporating the following workout types:

  • Speed Workouts: Shorter, high-intensity intervals to improve your running form and cardiovascular fitness. One sample workout involves 8 to 10 x 200m at your 1500m to 3k pace with a 200m jog recovery.
  • Tempo Runs: Sustained efforts at a challenging but manageable pace to improve your lactate threshold. A typical workout could be 4 x 5 min at a moderately fast pace with 2 min rest intervals.
  • Long Runs: Gradually increasing the distance of your longest run each week strengthens your endurance and helps build the aerobic base necessary for maintaining a fast pace in longer races.

Monitoring Weekly Mileage and Pace

It is essential to track your weekly mileage and pace to ensure a steady and manageable increase in volume and intensity. A pace calculator can be a helpful tool to determine the appropriate pace for each workout based on your current fitness level and race goals. Aim to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% to avoid overtraining and minimize the risk of injury.

Choosing a Running Program

There are many running programs available for various goals and fitness levels. When selecting a program, consider the following factors:

  • Your current fitness level and experience
  • The race distance you’re targeting (5k or 10k)
  • Your goal pace or time for the race
  • The amount of time you have to dedicate to training each week

By considering these factors and following a structured running program that includes various workout types and appropriate progression, you can successfully increase your running speed and achieve your race goals.

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Written by James Kosur

James is a 20-year veteran of the digital media industry, an avid gym builder, and a dad to four kids, three dogs, and two cats. He's a DIYer who loves building stuff with his hands and a gamer who enjoys all facets of gaming.