How to Increase Running Speed

By Beth Rifkin

Increasing your running speed requires that you work on running technique and mix up your workouts to improve your strength and cardio fitness. Maintaining the same pace during each training session can cause your muscles and cardiorespiratory system to plateau, keeping you from your speed goals. A strategic training schedule that focuses on form, speed drills and strength training can help your body progressively endure a faster turnover rate, or strides per minute, and build a greater amount of explosive power.

Perfect Your Posture

Practice streamlining your body to improve your form and run more efficiently. Center your torso over your hips, engage your abdominals, lift your chest and relax your shoulders. Maintain a short stride and hit the ground with your mid-foot, directly under your knee. Roll through your foot and push off as your toes move behind your body. Bend your elbows to no more than 90 degrees and pump them back and forth at the sides of your body. Avoid clenching your fists; imagine that you are holding a tube of toothpaste in each hand without squeezing it.

Schedule Each Run

Plan your workout schedule to include three runs per week -- one for speed, one for tempo and one for endurance. Keeping your endurance runs to once a week ensures that you have plenty of energy for your other workouts. Long runs cause fatigue, which can keep you from increasing your pace. Cut your endurance distance in half for your tempo run. For example, if your endurance run is 12 miles, cut your run to six miles for tempo day. Speed workouts should be sustained for 30 to 60 minutes rather than a specific distance. Cross train on two other days of the week with activities like yoga or cycling. Rest for two days each week to allow for physical and mental recovery.

Speed It Up

Use interval and sprint training during your weekly speed workout. Intervals and sprints help to build explosive power and improve your turnover rate. Interval training consists of running at an intense speed for a fixed amount of time or distance followed by jogging at a moderate pace to recover. For example, sprint at your maximum speed for 30 seconds than jog for a two to three-minute recovery. Increase the intensity by sprinting for 30 seconds and then jogging for only 30 seconds. Hills can also be incorporated into interval training. Sprint up the hill as fast as possible and then slowly jog back down to recover. Intervals should be repeated seven to 10 times or done over a period of 30 to 60 minutes.

Balance Your Muscles

The repetitive motion of running can create muscle imbalances that may ultimately slow your pace and even lead to injuries. Resistance training can balance out your body and help to strengthen pertinent running muscles – your core muscles, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Split squats, lunges and step-ups target the entire lower body. Pushups strengthen your core, shoulders and back, all of which assist with agility and balance as you run. Incorporate strength training into your training schedule one to two days per week. Perform three sets of each exercise, completing eight to 12 reps per set.

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