Running faster is a common goal, and it is a worthwhile one.
When working towards that goal, it is important that you work intelligently and safely.
After all, the goal is not to run faster just one time. It is to run faster permanently. To do this, your training needs to be sustainable, and incremental speed increases are far more sustainable than sudden, drastic speed increases.
In this article, we will go through three exercises to run faster. Incorporate these drills into your training at least once a week. This way you will get your muscles used to running faster so that they don’t go into panic mode when you speed up on a distance run.
Our first workout is strides. These are a great, easy workout to toss in at the end of your run. Strides are simple enough that you can add them in at the end of every run. This will make a big difference if you’re trying to run faster. Depending on how long or tough your run was, consider stretching a bit between finishing your distance run and starting your strides.
Strides are 20-35 second speed efforts. They are fast, but they are not sprints.
Instead, the maximum speed you hit during a stride will likely be 80-90% of your maximum speed. Many aim to run strides at their target mile race pace.
During a stride, use the first 5-7 seconds to build your speed. You’re not taking off at top speed right out of the gate, but rather you are gradually increasing your speed over about five seconds.
Strides help by sort of “over-recruiting” the muscles and systems that you will want to employ during longer, more intense speed workouts.
Start by incorporating 4 stride repetitions at the end of your runs, resting 30 seconds to one minute in between.
From there, try to increase the volume over time until you can comfortably push through 6, 8, or even 10 strides after your run.
Speed drills can feel somewhat arbitrary. Maybe you read somewhere that side shuffles or high knees in an article can help with speed so you work them in because you feel like you’re supposed to.
While it is true that these types of drills can help with speed, they require a more focused effort in order to reap their benefits.
One of the best drills for speed is skipping. There are several different variations of skipping and you can mix them up. Skip for horizontal distance, skip for vertical height, skip fast, skip backward. You can get creative, but push yourself.
Skipping is a great exercise to light up the muscles down the back of the leg and get everything working.
Another great speed drill is fast feet. Take your fast feet drills over about 15-20 yards. Once you’re comfortable with those, progress into fast high knees.
This is going to spike your heart rate, and because of that, this is a good drill to work into your warm-up. Stay true to the exercise here. Get your knees up as high as possible, and don’t lose speed.
Mix Up Your Terrain
You may have heard the saying, “hills are the new speed.” While this is true, it is hardly a new idea. Hill work translates directly into your speed work and it allows your muscles to work through tough efforts with less impact when running uphill.
To begin, start with 6 30-second uphill efforts, resting one minute in between. Be sure your running form is proper during these efforts, and work in as much speed as possible given that the effort is only 30 seconds.
Focusing on the correct way to run should always be a priority.
From there, you can increase that to 45-second efforts, or even one-minute efforts. Always rest for double the amount of your effort. Use that rest time to walk or jog back down the hill. You can also increase the number of repetitions you do.
Work this workout once or twice a week if possible, and you will definitely reap the benefits when you take your speedwork back to flat surfaces.
The Final Stretch
Work these three-speed workouts into your routine and allow your muscles to learn what it means to run faster, and how much effort is required.
Incorporating these drills regularly will lead to gradual, incremental increases in your running speed.