Whether you run for the joy of it or are prepping your 11th marathon, sooner or later, you’re going to want to boost your running speed—to shave off seconds, or even minutes, from your personal best.
If you’ve reached that point, then today you’re in the right place.
In this article, I’ll unravel four training strategies for taking your running speed to the next level.
Let’s lace up and dig in.
The extra resistance of going up a hill puts a much greater demand on your body and cardiovascular system than running on a flat surface—the more challenging, the better.
Although hills come in various sizes and inclines, the main idea is the same—You run up the hill as fast as you can with good technique, then jog or walk down for recovery.
Here’s how to do them right. Start by locating a hill that’s roughly 150 to 200m in length with an incline that’s enough to test you but not to the point where your form goes south.
Then following the warm-up, run up the hill at your 5K pace, or a little bit faster. Once you get on top, jog down at a very easy pace to recover, then repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make it a goal to maintain the same effort level as you climb you the hill. Engage your core, keep your shoulders loose, and gaze straight ahead.
Plyo training consists of high-velocity, explosive exercises that depend on the power produced through the stretch-shortening cycle by often performing bodyweight jumping movement.
These are an awesome way for you to increase your power output and athletic performance.
Again, don’t take my word for it. A study published in the Journal of Strength And Conditioning Research reported that middle and long-distance runners who did plyometrics for six weeks improved their race results by up to 4 percent.
Just like sprinting, a few minutes of plyometric can go a long way. Try doing 5 to 10 minutes after completing an easy run or as a part of your weightlifting sessions.
Just make sure to push your body to the max. Here are some of the best plyo moves for runners:
- Jump roping
- Box jumps
- Med ball toss
- Jumping lunges
- Jumping squats
- Skipping drills
- Standing long jumps
Typical plyo moves are technically more demanding and call for good form for making the most out of them while staying injury-free. To err on the side of caution, consider hiring a personal trainer to evaluate your form or filming yourself so you can assess your form.
Not all the steps required to improve your running speed are running steps. Your cross-training activity—as in, non-running workouts—can also greatly impact your ability to crank up the speed and maintain it. One of these favorite cross-training options is strength training.
A regular weight lifting routine achieves the following:
- Helping run faster by improving power and neuromuscular coordination.
- Preventing injuries by but not only strengthens muscles but also joints, bones, ligaments, and tissue.
- Enhancing running economy by promoting stride efficiently and coordination.
Here are some of the strength moves that are the most beneficial to runners.
- Back squats
- Front squats
- Nordic curls
- SB hamstrings curls
- Russian twists
To build your routine, feel free to either focus on one area (upper body, lower body, or core) or pick a couple of exercises from each area for a total body workout.
Don’t assume that giving it your all every day will make you better a runner—in fact, push your body too much too soon, and you’ll be asking for injury and burnouts.
When you exercise, especially when you push your body hard, you create micros tears in your muscles. The only way to let those micro-tears and damage heal by letting your body rest.
As a rule of thumb, don’t perform back-to-back days of intense training—at the very least, give yourself one recovery day per week.
How do you know it’s time to ease off?
Here are some of the signs that you’re running your body into the ground.
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic aches and pains
- Elevated resting heart rate
- Mood swings and irritability
- Inability to focus
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Poor athletic performance
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling like you’re getting sick
- Poor sleep
There you have it. In order to improve your speed, you simply need to put the following tips into practice. Then it’s just a matter of time before you start reaping the results of your hard labour. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.
What about you? Do you have any favorite speedwork you’ll love to share with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
About the author:
David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.
Guest post by David Dack
Images purchased by David Dack from Fotolia