You’ve been running for a while, and it feels good, but you’re ready to take the next step — and make it a faster step, at that. The good news is that the more you run, the better your chances are of increasing your speed. But how you run can be the key difference between shaving minutes off your mile and staying steady at your current pace. If you’re feeling like improving your time, these tried-and-true techniques will build up speed while minimizing injury.
With any workout, you want to build up your intensity gradually to avoid injury — this is where sprinting intervals come into play. On your next run, alternate between running at a sprinting pace for 30 to 60 seconds and your normal pace for two to three minutes. Due to the focus on timed running sessions, this type of workout is best on the treadmill; the next time you’re at the gym. The more you’re at it, you’ll find that these small bursts of sprinting will start to make your normal pace feel slow.
2. Tempo Runs
When running takes you outside, tempo runs are a great way to work on increasing your speed. During a tempo run, go faster than you normally would but at a pace that you can sustain for a longer period of time. During the run, you want to feel comfortable but challenged — you should be slightly out of breath, and holding a full conversation should be difficult (if not impossible). The idea behind a tempo run is to condition your body to perform past its lactate threshold (the point where it begins to fatigue); by doing so, the body is able to perform faster and at longer distances. When starting out, try a 10-minute tempo run, and over time, allow yourself to build up to 20 minutes; aim to incorporate a tempo run into your routine every seven to 10 days.
Given how slow you feel chugging up a hill, it may have you questioning why this makes for good speed training. But consider this: running uphill builds strength in your butt and legs while also improving lung health — all of which are essential for becoming a faster runner. To make hill running feel easier, focus on your breath, trying to match it evenly with your stride. Try a session of hill repeats outside, or the next time you’re at the gym. After a few rounds of hill training, running on flat ground will feel like a piece of cake.