All runners want to run fast while experts want to go even faster. In short, improving running speed is the ultimate goal for all runners. For some runners this may simply mean running more while others may try to achieve this by improving performance by including different running techniques into their training routines.
Often increasing mileage is seen as synonymous to improving running speed. However, experts recommend some very effective running techniques to get faster without necessarily running more. Here is a look at some of the top ways of how to improve running pace by making the most of your training:
Improve Running Speed by Varying Intensities
Just as varying the level of intensity is effective for any type of workout, the same goes for running. Runners of all experiences determine their fitness by the combined volume and intensity of their runs. As such, the challenge level of their hardest individual runs becomes very important. To perform at peak levels, runners should train at both hard and easy levels alternatingly so they get a better workout.
This type of a running plan is better for improving running speed than other ones, where a runner works at a similar volume and intensity and all runs are only moderately challenging. Combinations that can work for planning such a workout can include a single run featuring short and fast effort, a second one that focuses on a longer run at moderately high intensity, and a third run that is a long endurance run. Each of these challenging runs may be alternated by separate, slow, and easy runs.
Additionally, adding in short bursts of speed into a challenging run can also activate the fast twitch muscle fibres, which are needed for fast running. These tactic also helps to build endurance for the runner, where the individual can then work on building up strength without feeling fatigued.
Add Tempo Runs Into the Mix
Another way to vary intensity in runs and improve running speed is to do tempo runs, which are similar to high intensity intervals, but runners do not run as fast as they can. Instead they hold at a fast pace for a long time before slowing down. This allows the runner’s muscles get past their lactate threshold and help improve endurance and speed.
However, running at tempo means that the run should not be too comfortable but challenge the runner’s body. The pace should be one where it is slightly out of the individual’s comfort zone and ideally the runner should be able to answer short questions but unable to hold a conversation.
Being consistent to improve running speed
Another key to successful running is consistency. Since fitness is built gradually over a long period of time, runners should try to stay as consistent as possible. Steady year round training is a way to ensure that performance levels do not fall drastically as many runners who do let themselves fall out of shape at certain times in the year, need to spend an equal amount of time getting back to their peak performance.
In lax times, runners should still be doing some gentle running to keep their performance levels from slipping down completely.
Include step cycles in training workouts
Step cycles are weekly periods of training where the running workload is deliberately changed up alternating between difficult and easy weeks of training. The intention is to initiate a step cycle of training that is moderately challenging but manageable and then escalate the workload the second week. In the third week the workload may either be further increased or slightly eased for recovery. If week three is another hard week then week four may be adapted for recovery.
Three week step cycles are well suited for new or regular runners while step cycles of four weeks are considered appropriate for very fit and more experienced runners as a way to improve their running pace.
Practice Some Hill Training
Incorporating hill training into workouts is also a great way to get the most out of a running session and improve running speed. A hilly run will challenge the runner more and spark greater fitness than a flat run of the same distance. Hills buildup lung and leg strength and give runners the strength they need to become fast on track. In addition, greater aerobic capacity, leg strength and running economy is improved while doing hill training.
And while it is not recommended to hit the hills daily, there should at least be one day a week where runners engage in some serious hill training. With more sessions, hills offering a greater challenge in terms of grades and lengths can be added on.
Plyometric Training and sprinting is Recommended for Improving Running Speed
Plyometric exercises are jumping exercises that can be seen as a way to improve running economy and race performance. Including plyometric training into a running workout can help isolate and develop the jumping element of running to make an individual a better runner.
Likewise, sprinting is not solely for sprinters but distance runners can benefit from the practice as well. When runners want to increase their stride power and running economy, sprinting is the way to go.
Other Considerations for Improving Running Speed
Varying running techniques is of course beneficial in improving running speed, but stride is equally important and faster runners possess a higher stride frequency. Likewise, successful runners will also allow adequate time for rest and recovery between running sessions.
How do you improve running speed? Share your tips with the community!