How to run faster? What do I need to do to gain more speed?
These are common questions that runners who are trying to push the needle a bit more ask themselves.
The answer is simple 2-step process!
Becoming stronger, particularly in your legs will greatly reduce the chances that you will incur injury when you start speed training. Speed workouts can be highly taxing and damaging on your body if you are not ready for them. So the goal is to create strong muscles that can withstand the ardors of speed sessions that are key in learning how to run faster.
Without first having that strength in your legs you are begging for a host of injuries not limited to shin splints and chronic inflammation.
A Timeline on How to Gain Strength + Resources
Start by blocking off at least a month to preferably two months of training to focus on adding in hill workouts and strength training sessions at least once to twice a week. This will set you for your next phase of training: speed work!
Hill workouts particularly hill repeats and hill sprints are THE best form of strength training that you can do as a runner! You are targeting those specific leg muscles that you use when running thereby strengthening them to help you ward off injury but also so that you can increase your speed!
To begin, start by tacking on hill sprints to your easy runs once to at most twice a week. When you have done this for a couple of weeks then start on the longer hill repeat workouts and do those once a week. See how your body feels if you want to do a hill repeats workout once a week and a hill sprints workout once a week for a total of two targeted strength sessions per week.
After you have built strength in your leg muscles through a series of hill training sessions or strength training workouts (1-2 months) you will be ready to start adding in a weekly (or at the most bi-weekly) speed workout. There are different kinds of speed workouts for you to do! So first read our page on how to speed train and then go from there!
Also, if you would like to know how to use each of these speed workouts effectively and how to envelope all of the 4 training runs that you should be doing in order to become faster and meet time goals then you need the Train Faster + Smarter Runner's Pace Kit that tests your fitness level calculates your fitness, instructs you on the four training runs and then tell you exactly what paces YOU need to be training at for each of the runs. Hello time goals!
Now that you know the basis of how to run faster and train yourself to do so, here are 8 tips that you can implement quickly to start running faster now!
1.Perfect your running form. Have someone take a video of you running and then run it through a free running form analyzing software such as RunForm. RunForm will give you feedback on what looks good in your form and what you need to do to take it to the next level. Tweaking your form to promote better biomechanics will really help you to run more efficiently and faster!
2.Increase your step frequency. This is the quickest way to increase your speed right out of the gate. Instead of taking less steps and longer strides, take short steps and shorter strides. This means you will be taking more steps which will allow your body to move faster!
3. Run speed workouts: the most common being intervals, tempo runs, and fartleks. Of course this is one of the more obvious ways to train yourself on how to run faster but by including speed workouts into your running routine 1-2 times a week you will adaptations to be made that will enhance your speed.
Remember that your body responds incredibly well to mixing up your workouts! For lots of information on speed training and different running workouts you can include in your routine see this page!
4.Take a Vo2max test. This will help tell you what your current running fitness level is and from there you can see what kind of progress you can make at your current level and what it will take to teach yourself how to run faster.
I always recommend to the runners that I coach to take a Vo2max test in order to assess their running fitness and then see where we can go from there when starting a new training program. A lot of smart running watches these days have built in Vo2max testers so if you already have one check their to see what it says.
Otherwise you can take a free Vo2max test by going to this page, scrolling down to the course curriculum and opening the Vo2max sections that are open for free for preview. See this page for more on Vo2max and what it’s all about!
5.Include hill sprints! Hill sprints are THE way for runners to strengthen their leg muscles resulting in stronger, more injury proof muscles and faster running speeds! You can learn all about hill sprints here!
A lot of runners do hill repetitions which are a longer form of a hill sprint and are used by many runners to help prepare them for the rigors of speed training which usually follow a cycle of hill repetitions. Hill sprints on the other hand can be done even at the beginning of a marathon training plan like in our Break a Time Goal Marathon Training Plans.
6. Realize that the discomfort is temporary and necessary to grow. When you challenge yourself to become faster you need to make yourself uncomfortable. Once you recognize this, you will be better equipped to push through and challenge yourself to run faster which will ultimately lead you to becoming a faster runner!
7.Never ever underestimate the power of resting and sleep! One of the biggest differences between elite runners and mediocre runners is that elite runners highly prioritize their rest and their sleep. Its as important to them as the training runs that they put in. This is because without the right amount of sleep and rest their body simply cannot continue to grow, change, and make adaptations towards the goals they are working on. Make it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep every single night. If you can up this number during race training all the better!
8.Let your glute (butt) muscles do the work! I talk about this on this page because it is such a simple yet effective way to increase your speed! These are the strongest muscles in your body which means that they can give you more power and speed to your running if you activate them. Keeping them tight and engaged as you run will allow you to run faster and with less risk of injury!
What’s your favorite way to train your body know how to run faster? Do you have any mind tricks or favorite running workouts that you implement? Here are some running workouts that will help you gain speed!