Ask The Expert

How To Run Faster (Best Ways To Increase Running Speed)

We asked a selected group of experts for their top tips when it comes to increasing your speed to help you to run faster

How To Run Faster and Increase Speed
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

We all want to be able to run faster. Whether you’re new to running or are more experienced, at some point everyone wants to know what we can do to help us to run faster as we aim to reach our goals.

As you probably already know, getting better at running is not always about doing more. It’s about being smart with your training and building up towards your goals gradually in a sensible and controlled way.

So, what are some of the best techniques and exercises to bear in mind to help improve your running speed over time as you look to step your game up?

We asked a selected group of running and fitness experts for their top tips when it comes to working on your speed to help you to run faster.

Here’s what they said.

Editor's note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. Our articles and the products featured in them are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Always speak with a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet and/or exercise routine, and/or taking any supplements.

Focus On Strength And Power Exercises

Jordan Duncan, Owner of Silverdale Sport and Spine

Strength and power exercises are an excellent way to increase running speed.

Research has shown that improving the rate of force development is very important in this regard, and people who run faster do so by generating more force on the ground as opposed to simply moving their legs faster.

Strength and power exercises, such as kettlebell swings, box jumps, clean and jerks, push presses, squats, and deadlifts, are great for building better ‘springs’ and improving the rate of force development.

Another tried and true exercise to help in this regard is jumping rope.

While building strength and power through resistance exercises was once viewed as an adjunct to training, if you want to run faster this is now seen as a requirement.

Group running

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Incorporate Hill Workouts Into Your Training

Stephen Lane, USA Track and Field Level 2 Certified Coach, and Director for the Adrian Martinez Classic

The question about speed is interesting – and requires some definition: do you mean speed as in being able to run a 5k faster? Or speed as in a faster 40-yard dash time?

The first type of speed probably matters more toward the wider population of runners or people trying to get fit. The second type matters more for other types of athletes – soccer players, football players, basketball players, etc. There is some overlap, however.

Hill workouts are a great way to develop speed. Typically, running up hills requires more dynamic knee lift and arm action – and more push from the glutes.

Three important tips: use your natural environment, focus on good posture, and build up slowly.

1) The best hill to use is the one you have: it can be shorter and steeper or longer and more gradual, or you can mix it up. I’ve used hills as short as 30m.

2) As you run, focus on staying nice and tall, keeping the hips up, and light, quick strides.

3) Build slowly. I’d recommend one hill workout per week, starting with four repeats between 40-100m, jogging slowly back down in between. After three weeks, add two repeats. Build up to 10 over several weeks. If you’re not able to run with good posture, stop the workout.

Add running games: Fartlek (speed play) runs: run hard for a minute, easy for five; or, if you’re into the play part, turn into a little kid again: run hard to the next tree, then go easy, or try to race a bus down the street as long as you can.

If you are thinking about speed for other sports like soccer or football, then for the most part that’s a question of acceleration, not pure speed.

Top-end sprinters don’t reach top speed until 30-40m – most sports, athletes almost never run that long.

So if you’re training speed for other sports, you should mostly be training acceleration. This requires more intensive work, probably with an experienced trainer.

Running Race

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Focus On Increasing Your Strength And Aerobic Capacity

Robert Herbst, Personal Trainer and Wellness Expert

There are numerous ways to increase your running speed, especially if you are a beginner, but they all center around increasing your strength and aerobic capacity.

You need to be able to work harder in a shorter amount of time. To do this, you can do different things, and you should change them up every few workouts to help your body to adapt.

For example, you can run intervals (meaning alternating between faster and slower pieces during your run), you can do sprints with short rests in between, you can do a faster finishing piece at the end of a long run, and you can run hills or stairs.

You should also lift weights, doing exercises that will strengthen your legs such as squats, lunges, and step-ups.

It’s also a good idea to perform exercises to help strengthen your upper back and shoulders, such as lateral raises and shrugs, so that your upper body will not get fatigued and you will be able to maintain proper form and posture.

These should all be supported by eating a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fats.

You should also remember the basics, such as ensuring that you stay hydrated and get at least seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. If you work hard and believe you will get faster, you will.

Man Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Add Some Running Drills To Your Routine

Whitney Heins, VDOT-O2 Certified Running Coach and Founder of The Mother Runners

Running drills such as skipping and backward running can help your body to run faster by helping improve your form, power, efficiency, and overall athleticism by encouraging movement in varying planes of motion.

Specifically, they can help by:

• improving communication between your brain and legs to help you become more efficient
• strengthening both the muscles and joints
• improving coordination and balance
• increasing the range of motion in your joints helping you run more efficiently and
• developing quick feet, acceleration, and power by mimicking each aspect of good running form.

Aim to do them twice a week (particularly before any harder effort run). They only take about five minutes, act as a great warm-up, and can help you to reap faster results in a short amount of time.

Strides, which are accelerations of about 100 meters where you run to about 90 per cent effort in the middle and then decelerate to the end, also help improve biomechanics/running efficiency, thereby teaching your body how to run faster.

Woman Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

They are a perfect transition to faster workouts for beginners or as a warm-up, reinforce proper running form, and strengthen muscles and tendons.

Aim to do four Strides, two times a week after a run. Make sure that fully recover between each Stride to ensure proper form.

For extra credit, lifting (heavy weights) and running 80 per cent easy and 20 per cent hard every week will also help to make you faster.

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