How to Run Faster!

Coach Casey · June 26, 2019

Don’t let the common opinion that distance runners aren’t speedy fool you, anyone that says that clearly has never watched Mo Farah run his final 1/4 mile in a 5k race, or Emma Coburn train for her 3k steeplechase! Having speed as a distance runner makes all the difference. Not only does it feel good to have an extra gear to use when you’re nearing the end of your long race, but by training speed we can also maximize our mechanical efficiency, muscular endurance, and overall running economy. All things that you’ll benefit from improving no matter how fast you want to run.

You don’t have to lose your “giddy up” as you increase your running volume. Higher mileage is NOT equal to less speed. Consider the tips below for easy ways to keep your speed or even add to it while still maintaining all that great mileage training!

1) Use form drills as your warm up

Something as simple as a 5-10min warmup routine that includes specific form/turnover drills can make all the difference when increasing your speed. 25 meter sets of A-Skips, B-Skips, Bounds, Carioca, and Quick Step Overs can teach your legs to properly turnover under your body while minimizing your braking force and ground contact time. Put simply, training your legs to hit the ground quickly and powerfully will lead to speed! Have a bit of fun and warm up like a world-class sprinter before each of your runs or workouts.

2) Build your power output

Speed is not just about how fast you move your legs but it is also all about how powerful each of your strides are. Increasing your power output (the amount of force exerted with each stride) will help propel you forward even faster. Adding bodyweight exercises that strengthen your major muscles while also increasing flexibility will contribute to that power. Focus on your gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus (your WHOLE butt!), along with your hamstring, quads, calves, and even your achilles tendon to get the most out of every stride.

3) Do strides a few times per week

Strides are a simple and fundamental way to fine-tune your foot speed and acceleration no matter what length of race you’re training for. They don’t have to be long (only 50-100 meters) but they should be FAST! Focus on maintaining good form while accelerating up to 95% of your max speed over the strides’ duration before slowly decelerating, taking a brief break and repeating 4-6 times.

4) Add some quality to your normal runs

A base run, recovery run, or long run doesn’t always have to be a slow, methodical drudge for mileage. Add a bit of purpose and quality by playing around with paces and rhythm a bit. Try finishing the final 200m of each base run with a sprint. Do 5 minutes in the middle of your long run at race pace. Sprint at every third mailbox or light pole if that makes you feel fast! Simple additions like these will train your body to change gears more rapidly and sustain that gear change for longer.

5) Increase your flexibility

As noted in Tip #2, strength and flexibility are equally important to producing speed. It becomes very hard to get a fast, effective stride turnover or cadence without proper flexibility. Doing a few sessions of yoga per week or even just working on increasing the depth of your strength exercises (getting lower in your squat/lunge) will help. Don’t be afraid of balancing flexibility with power. Long muscles equal strong muscles and long muscles equal pliable muscles…it’s the ultimate WIN, WIN!

Add to your speed and overall fitness with live, personal coaching. Get going with your Charge Running subscription! What’re you waiting for?

runner doing a lunge for flexibility and speed

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