Running has become a sport practiced by millions of people in the world. The New York or London Marathon is an event where thousands of people gather every year with the aim of covering 42,195 meters. Running is one of the earliest manifestations of human beings. In fact, Paleolithic or Neanderthal man are species of human beings where running was necessary to survive. Currently, it is raced in practically all team sports, although it is also run to catch the bus, to win a race or to chase your child when you are playing.
Taking into account that it is a practice increasingly carried out by all of us there is a special interest in society and in the athletes themselves to do it faster and faster. And it is that running faster will be decisive for a basketball counterattack, to climb a mountain faster with your friends, to be able to reduce your marks in a popular race or to simply run faster.
That’s why in today’s blog post we’re going to determine the best running routines to increase running speed.
Running pace as a variable to run faster
A very common thing among runners is to know what pace you have for the race. The race pace is known as the time it takes to travel a kilometer. Normally, a person who has not trained and who is in low physical shape can run at 6-6:30 minutes per kilometer. This speed is very low, but you have to start with something. And, on the other hand, we have people who run less than 4 minutes per kilometer, something difficult to do for an average athlete.
What many runners ask is: How do I run faster? If we look at the principles of training to run faster we should simply run faster for a long time. However, there are other forms of training that can help you run faster. Today we are going to see 5 training routines to increase running speed.
If you are a beginner you should keep in mind that the first changes are the ones that cost the most. Do not be discouraged by going slowly or getting tired very fast because if you have not run for a long time, the most normal thing in the world is that you get tired very quickly. Interval training will allow you to run for X minutes until you feel tired and switch at a lower pace. If you have just started, we recommend that you do interval periods of running and walking, and when you have mastered it, start running at low intensity and high intensity. In fact, the study by García-Pinillos et al. showed that high-intensity interval training helps improve sports “performance” (1). Therefore, interval training can be a vital running training to improve running speed.
Leg training to improve speed
If we need to have something clear as athletes and runners it is that we must be STRONG. Muscle strength is one of the conditions that will help us run faster and, whatever our training, we must introduce leg strength training to improve speed. In fact, in 2014 Beattie and collaborators confirmed that strength training can help improve running statistics and performance (2).
Specific leg training to improve speed would take into account the work of all muscle groups; quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. We recommend that you introduce exercises such as squat, deadlift, hip-thrust, butt kick, hip flexion and extension as well as knee flexion and extension, and do not forget about the work of abductors and adductors.
Sprint training to increase speed
We must bear in mind that you can run in many ways. It’s not the same to run the 100 meters smoothly than to run a marathon. What we do know is that both competitions are an expression of the race. In order to be faster at any time we must train to improve speed. For example, sprint training will be a very high effort for the muscular system and the cardiovascular system and will allow great ímprovements.
In fact, sprint training has other benefits apart from improving running speed or running faster 100 meters. One of the most important parts in any team sport is the power you have in the start. So, for example, if you manage to be faster than your rival in the first 2-3 meters you will be able to get rid of your opponent and move forward. That is why analyzing the study of Harrison and collaborators we have seen that sprint training can help improve that initial power and allow better sports performance (3). So, do not think about it and introduce some sprint exercises to improve your speed.
Hill training to improve speed
New technologies have allowed us to train on an athletics track and simulate the effect of all kinds of environments. For example, there are vests with a greater weight that make us heavier, there are parachutes that slow us down during the race or for example there are anti gravity treadmills that allow us to reduce the impact of the race. However, there is something as simple as running along a hill that has been practiced for decades and that has multiple benefits to improve speed.
Running on a hill is an extra effort and simulates the interval training we talked about at the beginning since we cannot be running on a slope forever. In fact, hill running has already proven to be interesting for improving speed. A study carried out by Paradisis et al. showed that running on a hill, both up and down, offers greater benefits than running horizontally (4). Therefore, we reconfirm that hill training is useful for improving speed.
“Tempo Run” training to increase speed
Over the years there are more and more strategies of different kinds to improve speed in the race and one of them is the “Tempo Run”. At the beginning of this post we talked about the importance of specificity, that is, if you want to run faster , run faster. The “Tempo Run” is precisely something similar, although we already warned that we do not recommend this type of strategy or routine to improve running speed for beginners.
The main objective of the “Tempo Run” is to endure as much as possible running at a high speed. For example, we could set a speed of 4:30 min/km and start running until we can’t take it anymore. This type of training has to do with anaerobic threshold and lactate production. When we are running at a high intensity the body produces a molecule called lactate that accumulates and causes a decrease in performance. Being able to tolerate that threshold longer and longer will make you run faster but also longer. The most beneficial aspect of the “Tempo Run” is that it is a type of training in which you learn a lot psychologically. The practice of tempo run helps you run faster because you learn to accept fatigue and pain and, in fact, a study by Young and collaborators confirmed that marathoners perform this type of training to be able to run faster (5).
Finally, let’s rename the 5 best strategies to improve your running speed. Keep in mind that training to improve speed is something very practiced in amateur and professional runners so adapt these exercises to your level. The best workouts to improve your speed are:
– Interval training.
– Leg strength training.
– Sprint training.
– Hill training.
– Training “Time Run”.
Do not hesitate to put each of them in your training schedule and plan taking into account the benefits and harms of each. From the Vitruve blog we invite you to try all types of training and communicate your sensations. And we also care about you and we do not recommend you to put all of them on the same day of training.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Leave a comment or contact us here.
Unai Adrián Perez de Arrilucea Le Floc’h
- García-Pinillos F, Cámara-Pérez JC, Soto-Hermoso VM, Latorre-Román PÁ. A high intensity interval training (HIIT)-based running plan improves athletic performance by improving muscle power. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2017;31(1):146-53.
- Beattie K, Kenny IC, Lyons M, Carson BP. The effect of strength training on performance in endurance athletes. Sports Medicine. 2014;44(6):845-65.
- Harrison AJ, Bourke G. The effect of resisted sprint training on speed and strength performance in male rugby players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2009;23(1):275-83.
- Paradisis GP, Bissas A, Cooke CB. Combined uphill and downhill sprint running training is more efficacious than horizontal. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2009;4(2):229-43.
- Young BW, Salmela JH. Perceptions of training and deliberate practice of middle distance runners. International Journal of Sport Psychology. 2002.