Increase Your Running Speed

By on November 5, 2012

The vast majority of athletes will train for an ‘endurance’ event by training as often as they can and gradually increasing the distance they cover in each training session. Though endurance and aerobic efficiency is clearly a very important component when preparing for an endurance event, it’s only part of the picture.

If the only run training you do in preparation for a triathlon is to go for a number of long runs each week, you will find that your ability to keep going will increase. However, after a while, your muscles will have adapted to this type of activity to such a degree that you will find it very difficult to increase your running speed when needed.

To improve your performance in the run, you need to improve both your endurance and pace. The only way to do this is to vary your run training.


Don’t just go for a run…train!

There are lots of different ways you can build speed work into your training schedule. Instead of just having ‘run’ written on your training schedule, be more specific. If you are used to doing, say, 3 longish runs each week, cut that down to 2 and build in one of these higher intensity sessions:


Track Work

A track is a controlled and consistent environment that’s ideal for working on your speed and aerobic capacity. The best way to increase your run speed is to do some middle distance interval training. Here are some example sessions.

9 sets of 150m sprints (250m walk recovery)

6 sets of 300m fast (100m slow walk recovery)

800m repeats (400m jog recovery)

Pyramid sets: 60m, 100m, 150m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 600m, 800m and back down again.


Each of these workouts will increase your lung capacity, improve stride length and leg speed.


Hill Sets

Hill sets are great for power and speed. Again, they will help increase stride length, lung capacity and improve the strength of the push off from your rear foot.

Hill sets aren’t complicated. Find a hill that takes you 30 – 60 seconds to run up. Sprint to the top, recover as you walk down. Repeat until your legs shake.


Fartlek Training

Fartlek training allows you to build elements of speed work into your daily runs. It simply involves varying the pace of your run speed for set intervals.

For example; you might do your usual running route but instead of keeping a steady pace, you would increase your running speed (5k or 10k pace depending on length of run) for 1 minute before reverting back to your normal pace. This can be repeated for the duration of your run.


As well as improving your running speed and overall fitness, building some of these workouts onto your training schedule is a great way to keep yourself motivated. The variation and goal setting that these sessions will introduce will keep things interesting and make sure that you’re always working at your limit.


What about you? Do you incorporate speed work into your run training?


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