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Exercises to Increase Running Speed

author image Jennifer Gill
Jennifer Gill is a health educator, certified running coach, licensed sports nutritionist and writer. As the Founder of Sole Health and Wellness, she develops and implements individual, group and corporate running and nutrition programs. She has contributed to several local and national publications on nutrition, physical activity and weight management including a health information service from the National Institutes of Health.
Exercises to Increase Running Speed
A woman is running on a beach. Photo Credit pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

Increasing running speed is a common goal for runners, regardless of your competitive nature. Running speed is a sign of progress that you can easily measure throughout your running career. Choose from several techniques to increase your running speed, and make some key changes to your regular training routine to help you become a fitter, stronger and faster runner.

Pay Attention to Running Form

Correct running form is the foundation for proper running and, subsequently, faster, more efficient running. Proper running form includes upright posture, a slight forward lean from your ankles -- not your hips or back -- a mid-foot foot strike that allows your feet hit the ground directly under your hips and a short and fast stride length. A simple exercise to improve running form is the single leg stance. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, raise your arms out to the side. Lift the knee of one leg up to a 90-degree angle while engaging your hip muscles to control the knee lift. Hold the stance for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat two to four times on each side.

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Add Speed With Fartleks

According to "Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running," adding one speed workout per week is enough to get faster without drastically increasing your chance of injury. One of the easiest speed workouts is the fartlek workout. Meaning "speed play" in Swedish, fartleks consist of unscheduled periods of faster running throughout your regular training run. During a run of 3 miles or more, add faster bursts of running for 30 seconds to 5 minutes at a time and follow it with running at your regular pace or slower. Repeat two to three times throughout your run and add more bursts as you build speed and endurance.

Run Farther and Faster With Tempo Runs

To improve speed and endurance, incorporate tempo runs into your training. Tempo runs are faster runs done during the middle miles of a longer training run. Your speed should be faster than usual but not so fast you cannot keep your pace or running form under control. A good example of a tempo run would be running for 10 to 15 minutes at an easy pace, then 10 to 20 minutes of fast, steady pace, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of easy pace to cool down.

Build Strength and Speed with Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are both strength and speed workouts in one. They help improve your form, endurance and speed all at the same time. Find a moderately steep hill that is safe to run. Run up the hill at a fast and steady pace, not a sprint. Maintain that pace through to the top of the hill without straining excessively. At the top, turn around and slowly jog or walk down the hill to recover. Repeat four to six times, adding repeats as you get stronger.

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