Getting fit to increase your running speed involves more than just running. This fact may come as a surprise to you, but you soon come to understand the importance of incorporating and training for strength, agility, flexibility and core strength to attain better speed. By following a balanced training in all of these areas, you not only will achieve better running speed, but also reduce your chance of injury.
United Kingdom Track and Field coach Brian MacKenzie notes on BrianMac.co.uk that practicing proper technique when speed training, as being vitally important. He states that practicing technique at slower speeds first must be done to help your body's muscles get the feeling of the movement necessary to go faster. Once this is done, you can then practice at faster levels. The whole idea of doing this is to allow your nerves and muscles to be trained, and adapt to proper firing and contractions when running faster.
MacKenzie says that to increase your speed four elements need to work together -- flexibility, strength and speed, skill development/technique and speed training. Flexibility, accomplished through stretching, needs to be performed all year round to reduce injury and stay limber. Strength and speed are to be developed in unison to achieve the necessary power to run faster during your training and competitions. Skill development/technique, as noted, helps your body rehearse for faster movement. Speed training needs to be performed for short intervals at high velocity, and only after light training or appropriate prior rest.
MacKenzie suggests specific speed drills for specific distances of running. For sprinters training for 100 meters - 10 repetitions --- 30 meters at race pace from blocks with full recovery, then 3 to 4 reps --- 80 meters at race pace with full recovery. For the 1500 - 4 reps --- 400 meters at goal race pace with 10 to 15 second recovery, then 4 to 5 reps --- 800 meters at 5 to 6 seconds per 800 meters faster than goal race pace with six minutes recovery. And for 10,000 meters - 3 reps --- 2000 meters at 3 seconds per 200 meters faster than goal race pace with 2 minutes recovery. Follow this with 5 reps of five-minute intervals at current 5 km race pace with three minutes recovery.
MacKenzie also encourages plyometric training to develop the explosive movement and technique needed for faster running. Joe Puleo and Patrick Milroy, MD, suggest plyometric exercises in "Running Anatomy" such as The Frogger. In this exercise position yourself in a full squat with your thighs horizontal to the ground. Inhale, sweep your arms backwards, then throw the arms forward at the same time as you explode upward and forward out of the squat position. Land once again in the full squat position and immediately repeat the jump. Perform The Frogger for six to eight reps for two to three sets. This plyometric workout develops your quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gastronemius and soleus muscles, and is particularly beneficial to sprinters.