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How to Increase Running Speed & Distance

by
author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
How to Increase Running Speed & Distance
Increase your running speed and distance by training harder. Photo Credit Christopher Nuzzaco/Hemera/Getty Images

Running any distance is an accomplishment in and of itself. Running that same distance faster, though, is an even bigger accomplishment. Increasing both your speed and distance is downright impressive.

If you want to become faster and be able to go father, you'll have to set up your training program — and work hard at it. In the end when you hit your time or distance goal that you had in mind, it will all be worth it.

Run Faster

Sprinters are the kings and queens of speed in the running world. A distance runner doesn't use the same running technique as a sprinter and runs much farther, but they can learn a thing or two from the way a sprinter trains.

To get faster, a sprinter has to make his leg muscles stronger and faster. In the weight room, use exercises such as barbell squats, deadlifts and lunges to strengthen your leg muscles. The goal of these exercises is to get stronger, so focus on adding weight over time.

Read More: Sprint Workouts for Speed

Add weights to gain power.
Add weights to gain power. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Strength Training

Start training by learning proper technique — it can be dangerous if you have bad form. Once you know how to properly do the exercises, you can start adding some weight.

Do each exercise at least once per week to give yourself time to recover. Do the same number of sets and repetitions each workout, but add 5 pounds to each exercise per week (or, as soon as you feel like it's a little too easy). Over time, you'll start lifting much more weight than in the beginning — and your body will be much stronger and able to run much faster.

Plyometrics

Strength gives you the raw tools to get faster, but plyometrics helps form that strength into something useful. You need to be fast, as well as strong. Plyometrics training comes in the form of box jumps, jump squats, lunge jumps, and hurdle jumps.

Any bodyweight movement that involves jumping or moving quickly will help. Sprinting short distances — say, 30 meters — will also help you develop speed. In your training week, you can do one strength workout day and one plyometrics day.

Running Longer

Once you can run faster, you have to combine it with distance running. Being able to run a long distance is a different skill from being able to run fast. On your distance-training days, you'll just be working on pushing the distance that you run farther and farther. Most runners have a distance day on which they do their longest run of the week and try to a mile longer each week on this day. The other day or two of running are at a moderate distance.

On the long-distance day, your goal is to run slightly farther than you ever have before. Adding 1 mile every week can add up quickly, so it makes more sense to add either one half of a mile per week or to add one mile every other week. This gives your body an opportunity to rest and catch up to avoid injury.

Your medium-distance runs that you do on the other days of the week are a good chance to practice going faster. You can set these days at the same mileage and try to run it a few seconds faster each week. For example, if you run 3 miles on this day and average eight minutes per mile, try to run it the next week in seven minutes and fifty-seven seconds per mile. Slowly shave off time and increase your speed.

Improving Speed and Distance Simultaneously

Increasing both the speed that you run and the distance you run for at the same time is contradictory for your body. Normally when you increase the distance of your run, your pace will drop slightly to allow you to keep going. When you want to run faster, you normally don't run as far because you get tired faster. Therefore, don't get discouraged if you only seem to be progressing in one area.

You can increase both things at the same time but it won't happen very quickly, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Your body will be adapting to two different things at the same time, and it will take some getting adaptation.

Read More: Proper Training for Long-Distance Running

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