Wondering how to become a faster runner? Endurance training helps, but you need to add the right strategies to your running workout to run fast and consistently improve your running speed.
Otherwise, you may be putting a lot of effort into running longer without noticeable speed and pace improvements.
Read on to find out how to get faster at running and how to increase your mileage without getting tired or injuring yourself.
How to Prepare to Increase Your Running Speed
According to the results of a randomized controlled trial, 15 minutes of core work a few days a week can help you run faster. That said, running faster is a process, so you want to take it step by step.
Focus on base building, improve your endurance and run longer. You also want to evaluate your training to make sure you keep making progress and identify areas you can improve in.
So, how can you run faster without getting tired?
1. Follow a training plan
Your age, gender, weight, activity level, and other factors all play a role in your running speed. The best training plan to make you run faster should take all of these into account.
Use a running app to help you train and stay motivated with a personalized plan that will show you how to increase your pace by adding sprints, stretching, and other exercises to your workout. We recommend trying the Joggo app to create a personalized 8-week training plan which will include custom-tailored tips and tricks to consistently improve your running speed.
2. Clean up your diet and lose weight
Improve your eating habits to lose weight and run faster. According to this study, every pound you lose could help reduce your mile time by 2.4 seconds.
Improve your eating habits with the Healthy Plate method by proportioning 50% nonstarchy vegetables, 25% healthy carbs, and 25% lean protein in your plate. To maintain a healthy weight, keep an eye on your BMI.
Good to know: While you may have to give up on unhealthy, processed foods, you don’t have to give up on drinking caffeine. Research suggests that even low doses of caffeine before running can improve your athletic performance, though more research is needed in this area.
Avoid heel strike and increase your foot turnover if needed. Count your strides to bring more attention to every step and get your running rhythm right.
You can use video analysis to figure out what you can improve or ask a friend to record you as you run and discuss the footage together.
Don’t forget about your toes! Arch your toes up toward your shins (dorsiflexion) as you run so that you achieve a quicker stride turnover.
4. Do strength training
According to a 2019 study, an 8-week ab training program may improve your core endurance and running economy. Another reason to focus on core strength is that it safeguards the spine during exercise, reducing the risk of injuries.
You can build intensity and speed with plyometric exercises such as box jumps, skipping, single-leg hopping, and broad jumps. You also want to train your hips to increase your power output. Working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and evertors can also make you run faster.
In fact, cross-training can help you achieve your strength training goals while keeping you engaged on the days in-between runs.
5. Try weight training
A 2016 review and meta-analysis found that 2–3 weekly strength training sessions carried out for 8–12 weeks can go a long way in improving your speed.
Lift weights at the gym or at home. Try out deadlifts, barbell squats, and step-ups. You may see better results doing different types of weight training throughout the year rather than focusing on the same exercises.
Training your breathing muscle, the diaphragm, could help you run faster and longer. Start with simple but effective breathing exercises for runners:
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth at easy paces to increase your ventilatory threshold.
- Breathe deeply in your belly rather than in your chest – practice while sitting at first, then when walking, and finally when running.
- Inhale for two counts and exhale for two to pace yourself better.
- Count your breaths as you run.
7. Incorporate tempo runs
Tempo runs can help you cross the anaerobic threshold and add speed to your long runs. They can optimize your running pace by enabling you to find a balance between your anaerobic speed reserves and maximal sprint speed, a factor that differentiates the best 800 runners from the pack.
Aerobic and anaerobic capacity can vary from individual to individual, which is why you may want to calculate your anaerobic sprint reserve.
To do this, you have to calculate the difference between your maximal sprinting speed and your running speed. You can then individualize your tempo runs to your natural parameters.
As with every exercise, cooling down is important after tempo runs to prevent injuries and prepare your body for rest, so don’t skip it.
8. Include interval training
Running sprint intervals helps you build muscle and aerobic endurance. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, six sprint interval training sessions can improve your running performance.
During the study, trail runners ran 4 to 7 bouts of 30 seconds at maximum intensity with 4 minutes of recovery between intervals. They did this 3 times a week and displayed an increased aerobic speed of up to 40%.
Overall, interval training is time-efficient compared to other forms of endurance training and could help you see results faster.
9. Practice fartlek run
A meta-analysis of high-intensity interval training suggests that HIIT can improve your running performance better than classic endurance exercises.
Fartlek training is one of those types of running exercises that help tap into the benefits of high-intensity interval training.
Add 45-minute or longer fartlek sessions to your running plan. During fartleks, vary the intensity and speed of your run, mixing up walking, running, and sprinting.
10. Try uphill running
Research indicates that adding hill workouts to your running schedule can also improve your running performance.
However, you can do hill repeats once you’re in good running form, not before. Start with a hill that’s 100–200 meters long and has a challenging but not very difficult incline.
Warm up before you start. Run up the hill pushing yourself hard but try to maintain a consistent pace. Look at the ground 15 feet or so ahead of you and keep your back straight.
After reaching the top, recover with an easy jog or simply walk down the hill. Start with 2–3 repeats and increase these in increments of one. Running uphill once a week is enough for most runners.
11. Run on a treadmill
Treadmill running is easier than outdoor running. What’s more, it assists leg turnover, helping you run faster.
It can also make it easier to do your workout when the weather outside is bad rather than skipping training altogether.
For best results, do short intervals on a treadmill, building them into your running plan.
12. Increase your mileage
Increasing your running mileage improves your running economy and makes you a better runner all-around.
But you have to do it smartly. Follow the 10% rule – increase your weekly mileage by this percentage and not more. Your training plan should reflect this approach.
Tip: Run with a faster runner or in a group when you can.
13. Rest and recover
Don’t forget to take breaks. Well-rested athletes finish faster and have better reaction times.
Interestingly, according to this randomized controlled trial, beginner runners who followed the 10% rule had the same injury rates as others.
So, even if you increase your mileage steadily, you still have to let your body recover. You really need those rest days. So fit recovery days in between demanding runs. Otherwise, your risk of suffering a running injury will be higher.
Listen to your body and get enough sleep. If you suffer a running injury, how well you recover often depends on the quality of your rest.
14. Learn to endure discomfort
While rest is crucial, learning to endure discomfort is key to improving as a runner and running faster.
When the miles add up and every new step becomes a challenge, remember why you started running and why you love it.
Work not only on your body but also on your mental outlook – sharpen your mental game by resting, meditating, relaxing. But at the same time, stay focused.
How hard should you push? Push as hard as you need to reach your running goals but don’t push yourself to exertion or injury.
15. Recognize your improvements
Enjoy your running – this is crucial to keep on running and reach your running goals. It means following a running plan that suits you.
Joining a running community and sharing your progress is another way to acknowledge your results.
In the end, you want to reward yourself for improving as a runner. There are many ways to do this, from buying yourself that pair of running shoes you’ve always dreamed of to having a drink with your running mates at the end of the week.
The Bottom Line
To improve your running speed, it’s important to stick to your running plan. Stay consistent and stay motivated. Run more often if you have to, but don’t overdo it.
Tip: Listen to a new playlist every time you go for a run. Create it before you head out running. It can boost your motivation and give you a good vibe.
The takeaway is not to let your improvements pass unnoticed. Recognize and celebrate them. They are key chapters in your runner’s journey, and you should be proud of them.