How to increase running speed

One of the most common questions from runners is “How do I run faster?” And it is human because distance and speed are the only objective parameters that let us know whether we are improving, and improvement is, indeed, inside the human nature. Our evolution – as individuals and as a species – is right there, in improvement.

As you can easily imagine, this is not an easy question to answer, and we could probably write a whole book about it but without delve into all the topics.
But since none of us has time to read 457 million words on this topic I will try to give you some tips on how to increase speed in running.

So in the name of speed, let’s get going right away!

All we need is just a little patience

More than 30 years ago – mammy how old I am! – Guns n’ Roses used to sing “all we need is just a little patience.” Yes, because patience and small steps are the basis of improvement.
Not surprisingly, if you ask me how to lower your pace by 2 minutes, my answer is only one: “electric scooter”; there are no other ways.

In fact, in some ways, haste can be an obstacle that causes us to waste workouts, struggling but not building anything. Construction is, not surprisingly, the only method to improve and increase speed in running. Building a strong aerobic base, building a resistant anaerobic threshold, building a state of fitness that allows us to best optimize the oxygen we use.

Patience is also needed because we will be facing particularly demanding workouts that require adequate recovery. This is why I recommend that you put in “quality” workouts no more than twice a week so that you don’t overload, you’ll get the most benefit from the sweat drops you pour in, and you’ll able to increase your running speed properly.

Workouts for running faster

Since speed comes from efficiency and power, the first element to be worked on is – always – endurance. We have to start from endurance and we have to improve – at the same time – in the workouts dedicated to speed in endurance as well.

The warm up

But how? You have to tell us how to train to go faster, and you talk about warming up? Yes, because it is essential, especially for quality workouts, to put our bodies in the best condition to benefit from the workouts we do.

A proper warm-up can be done statically with exercises in place but can also be a simple 15′ jog at an easy pace with some stretching. This is the starting point for whatever we go on to do next.

The specific enhancement

I know: lunges, skips, changes of direction may be “ridiculous” to do on the street but they are extremely useful for strengthening muscles by making them more efficient. Or there are the athletic tracks where these exercises are “at home.”

Athletic training is a building block that we should always put at the base of a training program aimed at improving running speed and increasing pace. Whether we just run or do triathlons.


Warm-up: 15′ easy with some strides
4x 50m low and fast skip + 30″ recovery
4x 50 meters high and slow skip + 30″ recovery
10x 10 forward leg lunges + 60″ recovery
4x 50 meters double skip + 30″ recovery
4x 50 meters kicked back + 30″ recovery
6x 5 jumping jacks + 50 meter sprint + 60″ recovery
Cool down: 15′ easy

For beginners: the progressive and strides

If you have only recently started running but you have a good foundation to endurance, you can already start increasing your speed with strides and progressive runs. The important thing is not to overload your runs with fatigue because you are educating your body to adapt to running.

Just in this process of adaptation, you can “explain” to your body that it can run a little faster. Just, toward the end of your workout, insert a hundred meters strides when you increase your pace to tell yourself, “hey, you can go even a little faster!”

Similarly, during longer runs, you can – in the second half – progressively increase the speed. By a little. Kilometer after kilometer.
In this way you will gradually adapt to increasing speed.

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can find a training program for beginners here.

Quality training to increase speed

I will never tire of repeating: quality matters much more than quantity. So, if you want to increase your running speed, it’s not enough to proceed at a constant pace. As strenuous as it can be to do intervals and fartleks, you must necessarily include them in your weekly schedule.

Again, especially for intervals, doing quality workouts on the track is preferable. Because you control distances better, because you don’t have traffic and snags, and you can keep your pace constant.

Intervals? Which ones do I do?

Clearly, the choice of interval training distance must be made according to the race you are preparing for. To simplify, long intervals (over 1,000 meters) prepare our body for prolonged exertion and improved performance (thus speed) over long distances. Medium repetitions (500 to 1,000 meters) allow us to learn how to “manage” lactate. Short repetitions (up to 500 meters) promote physiological optimization as we work in an anaerobic regime.

If you are not preparing for any particular race, as you might imagine, it is a very good idea to work on the three types of repeats in order to create a balanced preparation.

The fartlek

I like the fartlek a lot, more than intervals, especially during the “free” training periods. And I like it in its traditional connotation: a running game.
In fact, it was born as a game of “I speed up from here to there and then slow down.” An example? From the green light to the left turn you accelerate and then slow down to catch up. And so on.
If you want to have fun, it may be an idea to improvise rhythm changes following the music.

I don’t know if it’s clear but fartlek is a workout to increase speed that I really enjoy because when you go back to being a kid and play, you have more fun.

Bonus track: the pyramid

Another interesting workout for going faster and improving endurance is the pyramid. It’s highly varied, suitable for many runners, and – as much as a 7 or 8 effort job (on the Borg Scale) can be – it is fun.

Here it is!


Warm-up: 15′ easy with some strides
30″ hard pace + 60″ recovery
60″ hard pace + 90″ recovery
90″ hard pace + 2′ recovery
2′ hard pace + 2’30” recovery
3′ hard pace + 3′ recovery
2′ hard pace + 2’30” recovery
90″ hard pace + 2′ recovery
60″ hard pace + 90″ recovery
30″ hard pace + 60″ recovery
Cool-down: 15′ easy

The tools for running faster

I use two tools that are now essential to me.

The first is the Training Load Focus on the Garmin Forerunner 955, which constantly gives me an accurate snapshot of how balanced my training is between low aerobic, high aerobic, and anaerobic. This way I know how to change my workouts to get the result I want.

Similarly, especially for quality technical work, it is important to choose the right shoe.

And don’t forget: just because you work harder to increase your speed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun. The smile must be there, always!



(Main image credits: kyolshin on


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