4 Critical Running Tips to Improve Your Speed Training

by Ayo Dada
adidas Runners London Captain

Many recreational runners continue to pound the streets day after day without considering aspects of their biomechanics involved when running. But on the bright side, the number of runners who find it beneficial to understand the detail behind the mechanics of running, allowing them to improve their performance by putting knowledge into practice, is definitely increasing.

If you’re looking to increase your running speed, and do so as efficiently as possible, here are 4 critical speed training techniques you definitely don’t want to ignore:

1. Keep your knees high

To run efficiently at speed, your knees should lift as high as your hips on your forward stride.

Not only will this allow you to stretch farther, but it also enables you to bring the foot up high behind, which shortens the lever established by the knee. Essentially, the shorter the lever, the faster the action.

Firstly, start by doing some high-knees running on the spot then repeat these high-knee drills two to three times for 30 meters:

  • Walking high-knees
  • High-knee toe up
  • Full effort high-knees
  • High-knees skipping march

2. Strengthen your ankles

The ankles can develop more speed than a lot of runners realize. Runners can often lack ankle mobility and strength, which generally prevents speed generation from the ankles. With poor ankle mobility and strength, the structure of ankle joints doesn’t allow it to move back and forth in its natural range of motion and the calf muscles are often tight and need to gain more flexibility to help you perform at your best.

Incorporating these ankle drills into your workout will help improve mobility and increase strength:

  • Ankle circles (30 seconds per foot)
  • Straight-leg calf stretch (hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times per leg)
  • Bent-knee calf stretch (hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times per leg)
  • Standing calf raises (30 raises x 2 sets)
  • Standing squat jumps (2 sets x 25 jumps)
  • Ankle bounces (3 sets x 25 jumps)

3. Run tall

Slouched shoulders are common in runners as most of us are hunched over a computer all day – which is likely to lead to inefficient form when running fast. As runners, we need to try and make ourselves six inches (15 cm) taller when speeding up. Running tall means keeping an upright posture with the back straight and the head up so the chin is parallel to the ground. Just imagine you’ve got a helium balloon tied to your t-shirt.

Repeat the exercises below two to three times for 50 meters and focus on running tall and light:

  • Straight-leg run
  • Running on toes
  • Running on toes into strides

4. Mix up your pace

Running flat out during every workout isn’t going to improve your top-end running speed. Although it sounds counterintuitive, easy runs can help us get faster and develop base endurance.

You can easily mix things up with:

  • an easy endurance run
  • a tempo run
  • some speed work such as intervals
  • Story Running in your adidas Running app

If you’re looking to boost your speed, these basics are critical. Be sure to include these 4 training tips into your running routine so you can start to build better running habits and reach your goals!

About Ayo Dada:

Originally a footballer by trade, Ayo was drawn into the world of running after seeing the power of how it can bring people together and allow individuals to improve themselves, both mentally and physically. Being a VI/blind guide runner and an active volunteer in the parkrun UK community has allowed him to support runners of all abilities. Ayo is passionate about bringing runners together through the adidas Runners community, helping them reach their individual goals. You can check out adidas Runners London on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events.


How to Increase Speed and Power

Ever try to move fast?

No. I mean F-A-S-T.

When was the last time you were at a gym or doing a workout and you tried to hoist a barbell overhead as explosively and quickly as possible? Or when was the last time your were running on a treadmill or riding a bicycle and moved your feet and legs so fast that your brain hurt trying to keep up?

The fact is that when it comes to optimizing the performance of your nervous system and cementing the connection between your brain and the rest of your body, it doesn’t really matter that much the heavy stuff you lift or how much muscle you build. Sure, strength and muscle-building are fantastic tools for aesthetics, for symmetry, for musculoskeletal development and even for anti-aging.

But when it comes to optimizing your brain and nervous system, recruiting muscle fibers, enhancing nerve firing speed, and optimizing brain-body coordination, it is far more important to instead focus on fast, explosive movements—whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional athlete. I was first exposed to this concept when I interviewed a well-known sports performance coach named Nick Curson. Nick, who is the creator of a training system called “Speed Of Sport” and who trains some of the top UFC and NFL competitors on the face of the planet. Rather than giving the men and women he trains extremely heavy weights, he instead has them move light weights and their own body weight as freakin’ fast as they possibly can.

Why? Because there are two important attributes that go hand-in-hand with strength (and are often mistaken for strength): power and speed – and in this episode, you’ll learn how to optimize power and speed so that you can move like a cat, sprint like a cheetah and spring like a tiger.

How to Increase Power

Let’s start with power.

Power is the ability to generate lots of force in a short period of time. While strength refers to how much force your muscles can exert, power refers to how quickly that force can be exerted. If your muscles can’t generate high amounts of force in short periods, then you’re low on power and unable to use the muscle you do have to its full potential. If you’re performing a strength-oriented task, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to complete it, whether it’s lifting a weight, moving a couch, or climbing a flight of stairs. All that matters is that the task gets done; doing it slowly doesn’t take away from the “success” of completing it.

But when your goal is to develop pure power, speed counts. The speed with which you lift that weight, move that couch, or climb that flight of stairs dictates how successful you were at quickly recruiting your muscle. When you train for power, your brain, spinal cord and entire central nervous system learn to control your muscles in a far more efficient way, creating enhanced muscle utilization without the negative effects of too much muscle bulk.

As a matter of fact, when you train for power and use strategies such as keeping the number of repetitions low, lifting light weights fast, and moving quickly, power training will even increase your ability to maximally utilize muscle without bulking you up (or tearing muscle fiber and subsequently making you sore). The advantage of being able to more effectively recruit the muscle you already have, without necessarily increasing muscle mass, is that you’ll need to recruit fewer muscle fibers for any given intensity. So power is like putting a faster engine in your car without increasing the size of the car or the weight of the engine itself. This results in lower energy costs, less muscular fatigue, and ultimately better performance in any movement.

There are three primary strategies for increasing power as fast as possible: plyometrics, speed-strength sets, and complex sets. Each of these strategies, along with tips for developing potent power no matter whether you’re in the gym, backyard, basement, park or hotel room, can be pursued using training tools for increasing power, including power racks, agility ladders, medicine balls, kettlebells, sandbags, adjustable plyometric boxes, weighted vests, training sleds and power cables.

As highlighted earlier, to fully optimize brain-body coordination, power training should be accompanied by speed training. So what’s the difference between the two?


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Download Speed: 13 Ways to Increase Your Internet Speed Today

Last Updated February 28th, 2017

So you want to learn how to increase your download speed?

Recently my area got upgraded to the National Broadband Network and with it my speeds increased quite a lot.

It was interesting seeing how this increased the amount of work we could get through – whether it was sending files, downloading and uploading images to blogs, or just loading new pages to read.

But I was also shocked at how much extra speed I could get through my line by tweaking a few things around my house, computer and the router itself.

In this post I am going to show you a few ways you can increase your download speed. Hopefully something in this article is useful to you.

Disclosure – This post contains some affiliate links. I’ll let you know which ones they are below. If you purchase a product through one of those links I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend services I’ve used and love. If this bothers you feel free not to use the link.

How to test your current internet speed

The first thing you will need to do is test your current internet speed. This will let you know whether or not you are getting a lower rate than you should be. You can do this by going to SpeedTest.net and running a test. Here are my results.

Look at those speeds! Well, sort of…

This is actually a screenshot of the speed I get when I’m tethering my mobile to my laptop. Unfortunately my home WiFi speeds are not as fast as this because, well, because of Australia.

What do MBps and Mbps mean and why does it matter?

Okay, so, some boring but important stuff here. People often say megabytes when they mean megaBITS. And visa versa. But there is a big difference.

MBps = megabytes
Mbps = megabits

So, if you refer to my speed test above you will see that I am getting 11.53 Mbps per second. To find out how many megabytes that is you just divide by 8 which equals 1.44 MBps.

Now, 1 MB is equal to 1024 KB (kilobytes) so if you want to know how fast you are going to able to download a song or movie you should refer to the KB or MB per second rate as that is usually what they are measured in.

For example, if you are downloading a 50 MB file at 1 MB per second it will take you just under 50 seconds.

Got it?

On a sidenote, we recently updated our “how to start a blog” guide with acionable insights. Do check it out and let us know your feedback.

Download faster: How to speed up your internet

Now let’s dive into a few ways that you can improve your internet speed.

Remember, some Internet companies advertise huge speeds as a theoretical “potential” but in reality you will never get near it. Email or call your ISP and ask them what is actually attainable in your area so that you don’t spend heaps of time trying to get a speed that just isn’t possible.

1. Test a different modem/router

The biggest cause of slowed down internet is a bad modem. For ages I was using a Billion modem that I thought was absolutely fantastic. I was having frequent internet drop outs and blaming them on my ISP. Finally I changed to a new NETGEAR N150 modem and speeds went up and the drop outs stopped. The problem? The old Billion modem wasn’t equipped for ADSL2+. Rookie mistake. Make sure your modem is suited to the internet plan that you are on.

Update: I’m now using the default modem provided by the National Broadband Network which is automatically configured to work on that system. Again, you just want to make sure that your router is compatible with your plan.

2. Scan for viruses

The next thing you need to do is make sure that no virus itself is causing you to slow down. Sometimes viruses can live on your computer and suck resources away from what you are doing thus slowing down your speeds.

3. Check for on-system interference

Sometimes your virus scanner or other programs can interfere with your internet speeds. This is really frustrating but you can figure out by simply switching things off one at a time and then running a speed test again. Please note I won’t be responsible for any viruses or spyware you pick up whilst doing this. You should always have good virus protection.

4. Check your filters

If you have your internet connected to a phone line that also has a telephone on it then you will need to make sure you have good quality filters installed on your line. These are little plugs that you attach to the phone line and they help filter out the disturbances. Here is a photo of one of mine.

Now, these also need to be different for the different types of internet. If you have ADSL2+ or cable make sure you have the appropriate filter.

5. Try getting rid of your cordless phone

Some people disagree with this but I have found that cordless phones slow down or interfere with my internet even with filters. It is worth doing an isolation test by removing your phones and replacing them with different ones (borrow a friend’s) and see whether you get better results.

6. Plug in

Wifi is nice but wireless internet is often a tad slower than if you plug in to your modem. Try getting that chord out of the box and plugging straight into the modem, especially if it is your desktop computer and you don’t need to move it around very often.

7. Check for external interference

I bet most of you have an iPhone, iPad, sound system and at least one other form of electronic device in your modem area. Am I right? Well, if so, then you need to check to see whether these things are causing electromagnetic interference. Try moving speakers out of the way and getting other electronic devices out of your modem space.

8. Check for Foxtel or other types of TV

Old Foxtel boxes can cause interference for your internet, even if you aren’t using them. If your net speed is slower than it should be and you can’t figure out why, it might be an idea to go for a walk around your house and see if you have a Foxtel (cable TV) box that you didn’t know was there. It could be from a past owner. If so, call up and make sure it is disconnected totally.

9. Shorten and replace cables

The length of your cables and their structure can affect speeds. Try replacing old phone cables, sockets and lines and instead use shorter and newer ones. This can often make a big difference.

10. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The last suggestion is often the most powerful one. Turn off your modem for one minute and turn it on again. It is called power cycling and can often flush out a bunch of problems that affect your speed. If you are really brave you can even reconfigure your modem with a new password as this can often refresh your settings at the end of your ISP and refresh connections.

11. Update firmware and software regularly

Your router/modem actually has it’s own software that you need to update regularly. You can login to your modem by following your brand’s instructions. For example, for a NETGEAR modem you go to http://routerlogin.com where you can update and tweak your settings. You also need to consider updating your computer’s desktop version, operating system, etc. as often the wireless settings become less compatible over time.

12. Find your router/ISP’s best settings

When you login to your modem/router (see point 11) you will see a bunch of settings relating to channels and so on. Sometimes these settings are not on the best option by default and you’ll need to update them based on the types of devices you use, etc. Check out your router and ISP’s website for the best settings.

13. Check the cabling and do a line test

If all of this fails it’s time to contact your Internet Service Provider and modem company and ask them for a line test and investigation. This may mean that a worker from the company will be sent out to your house, and this can cost an additional fee. The man who came to my property found that the wires in my roof were almost totally chewed away and needed replacing.

What have I missed?

Do you know any other ways to increase your internet speed? I would be really interested to hear them. Comments are now closed on this article but you can always catch me on Twitter if you want to suggest something else. If this post has helped you please consider giving it a little share on social media.

Top image © Daniel Villeneuve

We all want to know how to run faster. Everyone envisions a PR, whether that’s faster times on the track or crushing your next marathon. In our minds, we see ourselves channeling our inner Shalane Flanagan down the home stretch of a race, picking up speed as we blow past our competition, crossing the line in first place. But running faster is easier said than done.

The reality is: There are times when—whether it be in the first or the final mile—our breath becomes labored, our lungs burn, and our legs just can’t seem to turn over any quicker. So just what is the secret for how to run faster?

Related Story

In the past, we believed our lead muscles were caused by a buildup of lactic acid, but more recent science has found that these sensations each correspond to a different mini-crisis in your body, and they combine to determine whether you can hold your pace.

In 2015, scientists from around the world gathered in San Diego for a special conference to share the latest results in their search for the ultimate limits of endurance. They discussed the many factors affecting your run, from metabolites and mental fatigue to heat and hydration.

Their findings help explain five common running roadblocks. Here, we outline each issue they looked at and break down how to run faster.

“I can’t catch my breath!”

Cause: Oxygen deficit
Occurrence: Shortly after starting to run
Antidote: A “priming” warmup, including a sustained burst of intense running

Kirsten Ulve

The first rep of an interval workout always feels hard. You’re gasping for air; your heart is pounding. The next rep, though, is a bit easier. “Your breathing rate doesn’t actually fall; you just kind of settle into it,” says Andrew Jones, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Exeter in England. What you’re experiencing is the result of a temporary mismatch between the oxygen your legs require and the oxygen your heart and lungs are able to deliver.

Related Story

When you start running, your muscles’ oxygen needs immediately spike upward, but the time it takes for the rest of your body to respond is dictated by your “oxygen kinetics,” or response time. This oxygen deficit then triggers signals that cause your breathing and heart rate to speed up, dilate the blood vessels, and activate oxygen-processing enzymes in the muscles themselves. As a result, within two to three minutes, your muscles are getting enough oxygen.

The temporary oxygen shortage has lasting implications, though. To meet the energy shortfall, your muscles tap into their precious supply of anaerobic (oxygen-free) fuel stores. That produces metabolic byproducts that make your muscles feel fatigued—and it also leaves you with less energy for the final anaerobic sprint at the end of the race. “What you burn up in the first couple of minutes is never going to replenish unless you slow right down,” Jones says.

To fight oxygen deficit, Jones and others are studying an approach called “priming,” which gets that first-rep fatigue out of the way before the race. Ten to 20 minutes prior to the start, include a sustained burst of intense running in your warmup, 45 to 60 seconds at 5K race pace, for example. This priming run will activate enzymes and dilate blood vessels, while also allowing you enough time to recover before the race starts.

“I’m running harder, but I’m not speeding up!”

Cause: Inefficient muscle-fiber recruitment
Occurrence: Sustained medium efforts like 10K to half marathon
Antidote: Train your fast-twitch fibers to be more efficient

Kirsten Ulve

The early miles of a half marathon often feel pretty easy. You’re not sprinting fast enough to accumulate high levels of lactate and other metabolites; and unlike in a marathon, you’re not running far enough to empty fuel stores. So why does it eventually—and inevitably—get hard?

The answer, according to studies from the University of Copenhagen, once again depends on oxygen kinetics. Over the course of a sustained run at half marathon pace or faster, the amount of energy (and thus oxygen) needed to maintain that pace gradually inches upward. Over the course of 10 or 20 minutes, your oxygen consumption can drift upward by as much as 25 percent, making it progressively harder to hold your pace.

This drift is the result of a shift to less-efficient muscle fibers. When you start running, you automatically recruit mostly slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are suited for long-distance running because they’re efficient and take a long time to fatigue. As time goes on, though, individual fibers begin to fatigue and run low on fuel. To replace them, your brain recruits fast-twitch fibers, which demand more energy—and oxygen—to deliver the same output.

Related Story

One way to tackle this problem is to train your fast-twitch fibers, which are usually deployed for explosive movements, to be more efficient. “This might be one reason long runs are so important for marathoners,” Jones explains. A 2.5-hour run, even at a slow pace, will eventually deplete slow-twitch fibers and force fast-twitch ones to practice delivering slow-and-steady power. In response, they’ll build endurance by ramping up mitochondrial content and adding capillaries to supply more blood.

“My legs are on fire!”

Cause: Metabolite accumulation in your muscles triggers signals to your brain.
Occurrence: Mile or 5K races, fast surges, or finishing sprints
Antidote: Short, fast interval workouts

Kirsten Ulve

Imagine the searing muscular discomfort of a hard interval workout—focused entirely in your thumb. That’s the odd sensation that 10 lucky volunteers in a University of Utah lab experienced in 2014, when a research team led by professors Alan Light and Markus Amann injected a cocktail of metabolites—the chemical byproducts that build up in your muscles during intense effort—into their thumbs. The results were profound: They created sensations of fatigue in subjects not moving a muscle.

For decades, scientists and athletes have talked about “lactic acid burn” triggered by intense exercise. When you run hard, you eventually reach a point where your aerobic energy system—the ultra-efficient fuel supply that relies on oxygen delivered by your heart and lungs—can’t supply energy to your muscles quickly enough. You turn instead to anaerobic (oxygen-free) energy sources, which provide much-needed fuel but also generate metabolites that build up in your muscles. One of those metabolites is, indeed, lactate (a molecule that’s closely related to lactic acid). But despite its nasty reputation, lactate, on its own, doesn’t make you tired.

Related Story

Light and Amann tried injecting their volunteers with three different metabolites: lactate; protons, which make your muscle more acidic; and adenosine triphosphate, a form of cellular fuel. When the chemicals were injected alone or in pairs, nothing happened. But when they injected all three together—bingo! At first the subjects reported feelings like “fatigue” and “heavy” in their thumbs, even though they were sitting. Then, when researchers injected higher metabolite levels that would correspond to all-out exercise, the sensations shifted to “ache” and “hot”—the so-called lactic burn, created in a test tube.

Related Story

The results show that, regardless of what it feels like, your muscles aren’t being dissolved by lactic acid. It’s only when special receptors in your leg muscles detect a particular combination of metabolites that they trigger a distress signal that travels up your spinal cord, which your brain interprets as a burning sensation. One solution? Train the receptors to be a little less sensitive by repeatedly triggering them in training. “The first time you do intervals after the off-season, you think you’re dying,” notes Amann. But after just one or two workouts, “it already feels a bit better.”

“I can hardly lift my legs!”

Cause: Metabolite accumulation hinders muscle contraction.
Occurrence: Near the end of hard races
Antidote: Prudent pacing

Kirsten Ulve

Okay, so now we know that the “lactic burn” is really just a sensation in the brain, triggered by nerve sensors in the muscle. Does that mean that the muscles themselves can keep going indefinitely if you somehow ignore those signals? To find out, Amann and his colleagues injected a nerve block called fentanyl into the spines of volunteers, preventing signals from traveling up from the leg muscles to the brain, and asked them to ride 5K as hard as they could on a stationary bike.

The results were dramatic. When the first subject finished and tried to step off the bike, he nearly collapsed on the floor before Amann and his researchers caught him. All subsequent subjects had to be helped off the bike. Some couldn’t unclip their feet from the pedals, Amann recalls, “and not a single one was able to walk.” They had all been given a gift that many athletes dream of—the ability to push as hard as they wanted without feeling much pain or fatigue—and now they were paying the price, with muscles that had essentially ceased to function.

Yet despite their temporary superhuman status, the subjects didn’t ride faster than when they received a placebo injection. “They always feel great initially,” says Gregory Blain, Ph.D., one of Amann’s colleagues. “They’re flying. But”—he flashes a wicked grin—”we know they’re going to crash.” By the halfway mark, the cyclists still felt great, but they started to look puzzled, because their legs were no longer responding to the commands sent by their brains. Whatever advantage they gained from their fast start soon dissipated as their legs stopped responding.

Related Story

In this case, the fatigue really is in the muscles rather than the brain. Without any warning signals in the brain, metabolites such as protons and phosphate ions accumulate far beyond levels that directly interfere with the ability of the muscle fibers to contract. In other words, the fatigue produced by metabolites isn’t “all in your head”—instead, you experience a mix of “central” (in the brain) and “peripheral” (in the muscles) fatigue during hard runs. Push too hard at the start of a race, and you’ll discover just how real those peripheral limits are.

“I give up!”

Cause: Effort overload
Occurrence: Anytime you’re pushing your limits
Antidote: Train your brain.

Kirsten Ulve

It hurts too much. That’s the simplest way to explain why you don’t push a little harder during those crucial final miles. But it’s not quite right. Pain—the feeling that makes you go “ouch!”—isn’t what holds you back. When researchers at Great Britain’s University of Kent ran electric current through the brains of volunteers to dull their sense of pain, using a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), it didn’t improve how subjects felt during exercise or how they performed in a ride to exhaustion on a stationary bike.

What matters, according to exercise physiologist Samuele Marcora, Ph.D., one of the authors of the Kent study, is effort: the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop. All the other forms of fatigue—oxygen deficits, metabolite accumulation, overheating, dehydration, muscle damage, fuel depletion, and so on—contribute to your overall sense of how hard it would be to maintain your pace or speed. Effort, in other words, combines all the different fatigue signals that emanate from every corner of your body—and the moment of truth in any race corresponds to maximum effort.

Related Story

Runners spend most of their training time trying to make their muscles, heart, and lungs stronger and more efficient. But Marcora’s theory suggests that altering your subjective sense of effort is another way to run faster. Studies have successfully altered effort—and endurance—using techniques such as subliminal messages (smiling faces flashed for a fraction of a second), electric brain stimulation (with electrodes positioned to alter perceived effort instead of pain), motivational self-talk (Feeling good!), and “brain endurance training” (computerized tasks completed while exercising on a stationary bike).

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The big question, though, remains unanswered: What is effort, exactly? Is it a psychological state? Is it the tactile sensation of your muscles contracting? Or is it, as Marcora believes, our overall sense of how hard it is to maintain race pace? We’ve learned a lot about what happens in the body when we run, and come up with explanations for many of the sensations we feel and limits we encounter. The next great training leaps will come from understanding the brain.

Slow and steady not cutting it for you anymore? Here are 10 simple ways to increase your running speed.

*Courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness

Slow and steady not cutting it for you anymore? If you want to run faster, here are 10 simple ways to increase your running speed.

  1. Fuel up: Eating the right prerun foods is important to prevent feeling sluggish during your run. Go for foods that won’t cause cramps: choose a small snack of simple carbs with a little bit of protein if you’re eating right before a run (read more on how to choose a pre-workout snack here). And drink a cup of coffee about a half hour before you go for a run; studies have shown that caffeine helps you run faster and longer.
  2. Intervals: Short sprinting bursts are great for making you a better runner all around. Up your pace and stamina with this treadmill interval workout to incorporate into your running routine.
  3. Tempo runs: Tempo runs are similar to high-intensity intervals, but with this strategy, you don’t sprint as fast as you can. Instead, you hold at a fast (but not toofast) pace for a longer time period, like 10 minutes, before slowing down. This helps your muscles get past your lactate threshold, which will help you improve your endurance and speed. Remember that to be effective, your tempo run should challenge your body: you should be able to answer short questions but unable to hold a conversation. Try doing a tempo run every seven to 10 days; read more about how to start tempo running here.
  4. Hills: There’s no reason you should stay on flat land. In fact, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t. Running up hills helps make your leg muscles stronger while also increasing your speed and endurance. Whether you run on the treadmill or outside, the next time you start your workout, make sure an incline is part of your route. This treadmill incline workout that mimics rolling hills.
  5. Postrun sprints: Adding short sprinting strides at the end of a long run can keep your body primed for speed, says trainer Ben Hwa. This is because doing strides after a long run will teach your body how to run fast even when your legs are tired. Ben recommends doing four to eight strides of 70 to 100 meters; aim for 80 percent effort on each stride.
  6. Negative splits: This strategy is a simple way to make every run a good run, especially on race day. To incorporate a negative split into your next run, just make sure you’re running at a good, steady pace and increase your speed for the second half of your run. Here’s a quicker-at-the-end treadmill plan to follow.
  7. Stretches: You may not think of postrun stretching as important for your pace goals, but those few minutes you spend cooling down can really help your speed. Stretching makes you more flexible, which can improve your stride and range of motion. Do these postrun stretches after your workout to become a faster runner.
  8. Short strides: Shorter strides can make you a more efficient, and therefore speedier, runner, says trainer Jennifer Pattee. Focus on keeping your strides regular and short to increase your running efficiency.
  9. Midfoot strike: Focusing on landing on the middle of your foot — rather than your heels or toes — can also help you avoid injuries and discomfort that will slow you down, Jennifer adds. Aim for striking with a flat foot for a strong, confident strike.
  10. Drills: Adding a few running drills to your warmup routine will help improve your running form and speed, Ben says. Do a few minutes of high knees, skipping, and backward running before a run to train your body to operate properly.

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Low Weights, High Reps: Feel the Burn With These Arm Exercises

Want to run faster? Here are some simple – and quick – tips

Do you want to be a faster runner?

Chasing the clock on race day is what motivates many runners. We all like to cross the finish-line in a fast time, yet many runners could run smarter midweek to help their race day pace improve. Introducing a little speed-training to our week can help runners get stronger, more confident and faster overall. If all the miles we run during the week are at the same pace our body will struggle to run quicker when we call on it to perform. Adding some variety to our comfortable pace in training is essential if we want to become a faster runner.

Fear of Speed

Speed training can sound intimidating for a newbie. We may visualise speed work as endless laps of a track at a vomit-inducing pace. If you search online for speed-training tips, you may be baffled by the terminology. Having to measure distance, heart rates, recovery times and repetitions can be so complicated that it may prevent us from getting started. Try not to get overwhelmed by complex training sessions or attempting to train like an Olympic athlete. Instead, like any good practice, ease into speed work gradually. Over time you will build resilience, speed and a knowledge of how much to push yourself.

Once a Week

One speed session per week is enough for any recreational runner if you work hard and recover well. Give yourself a rest day each side of this session and continue your running week as normal.

Here are three simple yet effective speed sessions that you can try out. It will take a few attempts to work out your “fast” pace as you need to find a pace you can sustain for the duration of the interval. Be cautious rather than reckless in these early sessions until you know your capabilities.

One Minute Intervals

After 10 minutes of easy running warm-up, spend the next 10-20 minutes alternating between one fast minute and one slow minute. Your fast pace is not a sprint, but fast enough that you can sustain it for the minute and are looking forward to your slow relaxed jog for the recovery minute. Feel free to take a longer recovery if needed between speed intervals as you work out your pacing. Finish this session with an easy 10-minute cool-down.

Hill Intervals

Often recommended as one of the best type of speed session for runners, hill intervals are exactly what you might expect. You run strong up the hill and then recover slowly on the way back down. Find a gradual incline that takes anything from 30 seconds to a minute to climb. Like with the training session on the flat, make sure you were well warmed up before you start and finish with a gradual cool-down. Start with six repetitions and increase as the weeks go on. Over time you can find longer and steeper hills if you wish to step up the challenge.

Longer Intervals

Longer intervals are hugely beneficial for those training for longer distance events. You also will be training your mental strength as there is more time to listen to the voices in our head that want us to stop. Running fast for five minutes or longer may sound like torture but remember the pace is not as fast as the previous speed sessions I have suggested. The longer the interval the more you need to focus on sustaining a manageable pace from the start. For your longer interval session, aim to alternate between five minutes slow and five minutes faster over a 30 or 40 minutes run.

What to Think About

Whether the interval is as short two lampposts or as long as a kilometre, stay focused on the body by training your mind not to wander. Rather than place all attention on getting to the end as quickly as possible, give each interval a specific focus. In our speed running classes, as the runners recover from each interval, I assign them a goal for the next interval. Sometimes it might be as simple as a smile, a focus on breath or specific element of running technique. Most runners could benefit from relaxation of shoulders when they do speed work. Tension in neck and shoulders transfers downwards and limits our potential to run faster and breathe well.

Safety in Numbers

If your motivation for inflicting discomfort on your legs and lungs is limited, try organising speed sessions with a running buddy or a group. You don’t even need to be the same pace as the other runners. Follow each other’s footsteps as you go up and down the same path.

Try organising speed sessions with a running buddy or a group.

The camaraderie will keep you on track and you are less likely to talk yourself into reducing the number of intervals or intensity as the session progresses, which I know from personal experience is very easy to do when training alone. It is hard to get started, but like any good training session, you feel proud, exhilarated and powerful afterwards.

Before You Start

Find an area that is bright and obstacle free. You don’t want to have to spend your run looking down to avoid tripping. Having a clear path for speed work allows you to relax and focus on the task at hand. If you are lucky enough to have a track, take advantage, otherwise find a well-lit area that you are comfortable with.

Accept the Challenge

No matter how often you do speed work, it never gets easier, you just get better. Your body adapts and you get stronger, quicker and more comfortable being uncomfortable. There are endless opportunities for adding in variations and time targets to speed sessions but start by accomplishing the basics and the rest will follow. Speed work trains the body physically but also mentally to stay focused and build resilience. These training sessions don’t take any more time than going for an average 5k run but can really help us to improve not only our speed but our running motivation and confidence. Give it a try this week and see how you get on.

Mary Jennings is founder of ForgetTheGym.ie.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times’ Get Running programmes (it is free!).

First, pick the programme that suits you.
– Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
– Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
– 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

Increasing speed: Is it all genetics?

Some say that sprinters are born and marathon runners made. But this isn’t quite the truth. A lot of work goes into both. But if you aren’t necessarily born fast, how can you become it? Find out what’s behind speed and how you can work towards becoming the fastest version of yourself.

There are hundreds of millions of skeletal muscle fibers in the body. These are made up of so-called “slow-twitch” and “fast twitch” muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers use lots of energy overall, as they use energy slowly over a longer period of time before becoming fatigued. This makes them essential for endurance performance and sports such as distance running. Fast-twitch fibers use comparatively less energy overall, because they are more explosive but get tired much more quickly. These are important for activities such as sprinting. It is because this type of muscle fiber can grow in size that sprinters often have bigger, stronger-looking thigh muscles.

Are Athletes Born With Speed?

Most people have an even amount of both, but some may have more of one muscle fiber type than the other. Having more fast-twitch muscles would genetically make someone more suited to sprinting, whereas more slow-twitch muscle would be make a better marathon runner. There are ways to train specific muscle types: sprints, weight training and high intensity interval training will help develop fast-twitch fibers and cardio (especially long distance runs) will help develop slow-twitch muscle fibers.

But anyone can increase their speed, no matter what their genetics. Even just improving your technique will help – for example using arms properly during running. Coordination and mobilization exercises will also improve your technique and thus your speed. Interval training will increase your maximum speed, so keep practicing sprinting! Building and strengthening leg muscles that propel you forward will also help to increase your top speed. Becoming faster also requires some work on neuromuscular coordination. This works on two levels: intra-muscular coordination and inter-muscular coordination. Intra-muscular coordination involves optimizing the units within a single muscle and this unleashing its full potential, whereas inter-muscular coordination means optimizing the interaction between muscle groups. These aspects can be improved through strength training and coordination training respectively.

Different goals, different training

Whether you want to shave seconds off your 100m PB or run a marathon, different goals require lots of hard work but different training. For distance runners looking to improve their speed, long slow runs for endurance and distance, fast interval training for general speed and longer but faster runs should be the main components of training. These will ensure better speed over long distances. Sprinters will have to keep sprinting, work on strength training and improving coordination.

Someone wanting to increase their general speed will need to keep up a good combination of the proper training for their goals as well as regeneration. It is important to remember that the body will need enough time to reach the high goals you set it – so be patient and keep working on it.

Get in the fast lane for fitness now

How to improve speed?

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