How To Run Faster: Strategies From Running Coaches

Try these techniques to increase your running speed.

When it comes to running pace, your speed might naturally increase the more you run. But sometimes, it can feel like you've hit a plateau if you've been training for a while.

If your running speed is a factor you care about, a few tried-and-true ways can help you run quicker. You can use the following tips to learn how to run faster, break a personal record, win a race, or achieve another goal in mind.

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How To Set Your Speed Goals

There are many techniques for learning to run faster. However, you must choose the ones that feel best for your body. Your running pace will differ depending on your age, weight, experience, and other factors.

For example, you could aim to take a fixed number of steps per minute or beats per minute (BPM), Meghan Kennihan, NASM-CPT, a certified personal trainer and running coach, told Health. While keeping track of these numbers may sound complicated, you can hit your goal without tedious counting with the help of fitness tracking devices. 

Listening to music with your desired BPM can help you hit that pace. For example, if you want to run 150 BPM, search "150 BPM" on Spotify to find playlists. You'll see a selection of songs in line with that speed. 

"Also, keep in mind your form: Chest up, run tall, arms bent at 90 degrees or a little higher, and landing underneath your body," said Kennihan.

How To Run Faster

When you set out to run faster, it's essential to find the right cadence. You can always build on where you are, and there's nothing wrong with starting your quest to run faster at a slower pace.

With that in mind, here's how to run faster, according to experts.

Hill Sprints

To increase your speed, start with hill sprints, Amanda Brooks, CPT, a certified running coach and author of Run To The Finish: The Everyday Runner's Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock and Loving the Run, told Health

"At the end of an easy run, adding in five to 20 seconds hard uphill will result in more power in their stride and translates into faster runner speeds," explained Brooks. 

Hill sprints will help increase your muscular endurance, which is your muscles' ability to handle repeating resistance. Also, hill sprints help runners perfect their form. Runners must naturally lean against the hill while their feet fall directly under their bodies, explained Brooks. That positioning is the optimal form for runners.

There are a few ways to use hill sprints to your advantage, Bonnie Frankel, an elite runner and sports activist, told Health. One option is challenging yourself to pick up endurance speed while running up a large hill. Or you can do interval training by repeatedly going up a short hill.

Speed Work

Interval and tempo training, as well as speed work, can help increase your pace. For example, for interval training, take note of the following steps recommended by Kennihan:

  • Ease into things with a 10-minute jog.
  • Then, spend 30 seconds to two minutes increasing your speed to the point where speaking a complete sentence becomes impossible.
  • Afterward, recover at a light pace for two minutes before repeating the cycle four to six times—or less if you're uncomfortable. 
  • Finish with another 10-minute cool-down jog.

Unlike intervals, tempo training is about finding a challenging but maintainable pace to run. You should be able to speak a complete sentence but not share an entire story, said Kennihan. Try keeping the speed for 20–30 minutes. Also, stick to your desired BPM so as not to overextend yourself.

Another way to increase your pace is speed work, also known as the Swedish word "fartlek." Fartlek involves picking arbitrary, close stops along your run to sprint to, such as a stop sign. Once you've reached that point, slow down to recover. Then, choose a new point to sprint to.

"Once we start adding in speed work, it's better to think about a quick foot turnover rather than a long stride," added Brooks. "That will help reduce injuries and make running faster feel easier."

According to an article published in 2021 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, pace variations among runners don't adversely affect objective health measures like heart rate and blood lactate levels.

Caution When Increasing Running Speed

Keep in mind that there's a risk of injury as you work to increase your running speed. While figuring out your training plan, some factors to keep in mind include your age, weight, and experience.

"Running faster can put more stress on your musculoskeletal system and should be approached with diligence and patience," Dylan Bowman, a professional ultra runner and co-founder of Pyllars, an app focused on running and mental health, told Health.

People attempting to move too fast too soon are more likely to have injuries than others, pointed out Brooks.

"There is an increased risk of injury because it is a higher impact, which is why you need to start slow and build up to full track or interval sessions," added Kennihan. So, start with 15 to 20-minute sessions one or two times a week, advised Kennihan. Never increase beyond three high-intensity sessions a week.

While you can do additional runs at a more comfortable pace, paying attention to your body and taking things at your own pace is key. A study published in 2022 in the Journal of Athletic Training showed that extreme increases in running pace and volume are risk factors for injuries. In contrast, the researchers showed that gradual increases were not harmful.

Seeking advice from a coach or healthcare provider can ensure you don't severely injure yourself, especially for anyone with a heart condition.

"Always listen to your body because it will let you know if you are on the right track," explained Frankel. "Be safe, not sorry."

With that said, speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new workout routine and monitor your heart rate before and after a run.

A Quick Review

Running as exercise is often about getting in that zone and leaving it all out on the road. If you want to increase your speed, try adding hill sprints, tempo and interval training, or speed work to your routine. But remember to add speed gradually to avoid injuries.

If you only have time for a couple of miles or you're heading out for a long run, you may not be looking at your pace at all, and there's nothing wrong with that. Running has physical, mental, and emotional benefits unrelated to running speed.

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  2. Ranum M, Foster C, Camic C, et al. Effect of Running Velocity Variation on the Aerobic Cost of RunningInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(4):2025. doi:10.3390/ijerph18042025

  3. Ramskov D, Rasmussen S, Sørensen H, Parner ET, Lind M, Nielsen R. Interactions Between Running Volume and Running Pace and Injury Occurrence in Recreational Runners: A Secondary AnalysisJ Athl Train. 2022;57(6):557-563. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-0165.21

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