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How to Run Fast

Updated on March 15, 2012

You will get faster, don't give up!


Do you want to run fast?

Rather you are a beginner or have been running for years, at some point most runners will feel the need to improve their speed. No matter if you are training for a race or just want your runs to be less time consuming the good news is almost anyone can improve and you don't need a track to train or any special equipment. Just a great pair of running shoes and a the fire in your heart are all that is needed to hit a personal record.

Intervals, fartleks, splits, oh my!

There are lots of fancy terms used by runners that can sound intimidating for the newbie, but they are not really complicated once you learn a few of the terms. Here are just a few of the terms used to define speed-work:

1. intervals: Intervals are simply alternating fast running with easy running or jogging to recover. You can run intervals on the track by alternating a fast lap with a slow, easy lap. Don't have access to a track? Easy solution, find a road marked with telephone poles, signs or any other marker that is somewhat evenly spaced along the way. Then, after a warm up, run as fast as you can to the next pole or sign, etc. Once you get to that marker, jog easy to the next one then run fast again to next, repeat. You can play with this breaking it up however you want. For example: Run fast for two markers, than slow to the next one or fast one, slow two. The beauty of this is you decide the rules and their is no limit to the ways you can switch it up. How about doing intervals on the treadmill? This has the advantage of allowing you to force a certain pace if you find that you just cannot do it outdoors. Adjust it to at least a 1% incline to mimic outdoor conditions and wind resistance.

2. fartleks: Though this word doesn't sound very attractive it is actually a Swedish term meaning "speed play". Fartleks are short bursts of all-out speed inter-sped with recovery jogs along the way. What is the difference between fartleks and intervals? Intervals in the true sense are actually more structured while fartleks are random bursts of speed thrown in either for fun or actual training.

3. tempo runs: Tempo runs are a short to medium distance run with a continuous speed that is not as fast as intervals or fartleks, but is faster than an easy run. Somewhere mid way between easy and hard would be a good way to gauge a tempo run.

4. Splits: Splits are a measurement of time for a specified distance such as between mile markers or a half way point in a race. Negative splits are running the second half of the race faster than the first half.

There are more, but this is enough to get you through a conversation with runners and more importantly, to get you working on running faster.


Getting Started

Goal setting

Before you get started I would recommend setting some goals. This way if you become discouraged or your motivation starts to wain you can look at your goals that you have hopefully written down and kept displayed in a prominent place and find the strength to stick with it. Make your goals specific rather than vague for best results. For example: Instead of "I want to run faster". A better goal would be "I would like to take two minutes off of my next 5K". Also, don't set your goals to high or you will get discouraged and quit. Set obtainable goals and as you meet those you can gradually raise the bar until you arrive at your ultimate destination or long term goal.

After you have set some goals for yourself, so you pretty much know where you want to be the next step would be to formulate a plan for the "how" as in how are you going to get there? Start with some of the speed workouts I defined for you earlier in this article and you can mix and match some speed workouts to suite your taste and your schedule. In other words formulate your own training plan starting out easy and working your way up from there. If you are a beginner I would recommend starting with only one speed workout per week, adding another only after you are comfortable and have mastered the first one.

So what do you say? Are you ready rev it up a little? Reach a new level? You know you have that inner animal just waiting to be unleashed, so what are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes and show them what your made of!

Is there something you want to know about how to run faster that I didn't cover? Please feel free to leave comments and ask me anything you want. If I don't know the answer I will sure search around until I find out for you. Did you like this article? Please let me know that too. Thank you, and thank you for reading.

Sample Training Plan

Day 1
Intervals 10 minuteWarm up then 20 minutes of 4x400's or 2x800s (fast 400 or 800 meters 4 or 2 times with a easy jog inbetween of half the distance).
Day 2
Easy run or rest
Day 3
Tempo Run--45 minutes to an hour at a moderate pace.
Day 4
Easy run or cross train
Day 5
Day 6
Long easy run(should be at least twice as long as your longest training run)
Day 7


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    • thebusyathlete profile image

      thebusyathlete 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Great advice. Good article for beginner runners.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Hi Debbie,

      I am so sorry I have not been on here in forever. Seems like I have just no time anymore as my work schedule has been hectic. Is it winter in Greece? It is the beginning of summer here right now, and getting hot. Yes those fartlek sessions keep your turnover rate high and your speed up.

      Thank you for the kind words and sorry for taking so long to reply. Thanks for sharing!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 5 years ago from Greece

      Over the past few months my running has gone backwards, this always tends to happen the winter. I do find that including a fartlek session once a week is a great help and leave the legs feeling used.

      Your hub includes some good training tips for runners.

      Voted up and shared.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Thanks Isyarbrough, glad you enjoyed it. I hope people find this helpful as I know these ideas work. They worked for me before my hip labral tear now I am back to starting all over again. Thanks for reading.

    • lsyarbrough profile image

      lsyarbrough 5 years ago from Georgia

      Very useful comments and suggestions to add to a running program.