5 easy ways to build speed and run faster

Techniques to improve your running performance

Triathlete Will Clarke shares his top 5 best tips to improve your running. Try these tips and a new PB could be just around the corner.

Written by Will Clarke

Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion.  He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.



Run slow

I’d say this is the most common mistake in 80 per cent of running training.  Whether you run at 10kph or 15kph on your easy runs, it’s not going to make any difference to your performance. In fact it’ll make you tired and slow. Every session on the programme should have a purpose and for most of us an easy run is meant to be for recovery in time for a key session, or just time on your feet working endurance. It should never leave you feeling very tired.

Pre-race morning jog

I swear by morning jogs before a race. In fact it’s really good to do a run before a track session as well if you have time (and it’s a great way to get your mileage up). Even if I was racing at 7am, I’d get up at 4:00am for a 20 minute jog with some strides and drills mixed in. You’ll find that you feel much better on your feet neuro-muscularly and you legs will feel wide awake; certainly much more so than they would if you hadn’t done it. It should be finished at least a couple of hours before your race or track session.

Run with someone who’s faster

I don’t want to contradict myself in my first point, but in your sessions it’s great to have somebody to run with who’s faster than you. I think in all sport you improve quicker when you are getting your ass kicked! A faster running partner will pull you along and force you to raise your level in the quicker sessions, because they provide something to chase and you’ll probably find new motivations to strive to get to their level.  Not to mention they’ll probably teach you loads along the way.

Technique and gym work

Word on the grapevine is that this is one of the key areas that Mo Farah improved when he made his massive jump in performance a few years ago. I also believe that when I manage to string together consistent work in the gym, I’m a better athlete as well. The key areas to work on are the glutes and also the abdominals, as these muscles work the most when running. If they’re activated and strong, you’ll be able to run more upright without breaking down and losing form.  You should also work on your technique during this time using running drills and strides for speed.

Speed work

To become a good runner you need the complete profile with work on long runs, threshold pace runs and high mileage, but most people reading this article probably haven’t got unlimited time during the week. However a speed session should be part of anyone’s running schedule.  Speed work will improve your economy which is key to running fast.  It’ll teach you the mechanics required to operate at higher speeds and will raise the capacity of your engine.  The faster sessions in your legs combined with the other training, will leave you feeling stronger over the longer distances as well.

Example; Track session (perfect for this time of year); Warm up for 15 min. Then 15-20 x 200m fast, 200m easy jog. With no standing rest.  

Good luck!

Editorial credit: Alex Mahony / Shutterstock.com

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