4 Keys to Running Faster

4 Keys to Running Faster

If there’s a question that all runners ask ourselves, it’s this: How do I run faster?

I always start from the basis that human beings are made to run, we are animals of resistance. Although with age and today’s lifestyle, and in turn poor postural hygiene and loss of mobility in some limbs, we need to re-ignite that natural pattern of movement.

If you already have it, and what you want is to take it to the next level, take note of the keys to running faster.

To run fast, you first need to run slow…

What does this mean?

It’s as simple as needing to build a house from the ground up, and a period of endurance training at real aerobic paces and close to your first ventilatory threshold is needed in order to teach your body to efficiently use fat oxidation as its main energy source and thus delay the onset of fatigue.

Aerobic rhythm to run faster

As such, it’s best for most of your running sessions to be oriented towards this low intensity work.

In addition to the benefits of this type of work, you’ll get:

  • Improved mitochondrial activity;
  • Increased strength and size of the heart;
  • Improvement of blood flow and oxygenation;
  • First ventilatory threshold improvement (a shift to the right on a stress test study graph).

How to improve stamina

If we’re talking about resistance as an aerobic base, it’s improved through training.

To do this, most of your weekly running volume should correspond to moderate-low intensity running or cardiovascular training sessions (approximately 75% of maximum heart rate).

If we’re talk about Muscle Endurance or tolerance, there should be a general period of strength work with medium loads and a high repetition range (12-15 repetitions x 3 or 4 sets per exercise), in order to produce the necessary adaptations in terms of muscle strength and tolerance to loads.

The biggest problem long-distance runners suffer is the lack of muscle strength and tolerance to mechanical stress produced by running.

Running-specific strength-training

Running is applying forces to move. Therefore, knowing how to apply forces correctly and efficiently is vital if we want to run faster.

After a session of General Physical Conditioning and General Strength training sessions, you should move on to a Specific Strength work for runners.

In this case, Maximum Strength and Power training sessions should be performed to improve speed when applying force.

The selection of exercises is important as well as the selection of loads and rhythm of execution: Structural exercises such as the Squat, Unilateral Deadlift, Swing with Kettlebell, vertical jump and to/from box jumps are good options for this type of work.

How to improve strength

To improve the force applied in the race, as I’ve mentioned in the keys to running faster, Strength-Explosiveness training should be included, through work with very high loads, few repetitions per series, being able to move these loads for as long as possible, as fast as possible.

Maximum strength work, resisted sprints are good examples to improve Strength, understood as power.

Running-specific strength training

Let’s not forget that, in addition to running faster, we want to stay away from injuries.

As such, strength training for runners should become your best ally for injury prevention along with nutrition and rest. You can take a look at our training proposal in this post.

Plyometrics exercises

Running fast while being efficient requires a good use of the elastic force of the musculoskeletal structures of the foot and calf.

Because of this, plyometrics work to improve your running cadence (number of steps per minute) will significantly improve your running speed and economy.

If you want to learn more about what plyometrics training is and how to train it, check out this article.

How can proprioception exercises help you?

When we talk about running, we mean jumping from one foot to the other.

As such, it’s a movement in which we always have a unipodal support base.

The foot-ankle-hip structure must be sufficiently strong so as not to cause bad support, falls, and thus injuries and possible ailments caused by poor execution.

Proprioceptive work will help us improve the activation and motor control of the structures of the lower limb.

Plyometric exercises

Improved reactivity of the foot to avoid injuries or a bad stride.

Along with running technique, they are powerful tools that will indirectly help us run faster.

Variety of your training sessions

Incorporate different types of workouts…

One of the biggest problems popular runners encounter is the lack of a training plan and organisation of sessions.

In general, 80% of their weekly training volume is worked at really high intensities, repeatedly causing high levels of fatigue and with it a poor adaptation of energy systems or pathways to improve running economy and speed.

The ideal is to work once a week on running sets at intensities close to maximum oxygen consumption.

Variety of your training sessions

This will help you produce adaptations at the muscular, mechanical, and energy-metabolic level, being able to train them with the body well rested.

In addition, short-set training helps improve running speed.

Sets of 100, 200 or 400 metres, for example, and later, longer sets, will improve the tolerance to work at these intensities (for example: sets of 800 meters or sets of 1km).

It’s also advisable to include a session of rhythm changes or Fartlek, in order to vary the workouts, making them more fun and working at different rates within the same session.

Improving speed

Once we understand the basic keys to running faster, we can include these 3 specific exercises to gain running speed and run faster:

  • Skipping rope with metronome at 180 beats per minute: to improve strength, reactivity of the feet, and running cadence.
  • Downhill running: to improve the cadence and speed of your supports in the run, and consequently the speed of your running.
  • Resisted running: working with drag elements such as wind vests, dragging a sledge… these improve the application of force and the running speed.

Related Entries

  • How do you improve running technique? Click here to learn about the exercises that will help us improve our movement pattern.
  • Find out the benefits of Fartlek Training to improve your speed, as well as how to do it, here.
Review of Keys to Running Faster

Training at aerobic rhythms - 100%

Strength training - 100%

Plyometrics exercises - 100%

Variety of training sessions - 100%


HSN Evaluation: 5 /5
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About Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio
Sport runs in the blood of Isabel, which she has proven since she was very little up until now. She wants to share that passion with all those who are passionate about sports.
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