4 Ways to Build Your Runnning Speed

By Albert Tan

In endurance running such as a 12km run, when we talk about speed, it is not the same speed as those you have seen in an all-out 100 meter or 200 meters sprints. It is more of an endurance speed. However, the foundation endurance speed is still built on close to an all-out sprint or repetitive short bouts of fast running. Here are a few workouts that can build your speed endurance.



Striding is a form of fast run and is close to an all-out pace as you can see in a 100 meter dash. The difference is that striding helps to strengthen your muscles and allows you to perform fast running with correct posture and improve your running mechanics. You often hear coaches or trainers telling runners or athletes to run at 90% speed. So, how to do that? In order to run 90% of your maximum speed, you must first know your 100% speed. But that is not necessary. There is a cue to it.


When you stride, maintain a stand-tall posture. You can choose a distance between 100 meter and 250 meters for beginners; 250 meters and 400 meters for intermediate runners. Run with a slightly bigger stride and swing your elbow high to the back with ease. It is the fastest speed you can maintain while feeling relaxed and less tense. The pace will be slower than what you did for a 100 meter sprint. You can perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions each.


Hill Sprints
Hill sprints have been around for centuries in an endurance runner’s training. The main purpose is to increase running speed as it will stimulate the larger muscle of the thigh such as the front (quadriceps) and back (hamstrings) muscles. However, hill sprints can hit one of the crucial muscles needed for fast speed running and that is the iliopsoas muscle.

Find a hilly terrain that has a slope of more than 50 meters or more. Perform a 20 minutes warm up followed by proper stretching on a flat surface area. Begin to sprint a few times up the hill with a progressive speed until it is close to the maximum sprinting speed then take a rest for a while before proceeding to the main set. You can do a set of 6 to 8 repetitions or 2 sets of 5 to 6 repetitions each with 3 to 5 minutes rest between sets.

Fartlek comes from a Swedish word which means “speed play” and it is slightly different from the high interval running workout. Many runners confuse fartlek with high interval running, but fartlek is part of interval training. In fartlek, different types of running speed are involved and sometimes walking is included as well.

It will be more fun to try out Fartlek in a park with different terrains across its track. Start by doing warm- up of 10 to 15 minutes and then proceed to fartlek workout. An example of Fartlek workout can be as follow:

3 minutes of moderate running speed; 30 seconds slow jog; 10 minutes run at tempo pace; 3 minutes easy pace; followed by 15 seconds sprints.


You can design your own Fartlek and it is up to you on the type of speed that you want to run. Perform your Fartlek session from 20-40 minutes and have fun.


High Interval Running

High interval running involves repetitive high speed running or striding or sprinting with rest in between. An interval running is more structured compared to Fartlek and the speed and duration for each repetition is similarly consistent.


Find a 400 meters running track of a mini stadium. You can set the distance you would like for your interval training. It can be somewhere from 150 meters to 1000 meters with rest interval between 50 meters to 300 meters.


If you are unable to measure the distance, you can use time or number of strides as the interval. For example, interval of 2 minutes fast runs with 30 seconds easy pace or 100 fast strides with 50 easy small strides. You can design an interval running sessions that suits your running pace and style. Do it for 20 to 40 minutes. 



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