Running Workouts to Increase Speed

Running Workouts to Increase Speed

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a 5K, or want to set a new personal best for any distance, increasing your running speed can be a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. So knowing which workouts to incorporate into your training plan can make all the difference. In this blog post, let’s explore various running workouts aimed at boosting your speed, improving your endurance, and making you a more efficient runner.

Why Focus on Speed?

Speed workouts are important not just for competitive runners, but for anyone looking to improve overall fitness and running efficiency. Here are some reasons why you might want to focus on speed:

  • Enhanced performance: Speed training improves your body’s ability to handle faster paces, making race days more manageable.
  • Increased Endurance: Faster paces during training sessions help build stamina, which translates to better endurance during long runs, (and lots of other activities, too).
  • Improved Running Economy: Speed workouts make you a more efficient runner, requiring less energy to maintain a given pace.
  • Mental Toughness: Pushing through high-intensity workouts strengthens your mental grit, essential for handling the physical demands of racing. Who couldn’t use a little more mental toughness?

Running Workouts to Increase Speed


Types of Speed Workouts

1. Tempo Workouts

Tempo runs are sustained efforts, running at a comfortable pace. This type of run will help improve your running performance and boost your metabolic fitness to push your body’s threshold to run faster and longer. According to scientific research, “the most effective way to conduct a tempo run is this: Monitor your heart rate during a 30-minute run. The first 10 minutes of running will see your heart rate climb and then level off at your lactate-threshold (your tempo pace).”

Example Workouts:

  • Run 5–6 miles at your tempo pace with a 1:00 recovery between each mile.
  • Run two 2-mile segments at tempo pace, taking a 5:00 easy jog between the two.
  • Start with an easy jog, add some strides, then run at a tempo pace for 20 minutes, and finish with another easy jog.


2. Hill Repeats

Warm-up with 10 minutes of easy jogging. Then, do 8 x 30 seconds uphill at maximum effort, with jogging back downhill for recovery. Cool-down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Hill repeats involve running up a hill at a high intensity and then jogging back down for recovery. The benefit of hill repeats is to build strength, power, and improve running form and efficiency. These can seem intimidating at first, but you’ll start feeling stronger fast. And they are fun to do in a group – like your friendly neighborhood running posse the Unstill Life running group. You’ll find us doing these along Madrona Drive and around Leschi School.  

Example Workout:

Warm-up with 10 minutes of easy jogging. Then, do 8 x 30 seconds uphill at maximum effort, with jogging back downhill for recovery. Cool-down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.


3. Strides

Strides are short bursts of running at near-maximum effort, usually lasting 20-30 seconds. The benefits of this workout help improve your stride rate and running mechanics without causing significant fatigue.

Example Workout:

Warm-up with 10 minutes of easy jogging, then do 8 x 20 seconds of strides with 40 seconds of easy jogging or walking between each. Cool-down for 10 minutes by doing easy jogging.


4. Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating periods of high-intensity running with recovery periods of low-intensity jogging or walking. The benefits of this workout is that it improves speed, endurance, and running economy. The Unstill Life runners do this at our track workouts. 

Example Workout:

Start with 10 minutes of easy jogging. Then do 6 x 400 meters at a 5K race pace with 200 meters of jogging between intervals. Cool-down with 10 minutes of easy jogging. 


5. One-One

If you are having trouble doing tempo runs or are new to speed running, the one-one work is a great way to get a great workout. Eventually you’ll be able to work up to more reps as you see your speed increasing.

Example Workout:

Warm-up for 10 minutes with an easy jog and then do 20+ minutes alternating 1:00 at a fast pace, followed by 1:00 at an easy pace. Cool down with an easy jog or walk. You can gradually increase these to 2:00/2:00, 3:00/3:00, etc working your way up to longer segments at tempo pace.


6. Fartlek Training

Fartlek is a Swedish term meaning “speed play.” This involves varying your pace throughout the run, mixing bursts of speed with periods of easy running. Fartlek training adds variety to your workouts and improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Our Wednesday evening workouts feature plenty of this kind of stuff. 

Example Workout:

Warm-up with 10 minutes of easy jogging, then 30 minutes of fartlek training alternating between 1-minute of fast running and 2-minutes of easy running. Cool-down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Unstill Life

If you’re in the Seattle area, be sure to join the Unstill Life Half-Fast Walk & Run group. We meet on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 and most Saturdays at 9:30am. If you’re not local you can still connect by joining our private Facebook group for the virtual fitness challenge. Drop me a note! I’d love to hear from you about your running pursuits or chat if you have any questions.

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