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How do I improve my running speed?

In order to improve your running speed, first make sure that your body is in proper alignment and peak efficiency by participating in a balanced strength and flexibility program. Interval training (running/walking or sprinting/jogging) is one tool that can be used to work on speed. Instead of trying to perform at top speed for your entire workout, alternate high intensity speed with less intense activity. It is best to do at least one speed interval training session a week. This will help to condition your muscles to sustain this intensity for longer periods of time, and will slowly start to increase your natural running pace.

Interval training is the most effective way to improve your running speed. Where as long running sessions at a steady pace primarily develop your slow twitch muscle fibers, it takes short bursts to emphasize your fast twitch muscle fibers. These fast twitch muscle fibers are primarily responsible for speed and power and are an important component to train if you are looking to improve your running speed. Your local running track can serve as a great tool for interval training. A sample workout includes doing sprints on the straightaways of the track while jogging/walking around the curves to recover. The number of laps performed should be based on your fitness level. 

Running speed comes from a variety of factors, but there are three main components: VO2max, lactate threshold, and running economy. VO2max is a measure of how well your body gets and uses oxygen. Lactate threshold marks the point of running when lactate starts to accumulate in your muscles leading to fatigue. Running economy refers to how efficiently your body runs -- kind of like the mpg's of a car. Different running workouts benefit these three components in different ways. In general, varying your weekly running workouts to include intervals, speed/tempo runs, long (aerobic) runs and even some resistance workouts and cross training will result in faster running.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.