13 Effective & Simple Ways to Run Faster for Beginners

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So you finally can run long distances, but you are running slow like sloth and you want to run faster…

A slow long distance jog or run is a low intensity workout, it doesn’t tax and challenge the body to the demands of running fast.

Therefore, by running longer distances, won’t make you run faster.

Don’t worry, in this post I will explain the 13 effective and simple ways on how you can run faster without pain and injuries!

Follow these 13 effective and simple ways to run faster:

1. To run faster, you have to train faster!

A huge thanks and credit to Jonathan Beverly of PodiumRunner for the contribution of this amazing tip.

To run faster, you have to train faster. That sounds obvious, but the key element is “briefly.”

run faster

You’ll make great progress by doing strides — short pickups of only 8-10 seconds where you go as fast as you can without straining, just turning over as quickly and smoothly as your body allows.

Then slow to an easy jog or walk until your breathing and heart rate have come down to where they were before and you are fully recovered, before doing again.

Start with 1–2 strides and work up to 6, 8 or 10 a couple of times a week. 

Going fast recruits all your muscles fibers, strengthens those muscles, and improves your efficiency by increasing the neural connections between your brain and your muscles. 

The result: you’ll be able to contact the ground quicker and more powerfully — and you’ll get faster on all your runs as your fitness improves. 

2. Start doing variations of running

Sometimes following the same running routine can be boring and dull…

Adding in some extra ingredients will give you the extra kick to keep training and run faster!

run faster

These variations of running are higher intensity than your usual jog in a park, so take extra precaution.

By doing these variations of running, you will eventually be running faster and you can even burn fats and lose weight fast!

run faster

These extra ingredients are called tempo runs, Fartlek runs, interval runs, hill runs and sprinting.

a) Tempo Runs

Tempo runs is a type of threshold run, in which you run at a speed that’s “comfortably hard” and slightly below your anaerobic zone.

The anaerobic zone is when your body breaks down glucose (sugar) in the body without using oxygen, to produce energy (ATP).

Lactic acid is the byproduct of this reaction and this is the reason why you feel like your muscles are burning (on fire!).

This is in contrast to aerobic zone whereby your body uses oxygen to meet the energy demands through aerobic metabolism, and you won’t experience burning muscles.

Mind blown eh?

Tempo runs is meant to “force you” to maintain a fast running pace that’s “comfortable” for at least 20 minutes.

By doing this, you will be training your body to maintain the fast running pace without slowing down and to cope with the demands of running fast.

run faster

If you aren’t sure of what’s “comfortably hard” running pace…

It means you aren’t panting hard and you won’t be able to have a conversation with anyone.

Tempo Runs Workout Routine

The simplest way to do a tempo runs is to warm up first…

  • Once you are warmed up, then run at a pace that you can maintain for 20 mins, without slowing down.

It will be faster than your usual running pace, but not too fast, you need to trial and error to find the pace that you can maintain for 20 mins.

If you need to rest or slow down before you hit 20 mins, it means your running pace is… too… fast…

However, if you finish the tempo run and you feel comfortable, light and easy and can hold a conversation, it means your running pace is too… slow…

b) Fartlek Runs

Fartlek in Swedish means speed play. This means that you vary your running speed throughout the run.

run faster

You are continuously running while changing your running speed after a certain duration and/or distance.

In simple words, you are intermixing fast running with slow running throughout the run without stopping or walking.

You can only stop and rest once you are done, not when you are tired.

Fartlek Runs Workout Routine

To do Fartlek runs, you need to warm up first… Once you are warmed up, then you start with:

  • 3 mins fast running,
  • 4 mins slow jog,
  • 4 mins fast running,
  • 3 mins slow jog,
  • 2 mins fast running,
  • 3 mins slow jog,
  • 3 mins fast running,
  • Cool down.
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c) Interval Runs

Interval runs is a type of high effort and high intensity running, in which you run fast for a predetermined distance, then you either jog and walk a short duration for your rest period.

Note: Interval runs is quite tough and challenging, don’t push yourself too much and rest more if you need to.

The difference between interval runs and Fartlek runs is that interval runs is done at a much higher intensity and requires greater effort, but you have a short rest period in between bouts of fast running.

Interval runs is a high intensity run and you will be tired, but it shouldn’t be an all-out effort.

The short break/rest in between the fast runs (fast interval) is to allow you to run the next interval with similar effort and pace.

Besides, you should finish the workout fatigued but not laying dead on the ground.

Interval Runs Workout Routine

To do interval runs, get yourself warmed up and then you start with:

  • 1-2 mins fast running,
  • 2-4 mins slow jog OR walking to catch your breath.
  • Repeat 3-4 times fast running and you are done.
  • Cool down.

d) Hill Runs

It is time for you to run against gravity, running up hill! This is also called hill repeats.

up hill running to run faster

You should see a hill and tell yourself “yes I am doing this”, instead of “holy moly, a hill…”

Uphill running is daunting and intimidating to many runners because it is tough and challenging. It is not meant to be an easy run anyway.

Note: Only incorporate hill runs once you have a decent endurance base and sufficient strength.

Uphill runs is a type of resistance training and is one of the best way to build strength, speed, power and endurance specific to running itself.

The principle of specificity in training refers to your training that is relevant, appropriate and resembles the activity you are performing.

This is the reason to run faster, you need to train and run faster. You won’t get faster in running if you don’t run faster.

Hill Runs Workout Routine

To do hill runs, warm up and prepare yourself mentally…

  • Find a low-to-moderate slope which is about 100-200 m long.
  • Run up the hill at controlled moderate to hard effort.
  • Don’t run too fast or too hard at the start, make sure your effort and form is maintained from start to end.
  • Your rest is walking down the hill.
  • 3-4 repetitions is enough for the start, gradually increase one repetition over the following weeks.

Precaution: Hill repeats are tremendously hard on your muscles and body, make sure you have enough rest days for full recovery.

3. Incorporate strength training into your training routine

By running alone, your strength gains will only be suited to the demands of the current type of training routine.

Slow running or jogging will increase your muscular endurance and improve your cardio, but your leg strength will be limited.

You will still need to do strength training to strengthen your muscles and this doesn’t mean you need to go to a gym and lift weights.

Strengthening your muscles is crucial to improve strength, speed and prevention of pain and injuries.

Try to allocate one day per week for strength training (not running). Also, try doing this workout a day after your hard runs.

So your muscles and body can rest and repair itself during your rest day and/or easy day.

Save your gym membership money for something else because you can do these exercises at home:

a) Squats

Squats is a great exercise to strengthen and work your whole body, especially your legs.

To do a proper squat, your core will also be engaged and worked throughout each repetition.

b) Lunges

Lunges is another good exercise to strengthen and work your legs, especially your booty muscles and quadriceps muscles on a single leg.

This exercise works one leg at a time and is to strengthen each leg independently.

c) Push Ups

Push ups is one of the best exercise to to strengthen your upper body along with your core.

This exercise also work your legs (a little). For females, you can do the bent-knee push ups variation instead.

At-home Body Weight Workout Routine

Always warm up 5-10 minutes before starting any workout routine.

  • Squats – 15 repetitions.
  • Lunges – 10 repetitions each leg.
  • Push Ups – 8 repetitions.

Here’s an example of at-home bodyweight workout routine for beginners to get you started.

4. Strengthen your core

Core muscles refers to the back muscles, abdominal muscles and hip muscles.

A strong core is crucial for a good running posture, efficient running economy, and allows you to run more relaxed.

run tall and upright

Your core needs to be strong enough otherwise you won’t be able to “run tall and upright“.

A weak core can lead to poor running biomechanics and increase the risk of pain and injuries.

You can do these exercises to strengthen your core:

a) Plank

Plank is one of the best exercise to strengthen your core isometric strength.

Isometric strength means your abs is contracted without any movement involved.

Put some padding or cushion under your elbows if it hurts.

b) Side Plank

Side plank is an exercise to strengthen your external obliques (side abs) muscles, arm muscles and deltoid muscle.

It is similar to plank in the sense that it is isometric strength exercise.

If you lack balance, you can try to spread and open up your legs.

Your other arm can be held at your hips or extended upward to the ceiling.

c) Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches is a good exercise to strengthen your abdominal muscles, hip flexors muscles and external obliques muscles.

d) Bridge

Bridge is one of the simplest and easiest way to strengthen your booty muscles, back muscles and hamstring muscles.

e) Superman

Superman is a great exercise to strengthen your back muscles, booty muscles and hamstring muscles.

This exercise is harder than bridge and it is a good combination with plank and bicycle crunches to further strengthen your whole core.

At-home Core Strengthening Workout Routine

Always warm up 5-10 minutes before starting any workout routine.

  • Plank – 20 seconds hold.
  • Superman – 10 repetitions.
  • Side Plank – 10 seconds hold.
  • Bicycle Crunches – 8 repetitions each side.
  • Bridge – 10 repetitions.

You will be doing these exercises for at least four circuits.

This means you will do each exercises in succession without any rest in between – yes, your muscles will burn!

You can do core strengthening exercises once every alternate day, don’t do it everyday.

Note: If you are unable to complete four circuits, you can either take a short break in between each circuit or just stop completely.

Circuit training can help you build muscles, burn excess body fat and improve cardio.

5. Start doing plyometrics exercises

Plyometrics training is also known as jump training, whereby your muscles exert maximum force in short intervals to improve power.

Power refers to the product of speed and strength. Doing plyometrics doesn’t mean you are preparing yourself to be a sprinter.

By doing plyometrics exercises, your muscles need to exert maximum force in the shortest time possible.

For example, to do a jump squat, your leg muscles contract rapidly to produce maximal force in a short time and this causes you to jump.

Plyometrics can improve your running economy, increase muscle recruitment, improve running speed and build explosive power.

According to this study, plyometrics can improve running speed:

Athletes could benefit from plyometric training in order to improve their strength, which would contribute to them attaining higher running speeds.

(Gómez-Molina, J., et al., 2018)

Plyometrics exercises are high intensity, high impact, and the risk of pain and injuries is also higher… Make sure you are strong enough before trying it.

If you can’t do single-leg strength exercises with ease, then you aren’t strong enough to do plyometrics.

Examples of plyometrics exercises:

a) Squat Jumps

A squat jump is an exercise to train your leg’s fast-twitch muscles, explosive power and strength.

Try to focus on jumping as high as possible and make sure your knees doesn’t “cave in” when jumping and landing.

b) Standing Broad Jumps

Standing broad jumps is similar to squat jumps, but you will be jumping forward instead. Try to jump as far as possible and land on both legs without losing balance.

To do another repetition, you can turn around and jump back or walk back to the starting line and repeat.

c) Side-to-side Jumps

Side-to-side jumps is to strengthen your leg muscles and to create a balanced lateral strength of the lower limb muscles.

Plyometrics Workout Routine

Always warm up 5-10 minutes before starting any workout routine.

  • Squat Jumps – 4-6 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
    • Rest 2-4 mins.
  • Standing Broad Jumps – 4-6 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
    • Rest 2-4 mins.
  • Side-to-side Jumps – 6-8 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
    • Rest 2-4 mins.
  • Cool down.

The goal of plyometrics training is to increase your power, always strive to jump as powerful as you can.

Since it is maximal effort, you need to rest enough between sets and between exercises.

It is also important to “land softly” with each jump to reduce the impact on your joints and reduce the risk of injuries.

6. Try resistance band exercises

Resistance band exercises is a type of strength training and a great alternative to lifting weights at a gym.

A set of resistance bands is cheaper than a light weight dumbbell. It is extremely versatile, durable, easy to store and you can bring it anywhere you go.

Resistance bands are color coded to its thickness and comes in various shapes and sizes.

I personally did resistance band exercises at home and it dramatically improved my running performance. I could run faster and I felt “lighter”.

Examples of resistance band exercises:

a) Lateral Crab Walk with Band

Lateral crab walk with band is to strengthen your booty muscles (glutes). Mainly the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and piriformis muscle.

Make sure the band is looped above your knees, not on your knees. You can loop the band above your ankle for greater resistance.

b) Hip Flexion with Band

Hip flexion with band is to strengthen your hip flexor muscles (iliopsoas) and also the lower abs.

If you can’t fully lift up your knee, lift your knee up to 90 degrees (knee aligned with hips) will be enough.

Also, make sure you tie the resistance band onto an immovable object.

c) Hamstring Curls with Band

Hamstring curls with band is to strengthen your hamstring muscles.

While doing this exercise, your hamstring or calves may experience muscle cramping. Don’t worry, this is normal.

This happens because your muscles is doing a new “resistance” exercise and haven’t adapted to it.

You can either rest until the muscle cramp subside or stop completely.

Also, make sure you tie the resistance band onto an immovable object.

d) Hip Abduction & Adduction with Band

The hip abduction with band exercise strengthen your glutes similar to lateral crab walks with band.

The hip adduction with band exercise strengthen your adductor muscles (inner thigh muscles).

You may experience muscle cramping for the hip adduction exercise. Rest until muscle cramp subside or stop completely.

Also, make sure you tie the resistance band onto an immovable object.

Resistance Band Workout Routine

  • Lateral Crab Walk with Band – 8-10 steps each side, 2-3 sets.
  • Hip Flexion with Band – 8-10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
  • Hamstring Curls with Band – 8-10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
  • Hip Abduction with Band – 8-10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.

Rest about 60 seconds between sets and 2-3 minutes between exercises.

If you want to strengthen your upper body with resistance band, you can learn more here.

7. Stretch your muscles frequently

Tight muscles will restrict your movement, hinder performance and increase the risk of pain and injuries.

When your muscles are tight, it is unlikely that you can run efficiently and this will affect your running economy and running speed.

To overcome this problem, you need to stretch your muscles frequently.

You can stretch after your runs (as part of your cool down session) or you can stretch on your rest days.

A 10 minutes stretch for your calves, hamstring, glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors will be more than enough.

8. Get a proper pair of running flats

Running flats a.k.a racing flats are designed for long distance running.

A proper pair of running flats can improve running economy, running speed and reduce the risk of pain and injuries.

Running flats differs from normal running shoes mainly with a thinner heel cushion, the lack of substantial heel-to-toe drop and are much lighter.

This is an example of normal running shoes:

running shoes

This is an example of running flats:

I have been using Nike running flats for years and I really love it.

I recommend buying Nike flats; the quality is excellent, durable (even with long runs or short sprints) and exceptional grip especially on wet ground.

9. Follow a proper training program

You need to follow a proper training program to see consistent improvements in your running speed.

You can be confused and overwhelmed with all these information to plan your training.

Planning your own training program/plan can be challenging if you are unsure of what you are doing.

Don’t worry, here’s a training plan to get you from couch to running 5k:

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You can “slot in” strength training OR plyometrics training OR resistance band training during your easy/rest days.

If you feel you can’t cope with the training plan, then you can either run shorter distance or allocate more rest days for yourself.

10. Run with someone faster than you

Running with someone faster than you will surely force you to run faster to keep up with them. Otherwise, you will be left behind.

You need to keep pushing yourself to run as fast as them. Over time, your running speed will increase and you will be able to keep up with them.

11. Run in a group or with a running partner

Running in a group or with a running buddy can help you run faster and stay motivated throughout the run.

You may feel it is easier to run faster when you are running in a group or with a running buddy.

This is mainly psychological effect, and you can feel the difference when you are running alone instead of running with someone else.

Besides, you tend to push yourself when you are running with someone else.

12. Have a racing mindset

It is not necessary to join a race to have a racing mindset. This means that you always strive to push yourself to go faster while running.

Running faster than your usual pace will not be easy nor comfortable. You have to sustain the pain and fatigue until you are done running.

Never give up and stop only when you are DONE, not when you are tired.

Having a racing mindset doesn’t mean you need to compete with another runner to see who’s faster…

It is about pushing yourself to run faster than your own self or your own abilities. For example, you aim to break your 5 km personal best time.

13. Get a good night’s sleep and rest well

Don’t underestimate the importance of having a good night’s sleep and resting well.

A good night’s sleep promotes recovery and growth of muscles through protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones.

Don’t forget that you need at least 6-8 hours of sleep everyday. Afternoon naps doesn’t count!

Some negative effects of being sleep deprived:

  • Reduced rate of muscle recovery.
  • Feeling lethargic and “heavy”.
  • A drop in your running performance.
  • Increased stress level.

Try to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.

Training hard everyday WILL NOT make you run faster. If you keep training hard everyday, you will suffer overtraining.

What is overtraining?

Overtraining occurs when you train beyond your body’s abilities to recover, leading to a decline in running performance.

Some symptoms of overtraining:

  • A loss of appetite.
  • Feeling awfully lethargic and unwilling to move.
  • Decline in running performance.
  • Easily annoyed or agitated.
  • Feeling immensely demotivated.

Therefore, to avoid these problems, you need to have sufficient sleep and rest well.

Rest is also crucial to the recovery and growth of your muscles.

Having 1-2 rest days per week will not negatively affect your running performance, you will see a gain in running performance instead.

Does running faster helps me burn fat and lose weight quickly?

Yes!! Running faster helps you burn more calories which will lead to quicker weight loss.

This is because running fast is high intensity and it uses much more energy than slow running.

By doing either tempo runs, interval runs, Fartlek runs, hill runs or sprinting, you will be able to run faster, burn fat and lose weight quickly.

However, don’t forget that you still need to progressively overload your training to continuously see further weight loss improvements.

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