Although you don't have to outrun crazed cavemen anymore, your body was still designed for quick bursts of intense speed, according to Marathon and Beyond magazine. You can increase that speed by practicing your springs, but also by doing other exercises at home that don't involve long hours at the track or expensive equipment.
A Different Kind of Butt Kicking
While you might be familiar with the exercise that requires you to jog in place and bend your knees tightly so your heels touch your tush, there's a better kind of butt kicker to use when training for speed. You need an area big enough to jog around in, such as an open living room or a small front yard. Start bringing your knees up high, at least hip level, and try to touch your heel to your rear end with each high-jogging step. Start out slow and increase your speed when you can. This move stretches the muscles in your thighs, hips and gluteus, and it helps increase their flexibility, making your sprinting strides more effective.
Against the Wall
Who says running has to take you anywhere? Performing running moves against a wall can help train the fast-twitch fibers in your legs to work together to promote faster sprinting. Place both hands on a wall in front of you with your feet back about 3 feet. Bend your elbows so your body is leaning forward at an angle. Run in place, bringing your knees up high toward the wall. Keep your foot directly under the knee -- don't extend it to kick the wall, regardless of how much frustration you need to get out. Run as fast as you can for at least two minutes with each drill.
Acceleration drills work on your speed, not your stride length -- they do exactly what they sound like they do. Space flat sticks or string 18 inches apart on the floor for at least 4 feet, or lay down an acceleration ladder if you happen to have one around. Run forward through the ladder as fast as you can, double-stepping between each stick -- this means touching both feet in each open space before crossing the next stick. Lift your knees high and move through the ladder as fast as you can. Next, high-step between the sticks, stepping with only one foot in each open space. Keep your back straight; don't slump your shoulders to look down. This helps you develop proper sprinting form to give you the speed you need.
It's All Uphill
If you have a steep hill near your house, perhaps in your driveway or a sloped side yard, you have a built-in sprint-speed machine. If not, use a set of stairs. Sprint as fast as you can to the top, then walk back down and repeat. Continue for at least two minutes, then take a small breather and sprint up for two more minutes. Sprinting uphill or upstairs is harder than on flat ground, helping you develop more speed on easier level surfaces.