Athletes increase their overall level of fitness by building endurance. Runners who have good endurance excel at distance and speed running. Building speed allows runners to exert themselves a little bit harder at the end of a race, often making the difference between placing in the top three and being an “also ran.” Although increasing your speed is harder than building distance, you can learn to run a mile faster by consistently following a few basic speed drills.
Warm up thoroughly for 15 minutes to prevent injury. Warm up exercises should include both static and dynamic stretches of the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
Jog at a moderate pace for five minutes to get your body used to moving. Although you might want to accelerate right away, exercise self-discipline to allow your muscles a chance to become thoroughly warm.
Take a baseline measurement as to how fast you can run 400 meters. According to the website Peak Performance, your 400-meter time is an excellent predictor of how fast you can run a mile.
Run a short distance, such as 200 meters, as fast as you can, rather than running fast for an entire mile. Set a target slightly faster than half of your 400-meter time. If your 400-meter time was 56 seconds, for example, try to run 200 meters in 27 seconds.
Run at a moderate pace for two minutes to allow your body to recover from your sudden burst of energy. At the end of the two minutes, you should be breathing easily again.
Reduce the recovery interval between bursts of exertion to about 30 seconds during the next two weeks. Set a goal to increase your speed by two seconds over your baseline 400-meter time.
Increase the speed interval to 400 meters, completing the first half of the interval about one second slower than the second half. Start with a three-minute recovery interval and cut down to about a 30-second interval over the next four weeks.
- If you have any chronic medical conditions, or are a male over the age of 40 or a female over the age of 55, consult a physican before beginning any exercise program. Listen to your body to avoid injury. Push past personal discomfort but stop running if you experience any sharp pains.
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.