Tips for running faster

Did you know today is National Running Day? Who celebrated? πŸ™‚

When I first started running, I had one goal: to finish.

Whenever I finished my entire run (even if it was a walk/run combo), accomplished the distance I’d set out to run, or completed a race, I felt triumphant. It gave me confidence that I could actually do it -it’s funny, but almost every time I run, I doubt my abilities- and soon thereafter, I was ready to add another goal: to become a faster runner.

Race photo

When you run, there are two main ways to add in additional stressors and continue challenging yourself: increase distance or speed.

Distance has never been my favorite. I tip my hat to the people who can run marathons, but I can’t help but think you’re batsh!t crazy. I mean that in the nicest way πŸ˜‰ Whenever I finish the half marathon distance, I think to myself that I never, ever want to run twice that far. Over time people have said I’d change my mind, but nope. Not gonna happen.

Speed, on the other hand, is something I’m working towards improving. Over time, my running has become more sporadic and thus, slower, so I’m going to create a solid training plan for my next race. I want to bust my half marathon PR out of the water this fall.

Racers Here are some of the things that I’ve found to increase speed:Β 

-Adding in HIIT intervals. By using speed surges, you are teaching your body to run faster. My favorite method is to do 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy, and follow my intervals with steady state.

-Cross training and strength training. Building leg strength is extremely important because muscle imbalances can lead to injury. I think that when I hurt my knee a few years ago, it was mainly due to the fact that I was slacking on strength while overtraining on cardio. In order to run, you need to make sure that your leg muscles are strong enough to support the activity, whether it’s through traditional strength training, yoga, or power movements. The use of explosive movements and plyometrics can help improve your leg strength, power you for sprints and make endurance activities seem less challenging.

-Rest appropriately. Your body can’t recover and become stronger if you’re working it to maximum capacity every day. Results occur during rest, so in order to soak up the benefits of your hard work, you need to take enough time off to rebuild and recover. I usually do 2-3 rest days each week, depending on my teaching schedule.

-Be consistent. If you do anything consistently, it will become easier. This is something to keep in mind, especially for beginners. Stick with it and your body will respond to the demands. Build up to your goals, but remember along the way that consistency is the key to results.

-Train with hills or resistance. Use the incline button on your treadmill and practice running quickly with a higher incline. For me, my resistance is usually the jogging stroller. When I have the chance to run alone, I FLY.

-Run with faster runners. My friend Kelly is basically a running rockstar (I think her half marathon time is 1:20?) so running with her, even though she’s sweet and runs at my pace, challenges me to go just a little bit faster. Run with people that can keep your goal pace, and maybe motivate you to increase your speed.

-Make a training plan and set a goal.Β 

In the fall, I’ll be running the Scottsdale/Tempe half as part of the Women’s Running Series.

You can find all of the race details here. If you’d like to join in the fun, enter the code “FITAZGINA” to get $10 off

Running friends, what are your tips for getting faster? Medal This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Women’s Running Series through Fitfluential. As always, all opinions are my own.

Post Navigation:


  1. Catherine on June 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    This is so helpful – as a newer runner I am just starting to get frustrated with my “ease-your-way-in” phase and am ready to pick up the pace! Here I go…

  2. Ashley V on June 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I’m running my second half in the fall, and I plan to kill my time. My goal the first time around was to finish, and I felt great about it, but I want more this time! Last time I only ran. I added in cross training once a week at best, and I never really challenged myself with hills or sprints. I was just focused on distance. This time I plan to add in hills (including your hill challenge this morning which mopped the floor with me) and HIIT. Thanks for this post. I’m getting psyched about my training already!

  3. Christa @ Edible Balance on June 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I go through phases in my running. I prefer to run outside but my schedule doesn’t always allow me to do so… the crazy neurotic weather here doesn’t help either! The most joy I get out of running is when my husband and I are on vacation. There is far less pressure, and it’s our favorite way to explore new surroundings. I haven’t been running much since our vacation at the beginning of May, I think I’m definitely going to need these tips to get back into the swing of things!

  4. Melissa on June 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Gina, maybe you can give me some insight. I recently started running a lot more and slacking on the strength training, and I noticed that my legs in particular were suddenly not looking so good. (jiggly, cellulite, etc) I was also having some ankle/knee pain. Before that I was doing a lot of speed and hill intervals in addition to strength, but had a transition period in my life so I was only really running longer distances (~3ish miles) on flat ground. Do you think this is why?

    I have decided to start doing a strength class 2-3x a week and incorporating other types of cardio as well as maybe 1 or 2 runs into my schedule. Do you think this will help with my overall tone? Thanks!

  5. Sarah on June 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Run mad. You’ll go faster, squash negative energy, and burn through your workout!

    • Becca on June 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      It’s true!

  6. mary @ minutes per mile on June 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    track workouts. once a week. when i began incorporating track workouts into my training plan for my second marathon, i raced 20 minutes faster than i did in my first one!

  7. Shari on June 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I am going to try running with resistance to get my time up!! Great Idea!

  8. McKel | Nutrition Stripped on June 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    This is from a non-runner, thanks for the tips! This is really helpful. I prefer HIIT sprints over anything but it’s great motivation!

  9. Tiffany K. on June 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I definitely have a love/hate relationship when it comes to running. And living in Alaska, weather oftentimes prevents any running outdoors. Last May I ran a half marathon in 38 degree downpour while winds were blowing 12-16 mph….wasn’t an enjoyable experience to say the least.

  10. Becca on June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I thought that EXACT same thing when I finished my first half– “Oh my God, how are these marathoners running double this distance?!” Haha.

    You’re right about the strength and cross training– for that first half, I didn’t do anything besides run, and my knees were killing me in the last 5k. But now that I’ve been training for my second half, after having done lots of cross training during the past months, I haven’t had any knee pain at all! And I feel much stronger.

    If I lived near you, I’d totally do that fall half with you!

  11. Jay on June 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Well, that was incentive enough to NOT skip my run today. I’m tired and wanted out. I’m going to go lace up my shoes (and put on the 2 running bras, ah, boobs).

  12. Anne @ on June 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with strength training and running hills as means to increase speed.
    I unintentionally improved my speed drastically, and looking back realize it was due to focusing on my core, squats, lunges, and the like.
    Hills help build that strength and give you so much power!

  13. Ashley on June 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Running my first half in three weeks! My focus isnt really on speed, just finishing, but Im already having so much fun and I know this wont be my only half and I think that on my next one Im really going to focus on getting faster

  14. Miranda @ Miranda Runs on June 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I loved doing HIIT for speed work!

  15. mi-an dela cruz on June 5, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I run my second half on saturday in chicago!! i’ve added crossfit to my crosstraining so we will see but so far so good!! also doing rest day today for the ssu instead of tomorrow… i’m working out tomorrow!

  16. Nicole on June 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Also doing a fall half, my first. Thanks for the reminders entering into this training cycle!

  17. Gloria on June 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    This is wonderful! Thank you for your post. It is just what I needed as I start training for a race again.

  18. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat on June 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve run here and there over the years, but was stuck with it on a regular basis and definitely was not fast. I would like to get into running again, so these are some really helpful tips. Thanks!

  19. Heidi on June 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I didn’t know it was National Running Day and I went running. Yay!
    I am the worlds slowest runner, but I still love to do it and ran a half three years ago. Thanks for these tips! πŸ™‚

  20. Kim on June 5, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    So true about the strength training making you faster!! I’m running stronger and faster now at 43 than when I competed in college!!

  21. priya on June 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Just wondering Gina, what’s your PR so far?

    • Fitnessista on June 5, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      1:56:40-something. i was SO close last fall (1:58)
      i’d love to do my next one in 1:54 or under

      • Guest on June 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm

        Hmmm, don’t you mean 2:00:07? Or 2:03:23?

        Can’t lie about your times…

        • Fitnessista on June 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm
          • Guest on June 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

            Riiiiight, your PR from 2009…but it doesn’t look like you ran a 1:58 last fall.

            Maybe you should find a new hobby, since running doesn’t seem to be working out for you too well.

          • Fitnessista on June 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

            i’m not sure why my race time is such a big deal to you. i looked back at my post from that half -all i vividly remember was that awesome mexican breakfast- and my garmin time was 1:59.
            your comment was snide, elitist and exactly the reason why so many beginners are afraid of running. they feel like people will judge them if they’re not particularly fast (how do you think another reader would feel reading your comment who was just proud of FINISHING a half marathon, regardless of how long it took them?) and an attitude i loathe seeing in the fitness community, especially as an instructor. people should be able to do the activities they enjoy, regardless of other people’s opinions regarding speed and ability. if they’re doing it safely and having fun, that’s all that matters, which exactly what i’m doing with running. i add it in when my teaching schedule allows, and for the most part, i enjoy it.

          • Sara on June 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

            Man. I think that’s fast! Haha. I’d love to run like that again. This person is a troll. Good job for telling them to get a life.

  22. courtstar @ starsystemz on June 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I used to love running as a kid and stopped for many many years. This past year I made a goal to run a 5k so I got back into it and plan a run every week and try and explore different areas! Thanks for the tips πŸ™‚ Love + Shine Courtstar

  23. Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut on June 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thinking about getting faster makes me excited to run again! I got burnt out running my first half, but I’m ready to pick it up again soon! Thanks for the tips!!

  24. Stephanie on June 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Gina. I decided to sign up for my first half-marathon and am wondering how to approach it. What is the best thing to focus on when you haven’t done one before?

  25. Kate on June 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    I think HIIT is key and training in a group to pace yourself helps a lot. But you’ve definitely got to keep up the strength training! I got derailed by an IT Band injury while training for my first marathon–now I’ve got to get up the gumption to sign up and train again!

  26. @pluvk on June 6, 2013 at 2:24 am

    This is a really great post. I have a hard time with running… I DIE on the treadmill and feel funny on the pavement. But I really, REALLY want to try a 5K. Any advice? Especially for someone who’s scared to run? I’m gonna bookmark this for future reference!

    • Ali @ Peaches and Football on June 6, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Try looking into the couch to 5k running programs. They also have 5k podcasts you can try. I’m not a runner at all – although I have 5k aspirations – but I’ve found that having the plan in front of me with manageable steps each week really helps, especially if you’re not experienced.

      For the treadmill, you just have to slow down. It’s hard and awkward but I don’t have the stamina to go fast and slow feels weird – just work to find the sweet spot. For the pavement, shuffling my feet rather than all-out running or jogging seems to work better for me. Once your body gets used to that you can work on speed. I know there are varying opinions but I would say if your goal is to run a 5k, work on that distance first and then tackle speed after. Good luck!!

  27. Shaina Anderson on June 6, 2013 at 2:39 am

    I have zero tips on increasing speed. I’m a slow distance girl….but by distance, I mean 13.1 miles haha. I do not intend to ever ever ever run a full marathon. Unlike my crazy cakes (or batsh!t crazy) husband who just ran a 50M.

    I came so close to PRing my half time in Feb (PR is 2:12 and I ran 2:14 with 3 weeks notice). Grrrr. My next one will be a sub 2 and then I want to move on to triathlons. They scare me so I’m starting with a sprint. πŸ™‚

  28. Lucie on June 6, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Great tips! And I totally agree on the HIIT/Interval one – since I do sprints and Intervals here and there, I became faster.
    Also, some great beats on the iPod are a fantastice BOOSTER! πŸ™‚

  29. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on June 6, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Great tips on how to get faster! I’m with you, I don’t think I’d everrr want to run a marathon. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all. I think you must have to really love running to do something like that. But a half-marathon is on my list for one day. I’m debating on signing up for one in the fall possibly!

  30. Christina on June 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Gina- I have been trying to read your blog all week but the formatting is all messed up! I tried different web browsers but still am having the same issue. I am not sure if anyone else is having the same problem, but I am not able to read or see pictures. Just a heads up!

  31. jay on June 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

    this is such an LOL. didn’t you “break up” with running? anything for a buck i guess!!

    • Fitnessista on June 6, 2013 at 10:43 am

      i’ve ran two half marathons since i broke up with running. sometimes with fitness, you get back into things. and no, it’s not “anything for a buck.” i’m very picky about the things i choose to write about over here. i get many offers for sponsored posts and trips every day (declined two all-expenses paid trips yesterday because i don’t purchase or use each of the brand’s products) so for you to say that offends me.

  32. Danica @ It's Progression on June 6, 2013 at 10:02 am

    A training plan has to include ALL of these things for me (and I’ve PR’d on each half I’ve run so it’s worked really well for me!); 3-4 days of running (1 of those being HIIT), 1-2 days of upper body strength training, 1 day of lower body strength training(!), focused core work 2-3 times a week(huge in helping with speed!), yoga at least once a week, and then 1-3 sessions of other cross training cardio.

  33. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat on June 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I said never to a marathon and somehow have now finished 2 plus an ultra marathon so far this year.

    But half marathon distance will always be my favorite!

    Strength training + a mixture of runs is what works best I have found. And of course repeats at race pace or faster! But then again I am the worst at speed work. Give me double digit miles any day over short and fast! πŸ˜›

  34. Krystal on June 6, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I’m running my first mud run Saturday. I have never competed in a race. My goal is to just finish, and have a great time. πŸ™‚

  35. Josi on June 7, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Completed my first race (10k) last Saturday in 56 mins – bitten by the bug now so thanks for the tips!

  36. Josi on June 7, 2013 at 4:02 am

    I just completed my first race (10k in 56 mins) & have to say one thing that really helped me was having the ultimate playlist and decent headphones – really makes a difference in getting through the last few kms!

  37. char eats greens on June 7, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I think the jogging stroller is the reason that I’ve been able to bust out some faster times as well. I haven’t done anything over 3 miles yet, but was shocked with my numbers even just running those miles. I am completely like you. I still think full marathons are crazy, but I love running halfs. I don’t know if I’d ever run a full either!!!

  38. Rochelle on June 7, 2013 at 10:56 am

    These are the best tips! My goal is a 2hour 1/2. I’m running with some way faster ladies (I can only keep up on their easy days) in order to achieve this

  39. Britney on June 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Awesome tips! I think my main problem is consistency, I need to work out a more consistent schedule rather than just running whenever I have free time. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Nicole Feliciano on June 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Great tips! We shared them today on #FridayFinds over at Momtrends:

    I try to run with a faster runner at least 1x a week to up my game.

  41. Ann Stokman on May 14, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Love the tips

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.