3 Ways To Improve Your Running Speed

Run speed work should be a vital part of your triathlon training. Here are three of the most effective sessions to get you started.


1. Anaerobic Speed Workouts

These sessions involve short, fast efforts with relatively long rests. Training at these paces helps you to develop your ability to apply quick force to the track or road, increasing your stride length and efficiency. The volume of these sessions is relatively low – a maximum of 3km and often less. If you already have a good endurance base and you’ve done some longer speed workouts (see points 2 and 3 for ideas) you will find that it doesn’t take many of these speed sessions to produce a rapid performance improvement.  Just six to eight workouts will move you on significantly, providing you are fresh when you do them.
Run at the fastest possible consistent pace that you can maintain for the whole session:

  • Session 1: 10 x 200m with 90 secs rest between reps
  • Session 2: 7 x 300m with 2 mins rest between reps
  • Session 3: 6 x 400m with 2 mins 30 secs between reps

2. Aerobic Speed Sessions

If you want to run a faster 5km or 10km race, these are the bread and butter sessions that will help you get there. They involve fast repetitions with relatively short rests. Keep the volume of your main set to around 5km and your pace at around your best for 3km. Start with short repetitions and build the length of time you run at this pace. Here are some examples of how to progress your main sets:

  • Session 1: 2 x 10 x 200m with 20 secs between reps and 4 mins between sets
  • Session 2: 3 x 5 x 300m with 45 secs between reps and 4 mins between sets
  • Session 3: 2 x 6 x 400m with 60 secs between reps and 3 mins between sets
  • Session 4: 12 x 400m with 1 minute rests

3. Aerobic Speed Endurance Workouts

These sessions will help you to maintain a fast pace for longer, so that you can stay strong all the way to the finish-line on race day. The volume stretches to 8km and the speed towards 5km race pace. You will be required to run for over three minutes in each repetition, all at a high intensity. Examples of fast aerobic endurance sessions include:

  • Session 1: 8 x 800m with 2 mins rests
  • Session 2: 6 x (800m/400m) alternating 2 mins rest and 1 minute rest
  • Session 3: 8 x 1km with 2 mins jog rests
  • Session 4: 6 x 1200m with 2 mins rests

Running Warm Up and Warm Down

A speed session should include a warm up of at least 10-minutes of easy running, followed by running strides to rehearse the speed of movement of the main session. These are short progressive sprints e.g. 4 x 60m build-up runs to 80% maximum intensity. Don’t forget to include a warm down too – five to 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Final Tips

  • Don’t attempt all three of the different types of speed workouts above in a single week or you’ll get over-tired or injured.
  • It’s better to focus on one type of session  (e.g. aerobic speed) – and do it once per week for 6-8 weeks before moving onto the next type (e.g. aerobic speed endurance).

Similar articles: How To Prepare For A Sprint Triathlon Run

By Phil Mosley.

Ironman Certified Coach
Founder, My Pro Coach
Copyright © 2016 Philip Mosley

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Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised expert in the field, having featured on many endurance sports publications. He founded MyProCoach in 2010 to sell premium training plans complete with email coach support for triathlons, duathlons, running & cycling.

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