Every runner has probably wished he or she were faster, but improving your ability to hold a faster pace takes time (more time than most runners want to take). However, if you only have a few weeks before race day to get in your best shape, here are a few speed tricks to incorporate into your regular running workouts.
1. Turn Your Long Runs into Quality Days
Adding gentle surges or a fast finish to your weekly long run is a great way to teach your legs how to run fast when they're tired. Long runs are taxing on their own; adding a bit of speed can take those long runs to the next level.
Surges in the latter stages of a long run teach your legs to fight through fatigue and help break up the monotony of the miles. Try one minute of surging at about a 10K race effort, with eight minutes of easy running between each surge for the final hour of your run. If you want more of a challenge, mix it up with 1-, 2-, and 3-minute repeating surges with five minutes of easy running between each during the final hour of your long run.
2. Target Multiple Systems
Add a few shorter intervals after a long session to train your body to change gears.
When you force your body during training to shift from a moderate effort to short sprints, it will learn how to speed up quickly during a race.
Next time you have a longer, moderate workout like a sustained hill climb or a tempo run, add a few short sprints at the end of the workout. For example:
2 mile warm-up
4 mile tempo run
1/2-mile easy jog
4 x 1 minute all-out with 1 minute of easy running between each rep
2 mile cool down