Almost every runner who has come to me has as a goal to run faster. If a 50-year-old can break 5:00 in the mile; if a 60-year-old can break 6:00 in the mile; if the person who has only run a 10:00 mile and swears they are just a slow runner can a sub-8:00 mile; then so can you.
The real bonus for many of you is that when you can get these “middle distance” times (mile to 5k) faster; your distance (10k, half-marathon and beyond) times will drop as well.
As a coach – and as most coaches – I recommend various drills to improve form and power as they relate to running faster. Skipping drills, lower leg drills, upper leg drills, push-off drills, arm drills, dynamic stretching and full range of motion drills – you name it you can find all of them on some youtube video. Each one is designed to strengthen and reinforce proper neuromuscular reactions in muscle groups to propel runners forward in the most effective and efficient manner possible. And none of them directly get you faster.
Even those individuals who can replicate all these drills in text book fashion aren’t going to be running faster without something else. That something else is fast running. Fast running begets fast running… not drills. Let me be clear that these drills have a purpose. They can support your efforts to run faster. They may reduce incidence of injury (but even that is not well documented). They may lead to improved running form – which may or may not help you run faster. But there is no proof that there is a single optimal running form to run fast. (If there was, every fast runner would look the same. And they don’t.)
You can run mile after mile but if all those miles are slow, you will be a slow runner (albeit – quite fit, with great endurance). Do not confuse fitness with the ability to run fast. There is an overlap but they are not the same. There are many fit and quite slow runners out there. If you do not have time to do all the drills, all the range of motion exercises and running form drills – then don’t do them. Instead make the most of your time by infusing fast running into your running. Become fast and fit.
The message is clear from the research end to the practical application end – if you want to run fast then get out and run fast.