Speed is an important component to one's racing strategy and running performance, but knowing what to do to get faster can be tricky. For an in-depth explanation of some of the drills to perform to increase speed, check out our blog article found here!
Increasing speed starts first with training your legs to have a faster turnover. Essentially, this just means that you are picking up your legs faster with each step, putting them down faster with each step, and using your momentum and the force generated from bounding off of each step more efficiently to propel you forward faster. Faster leg turnover can be accomplished not just through stronger legs, but with faster reaction times. Drills that get your brain used to being in tune with your legs and challenging your brain to push your legs to turn over faster, such as cariaca drills (pronounced "karaoke"), are a great place to start. Cariaca involves lateral movements of the body while you cross your legs laterally in front of each as you rotate your hips and swing your arms side to side. Reverse your direction to cariaca both legs and sides of your body.
High knees and butt kicks are also great speed drills because they exaggerate the running form. If you can do these exaggerated movements quickly, then your natural (less exaggerated) running motion will be faster. To perform high knees, pick up each leg at a ninety degree angle, driving the knee up toward your chest as you simultaneously push your body forward. You will not go forward very quickly, but you will make steps in that direction. The same is true for butt kicks, in which you literally try and kick your butt with your heels as you slowly inch forward with each small step.
Running backwards might seem counterintuitive, but similar to the way cariaoca drills train your brain to leg connections to help get you used to pushing your body faster, running backwards takes more mental focus but homes in on strengthening the muscles not employed as much with forward running. Running backwards also makes you much more aware of your form, and can help you pinpoint how your form might need improvement, which can ultimately help increase speed in a big way.