To get faster you have to practice, well, running fast. A simple way to sharpen your raw speed and enhance speed endurance are 300 meter accelerations in which you pick up speed each 100 meters.
- Warm-up 10–20 minutes + strides
- Run 300m, accelerating each 100m
- First 100m of rep @ mile race pace (50%) effort
- Second 100m of rep @ 800 meter race pace (70%) effort
- Third and final 100m rep @ 100%, maximum velocity effort
- Jog or walk 100m as recovery
- Repeat 4–9 times
This workout is a twist on a classic 300 meter repeat workout used by many coaches and athletes, from high school to pros, including Meb Keflezighi’s coach Bob Larsen, former (disgraced) NOP coach Alberto Salazar, retired middle distance runner Sarah Brown, and Baylor track coach Clyde Hart. Three-hundred meter repeats do a great job of increasing fatigue resistance and getting your body comfortable with running at high speeds. By adding in accelerations, you sharpen your ability to get your feet down faster in response to changes of speed in a race and to prep your neuromuscular system for the faster cadence of race pace .
This workout is best done on a marked track so that you can easily see each 100 meter and know when to crank up the speed another level. You could, however, do this on a flat road or path if you mark off each 100 meter with a cone.
When you begin the first 100m section of the first 300m repetition, it should feel slower than you think. You want to noticeably shift gears each time you hit a 100m mark. The first 100m should feel like a relaxed stride, as if you’re floating. In the next 100m, you should feel like you’re doing a faster stride. You don’t necessarily want to feel like you’re pushing harder, but increase your turnover and swing your arms smoothly. The final 100m should feel like you’re racing the hundred meter dash. On that last third of the interval, you should focus on getting your feet down as quickly as possible and swinging your arms rapidly.
Recover by either jogging very slow or walking 100 meters. The recovery should last between 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Depending on your fitness level, repeat the intervals 4 to 9 times.
One added benefit of this workout’s simplicity is that it can be used to supplement an endurance-session. While it is a great workout to do on its own, you can also add to the end of a strength-based effort such as a tempo run or mile repeats.
In addition to sharpening your speed and teaching you to adjust your gait to accelerate, this workout teaches you “motor patterning” for sprinting. By practicing accelerating up to maximum velocity, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself in a race when top speed is required.
An unexpected bonus of this workout is that, as a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), it may provide some happy psychological and emotional benefits. A study published earlier this year found that HIIT was better for treating anxiety and depression when compared to moving at a slow, steady pace.