Start talking about speed and fitness and most minds typically jump to track and field, marathons, or in some cases, swimming or biking. Understandably, race-style sporting events dominate our perceptions of activities requiring speed. In truth, however, speed is an asset that works its way into nearly every competitive sport. Football players that can run fast have a greater chance of getting to the ball or making a defensive play. Basketball players with speed can make a fast break, or stop it. Even baseball players with speed can make the difference between a player getting an out or hitting a double.
Improving your speed also happens to be one of those things for which you can train. Just like working your way up to a distance for something like a 10k or a marathon, you can work on your speed by following a training regimen designed for that purpose. The basics are simple:
1. Start at a distance you are already comfortable with. Whether it is 1 mile or 5 miles, the distance is less important than your ability to complete it without becoming exhausted.
2. Break the distance down into 8 equal segments. If your distance is 1 mile, that would make 1/8 of a mile (approximately 200 meters) the length of your equal segments.
3. After a light warm up, start out on the first segment at your normal pace.
4. Then, for the second segment, increase your effort to double your perceived exertion. You will go faster, but do not expect to cut your time in half by doubling your effort. Any increase in speed is fine at this point.
5. Return to normal pace for the next segment and continue in an every-other pattern for increased speed.
6. The next training day, look to increase your speed segments to two segments on, one segment off.
7. The following training day, return to the every-other segment method, but increase your output even more.
8. Continue the pattern, of every-other segment or every two segments little by little, slowly increasing exertion as you go.
9. After 5 training days, run your entire distance at what feels like a slightly faster pace. You should be able to complete the distance with a quicker time without feeling significantly more winded or tired.
10. Return to the alternating pattern for the next 5 training days. Repeat until you have reached your desired time.