How To Run Faster And Longer: 5 Expert Coach-Approved Tips

Add these elements to your training plan for improved speed and endurance.

As a UESCA-certified running coach, I find that most runners who want to improve their running performance have one of two goals: running faster or running longer without stopping or fatiguing.

Experienced runners often fall into the first camp.

Perhaps it is a runner who has been training for the 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon, and has run a couple of decent times but wants to set a PR, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or make some other performance jump so that they can hold a faster race piece.

The second goal is more common with beginners. Perhaps it is a brand new runner who is just trying to build up endurance so that they can run their first 5k. But, experienced runners also often embody the goal to run longer distances.

Then, we have the ambitious distance runners who want it all: learning how to run faster and longer.

The good news is that with a proper training plan and the right types of running workouts, it is possible for beginners and competitive runners to improve their speed and endurance for running longer distances at a faster running speed.

In this guide to how to run faster and longer, we have put together the top running tips for distance runners to improve running economy, stamina, and speed to help you take your running performance to the next level and achieve all of your goals.

A person running fast along an industrial area.

What Training Techniques Can Help Me Run Faster And Increase My Endurance?

Before we look specifically at running tips for how to run longer and how to run faster, let’s briefly dissect each of these goals:

How Do I Run Longer?

Running longer distances is a matter of working to build endurance and improve running economy. 

Running economy is essentially your efficiency as a runner.

Therefore, factors that can be beneficial for long distance running are your running technique, running form, metabolic adaptations (ability to burn fat at faster running speeds to spare glycogen), and cardiovascular fitness (VO2 max, stroke volume, etc.)

Essentially, better running economy1Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2015). Running economy: measurement, norms, and Determining Factors. Sports Medicine – Open1(1). means that you are able to conserve energy, glycogen, and do less physiological “work“ while still running at a faster pace. This helps you run longer distances before fatiguing or “hitting the wall.“

A person jogging.

How Do I Run Faster?

Running faster essentially means that you can achieve faster speeds or faster paces to improve your race times.

Elements in a training program to help you increase your running speed include things such as:

  • Speed work (interval training, fartleks, hill workouts, other forms of speed training, etc.)
  • Building muscle through strength training and plyometrics to improve running power
  • Improving neuromuscular coordination with strides and even agility training
  • Increasing lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold so that you can hold a faster running pace before you start accumulating a build up of metabolic byproducts from anaerobic metabolism

Well-rounded training plans for distance runners generally include running workouts and supplementary workouts such as cross training, strength training, and running drills that will have carryover into both of these domains, running longer distances and running faster pieces.

However, depending on your primary goal, the emphasis on the specific types of workouts on your training schedule may vary.

For example, if you are mainly focused on how to run faster, you should include more speed work, interval training, and race pace workouts whereas if you are mostly trying to build endurance to run longer, you will need to do more long runs to build up your aerobic fitness level.

A person eating a granola bar.

Supporting Your Training Program

In addition to the running workouts that can help you build endurance to run longer distances, interval training to run faster speeds, weight training to build muscle and power, working on your stride and running form, etc., it is also important to support your overall wellness with nutrition, sleep, and recovery modalities.

Particularly in the case of running longer distances for half marathon and marathon training and racing, you need to work on your fueling strategy before running and during your workouts.

To prevent glycogen depletion, you need to be eating enough carbohydrates in a pre-workout snack and taking in some form of carbs during long-distance running workouts that exceed 90 minutes or so.

Post-workout nutrition is also important for distance runners because it helps ensure that your body has ample calories, carbohydrates, and protein to replenish glycogen storage and repair muscle damage.

A person hydrating.

A well-balanced diet throughout the day will also support your overall health and energy and recovery needs. 

Hydration is also important, particularly for distance runners who are either training in the heat or doing longer workouts. 

Dehydration decreases running performance, increases heart rate, and increases the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). 

Additionally, getting enough sleep at night will help ensure that you are well rested and well recovered after speed workouts, high-intensity interval training, long distance runs, tempo runs, cross-training, etc.

How to Run Faster and Longer: training Program Elements

Here are some top training tips for how to run faster and longer:

Two people running speed workouts to run faster.

#1: Speed Workouts

Speed work, also called speed training, includes a variety of workouts found on training schedules that help you become a faster runner. 

Interval Training

Interval workouts involve running for a specific distance or time and pace.

An example of a speed workout to help you run faster for a 5k is 12 x 400 meters at goal pace with 100 meter recovery after each. To run faster for a marathon, you might do 8 x 1 mile at half marathon pace.

Interval workouts are often run on the track, but this is not a necessity. For example, if you are training for cross country, you might do VO2 max intervals such as 4×4 minutes on grass or off-road terrain.

Fartlek Workouts

“Fartlek” is a Swedish word for “speed play.” Fartlek workouts bursts where you run fast followed by resuming your easy run pace. 

Fartlek training is less structured than speed training on a track because you can choose landmarks (such as light posts) to determine when you will run fast and when you will slow back down. 

Because you don’t stop running between intervals of fast running, this type of speed work also improves aerobic endurance.2Kumar, P. (2015). Effect of fartlek training for developing endurance ability among athletes. ~ 291 ~ International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health2(2), 291–293. https://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2015/vol2issue2/PartE/3-3-75-957.pdf

A group of runners doing hill sprints.

Strides

Strides are typically run at the end of a workout. They may be anywhere from 30-150 meters or so, and should be run at a sprinting speed.3Koral, J., Oranchuk, D. J., Herrera, R., & Millet, G. Y. (2017). Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training improves running performance in trained athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research32(3), 1. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002286

Strides can help you run faster by increasing your turnover or cadence. 

Your running pace is a product of your stride length and your stride rate.

Therefore, if you can improve your stride rate, particularly while maintaining your stride length, you will be able to run at faster speeds.

Hill Sprints 

Hill workouts help you get faster and stronger by building power, improving running technique, and combining speed training with resistance training.4Barnes, K. R., Hopkins, W. G., McGuigan, M. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2013). Effects of Different Uphill Interval-Training Programs on Running Economy and Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance8(6), 639–647. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.8.6.639

‌When you are doing hill workouts in your running routine with the goal of running faster, you should be sprinting all out for each repetition, making sure to push all the way up and over the top of the hill. 

Shorten your stride length and lean into the hill. 

Three people running together on the road.

Tempo Runs and Lactate Threshold Workouts

Tempo runs increase your anaerobic threshold so that anaerobic metabolic byproducts (lactic acid, which dissociates to lactate and a hydrogen ion) don’t accumulate and cause muscular fatigue and discomfort.

For experienced long distance runners, the lactate threshold occurs around 83-88% of your VO2 max, so your threshold run pace would be the pace you are running at 83-88% of your VO2 max according to your lab results or roughly the pace you could hold at max effort for an hour of running.

Running Drills 

Running drills can help improve your running technique, running form, and foot strike pattern. 

This can improve running efficiency and reduce the risk of injuries.

Incorporate running drills into a dynamic warm up.

A person running.

#2: Distance Runs

Easy runs help build endurance without significantly taxing your body. You should incorporate easy runs into your training schedule after high-intensity workouts and long runs.

Long Runs

Long runs should typically be run at an easy, conversational pace, because the goal is to to increase your aerobic capacity. 

Most running coaches recommend keeping your heart rate around 70% of your maximum heart rate during a long run. 

Long runs increase your stamina and help you run longer in the following ways:

  • Strengthening your heart and lungs
  • Increasing mitochondrial density in your muscles so that you can produce more ATP (energy) aerobically
  • Developing additional capillaries to improve oxygenation of your muscles and tissues, increasing bone density
  • Strengthening muscles and connective tissues
  • Boosting the concentration of myoglobin in muscles
  • Improving your ability to burn fat for energy rather than glycogen, helping prevent glycogen depletion 
  • Helping improve your pacing strategy
  • Training your body to use carbohydrates efficiently while running to preserve glycogen
  • Increasing mental resilience
A person doing a kettlebell overhead press.

#3: Strength Training and Plyometrics

Strength training, also called resistance training, can also help you run faster and longer without fatiguing as quickly. 

Although there can be value in doing bodyweight exercises, as a running coach, I highly recommend weight training with heavy weights so that you build muscle. This can decrease the risk of injuries.

Strength training also allows you to increase force production, core strength, and improve neuromuscular coordination, which can improve your running form and economy.5Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Santos-Concejero, J., & Grivas, G. V. (2016). Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research30(8), 2361–2368. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001316

‌Perform resistance training exercises for the lower body such as the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, adductors, smaller hip muscles, as well as the core muscles, and upper body muscles such as lunges, step-ups, squats, push-ups, box jumps, planks, pull-ups, etc.

A person swimming in the pool.

#4: Cross Training

Cross-training workouts refer to any type of exercise other than running.

I generally suggest adding cross-training once or twice a week to your training plan instead of easy runs.

Doing different types of aerobic exercise can help you build your cardiovascular fitness level while reducing the impact stresses6NILSSON, J., & THORSTENSSON, A. (1989). Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica136(2), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x on your body and using your muscles in different ways to prevent overuse injuries. 

Examples of good cross training exercises for runners include cycling, swimming, deep water running, rowing, elliptical machine, stair climbing, hiking, and cross country skiing.

#5: Rest Days

Although many endurance athletes don’t see the rest days on the training schedule as “training,“ taking rest days is important to support recovery, prevent the risk of injury from overuse, and prevent overtraining syndrome.

Depending on your fitness level, the distances you have been running, your risk of running injuries, and your running goals, most recreational distance runners should take between one and three rest days per week. 

A person resting.

Elite runners may only take a rest day every other week while beginners should typically take every other day off from running as they build up their fitness level and condition the cardiovascular and muscular skeletal systems to their new running routine.

You can use rest days to perform recovery modalities such as foam rolling, stretching, walking, yoga, and other forms of active recovery.

When you put everything together, there are several elements of a well-rounded training program to help you run faster and longer:

  • Speed work 
  • Fartleks
  • Strides
  • Hill sprints 
  • Strength training 
  • Long runs 
  • Tempo runs 

Incorporating these elements into your weekly routine with consistency is the best way to improve and run faster and longer and prepare for race day. 

Consistency in your training is ultimately the most crucial piece of the puzzle.

With dedication, patience, and hard work, you can absolutely run faster and longer, no matter where you are in your running journey.

Foe some hill work session ideas, check out thiss next guide:

References

  • 1
    Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2015). Running economy: measurement, norms, and Determining Factors. Sports Medicine – Open1(1).
  • 2
    Kumar, P. (2015). Effect of fartlek training for developing endurance ability among athletes. ~ 291 ~ International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health2(2), 291–293. https://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2015/vol2issue2/PartE/3-3-75-957.pdf
  • 3
    Koral, J., Oranchuk, D. J., Herrera, R., & Millet, G. Y. (2017). Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training improves running performance in trained athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research32(3), 1. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002286
  • 4
    Barnes, K. R., Hopkins, W. G., McGuigan, M. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2013). Effects of Different Uphill Interval-Training Programs on Running Economy and Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance8(6), 639–647. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.8.6.639
  • 5
    Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Santos-Concejero, J., & Grivas, G. V. (2016). Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research30(8), 2361–2368. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001316
  • 6
    NILSSON, J., & THORSTENSSON, A. (1989). Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica136(2), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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