Increasing running speed requires more than forcing yourself to go faster. A deliberate, multi-faceted training program is required to boost overall performance. Through working on the supporting muscles in the legs that contributes to enhanced speed, you may just even the most optimistic of expectations.
Strengthen the Primary Muscles
Stronger and more powerful legs are going to be better capable of running fast. The following four exercises should build the leg muscles efficiently:
- Squats with a barbell
- Lunges with a barbell
- Leg extensions on a machine
- Calf raises while holding dumbbells
These exercises do not have to be performed with massively heavy amounts of weight. All you need is enough resistance for the muscles to become stronger. This way, they can generate more power when you run.
Focus on Muscular Endurance
Strength alone is not enough. Endurance building is also a critical aspect of speed training. Running at all (much less at high speeds) is going to be extremely difficult when the muscles in your legs give out. The right combination of diet and exercise is going to be necessary to ensure the leg muscles can handle the burden of running at a very fast pace.
Body weight exercises in particular increase muscular endurance. Performing high reps of single and double-leg squats would definitely build up the endurance of the quads. As for diet, quality carbs such as ones from whole grains are necessary to provide the muscles with glycogen. Once glycogen stores are depleted, the muscles wear out and running ends up becoming sluggish.
Work on Plyometrics
Plyometric exercises, in plain English, are jumping exercises. If your initial "launch" when you start running is powerful, reaching a higher rate of speed is possible. A very basic plyo exercise is to perform high knee jumps over a box. Jump forwards, backwards, and laterally. Doing so enhances explosiveness in the leg muscles making them better primed to improve running speed. Jumping exercises also improve balance and nimbleness, two traits that contribute quite a bit towards increased speed.
Wear a Weighted Vest
For those already in good condition, wearing a 30lb weighted vest adds a new dimension while training. Running with a heavy vest on a treadmill adds significantly to the pull of gravity. The presence of the vest aids in building up cardiovascular conditioning and various leg muscles. Once the vest is removed, so is all the weight anchoring you down. Anyone who can run 8 mph with the vest on is going to run much faster once the vest is removed.
Imagine working a program incorporating these exercises and ideas for a 12-week period. You speed would certainly improve.