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How Can I Increase My Running Speed?

During the summer I could run a mile in 6:35. However, my legs started to hurt and so I stopped.
Now I just did a mile and it was horrible and it took me 11 minutes.
How can I improve for my mile test in two weeks?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thank you for your running training question.
Phew, it is fair to say that you have left it a bit late. Two weeks does not give you much time to improve. It will give you a little bit of a chance though to increase your running speed.

First of all, all through the two week period, build up your karma by being extra nice to your parents, your friends etc. Because, in addition to having to put in some hard work, you are going to need a bit of good luck... :)

The first few days after a long period of not running are pretty tough for everybody. It is hard getting back into it.

Now, I am going to give you this advice, without knowing anything about your current fitness level, your age, how quickly you get injured, what your body can handle etc. So, you need to help make that assessment and do what is feasible without getting yourself injured.

I would encourage you to run a number of times over the next two weeks, possibly four times a week. I would encourage you to run a bit further than one mile, e.g. try three miles. Don't run as quickly as possible, run easily, the pace at which you'd be able to maintain a conversation. You need to build up some stamina. If you can't keep on running, take a walking break for a short while, then run a bit further. You need to run further, to be faster, believe me.

On the other days, do some type of cross-training. E.g. bike ride, swimming or just go for a good long walk.

The beginning of the second week, try to run your mile again, as quickly as possible. Do that once more, at least three days before your mile test.
This gets you used to the distance and the pace you need to run. Before you run as quickly as possible, make sure you warm up correctly. Nothing worse than running as fast as possible with cold muscles, that will definitely get you injured.

Again, on the other days do cross-training. The day before the event, take a rest day to make sure your muscles are nicely rested for the mile test.

You will increase your running speed over the next two weeks, maybe even quite markedly, however you can't expect miracles to happen. Next time, you have got an important race coming up, you may wish to consider a bit of a lengthier preparation period.

I again need to stress that this sudden build-up of mileage from 0 to possibly 12 miles a week and being active every single day of the week is not something I would normally advice and you run a risk of injuring yourself. I am giving you this advice with the assumption that you desperately need this mile test to go well and you are willing to risk a possible injury in the process.

Having said all that... best of luck. I hope you'll accomplish your goals.

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