Change Your Angle
Good ol’ Mother Nature has blessed us with the perfect speed boosters: hills. Climbing up them strengthens your muscles, especially your hamstrings and glutes (the muscle groups that help your stride) and kicks your heart rate into high gear. But the downhill portion is just as useful. Because you’re going with gravity, not against it, your feet naturally move faster, forcing you to maintain a swifter pace. Downhills get your body used to landing on your forefoot and moving your feet at a faster rate- or your cadence – which you need to be a quicker runner. Running with gravity can also reduce the amount of energy you need to exert yourself by 10 percent (which can help save oomph for the rest of your run). As you get used to inclines and declines, try hill sprints. Adding eight weeks of this method – which involves running at your max pace up and downhill for a short distance (about 100 feet) – can improve your peak speed.
Start with gentle inclines (2 to 4 percent grades0 that take a minute or less to run up. Once you can complete those without having to catch your breath, increase the steepness 9aim for 5 to 7 percent) or uphill time. Don’t think of the uphill as sprints right away: Your first goal is maintaining an effort equal to running on flat ground (which means your pace will likely slow). As you get stronger, you can try to hit the same pace before, during, and after the slopes. Stuck inside? Mimic the uphill on the treadmill: Starting at 3 percent (at a jog pace0, bump up the incline 1 percent every minute until you have to slow to continue. Stop after eight minutes.