Mitchum Q&A 4: How to Get Faster

Hello folks,

This lunchtime (1-2pm) we're joined by GB international sprinter Conrad Williams who'll be answering your questions about speed - how to improve your raw speed, what training sessions work and how to hit your potential.

Mitchum athlete Conrad Williams was born in Jamaica and is trained by Linford Christie in London.
Conrad ran the opening leg as Great Britain won 4x400m silver at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009. Prior to his efforts in the German capital he won 400m silver at the British Championships and also represented Britain in the relay at the European Team Championships in Portugal.

We're opening the discussion now Conrad so can get answering your questions at 1pm (rather than having to deal with a rush of questions at once). 



  • Hello
    How important are the arms when you are trying to run fast?
  • Hi Conrad

    I'm currently training for a half marathon, the furthest distance i've run is 6 miles and the marathon is in a few months time! How would you suggest i build up my running e.g how frequently should I be running? 

  • Afternoon Conrad,

    do you have any favourite drills for increasing the turnover rate for your legs?


  • Hi Conrad,

    I'd be interested in knowing how much time do you dedicate to flexibility and how important you feel it is for middle distance specialists compared to pure sprint distance runners.

    Also, do you or any other sprinters you know incorporate hill running into your training (e.g.springing, bounding) as a form of plyometric exercise?

    Thanks very much

  • How important is strength training as part of getting faster and what sort of training should a young (would be) sprinter begin with?
  • Hi Conrad,

    I would be interested in finding out the most effective training drills to increase my sprinting speed and how often I should be doing them?

    Thank you. 

  • I just ran my first competitive 10k however the last 1k was all up hill so I was running at my maximum effort but found I had plenty left in my legs once I had reached the flat finish line.
    The next 10k I plan to run is a lot flatter so should I start out faster than the hilly race or at the same pace but build the speed up after half way?
  • Hi Conrad

    What training sessions would you recommend that are specifically designed to increase speed. I have never been much of a long distance runner so want to know how to improve my speed over short distances.

  • HI Catherine, good question! The arms are very important as the faster you move your arms the faster your legs will move.
  • HI Natasha, depending when your run is, I would suggest you increase your distance every week and also try to increase the pace without putting yourself under too much pressure in order to avoid injury. Good luck
  • Hi Ferrous
    There are loads of drills that will increase pace and my particular favourite is the
    fast feet drill. This involves very little steps with your feet coming up about 6 inches from the floor. It is a running motion, lean forward into the drill, keeping it fast but very controlled.
  • Hi Simon, I am naturally very flexible so I don't incorporate loads of flexibility into my training. For middle distance runners, they do tend to be quite flexible also so usually do minimal flexibility work. It depends on each individual athlete's makeup.
    I do hill work but this is to increase speed, strength and power. Plyometric work is always done on level ground to avoid the risk of injury.
  • Hi Impish, Strength is to help muscles get stronger but it doesn't necessarily make you run faster.
    Larger muscles can slow you down but the stronger the muscles the lower the risk of injury!
    Athletes under the age of 20 don't need to do alot of strength work as their bodies are developing.
    I would recommend a young sprinter start off with training by learning and practicing drills and perfecting technique. Good luck
  • Hi LittleG_Star,
    My favourite drills are the Fast Feet Drill (as explained to Ferrous above) and also the High Knee Drill (raising your knees as high as possible off the ground). I would recommend you incorporate these into every training session to help improve speed and technique.
    Good luck!
  • Hi Conran, great fan!!

    What would you suggest is the best training for a 1/2 marathon- interval training or straight forward 40 mins runs per evening - 3 times per week.

    Best Regards Marianne

  • Hi ChrisCrossCountry,
    It is very difficult to plan a race in advance without having experienced it, so I would recommend you walk around it to get a good feel and enable you to plan it effectively. Look out for sharp corners, gravel, rocks, grass and inclines as these all make a difference.
    I would recommend that you run the first 5km at a steady pace. Once you hit the 5km mark, if you are feeling fresh, maybe increase your pace every kilometer but not dramatically as you don't want to lose your energy or flag at the end. Good luck!
  • Hi there

    I have just started running and wanted to know the best way to start my training - the most I run at the moment is for ten minutes then walking for 5. is the right way to begin and what other exercises would you suggest?

  • Hi Adrian,
    If you start by incorporating 15 x 200m sprint sessions into your training, this will help to increase your speed over short distances.
  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    Hi Conrad

    Can you please share the type of over-distance running sessions that you do, i.e.  reps or continuous runs over 400m in distance, at what pace you do them and how often.

    Also, could you specify whether you do this all year round or are they restricted to a particular phase?

    Good luck this season.

    P.S.  Exactly how painful did you find your 800 races this year?

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    Hi, Conrad,

    Over the sprint distances, are there differences in the proportion of training put into the first 10-20 metres as compared to the rest of the race?  Or do you still have a strong emphasis on the launch and acceleration for the 400?

    Also, given that every major event has some team botching the relay handover, how much training occurs to embed this as a skill, rather than a last minute exercise?


  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    Also, do you ever do your drills on an uphill slope or stick to flat?

    (not you Ratzer!)

  • Hi Marianne,
    I suggest a variety of training. Try increasing the time by starting with 2 x 40 minute sessions and 1x 60 minute session per week and try to build on this each week to get your distance in.
    I would recommend incorporating interval training on alternate sessions to add variety into your training. Good luck!
  • Hi Moraghan, I have never done any drills or technical work up hill- I leave this to level ground to avoid injury. I do incorporate hill work into my training but this is to increase strength and power.
  • How important is core work in developing speed? Should someone looking to break 20 mins for the 5k do one cross-training session a week that will engage the core and put more emphasis on developing it, or is running sufficient in itself to do this?

    How important is flexibility in terms of getting faster, especially ankle flexibility?

  • HI Ratzer,

    A 100m runner will put emphasis on the first 30m and try to maintain the speed for the duration of the race. A 400m runner will put emphasis on the first 50m before starting to level off. The training will be different as the 100m will focus on the block work, setting up the race from the beginning and the 400m training will be more varied work to develop a race plan as there is more time.
    Training for either event will involve working out a tactic for the individual athlete.

    With regards to the relay handover, unfortunately not enough time is dedicated to teams practicing this. It is practiced but It all comes down to circumstances on the day such as nerves, excitement, different positions of the athletes, where the athlete is starting. You can't practice for every eventuality. Often it is the most relaxed team that performs the best on the day.
  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭


    Think my first post got lost at the end of the first page - it's copied below.  Thanks.

    Moraghan wrote (see)

    Hi Conrad

    Can you please share the type of over-distance running sessions that you do, i.e.  reps or continuous runs over 400m in distance, at what pace you do them and how often.

    Also, could you specify whether you do this all year round or are they restricted to a particular phase?

    Good luck this season.

    P.S.  Exactly how painful did you find your 800 races this year?

  • Hi Broadsword Calling Danny Boy
    I believe in doing the exercise outright than using machines. There are core exercises that enable you to do without a cross training and you can find these online which demonstrate how to do them without injuring yourself. Going for a long run and including hills within the training is a great way of developing core strength. Medicine balls are also a good tool to use for core work.
    Ankle flexibility can help prevent you from injury but won't necessarily help you run faster. Increase your aerobic and anaerobic exercise in order to increase speed.
    Good luck
  • Thanks to everyone for your questions today and good luck with the training!
    Keep on running
  • I think that's all we've got time for today - thanks so much for coming on Conrad, and thanks to all of you for your questions.

    Until next Wednesday,


Sign In or Register to comment.