Speed as a component of fitness can be considered in 4 basic categories: Maximal Speed (as fast as you can go), Optimal Speed (the fastest speed that can be maintained over the complete distance being run), Acceleration Speed (rate of change in speed), Speed Endurance (the ability to maintain optimal speed as fatigue levels increase).
Apart from being a sprinter where running at maximal speed is the discipline, there are times when being able to dramatically increase the pace in a run whether for a sprint finish in a race or to catch up with a group is desirable. Running at maximal speed requires some different techniques to endurance running and these can be both learned and developed. Correct posture is a key requirement to maximal speed running. A tall and upright stance with high hips should be maintained with the shoulders low and relaxed. Arms must be fast (they will control leg speed) with the elbows driving backwards positively. The leg movement is smooth and cyclic; the knee should be high such that the thigh is parallel with the ground and the toe is pointing upwards. The landing should be on the ball of the foot driving down and back the heel then goes up under the butt. To ensure the shoulders are not tensed “smile”, this also looks better for the finish line photos!
“Of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. Hard is what makes it great.” – Jimmy Dugan from A League Of Their Own