I've always maintained that your pace is the least interesting thing about your running. But with all the talk amongst my clients atm about making the new cut off for the Sydney Half Marathon, it's inevitable that we must look at ways to get a bit faster. In this instance, clients are talking about maintaining a 7-minute pace over 21.1km (to make the 2hr 30 cut off) so speed, I guess, is relative. Eliud, if you're reading this, you're probably wasting your time but for everyone else, if you do find yourself in the position of needing or wanting to find a little bit more pace, there are a few places that you can look:
As the saying goes, you can't fire a canon from a canoe. To get a bit more speed you need a stronger base. Visualise the difference between some nice, plump, wide muscle fibres vs some thin and reedy ones. Clearly, you're going to get more torque from the thicker, stronger ones and do what you can to develop those. Squats, calf raises, RDLs etc. I'll pop a link to a sample strength workout in the comments.
Just like you wouldn't put cheap leaded fuel in a racing car, don't put junk into your own engine. Pay attention to good quality nutrition, increase your protein and your slow release carb intake, and try to consume a bit less of the 'white' sugars. That way your body has a better diversity of resources to fuel you on race day.
Swinging your arms a little harder, driving back with your elbows and pointing your thumbs towards your eye sockets will help drive your legs.
Breathe out as if you are blowing imaginary birthday candles
See if you can extend your stride by just a fraction, even half a cm per stride is going to add up across the length of your run and can make a difference without altering your natural form or changing your load.
You need to train BOTH faster and slower than your race pace. So if you need a 7min pace on race day, you need to practice intervals at faster than 7 min pace, and you need a few long, slow, easy runs at slower than race pace too. Using the racing car analogy again, the needle on your rev counter needs to work both ends of the spectrum, to keep the engine tuned in the middle.
And make sure you practice your race pace too!
Finally, and most importantly, remember that your pace does not define you. Chances are you will be fine on race day. Trust the training and the process and believe in yourself enough to try. But if you don't make it ... so what? Give yourself permission to fail and know that there are lots of races out there. Something we Slowlies are particularly comfortable with is our own inadequacies and weirdly, this gives us an advantage against the talented fastlies who freak out when they fail. For us, it's just another day at the office right? Get up, show up, try hard and smile. If you need a coach or a cheerleader, I'm right over here.