If you're new to running, your first goal is to be able to finish the run. At the same time, it's also important to be able to run for a certain length time. When you have successfully accomplished both, you can begin working on running faster.

There are several things you can do to improve your times. You can start by changing (mixing up) your workouts. In addition to long runs, try running shorter distances at a faster pace. High school and college track teams often do "speed workouts" such as intervals, where you run fast for a specified distance or length of time, then slow down (and recover) for a specified distance or time, then repeat the process. The length of the recovery period is generally proportional to the length of each interval. In most cases, I would recommend using a stopwatch, but you can use other things too (like markers on a field, counting laps on a track, or even telephone poles). Most teams do this at least once a week.

There are many ways to do "speed work", but sometimes it's good find a controlled environment like a track. Note, these are only suggestions, and you must be in good physical condition to do them! For example, you might go to a local outdoor track, and try running four miles, but run each mile as fast as you can (or significantly faster than you're used to) with a short break or recovery period in between. Shorter intervals are OK too, but rather than stopping, you might simply slow your pace during the recovery period. When prescribing intervals, some coaches follow a pyramid where the distance and breaks in-between gradually increase until you reach a maximum, then begin to decrease.

Speed workouts are among the most difficult workouts anyone on a track team has to do. However it can condition your body, so you can eventually run with the same effort at a much faster pace.

Finally, I strongly recommend tracking your workouts with a tool like Weightmania Pro Online. Research has proven when you track your progress, you're twice as likely to reach your goals and reach them in less time. This means tracking things like distance, time, pace and speed after every workout.