As a coach with 40 years of experience working with athletes in all track & field events and cross country and attending close to 100 clinics, conventions, and seminars, I have developed a good understanding of how to run faster, accelerate quicker, and be more efficient.
The most important thing an athlete can do to run faster and accelerate quicker is learn proper mechanics.
Humans, as well as animals, create locomotion by applying force to the ground. In order to do this in a faster and more efficient way, proper mechanics are necessary. Our posture is very important because it creates muscle and joint tension as we strike the ground. Because of this, we can be more reactive off the ground, and receiving more energy back from that foot strike is of major importance.
The timing and coordination of our movements is key. If we are not striking the ground at the right time with well-coordinated movement, then we are not going to get as much energy back from the ground to propel us forward. Distance runners, having good posture and using basically the same mechanics as sprinters, will be able to run faster and more efficiently.
In my coaching, my main focus is helping the athlete develop proper running mechanics, but it is a learning process, and through this process, they learn how to run faster.
Anyone can train an athlete by giving them a prescription workout, but for the athlete to run their fastest, they have to be able to get all of the energy they can back from the ground. Use drills that help the athlete learn correct posture, develop coordination and timing that are necessary for quick reactive force off the ground, and train with plyometrics to develop the strength necessary for faster running.