Of course you can change your render distance and the graphics quality, but for many, like it seems for you, the speed still is not high enough.
Now, I'm assuming that you do not have a great graphics card. For some graphics cards, like Intel HD, you will not have a chance of speeding it up without modifying the game. Optimine is common in that case. Link
If by chance you have an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, there is another opportunity for you. GMABooster is a nice program which can boost your graphics speed quite a bit. Link
If graphics isn't your problem, and you have a slow processor/low RAM, you could try the following:
- Do not multitask. Only have Minecraft open, and don't run it in your browser. Close all programs that you don't need, even those that are behind the scenes.
- If you don't mind the lack of monsters at some times, turning the game on peaceful will reduce some load on your CPU, but of course, it takes away monsters, and that's boring!
- Change Minecraft's processing priority. A good tutorial to do that is here: Link
So that's all I can suggest. If all else fails, you might have to upgrade your computer. You can get plenty of cheap, new choices at Amazon.com.
(Plus, you could try all of those at once! The processing priority change works the best for me. I have Intel HD, and I can run Minecraft pretty smoothly.)