Is there a way to increase the frequency at which Google Reader will check feeds for updates?
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I haven't found it, but if you have a certain feed that you want updated, you can click on the "refresh" button on top of the list while that feed is "active". That will not only update the GUI, but actually force the Google server to fetch the feed again (if it's more than a certain number of minutes since the last refresh).
Feeds with only one subscriber get updated every 3 hours, and all others are updated every hour.