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How To Properly Train for Sprints (Sprint Workouts Included)

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Many runners determine that fast running should be left in the past when actually, the opposite is true. Challenging your body with sprint workouts is not a practice to outgrow.

If you are intrigued and deciding if adding speed training is something you may be ready to try, keep reading.

What is Sprinting?

When sprinting, you are covering a short distance very quickly. Most likely, your memory is heading to watching (or participating in) races such as the 100 and 200-meter dash or relays of the same distance.

You can sprint for shorter or longer distances than those. It is just that the two distances mentioned above are common ones that athletes compete in. 

Technically, you are sprinting anytime you are running at your top speed. That can be from here to the next telephone pole, to the end of your road, or some other arbitrary landmark.

The point is that you can incorporate sprinting into your workout regime without ever stepping foot on the track.

8 Benefits of Sprints

  1. Increases anabolic threshold
  2. Preserves muscle mass
  3. Build muscle activity
  4. Boosts power
  5. Improves efficiency
  6. Increases fat burning/fat loss
  7. Faster metabolism
  8. Mental toughness

How Fast is Sprinting Speed?

Elite athletes sprint at a speed of roughly 26 miles per hour. If you can run the 100-meter dash in about 14 seconds, you are traveling 24 miles per hour. 

When most of us “average runners” incorporate sprinting into our workouts, our only intent is to put forth our max effort for a set distance or period of time.

For example, if I am doing sprint intervals on the treadmill, I might set my treadmill at 8.5 or 9. Would that speed constitute sprinting for everyone? No.

But for me, it is a fast speed, and I can get a good quality workout doing high-intensity interval training using this for a top speed.

Sprinting for Beginners: 4 Practical Tips

When doing beginner sprint workouts, you definitely need to ease your way into things. Don’t assume that just because you did some sprinting in high school, you can jump right back into things like you never left. 

Some keys to incorporating sprint workouts into your workouts are:

  1. Ease into It: Don’t try to go too fast, for too far, or for too many reps when you just start out.
  2. Warm-Up: Never jump right into a sprint workout without warming up your body properly. You need to get your body ready to move fast. 
  3. Gradually Increase Speed & Reps: It is important to increase intensity to grow as an athlete; however, you need to do this gradually. You should try to get faster and also add more reps into the workout over time.
  4. Strength Training Matters: If you are looking to get faster, adding cardio & strength training is another key component. Don’t skimp on this. 

How Long Should a Sprint Workout Be?

When determining how long your sprint workout should be, you need to consider where you are at in your workouts. The actual “meat” of your workout need not be longer than 20-30 minutes.

Assuming you have adequately warmed up and are ready to roll (which could take 10-15 minutes), you may find yourself taxed by 12-15 minutes of speed intervals, including the recovery time between each effort.

Then you still need to cool down. 

What Are  3 Sprint Workouts for Beginners?

Workout One:

  • Warm Up thoroughly. This could include a 5-10 minute easy jog, some dynamic stretches, and drills.
  • 10 x 20-second sprints (rest :30 seconds after each effort)
  • 10 x 30-second sprints (rest :45 seconds after each effort)
  • Cooldown

Workout Two:

  • Warm-up thoroughly
  • 8 x 50 meter sprints (rest :20 after each effort)
  • 6 x 100 meter sprints (rest :45 after each effort)
  • 4 x 200 meter sprints (rest :90 after each effort)
  • 1 x 400 meter hard (this may not equate to a sprint, but run hard) 
  • Cooldown

Workout Three:

This workout needs to be completed on a track. It may look easy but trust us; it is not.

Remember to move at a purposeful pace during the recovery walk efforts. 

  • Warm-up
  • 100 sprint, 100 walk 
  • 200 sprint, 200 walk 
  • 300 sprint, 300 walk
  • 400 sprint, 400 walk, 400 spring
  • 300 walk, 300 sprint
  • 200 walk, 200 sprint
  • 100 walk, 100 sprint
  • Cooldown

How Many Times a Week Should I Sprint?

When an athlete asks me how often they should sprint, I always ask for their goals. If you are training for a sprint race, like the 100 or 200-meter dash, your workouts will have you sprinting often. Or, if you are doing HIIT workouts for weight loss or cardiovascular benefits, you might sprint a couple of times a week. 

However, if you are just trying to gain strength or add speed to your training, once or twice a week is often enough to sprint.

It does not have to be every day.

What Happens If You Sprint Every Day?

Most of us should not sprint more than a few times a week. And honestly, why would you want to? Variation to your workouts is a great way to see growth and gains.

 Don’t forget: you can get too much of a good thing.

Don’t Wait or Hesitate

If you are like me, the idea of adding sprinting to your workouts is kind of scary. It had been a long time since I had done any type of speedwork when one day, I just decided to head to the track. Wondering if I would look silly to anyone who should happen to pass by the track, I was a bit hesitant. 

Once I got deep into the workout, however, I stopped caring if anyone was watching or what they might think. There is something very satisfying about the ache in your lungs that accompanies speed work.

If you are looking for a new challenge and a way to see a new kind of growth within yourself, add sprints to your weekly workout regime.

As a running coach, I am telling you, you won’t regret it.

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