Speed and sprint training

Last post on the types of running outlined by Greg McMillan*, this time on the effects of speed training and sprint training. Speed training is a step up in pace, around a 3000m to 5km pace. Sprint training is as the name suggests, sprinting, or around 800m to 2500m pace (not that I could sprint for that long).

Speed maximises some of the physiological effects of stamina training:

  • better fuel extraction
  • coping with lactic acid more efficiently
  • improvements in fast twitch action
  • better extraction of oxygen from the blood
  • overall efficiency of movement and breathing

During sprint training there’s not much room for any physiological changes as things like breathing, heart rate, oxygen consumption, etc, are all at their maximum. There are two key benefits:

  • neuromuscular changes where groups of muscle fibres get in sync and start firing en masse; the body just gets better at moving your legs faster and faster
  • at this pace there’s lots of lactate acid so training at this speed trains the body to deal with it and remove it as efficiently as possible

On top of that there are more improvements to the feel of your run – it’s smoother and more efficient and employs more of the body (from the torso down) to generate more power.

* The information on the benefits of different types of running in this and a few other posts is cribbed from Greg McMillan’s Six-Step Training System, Step #2: The 4 Key Training Zones – Endurance, Stamina, Speed & Sprint. For others, see posts tagged Greg McMillan.