Speed vs. Speed Endurance

One of the most widely debated topics in track and field training has always been when to do speed work and when to do speed endurance.  To begin this discussion it is first necessary to define speed and speed endurance.
  • Speed - distances of 20-60 meters done at 90-100% effort with maximal rest (usually 5-6 minutes).
  • Speed Endurance - distances of 30-80 meters done at 90-100% effort with minimal rest (usually 1-3 minutes).
  • Long Speed Endurance - distances of 90-300 meters done at 90-100% effort with varying rest. For a distance of 90-150 meters the norm is 5-6 minutes.  For distances of 150-300 meters the rest is 10-12 minutes.
  • Lactacid Power - distances of 300-600 meters done at 90-100% effort with rest intervals of 15-20 minutes.
The above classes of workouts are all necessary for the development of a good track and field athlete.  Deciding when to do these types of workouts is the most difficult part.  The accepted theory is that one must get fast before you lock in the speed.  This simply means we must concentrate on speed work before doing any type of speed endurance.

In the early season while we concentrate on an aerobic base we mix in speed work to begin developing that component.  There are several ways to do speed work.  The following are typical workouts done to develop speed.

  • 60 meter Ins & Outs - This workout is actually 80 m.  Measure off a 20 m zone.  At the end of this zone place 2 cones.  From these 2 cones measure off 10 m.  At the end of the 10 m place a single cone.  From this cone measure off 20 m and place 2 cones.  Again measure 10 m from the end of the 2 cones and place a single cone.  From the end of this cone measure off 1 more 20 m zone.  This should be 80 meters total. The first 20 m zone is a build-up zone to reach top speed.  In the next zone the runner inhales and holds his breath for the entire 10 meters.  The runner then breathes normally for the next 20 meters until reaching the next zone where he again holds his breath for 10 meters.  The runner hits the final zone and breathes normally for the last 20 meters.  A mid season variation of this workout is to use 20m build-up and then 15m inhale, 15m exhale, 15m inhale, 15m exhale.  A late season variation is 20m build-up and then 20m inhale, 10m exhale, 20m inhale, 10m exhale.  In all these workouts the athlete must do 90-100% effort with 5-6 minutes rest.  These are done in 2 sets of 3 reps.
  • Another type of speed workout is called "Fly 30's".  In this workout the runner uses a build-up zone of 20m and then runs with maximal effort for 30m.  Variations of this workout are "Fly 60's and 75's".   These runs can be done for 2-3 sets of 3 reps.  The rest would be the same as done for the Ins and Outs.
By doing these types of workouts the athlete should see an improvement in times over the given distances and in normal race distances.  In the late mid season the athlete would begin to do some speed endurance work.  Long Speed Endurance and Lactacid Power work would not be done until late season.  The following are typical speed endurance workouts.
  • 2-3 sets of 3 reps 40-60 meters.  The rest interval should be 1-2 minutes per rep and 3-5 minutes per set.  These are done at 90-95% effort.
  • 3x40m, followed by 3x60m, followed by 3x80m, all at 90-95% effort. The rest interval is the same as above.  The emphasis is to produce maximal effort with minimal rest.  If the performance decreases by 10% or more the workout should be halted.
These workouts can be done in mid season and continue through the end of the year.  The long speed endurance workouts and lactacid workouts should begin in the last 4-5 weeks of the season.  Typical workouts of this type do not involve many repetitions, but are run at maximal effort for longer distances.


Long Speed Endurance

  • 4-5 x 150m @ 90-95% effort, with rest interval of 7-10 minutes.
  • 4 x 200 @ 95-100% effort, with rest interval of 10-12 minutes.
  • 4 x 300 @95-100% effort, with rest interval of 10-12 minutes.
Lactacid Power
  • 400 split - do 300m @ 100% rest 1 minute exactly do 100 at 100%. Rest 15-20 minutes and if athlete has not completely recovered end the session, if the athlete is ok then do 1 repeat.
  • 50 sec test run - Run as far as you can for 50 sec. at 100% effort. Rest 15-20 minutes and repeat the effort trying to go further than the previous run.
The above workouts are merely a guide to achieving the ultimate,  running faster.  Go faster first and then put the endurance in place and you should kick some serious ass!