Building Sprinter Endurance

The word Endurance takes on many different meanings depending on who one talks to.  When speaking to a distance runner,  one usually thinks of long slow mileage done to build a base.  Endurance in the sprint world takes on a whole new meaning.   The longest race run by a sprinter is a 400.  The question then becomes how do we efficiently train a sprinter to run several qualifying rounds of a given sprint?  Is long slow distance on the roads appropriate? We at feel that sprint endurance is far different than the program undertaken by most distance runners.  The following is a general guide to building a sprint endurance base.
  • Extensive Tempo Runs.  These are runs from 100 to 600 meters.  They are done at 70 to 79% of an athletes maximum time for that distance.  Recovery times range from 45 seconds for 100's and 200's up to 3 minutes for 600's.  Volume is usually 1000 meters up to 2400 meters.  These workouts can be used extensively in early season to build a base, or in middle to late season as a recovery day.  Extensive tempo runs train both aerobic power and aerobic capacity.

  • Intensive Tempo Runs. These workouts range from 80 meters to a maximum distance of 350 meters.  The intensity goes from 80 to 89%,  but again with shorter rest periods.  A typical rest interval would be 2 minutes for 80 meters done at 85% up to 5 minutes for a set of 300's done at 89%.   Maximum volume for this type of set is 1500 meters.  These types of workouts are usually done in the mid to late part of the season.

  • Mixed Tempo Runs. These workouts closely resemble the distance runner's Fartlek run.  They are usually done as follows: 90 seconds of up tempo running,  then switch to 10 seconds of all out sprint, and then back to 90 seconds of up tempo, followed by a 10 second sprint.  This is done for 3 changes of tempo.  A variation of this is 4-1-30; 4 minutes steady state, followed by 1 minute up tempo, finishing with 30 seconds of hard sprint.  The maximum volume here is no more than 2 sets with 5 minutes rest between sets.  These workouts are usually done in early season or even in preseason.

  • Long Speed Endurance. This type of work is very intense and as the name implies is done at 95 to 100% intensity.  Maximum distance on a single run is 450 meters with a recovery time of 7-10 minutes.  Total volume here is no more than 900 meters.  These workouts are done in late mid-season and early late season.
As you can see building endurance for a sprinter is much different than building endurance for a distance runner.  Running long slow miles at any time actually hurts a sprinter.  Sprinters are sprinters because they have a predominance of fast twitch muscle fiber.  Running long slow distances builds more slow twitch fiber needed by distance runners.

Run fast, run smart, and build a solid sprint base with sprint style training.