In ancient times, sprinting was a way of life and a staple in training protocols. As the centuries progressed, we began to favor dialing down the speed and increasing the distance.
Jogging originated in the mid-17th century and became progressively more popular during the 1960’s and 70’s.
Jogging gained notoriety when boxers made it a staple during their training camps and from there it quickly sprouted out to other athletes and weekend warriors alike.
The trend to use long steady-state runs to train for sports and to get in shape continues to this day. It is true that one can get in shape from jogging, but you will be conditioned to run long and slow.
The problem is that most sports fall in the middle between absolute strength and endurance; if we only train the endurance end of the spectrum, then the burst of speed and quickness may not be there when you need it most.
“Sprint training not only increases your speed, power, and preparation for the physical demands of sports and military preparation, but it can also have metabolic advantages when trained properly.”
A study by Hunter et al. found that four weeks of repeated sprint training increased peak running speed and repeated effort sprints. Simply stated; if you need to express a physical attribute, then that attribute needs to be trained; therefore, if you want to get fast then you must sprint.
Most athletes would be better off focusing less on the seven mile runs and concentrate on training the energy systems needed for competition; the bottom line is that athletes need less jogging and more sprinting.
Sprint training not only increases your speed, power, and preparation for the physical demands of sports and military preparation, but it can also have metabolic advantages when trained properly.
In a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism, the researchers found that 2-minute sprint interval sessions done 3 times a week for 6 weeks elicited the same fat burning effects as a session of 30 minutes of endurance exercise.
If fat burning is the goal for your training, it is more efficient to move faster in less time to get the same affect of longer cardio sessions. I say it is time to get back to the basics and call upon the strengths of the athletes of the Ancient world where sprinting dominated.
It is time to start sprinting in order to achieve greatness like the athletes and soldiers of Ancient Greece.
When setting up your sprint programs it is important to ease into it if you are not familiar to this type of training. Sprinting requires much more force production from the muscles and if they are not used to this type of training it is very easy to pull a hip flexor or hamstring muscle.
Sprinting too much too soon may cause aches in the hips, knees and ankles. Sprints do not need to be performed on a hard track surface. Many times I do my sprints on grass or a turf field to minimize the pounding of my joints.
Performing a dynamic warm up consisting of mobility exercises, skips and light runs will warm the body up and minimize injuries. The sprints do not have to be 100 percent of your maximum running speed.
Many times I either build my speed up during the runs or adjust my effort in accordance to the distance; the shorter the distance the faster I run.
Lastly, where recovery is concerned it is best to only perform sprint workouts 1-2 times a week with a few days rest in-between sessions. The sessions themselves should not be too long on time or distance.
I usually perform about one mile of sprints in total and it can last anywhere from 15-40 minutes. Below are some of my favorite sprint training routines.
In this routine you will start with the longest distance and move down to shorter distances. As the distances decrease, your speed in the runs will increase (I put percentages of running speed for the distances in the chart).
I prefer either a walk or light jog of the same distance for your recovery.
A1. 200 meters – 3 rounds @70-75% – walk what you ran for rest
B1. 100 meters – 6 rounds @80-85% – walk what you ran for rest
C1. 50 meters – 3 rounds @100% – walk what you ran for rest
This session looks easy on paper but it is a tough challenge. You will run 200 meters, rest 30 seconds then run a 100 meter run, rest 60 seconds and then repeat the round for a total of 5-6 rounds.
The speed is whatever you can handle. I usually build them up so I am running the second half faster than the first.
A1. 200 meters – 5-6 rounds – 30 sec rest
B1. 100 meters – 5-6 rounds – 60 sec rest
There are days when I want to run sprints but I focus more on conditioning than speed. On these days I build my run speed up and add some bodyweight exercises in-between.
Below is an example of the sprint and bodyweight combination circuit I like to perform. Feel free to substitute different run distances and bodyweight drills.
A1. 200 meter run – build
A2. Bodyweight Squats – 25 reps
A3. 200 meter run – build
A4. Push Ups – 20 reps
A5. 200 meter run – build
A6. Sit Outs – 1o reps (each side)
A7. 200 meter run – build
A8. Shoulder Roll to Hip Ups – 10 reps (each side)
A9. 200 meter run – build
A10. Forward Roll to Stand – 15 reps