Sprint training for endurance athletes
In our wild world of endurance we can all be guilty of slipping into bad habits and a really common one is too much endurance in our training and not enough variety. Weird as it sounds, we can easily find ourselves in a spot where a few hours on the bike or run seems preferable to half an hour smashing sprints before heading home to put our feet up. But sprint training for endurance athletes is a valuable tool because a little sprint training sprinkled judiciously into your training mix will work wonders, as well as being rather handy if you end up racing a mate for the finish line.
But where to start?
Right here - we caught up with legendary Team GB sprint coach Ron Roddan (coach to Linford Christie among others) and asked him for his top tips for any runner looking to build speed. And here they are: read, digest, then head to the nearest park and get stuck in.
Think sprinting doesn't matter in endurance? Just ask the bloke in second place...
"Speed only comes from three things – cadence, stride length and strength," Roddan advises, and that's precisely what this session focuses on.
Sprint training drill 1: high knees
“Most distance runners run with low knees, but good knee lift lets the other leg go further behind”, says Roddan, and this means more power.
“Stand straight and tall, on your toes, and start running, raising your knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground with each step. Make sure your backside doesn’t drop as you step. Do three sets of 20-40 metres.”
Sprint training drill 2: lunges
“For maximum drive your foot must be on the ground as long as possible”. Lengthen your stride with lunges.
“Keep your back straight with each lunge, move your arms in time with the move as if you were running and don’t go as deep as you would lunging in the gym. Stretch to your maximum reasonable stride”. Go for 20 metres.
Sprint training drill 3: cadence
"The faster you can move, the faster you can sprint. Increase your cadence (running tempo) by running on the spot, leant slight forwards and pumping your arms and legs as fast as you physically can while inching forward. 30 seconds should do it."
Sprint training strength drill: cleans
This is pure running power and speed in one simple lift.
“Stand with your legs slightly apart, arms straight, and the bar on the ground in front of your feet. Reach down and take the bar up as close to your body as possible. Once it leaves the lowest point, haul it up as fast as you can. You want to take it from the ground to shoulder height. No need to roll your hands over at the top of the movement. Start light to perfect your technique with an empty bar or a boom handle, then add weight when you're comfortable with the move.”
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