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20/20: Sprints For Distance Runners
Mention sprinting to most distance runners and their hamstrings immediately get twitchy. But, we all need to include some fast running in our training. In fact, many of the greatest coaches of the last 60 years regularly include leg-speed workouts in their training programs. Even for long distance runners, a touch of sprint training can help round out a race-ready training plan.
Many of us avoid fast running because we aren’t good at it or are worried about injury. Luckily, help is on the way in the form of the 20/20 workout—a speed session that even the most sprint-averse runner can enjoy.
In this workout, you warm up for 15 to 20 minutes at an easy pace and then begin to alternate between 20 seconds of running very quickly and 20 seconds of “floating,” or gradually slowing down to an easy run pace before picking up the pace again for the next fast 20-second repeat.
Because this workout is run by effort, you can start gently and gradually build your speed from one fast segment to the next. This way, you can monitor your body and find an effort where you are running quickly but under control. This will help reduce your risk of soreness or injury. And, because the recovery jog between repetitions is only 20 seconds long, you can’t go too fast or you won’t be able to perform very many repeats before you are completely spent. In fact, if you can’t complete three to eight minutes of 20/20 repeats, then you are running too fast. Back off slightly and build your sprint speed over time.
This workout is so quick and efficient, you can easily incorporate it into your training plan once every week or two as the racing season approaches. Then, when it comes time to sprint at the finish, you’ll find a new gear you never knew you had.
These workouts have been part of the menu for successful coaches and athletes. Spicing up traditional workouts may be just what your training needs to take your racing to the next level. Give ’em a try and let us know what you think.
RELATED: Basic Speed Workouts For Runners
About The Author:
Greg McMillan, M.S. provides training plans and online coaching for runners of all abilities through his website www.mcmillanrunning.com. Outside Magazine calls his McMillan Running Calculator the “Best Running Calculator” and his latest book, YOU (Only Faster), continues to receive rave reviews from runners and coaches.