Sprint Training in Sports
Growing up I did interval training. I played soccer and I can remember sprinting so much at college practice, that my legs quaked while trying to push in the clutch.
I also played softball. While we do not run nearly as much, all running was short and fast, simulating running to first base.
When I began martial arts I still sprinted. Any running we did would be in the small gym and we'd have to sprint back and forth doing interval training.
Soccer is the best gauge of my speed. In college soccer at a NAIA school, I was about 3rd fastest on the team. I was never the fastest and never the slowest, but I was decent.
Interval training is what kept my speed up. Short bursts of speed 100m or less were followed by a rest period to slow the lactic acid build up. We were able to do allot of work and not be sore by allowing recovery periods. When the rest period was shortened more lactic acid formed and we'd be sore.
Long Slow Distance (LSD) for endurance sports
Then I began training for adventure racing. Everything I read said to keep your heart rate down and run for a very long time. For instance before my first Primal Quest (a 10 day endurance race) I would do daily runs of 90 minutes, but never did I run fast. The theory is that if you run long enough it will eventually become easy and you can run faster.
I learned after 3 years, running slow makes you slow. I was slower than ever going into my adventure racing season. Thankfully I race for 24 hours at a time so we do not use sheer speed, but it helps to have it when needed.
I had slowed down by 1 minute per mile during this year.
Intervals and CrossFit
In 2008, while looking for a way to get faster, I stumbled upon CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance. They had a whole new outlook. They trained intervals almost every day.
I was bored and slow, therefore I jumped right in. After 3 months, I started regaining my speed. To top it off it was fun and fast.
Some may think it is strange, but I actually enjoy going out and doing a 2-3 hour run, but I am a mom and it is not practical to do this daily. Getting the work done faster through intervals was very appealing from a time stand point.
Interval Work Load
Intervals allowed me to do so much work faster. I could work really hard then recover. My body was also recovering faster between workouts.
I went into Primal Quest Badlands on 9 months of interval training. The difference was amazing. If I had to sprint I could. I went in with speed I didn't have two years earlier.
So at age 40, I am faster than I was in my 30's. In fact our team went on to place 17th, which is incredible for Primal Quest, where the best outdoor athletes in the world compete.
Results of Interval Training
Not only have I gotten faster, but stronger. As an endurance athlete I didn't do push ups or sit ups or lift weights. I just needed to cover long distances. But when we'd need to move a kayak or I needed to pull my body weight up it was hard.
We have to be able to get back in a capsized kayak. This means pulling your body weight up. In 2006, I had allot of trouble with this. I had to practice with technique to finally be able to struggle through this. In 2009, I pulled myself up the first try easily.
Squats, well we didn't do those either. This time before Primal Quest I could whip out 200 squats. That substituted for allot of my hill work. Hills became easier after I could do all those squats. This is functional fitness.
The other plus side of interval training is I can spend more time with my family. I do not have to put in the 20 hours a week as I used too. In fact I cut it in half.
I also have buddies who train with me now. No one would ever go for a 2 hour run with me, now 4 of us training together and each can modify according to their skill level.
Interval training brings athletes of all levels together. We are all gaining speed, but at different rates according to our beginning point.
Is there any LSD in CrossFit?
No, because when do you want to run long and slow?...pretty much never. There are three level you can train at with Crossfit Endurance. There is the sprint distance, medium distance and ultra distance.
If you are doing the ultra program then your training for a marathon or greater. You'll do some runs of 13 miles, but you are going to do this as a time trial. This means as fast as you can.
LSD can actually decrease decrease anaerobic / glycolytic enzyme activity (1). For this reason and because of all the benefits of interval training, you'll not be seeing LSD.
Benefits of Interval Training
Increased Muscle Mass
Increased Power Increased Speed
Increased anaerobic capacity
Increased aerobic capacity
The 4 minute workout
There is a fascinating study by Dr. Tabata. "(He) examined several different protocols, but settled on eight sets of twenty-second work intervals, alternating with ten-second rest intervals, as the most effective interval times for improving VO 2 max.("2)
In the lab the athletes ran to 170% of their max, so near exhaustion. Athletes who did "Tabata" workouts lasting 4 minutes, improved VO2 max more than those who did 60 minute session of moderate exercise.
What is a Tabata workout?
It is 8 sets of 20 seconds of running followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Now I am thinking like you. How can 4 minutes be so bad. But you run as hard as humanly possible on a 12% incline on the treadmill. You leave the treadmill running and jump off to rest for 10 seconds. This workout will take you to your knees!
How do I start?
The training here on our elite fitness page incorporates intervals and strength training. It is a functional fitness program designed for total fitness.
These are the actual workouts I am doing each week. I train to adventure race. My workout partners all have different goals.
1) Weight Loss
2) 24 Hour adventure Race
3) Be fit for soccer team
4) Be fit
We are all following the same program, which is bringing us total body fitness. For us adventure racers, as the race nears, we'll add some longer session to prepare our skin, and sit bones, for the bike. But for now we all do the same program which gets us faster and stronger.
Today was our mile run test and I had a Personal Record. That was not happening with LSD. Thank you interval training!
Should you want a regimented program of intervals and plyometrics try this program.
2. Rutherford, Nov 2007 Crossfit Journal