Running Efficiently – Using Sprints as an Effective Training Tool

April 1, 2016 — Leave a comment


Running is a great way to train. It improves your cardiovascular endurance, increases muscular endurance, and teaches you to push through discomfort. But sometimes you either don’t have time to go for a long run and other times you just don’t want to go for a long run. Either way, there are other ways that you can train by running that are time efficient and effective in ways that distance running is not.

Sprinting is very different from distance running in multiple ways. First of all, it is much more high impact than jogging; for this reason, quality running shoes are a must and running on a flat surface (street, track, etc.) is essential. Second, sprinting is by nature a 100% effort, total exertion exercise. Lastly, because sprinting is so high impact, it is not something you should do every day; instead, it should be a supplemental kind of cardio workout that you do once a week or so.

Benefits of Sprinting

There are some great benefits to sprinting:

  • Builds Stronger Legs – Your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quads are all working overtime during a sprint. This helps you to build muscle and strength in your legs while also improving cardiovascular endurance.
  • Increases Core StrengthYour core is actively involved in the sprinting process. Sprinting is a great way of building a rock solid core.
  • Burns Fat… Fast! – Sprinting makes fat melt off. If you don’t believe me, just look at a sprinter’s body… ripped! While a beach body is not the focus of Hunting Fit, managing weight for functionality is and this is a great way to burn off some non-functional body weight.

Sprinting (and its various forms) is not unattainable for most people. While the thought of running sprints might be intimidating if you have never regularly sprinted before, it is like anything else: slowly work your way up to the point that you can do it comfortably. You may have joint issues that preclude you from sprinting; if this is the case, read this article about tabata training and use the tabata method as a substitution for sprinting.

For those who are able to sprint, here are a few ways to get your body used to the added stress and strain of sprinting:

  • Begin with fartlek training – Funny name aside, Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. It is a training method that blends continuous running with interval training. Fartlek training is comprised of periods of fast running mixed with periods of slower running. Simply set interval lengths (1/2 mile-1 mile) and increase and decrease your speed for each interval.
  • Incorporate Tabata – Once your body is somewhat accustomed to running faster, use the short time intervals of tabata training while running in order to increase your speed. Since the intervals will be much shorter, you can run faster during intervals.
  • Run sprinting distances at a reduced speed – It would be foolish to just jump right into the deep end and sprint 100% for any given distance. Instead, the wise thing to do is to run sprinting distances at ~75% speed. This will condition your muscles and joints to be able to keep the pace for a given distance. An easy way to measure distance is to run at a high school track or similar location. Each quarter of the track is 100 meters and each lap is ¼ mile (400 meters). Sprinting distances are anywhere from 100-800 meters.

Once you are confident at running at a sprinting pace, it is time to get to work with your sprinting workout.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Wariner

Photo Credit: Jeremy Wariner

Supplement Sprint Workout
  • Run ½ mile to warm-up
  • Complete 4 100 meter sprints (rest for 1 minute between each)
  • Complete 2 200 meter sprints (rest for 2 minutes)
  • Complete 1 400 meter sprint
  • Slowly jog ½ mile to cool-down
  • Stretch for at least 10 minutes

Sprinting is a very effective tool, but only when used properly. With proper preparation and training, you can use sprinting to its full advantage. It is always wise to go slow at first in order to avoid injury. As you build speed and confidence, you will see the benefit of sprints for your hunting preparation.

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