6 Ways To Intensify Sprint Training So You Can Run Faster
As training progresses toward the track season, the intensity of sprint training needs to increase.
For the sake of this discussion, intensity can be roughly equated to the average and peak velocities reached in your sprinting workouts.
Here we will discuss 6 different ways you can increase the intensity of your sprint training as you get closer to the competitive season.
6 Ways To Increase Intensity Of Training For Sprinters:
- Changes In Sprinting Distance
- Changes In Rest Periods
- Competing In Track Practice
- Emphasizing Non-Resisted Sprints
- Intensifying Your Strength Training
- Being Strategic With Program Design
#1 Changes In Sprinting Distance
If effort is equal, shorter sprints will be slower than faster sprints. 40-80m sprints will have a higher average velocity than 10-30m sprints. A 3.00 20m sprint has an average velocity of 6.6 m/s, whereas an equal performance of a 7 second 60m dash has an average velocity of 8.5 m/s.
Short to long progressions help bake intensification into the program, increasing intensity as your body adapts and sprinting distances increase.
If you want to intensify sprint training, sprint over distances which allow you to reach high velocities.
#2 Changes In Rest Periods
If rest periods are too short, recovery is inadequate to replenish ATP, creatine phosphatase, and glycolytic energy systems.
If performing maximal effort sprints, excessively short rest periods will reduce the speed you can attain and reduce the overall intensity of the workout. The workout may be very hard, but the actual speed at which you run will not be as high as it could be.
Conversely, excessively long rest periods will impair your ability to stay warm, and if you sit around too much between sprints you may feel sluggish and tired.
For most athletes, 1-2 minutes of rest per 10 meters sprinted will help keep your rest periods in a good place, allowing for a balance of good recovery and the ability to stay warm.
#3 Competing In Track Practice
Sprinting by yourself has some advantages during early phases of the year, such as allowing you to focus on what you're doing without being distracted by other sprinters.
Once the ability to sprint well by yourself is stabilized, we need to progress further toward the stresses of competition to ensure we are prepared for the task at hand.
Sprinting against other athletes in practice will help you to stabilize sprinting skills in a higher stress environment that is similar to competition.
Racing other people increases the intensity of your training by encouraging you to run as fast as you can, and will also help you get used to the feeling of being in competition.
Make sure to add in some method of reaction time as well, so you can train the specific skill of initiating your sprint in response to an audible cue, such as a clap or a starting gun.
#4 Emphasize Non-Resisted Sprints
Resisted sprints are useful for developing qualities related to acceleration, but it is important to use them at the appropriate times.
Because the speeds are slower, projection angles are different, and ground contact times are longer, athletes should transition away from resisted sprints as they approach the season.
Early in the off season, you can do more resisted than non-resisted sprints, transitioning to a 50/50 split and eventually to performing all sprints without any resistance.
This progression will inherently allow for intensification of your sprint training, as the average speed of all your sprints will increase as resisted sprint volumes decrease.
You can maintain some light resisted sprints in your warm up, but if you do this the volume of resisted sprints should be very low.
#5 Intensify Your Strength Training
Once general strength and absolute strength qualities have been developed, strength training should emphasize reactive strength abilities and faster eccentric loading.
- Slower eccentrics to faster eccentrics
- Larger ranges of motion to small ranges of motion on some exercises
- Deep squats to half squats to drop squats to shallow drop squats
- Hex bar jumps to light hex bar jumps to light hex bar hops to banded hex bar hops
Plyometrics can progress from longer contact times and slower jumps such as a countermovement jump, to exercises with shorter ground contact times or shorter stretch shortening cycle actions.
- CMJ to Drop Jumps
- Medium hurdle hops to low hurdle hops
- Pogo hops to band assisted hops
By incrementally shifting both our specific and nonspecific work toward faster, more reactive variations, we can help ensure all of our body’s systems are being given a stimulus which encourages faster sprinting speeds.
#6 Be Strategic With Program Design
If you are truly trying to run your fastest at practice, your program design and training schedule need to prioritize fast sprinting.
You may need to add in more rest days, adjust volumes, or adjust the frequency of your training.
You can either do less sessions of higher volume with more days in between, or perform more sessions of very low volume sprints.
Either way, pick which route allows for you to run your fastest at practice, and don’t be afraid to add in an extra rest day if it allows for you to be better recovered and to have a higher training intensity.