Performance

The benefits of sprinting for endurance athletes

by Uperform

Running, although an ancestral discipline, is more fashionable than ever! We have never seen so many runners in the streets, in the forest or even indoors on mats.

At Uperform, this is not to displease us. We strongly encourage the practice of regular physical activity, in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

It is traditionally accepted that the training of endurance athletes is mainly composed of … endurance races. The athlete needs to add flight hours to his counter to get his body used to it and strengthen the ability of his tissues to withstand mechanical stresses
which are applied to it. In addition to these outings, there are also interval training sessions, which are more intense and less monotonous. However, few runners include sprint sessions in their planning… and yet!

VO2Max (Maximum Oxygen Uptake) and running economy have long been seen as key factors in endurance performance. Yet it seems that only VO2Max is fully developed in classical training and most elite athletes have reached a plateau.

It’s only recently that muscle power and explosive strengthening have been seen as the determining factor in running economy. Indeed, promising studies show that the integration of sprint sessions (called SIT – sprint interval training) improves the performance of runners on a 10 kilometer race.

 

The explanation for this improvement comes partly from the fact that these workouts, which are much more explosive than what endurance athletes are generally exposed to, increase musculotendinous stiffness. This change in tissue property is directly associated with running economy, by reducing oxygen consumption at a given speed.

The sprint sessions consist of mini-races of 30 to 60m at maximum intensity. It is recommended to perform this type of training twice a week, doing 4 sets of 3-4 sprints per training session. The recovery time between sprints must be high (60 to 300 seconds), thus allowing almost complete recovery.

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Bibliographie
Koral J, Oranchuk DJ, Herrera R et Millet GY. Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):617-623. Lum D, Tan F, Pang J et Barbosa TM. Effects of intermittent sprint and plyometric training on endurance running performance. J Sport Health Sci. 2019 Sep;8(5):471-477.