The Best Way to Build Up Sprint Stamina

Sprint success means serious speed, but speed rests on a solid foundation of stamina.

Sprint success means serious speed, but speed rests on a solid foundation of stamina.

Stamina, a term used interchangeably with "endurance" in track and field circles, is the capacity to continue physical work before exhaustion puts a stop to exercise. Since success in the sprint events relies so heavily on natural speed, stamina is often given short shrift in many sprinters' training programs. If you want to reach your potential in events ranging from 55 to 400 meters, you need to develop at least a modest endurance base.

Speed Stamina

Since pure speed is obviously a sprinter's top weapon, any workout that combines running fast with building endurance is clearly advantageous. Clyde Hart, the renowned sprint coach who guided Michael Johnson to an Olympic Gold medal and a world record in the 400 meters, advises doing repetitions up to 600 meters long and totaling about 1,000 meters total in a session. Examples include 6 x 150 meters, 5 x 200 meters and 3 x 350 meters close to all-out, each with five to 10 minutes of walking or easy jogging in between.

Tempo Stamina

These workouts are designed to raise your lactate threshold, the speed at which you begin to accumulate lactic acid more quickly than your body can metabolize it. As a result of doing these workouts successfully, you shorten the recovery time between fast repeats in other workouts and are able to rack up more mileage at top-end speed; another advantage is practicing rhythm. The rest period is short compared to speed stamina efforts -- sample workouts include 8 x 200 with a two-minute rest and 6 x 300 with a two-minute rest.

Strength Stamina

Like speed stamina workouts, strength stamina sessions are intended to bolster endurance, but the mechanism is different, focusing on muscular stamina rather than cardiovascular stamina. As a result, the focus, instead of being sprints on the track, is working against some sort of resistance, which can take the form of an actual restraint or merely gravity. Individual reps should be at least 10 seconds long. Workouts of this type include 6 x 150-meter uphill runs, 6 x 60 stadium steps, and 6 x 15-second-duration long-rope runs.

Basic Stamina

Hart says although the longer sprints are about 95 percent anaerobic, it is nevertheless necessary for sprinters to develop an aerobic base. The goal in this case is increasing the body's oxygen uptake, which results in a decrease in the recovery time needed between reps in workout consisting of sprints. Hart recommends continuous, moderate intensity runs lasting up to 45 minutes as well as interval sessions, such as 6 x 800 meters on an off-road course with three minutes of rest between reps.

 

About the Author

L.T. Davidson has been a professional writer and editor since 1994. He has been published in "Triathlete," "Men's Fitness" and "Competitor." A former elite cyclist with a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Miami, Davidson is now in the broadcast news business.

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