How to Run Faster Times at Any Distance

By: Tim Kauppinen

If you are a distance runner, there is a "secret weapon" that you should included in your training... That secret - sprinting (especially hill sprinting). Here are some of the highlights of why every runner should add these techniques to their training.

First, here's why you should add sprinting to your workouts. In fact, I'm going to give you 4 great reasons that you should sprint. They are:

Sprinting can raise your maximum running speed - no brainer here...

Sprinting can raise your lactate threshold - the point at which your body begins to build lactic acid as a byproduct - in layman's terms - a higher threshold lets your body run longer at a faster pace before the lactic acid kicks in.

Sprinting can promote aerobic - enzyme production

Sprinting improves blood flow to the muscles

Which are all major benefits for a distance runner's performance...

Think these ideas is just mine? No way, I've got some science to back it up...

Recent studies at the Imperial College in London, Queensland University, Deakin University and the University of New South Wales have shown these positive results on distance runners. The studies took distance runners with no prior sprinting experience and had them do sprint training 3 days per week for 6 weeks. They ran sprints from 40 to 100 meters for a total of 14 to 30 actual sprints per session. They also were allowed steadily decreasing recovery times between sprints - although maintained a 5 minute rest period between sets.

The runners improved in all 4 aspects mentioned above - which led to improved performances in their distance races.

(And then there's the study I've written about before about marathoners who added 2 days of sprinting to their plan - result: they were able to cut their training volume in half without any negative effect on their race times)

Remember that I completely agree that if you 'race' distance or enjoy running distance then you should definitely do it. But, putting some sprint training in your program can bring you some impressive results.

Now I'll go even further and try to convince you of something even more difficult to swallow - that distance runners must run hill sprints to reach their peak performance.

What? Unbelievable. Impossible. Absurd. What can hill sprinting possibly do for a distance runner?

Here's what.

There are 3 major benefits of sprinting hills for a distance runner. They are:

1. Mental toughness.
2. Stronger push off
3. More flexible hips

Including hill sprints in your program will give you all three of these. And, here's how they will help you to run faster.

First, mental toughness. There is probably nothing a distance runner dreads more than a hilly course. Seeing that hill looming ahead of you in a race can make you heart sink because you know that your heart rate is going to shoot up and your pace is going to suffer as soon as you start up the hill. But, hey, if you've sprinted up hills, you will know that you can conquer one at a lesser pace. This shift in your mental approach can improve your performance and make hill sprinting valuable.

But, that's not all. Another key factor in your distance times is your stride length. The farther each stride goes, the less strides you have to take in your run and the faster you will finish. So, what does hill sprinting have to do with this?

First, hill sprinting forces you to lift your knees high which increases the flexibility of your hips. More flexible hips equal longer stride lengths.

Second, hill sprinting strengthens you ankles (and other "push" muscles) enabling you to push off the ground with more force on each stride. This pushes you forward farther with each stride. Again, longer stride length.

So, there you go. I've done all I can do. Given you a bus load of reasons to run sprints - no matter what your race distance. The next step - or stride - is up to you. Hey, if you are frustrated with your times or have been stuck on a plateau, give hill sprints a shot.

You'll be pleasantly surprised with your results.

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