There are many different ways of incorporating short repeats into your training. These three are worth the effort, says running coach Alex Hutchinson.
1) Interval Distance: 150m to 300m
For Speed Endurance
Put simply, the goal here is to remember how to move your legs quickly, and to make your usual race pace seem slow by comparison.
You’ll get the most out of these workouts by doing them on tired legs, which will simulate the challenge of running fast late in a race, and allow you to slip them in as an extra workout after a previously scheduled run.
How: Do a set of 8 x200m repeats after a 60- to 90- minute run. Another approach is to do a tempo run of 6.4km to 9.6km, then finish with 5 x 300m on the track with 90 seconds of rest. The effort should be hard enough that you struggle to maintain pace towards the end of each repeat.
2) Interval Distance: 80m to 150m
Sloppy running form is more pronounced when you’re jogging. When you speed up, your body automatically adjusts to sprint more efficiently.
You’ll push off more powerfully with eacg stride, and reduce up-and-down and side-to-side oscillation.
With practice, these habits will become ingrained even at slower paces. Practise striding at 90 per cent effort, feeling fast but not all-out.
Focus on keeping your arms and face relaxed.
How: Once or twice a week after an easy run, do six 100m strides on a flat, smooth surface. Alternate between steady 90 per cent efforts and accelerations that start a little easier but finish a little harder.
Walk back to recover. You shouldn’t be out of breath when you begin the next one.
3) Interval Distance: 50m to 100m
Full-on sprinting teaches your brain to recruit a full range of muscle fibres, including fast-twitch ones that get neglected during typical long-distance training.
These sprints are the running equivalent of power lifting, so a thorough warm-up of at least 15 minutes is essential.
How: The safest way to start is with uphill sprints, which put less stress on your legs than running all-out on flat ground.
Start with two sprints lasting 6 to 8 seconds up to a 4 to 6 per cent grade, taking a full 2.00 between them.
Do the workout once a week, adding 2 reps each time until you hit 10, and gradually lengthening the sprints to 10 to 12 seconds.
When that feels comfortable, try less steep hills, and then flat ground.