Speed Training- Yes, the Pain Is Worth It

Speed Training- Yes, the Pain Is Worth It

There’s something to be said for speed training, and that something is usually that it’s grueling and painful. Unless it’s a full gallop towards the last bus home or an adrenaline-filled escape from what may or may not have been a snake on the trail, a sprint often feels like a cruel and unnecessary waste of energy. The good news is that the energy you put into speed training can be worth it, and this running-really-fast deal doesn’t only help track stars, but also benefits marathoners and shufflers alike. How?

One of the defining differences between jogging and sprinting is the type of exercise being done, namely aerobic vs anaerobic exercise.

Aerobic Exercise (cardio)

  • Uses oxygen to release stored energy
  • Light to moderate intensity
  • Longer intervals
Anaerobic Exercise (speed/strength)

  • Energy released from stored glycogen
  • High intensity
  • Short intervals

Tobin copy GH Sports’ employee, Tobin, proves speed training pas off during a Cal Poly track meet.

In high intensity workouts (i.e. speed training), your body requires tons of energy RIGHT NOW. Energy that takes oxygen is slower to generate, so the body switches to burning glucose (natural sugar).

During the rapid breakdown of glucose to produce energy, lactic acid is produced as a by-product and begins to build up. Lactic acid is not only the reason foam rollers make you scream, but it also causes fatigue and it is why speed workouts are seemingly becoming less and less attractive. Glucose→energy→lactic acid buildup→oxygen debt THE GOOD STUFF: In order to break up and convert lactic acid back into glycogen, the body goes into “oxygen debt” and uses extra oxygen to replenish the lost energy. Every time your body goes through this cycle, it gets a little better at it and becomes more tolerant to lactic acid buildup, reducing fatigue and improving endurance.

Sprinting also:

  • Increases cardiovascular efficiency
    • more oxygen delivered to muscles during cardio (MORE ENERGY)
  • Increases power, strength, and speed
    • more efficient at high intensities means less work needed for low and moderate intensities
  • Increases energy stored in muscles, not fat
    • steady depletion of fat reserves as muscles become more efficient

Specific speed workouts can be easily found through a quick internet search, and can also be less regimented, like just sprinting up that hill on mile 2. Once a week or once a month, adding a speed workout to your schedule can make running easier and help give you that extra burst of energy when you need it.

-Kevin Jervis, GH Team Member & Cal Poly Triathlete

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