A good pure speed development session for middle and long distance runners who’ve got a decent speed base is 60m repeats. These reps are short enough to go all out and long enough to keep the legs really ticking over.
Pure Speed Development Session
Since this is a pure speed development session the focus is on reaching maximal velocity (or your top speed) and maintaining it for as long as possible. That said, you don’t want to do a typical middle or long distance runner type warm-up as it may fatigue you slightly before the session and you want to be fresh for a pure speed development session in order to hit those maximal velocities and stimulate adaptations which will improve your top-end speed and help you to maintain it.
So for the warm up I’d suggest doing some drills and strides. The warm up I would do involves 2 laps of jogging (800m) followed by 2 laps of ins and outs. This is where you walk the bends and do strides on the straights up to around 80% – 90% of your top speed. After that, I do some running drills and a couple of accelerations over 30m and 50m.
The session involves 3 sets of 3 x 60m with 3 minutes recovery between reps and 5 minutes between sets. This should allow ample time to fully recover for the middle or long distance runner so you can sprint with maximal force.
Whilst it may be rather unusual to sprint all out, try to focus on applying as much force to the ground with each step and focus on maintaining good running form. Hit the ground hard and keep your arms swinging parallel to your body.
I would suggest doing a standing start if you’re a middle or long distance runner since that is most applicable to your event since you will never start from blocks.
You shouldn’t feel too tired from a muscular standpoint, but the workout will feel neuromuscularly taxing and you may even feel a bit dizzy or find your head hurts a bit after each sprint from exerting yourself so hard even though it’s only for a short period of time.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting sufficient recovery to sprint maximally, increase the recovery time between reps and sets in order to achieve the goal of the workout.
Why Not Just Add This At The End Of A Typical Workout
Whilst it may seem easy to dismiss this as an easier session and something you can just add on to the end of a typical distance workout, but perhaps with less reps e.g. 3 x 60m a different stimulus will be acquired. I highly doubt you’ll be able to contract your muscles just as powerfully after a distance workout compared to being ‘fresh’ so the stimulus for your body to improve your maximal speed will be different and most likely reduced since you’ll be running each 60m rep slower.
After the 60m repeats, you’ll probably want to do a bit of a cool down, but what about doing a different cool down to the usual 1 or 2 mile jog you’re accustomed to?
Instead, keep the legs ticking over a bit and jog a lap before doing 2 laps of ins and outs, doing the 100m strides at 1500m pace. Your legs are likely to be surprisingly fatigued after having contracted maximally several times over and over again so I’d suggest doing a shorter cool down with strides which is more specific to speed.
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