For interval training, sprint straightaways and jog the turns.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
A sprinter's performance hinges on three factors: your ability to accelerate, how fast you can run and your capacity to maintain speed before fatigue takes over. Your speed is a product of stride length and stride rate, or the frequency with which your foot hits the ground on a sprint. Interval training - sprinting, taking a short break and then sprinting again - can improve both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, boost endurance and make you faster.
The reasoning behind interval training is that you can perform a large volume of exercise at maximal effort as long as you take recovery breaks. Because you rely on your anaerobic energy system for sprinting, you can't maintain an all-out sprint beyond a minute or two. Lactic acid is the byproduct of anaerobic glycolysis, or the conversion of glucose for energy, and it builds up quickly in your muscles during intense exercise. Once the lactate level rises beyond a certain point, you'll fatigue. The recovery periods between short maximal sprints enable your body to avoid lactate buildup, according to вЂњExercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human PerformanceвЂќ by William D. McArdle. By continually tapping on your anaerobic energy system during intermittent sprints, you can increase anaerobic endurance.
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training in which you bump up the intensity of the workout while shortening the length of it. You also shorten the recovery time between sprints. For example, after an adequate warm-up, you'd perform a sprint at near maximal speed for 30 seconds and then jog for 30 seconds to recover. This type of training typically lasts 20 minutes or less and can increase your VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body uses and delivers during exercise, as well as your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or the amount of calorie burn post-workout. It also boosts the levels of growth hormones in your body.
Another form of interval training is repetition sprints -- repeats -- in which you repeatedly sprint a set distance, such as 22 or 44 yards. A break is scheduled between each sprint for recovery time. Olympic sprint coach Bill Collins uses variations of repeats, which include the вЂњGold StandardвЂќ and the вЂњSpeed Ladder,вЂќ according to Jonathan Littman's 2007 article вЂњRun (Fast!) For Your LifeвЂќ in вЂњBest Life.вЂќ To perform the Gold Standard, you run five 109-yard sprints in a row. After completing a sprint, you walk about 16 yards back to the finish line, which becomes your starting line for the next sprint. In the Speed Ladder, you run one set of four 22-yard sprints and then increase the sprint distance in 22-yard increments for another four sets of four reps each. You recover from each sprint by walking back to the finish line.
Introduced to American athletes in the 1940s, fartlek is a combination of interval and continuous training, or training in which you run without breaks over longer distances, according to McArdle. In Swedish, fartlek means вЂњspeed play.вЂќ This type of training typically takes place in the outdoors and on hilly terrain. To perform a fartlek workout, alternate between sprinting and jogging over a two- to three-mile distance. The fast and slow intervals are not predetermined but depend on your feeling while in the middle of the workout.