This journal article article was an interesting read and caught my eye because, as a former heptathlete, I engaged in both sprint training and distance training at the same time. The study was completed in a group of thirty untrained young men. A group of the men (20 of them) engaged in some sprint training at maximal intensity three times a week for four weeks, after having a timed trial in a 5K race and maximal oxygen uptake tested in a lab, previously. They were then tested by running a 5K on a track and had maximal oxygen uptake tested in a lab after completing the sprint training. The sprint interval group improved by 4.5% in the 5K and in relative maximal oxygen uptake by 4.9%. The study concluded that short term sprint interval training significantly improves 5K run performance in this group.
How this benefits you as a runner: If you are a runner with a love for speed, this study demonstrates that adding true maximal speed workouts to your workouts may be of benefit to you, especially if you are untrained. With that said, sprint workouts can be quite strenuous and probably aren’t best for a true beginner to running (they may increase your risk for injury). But if you are a former sprinter like me, who has engaged in sprinting workouts before, adding them to your running regime, especially if you are training for a 5K, might not be a bad idea. On a personal note, having done both training for sprinting (200m, 100m hurdles, jumps) and endurance (800 meters and 3-5 mile runs for endurance), I ran my personal bests in the 100m hurdles, 200m, 800m, mile and 5K all around the same training cycle). So I do believe the training can all complement each other. Other benefits of adding sprinting in with training are, the benefit of improved neuromuscular awareness and how that may contribute to better running form, and improved strength in ligaments and tendons and the effect it may have on the passive components of running.
What has been your experience with training for various races and with different workouts?
Denham, Joshua; Feros, Simon A.; O’Brien, Brendan J. Four weeks of sprint interval training improves 5 km run performance. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: Post Acceptance: February 2, 2015