5 Ways to Safely Add Sprints to Your Workouts
Did you know I signed up for a 10k the other day? I know, I’m as surprised as you are. It’s the first race I’ve run in more than 3 years – and I haven’t “gone on a run” in the past year.
However, this race was on my 30 before 30 list – the Bolder Boulder, and with a slip ‘n slide and a keg stand station in the middle of the course, I’d say it’s going to be the least serious race I’ve ever run.
Signing up purely for fun, I listed myself as being in the slowest group possible, too. No shame in my game
Because nowadays, when I run, I run fast, and I run for a very short amount of time. I’m talking about running sprints.
My favorite variation is finding a superb hill close to the mountains, and sprinting up, legs burning, muscles screaming, for an all-out duration of about :30. Then walking safely down. However, sprints on a flat (slight gradient) road will do, too.
But even if you run regularly, or are in good shape, there are a few things to think about before adding sprints to your routine:
1. You need to warm up first.
I usually do my sprints at the very end of a strength workout, for a total of about 5-10 minutes. At this point, I’m already warmed up from my workout. But I do them purely as a conditioning workout, I do a dynamic warm up, or at the very least, a walk or a job beforehand to raise the core temperature. Moving with such power and speed on cold muscles can lead to injury.
^one of my favorite flat trails to sprint on
2. Run your first couple sprints not at full capacity.
Even though you’re warmed up by now, sprinting is a whole ‘nother animal, which uses the anaerobic system, rapidly depleting energy stores, building up lactic acid, and literally forcing the body to work (albeit very briefly) without oxygen.
3. Remember form.
Most people inherently know how to run, but sprinting (and running) can be tough on the body. It’s important not to overstride, keep a tall torso,
4. Keep it short.
Again, sprinting is tough on the body. Just like when I’m trying to increase my chin ups, I like to stop sprints just before I’m toast. Our muscle-oxygen system is slightly delayed, so if you go for that last one when you’re already feel donezo, it might prolong recovery. I typically keep my sprints :30 or less, and my total sprint workout less than 20 minutes – and more typically 10 minutes.
My favorite place for stair sprints – Red Rocks in Morrison, CO.
5. Take the “rest intervals” seriously.
Rest/recover means what it says. That means let your heart rate and breathing rate come down. I usually sprint up a :30 hill, and slowly walk down, and then prepare to start again, which usually takes me between 1:30-2:00 minutes. Fully recover so that you can get your intensity up around 85-90% again on the next sprint.
And if there were a 6, it’d be cool down. This keeps the blood from pooling in the legs and flushes remaining lactic acid. Not to mention, it tells me body and all of its systems that the work is done. My favorite way to cool down from sprints in a nice, leisurely walk back home.
And now, I’m off to get in a strength workout, and finish it out with a couple sprints Don’t forget – the price for a spot in my 8-Week Online Boot Camp goes up on Thursday! Right now it’s only $25 – which is only 1/3 the cost of one in-person training session with me!
Are you a runner? Do you ever add sprints to your workout routine?