I like to run fast and during my last round of training, I just wasn't getting in the speed workouts, turning running from a joy into a chore. At the moment, I'm just running. I'm not training for anything in particular and have nothing on the horizon. I'm not concerned about peaking, injury or tomorrow's workout. I run when I want, how I want. This may not be the best way to nail down PRs, but it's fun. I also believe intervals are absolutely necessary to achieve PRs at any distance, be that 100 meters or 10 miles.
During the run, I began to think about what type of athlete would benefit from such a workout. Soccer players instantly popped into my mind. Soccer players make repeated sprints lasting no more than ten seconds while running 5-8 miles during a game. At the same time, the players tend not to sprint from a hard stop, as they are already moving.
Therefore, the workout replicates and intensifies what happens on the field. I'm guessing the average period of acceleration is more like 3-5 seconds (I say this from watching hundreds of games), not 10. As such, running at speed for 10 seconds is pushing the athlete beyond game conditions. Moreover, I'm guessing the average rest after a sprinting foray is at least 30 seconds, not 10, again pushing the athlete beyond game conditions.
The benefits of this workout include:
- Physiological: the athlete will push their heart rate close to the maximum repeatedly, with a short period of recovery in between;
- Mental: the athlete becomes accustomed to willing themselves to sprint repeatedly for short burts; and
- Mechanics: the athlete (hopefully) begins to naturally learn the running mechanics necessary to transition from a jog to a sprint on the soccer field by doing it over and over again during training
After looking online, I've seen somewhat similar workouts specifically designed for soccer players, but with the athletes running for 30 seconds or more, with recovery periods of 60 seconds or more. Without having any science behind me, I have to scratch my head. If the average sprint on the field is only 3-5 seconds, why have the player sprint for ten times that amount? It makes no sense. Do 200 meter sprinters do repeated intervals of 2,000 meters? Certainly not. Point is, design the workout to replicate the action of the athlete on the field.