Endurance athletes - we associate them with high levels of cardiovascular fitness and endurance, they need to be able to perform at their best for a long time. So how can sprint work help them get better?
- Improved power - By incorporating sprint work into endurance athletes training we activate fast twitch muscle fibres which often don't get used as much in endurance training. Activating and developing these muscles can come in helpful for long events as you can increase your peak power output.
- Improved speed - See point 1. We've increased out peak power output by activating fast twitch muscles. Now we can move at faster speeds for longer periods, who doesn't want to be faster?
- Injury prevention - Utilising different muscle sets in sprint work can strengthen you as an athletes. By improving on your weaknesses you end up with a stronger athlete who isn't as liable to injury.
- Improved efficiency - Moving at high speeds requires good efficiency of movement. By training good movement patterns at speed you should be able to bring that efficiency into your slower movements. More efficiency = less energy wasted which in turn means MORE SPEED!
- Less time - Lets face it we are all busy. I cannot afford to sit on a bike or get out and run for 3 hours a day (I wish I could). By switching up the intensity a few times a week you can shorten your overall training time. A one hour sprint interval session replacing a long slow ride a few times a week can really free up some time (it's your choice how you use this new free time).
In summary, just because you aren't working at your speed threshold in your long distance races doesn't mean you should never train at those speeds. Maybe its time to mix it up a little...