When I first got into running and track way back when, there was an adage that if you are sprinting to run on the balls of your feet and if you are running more for distance run flatter and on your heels.

That adage can be thrown out the window now.  If you look at elite distance runners, when they run their mechanics are very similar to sprinters.  Especially when they are doing their kick.  They basically are sprinters minus 40 pounds of muscle.

A lot of endurance runners will also focus their workouts on varying degrees of endurance training.  Maybe one day is an aerobic base day or another day is focusing on repeated recoveries.

Endurance runners will also do speed days, but not in the way I am talking about in this post.  Maybe their speed day is doing 400M repeats or running 800M at a 10K pace with a quick recovery.

I don’t exactly know what a speed day looks like for a distance runner because I’m a sprint coach, so don’t shoot me if that isn’t a speed day for you.

That being said, I feel that a speed workout should truly be a speed workout which means you take some workouts we do for sprinters and have your distance runners do them.

Distance runners nowadays have to have some sort of top end speed they can rely on during a race.  I see distance runners run 200M, 400M and even 800M as off-workouts and run them at a speed that is pretty respectable.

If you can improve their top end speed and get them running faster that way, running at their normal pace will seem easier.  It will also get their muscles prepared by running at a harder intensity and once again when they run at their normal pace the muscles respond just fine.

It is not just good enough for a distance runner to have good endurance.  They have to have some speed.  If they don’t have top end speed, they will not be able to be truly successful at the distance events.

Give me a distance runner and I can have them run a 200M or 400M.  Based on their times, I can tell you the chance that they will be successful at their distance events.  Distance runners are talented athletes so you need to be just as talented to beat them.

To work on top end speed, you can do these drills:

  • 60M timed sprints.
  • Rapid fire plyometrics – horizontal or vertical.
  • Flying 30’s timed.
  • In’s and out’s – staggered cones where you vary your speed by accelerating then maintaining.

You get that top end speed faster, then you have something to rely on when trying to outkick your opponent to that finish line.