Firstly, what is speed work? Speed work is when you are running at your VO2 max pace or even slightly faster. VO2 is a measure of how much oxygen your body can use and is measured on a scale. The higher your VO2 max, the more efficient you are at using oxygen and the higher your aerobic capacity is.
When sprinting you need to supply your muscles with energy as quickly as possible. Speed workouts help to increase your production of myoglobin which is a protein that transports oxygen to your muscles. The oxygen is then converted to ATP, and ATP is a molecule that gives your muscles energy. The more you practice running fast, the more efficient you will be at supplying oxygen to your muscles. As you then begin to increase your running distance you will find it a lot easier to go faster for longer.
Sprints target fast-twitch muscle fibres, engaging more fast-twitch fibres will help increase power and speed, leading to faster running. You’ll then be able to run at a faster pace for longer and at a much easier effort level.
Sprinting forces your muscles to work at max power and endurance – pushing your body to the max. This is not only a benefit to muscles but will also help increase VO2 max and will in turn increase muscle endurance.
When running longer distances your stride length will be a lot shorter than when sprinting. Adding sprinting into a training programme will help increase your range of motion. Being as mobile as possible helps with making everyday tasks easier.
Speed and interval training can be a very time effective way to train. You don’t need to spend hours and hours out on the roads or on the treadmill. If done effectively and you are strict with your rest periods a productive sprint session can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.