How to be able to sprint at the end of a race

Repeated sprints with short recovery forges lactate tolerance in those crucial final race kilometres so you can master that final burst and finish with a flourish, says Joel Enoch

how to sprint at the end of a race

You’ve ticked off endurance runs, done tempo and race-pace work, performed drills, run up hills and lifted weights, and you’ve completed sprint intervals for higher speed. But you’ve yet to train the ability to really ramp it up in the final few hundred meters when fatigue is at its max and the lactate is really flooding in.

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Sure, the ability to up your pace has a lot to do with pacing and staying relaxed but, assuming you’ve got that right, from a physiological point of view your ability to simply handle lactate in the muscle can’t be overstated.

The main part of this session is short but it’s aimed at enhancing your ability in this area of fitness by utilising what is sometimes known as a ‘pull from the top’ approach to lactate tolerance – i.e. run fast, flood the system and let it learn to cope. It’s hard but the pain dissipates somewhat when completing the challenge with others… at a socially acceptable distance, of course! (Our photos were taken before lockdown).

THE SESSION

Warm-up

5mins range of motion and activation drills such as leg-swings, lunge to high knee drives and glute bridges

10mins easy run

10mins running drills (you can find lots of these online)

4 x 50m acceleration run with walk back and 30secs recovery (focus on good form)

MAIN SET

In groups of three, number yourselves ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’. Start 80-100m apart with athletes 1 and 3 at one end and athlete 2 at the other

3 x

On go, the format runs in a classic shuttle with ‘1’ running to ‘2’, who runs to ‘3’ who runs back to ‘1’. Each rep should be completed near to max pace, certainly faster than 5km race pace

Each athlete completes 6 reps in each set. The group takes 2mins to recover between each set

COOL-DOWN

10-15mins easy run

5-10mins foam roller or massage – avoid hard stretches after this high-impact session

Adapt for beginners

Complete as set, but reduce the pace if you’re less used to speed work. Start with a pace that’s just above 5km race pace and increase slightly each time you perform the session.

Adapt for Ironman

If your focus is long course, drop the pace to around 5km race pace but increase the reps and sets. For you, this session can become a technically-focussed, speed/muscular endurance session that’s possibly completed off the bike.

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