General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals Rss Feed  
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2010-09-26 5:33 PM


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Subject: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
I'm trying to increase my run speed for longer distance races (10K to marathon). I've heard conflicting opinions on how to structure my interval workout.

One camp says to concentrate on 10+ short speed intervals with high turnover and sprint pace. The other camp says to run a few mile repeats with normal turnover and threshold pace.  I'm leaning towards the mile repeats because they mimic the longer distance, but I've been told I won't get faster unless I do short sprints. Ugh!

I currently run 4 days a week. Besides this interval workout, I do a long run/negative split, hill run and threshold run. With a marathon coming up and a half ironman a few months away, I'm wondering what is the recommended type of interval workout.

Thanks for your opinions!


2010-09-26 5:51 PM
in reply to: #3118391

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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
if you look at most marathon plans there will not be many "sprint" intervals.  Why are you only runnign 4x week?  I would try and run at least 6x per week, more if possible.  Check out the marathon plans here and elsewhere.  I am using the higdon intermediate I plan and it never called for sprint intervals
2010-09-26 8:48 PM
in reply to: #3118391

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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
I'm no coach, but I'd think the mile repeats are your winner, but if you have time, to do the shorter work once every other week or so. You're going to be closer to (obviously not at) race pace and stress endurance much more at 1 mile than the short intervals. And you can put in much much more overall work at that slightly slower pace (maybe 4-8 mi vs. 1-2 miles). You will get faster doing LT intervals if you're consistent. The sprint guys are wrong.

4 days per week is probably ok. If you could run more often, you'd probably be a better runner. But if your body and/or schedule won't cooperate, then just get in good runs when you have them (which sounds like you do), and recover well. And be consistent.

Again, not a coach, but sounds like you've got a decent plan. -J
2010-09-26 9:04 PM
in reply to: #3118391

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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
The lame and barely useful answer would be...do both.

The better answer is a question. Or a few.

What is you current speed? How long have you been doing this?  Injury history? Training over the last 6 months?

The useful answer is you will most likely experience greater and more consistent gains with less chance of injury through threshold work and avoiding anaerobic running.  4x a week is good. 5x would be incrementally better if you can fit it in and not hurt yourself.  Threshold work is the mile repeats (at the short end). And longer repeats. And simply running as frequently and for as long as you can.

"Sprints" are hard on your body. Sprints generally carry with them a change in form. Endurance athletes should not be doing sprints, for the most part. Certainly if you are on this site, 99% of you do not need to sprint. Fast running on the other hand is different. Anaerobic 200s and VO2 max 400-800s are generally ok in small doses, and when you are well trained and reasonably injury resistant.

The best approach is very small doses of these very high intensitys as you make sure you are "tapped out" in volume and threshold work first.

Sprinting is characterized by coming forward on you feet and running more on your toes in conjunction with the pumping of the arms. Endurance runners need to maintain good endurance running form at all times. No arm pumping, and footstrike will not generally be so far forward.

You can get faster for many years without either of these approaches. Run 3-5x a week at a reasonably sustainable volume.  Speedwork is the icing on the cake, whether it is 200s, 400s, 800s, miles, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, hill repeats, etc.
2010-09-26 9:18 PM
in reply to: #3118693

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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
Definitely knowing how fast you are and how you currently train would be some useful info  That's why keeping up your logs here on BT is great so we have an idea.  Unless you're already a FOP racer, simply putting in more mileage and maybe a threshold run once a week will lower your times.  Not only will that strategy be a good way to also avoid injury, but you will be preparing your body for the higher intensity later on.  
2010-09-27 1:27 AM
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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
Mile repeats...or half mile...those are pretty classic workouts for endurance runners.  I might do some quarter miles every so often, but--along the lines detailed by an earlier poster--not as a true "sprint" effort.

In terms of the overall mix, I typically run at least 3x a week during active tri training, 4x during marathon focus (while still maintaining continuity on the bike and swim, that is) and I generally don't do more than one workout a week that has a speed/power development focus.  That is to say, if I do a serious hill session, then I'm unlikely to do a full-on threshold run and definitely no interval session.


2010-09-27 4:05 AM
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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
Started doing 1000m repeats, 800m repeats and 400m repeats, also working a lot and cadens and core (at the insistence of my coach) and the improvement on speed over distance is huge. The coach recons 20% improvement in speed is what you should get. However, be prepared to trip over your tongue, the workouts are tiring in the extreme.
2010-09-27 3:59 PM
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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
Thanks for all the info!  Here's a few answers to some of the questions:

Why are you only runnign 4x week?

I've been concentrating on sprint/Olympic triathlons so my other workouts have been swimming, cycling and weight training.  Typically I can fit in 13-20 hours of training a week. 6-7 hours of that is running.

What is you current speed? How long have you been doing this?  Injury history? Training over the last 6 months?

I've been consistently running since 2003 and triathlon since early this year but my marathon pace doesn't budge below 8:30. No injuries. Last 6 months have been like I mentioned above (13-20 hrs/wk running, cycling, swimming, weight training).

My "sprint interval" workouts are typically 400's (av pace = 5-5:30) and 800's (av pace = 6:00). My mile repeats are usually around 6:30.

So, I'm assuming that I should do the 400s/800s sparingly and concentrate more on the mile repeats? 

Thanks for all the help! 
2010-09-27 5:41 PM
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Subject: RE: Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals
What is your threshold pace? What are your best recent open race times/paces? In other words, how do your interval paces you mention above compare to your race paces? is your mile repeat pace your all out pace for a mile? Likewise with the oace you list for the shorter distances...
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General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Mile repeats vs. Sprint intervals Rss Feed