Sprinting vs. Running

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Posts

I’ve been mulling a couple of finds on the internet over in my head for the last few months.

One is an article written by Army Major Ryan Long that can be found on the Starting Strength website. In it, he details how the Army’s current physical training program doesn’t fit the physical demands placed on soldiers in combat. Long goes on to describe how a program of basic strength training and sprinting made him far fitter for modern combat.

The other is a short conversation on a track and field website about the purposed time that world class sprinter Tyson Gay could run a mile in. While the suggested time varies wildly in terms of athletes at Gay’s level, all of them are excellent paces for the novice athlete and would provide passing scores on both the Air Force PT Test and the Army APFT.

The idea is simple. A sprinter, having never run middle distance before, would be able to hold a solid, if not world class, pace in either a 1.5 or 2 mile run. More applicable to myself and this site, someone who runs only 200 and 400 meter sprints, would be able to pass either branch’s standard for running and cardio-vascular health.

There’s plenty of room for doubt here. Sprinting is a largely short duration, anaerobic exercise. Running 2 miles is purely aerobics and endurance. Simply put, this could be the dumbest thing I’ve come up with. It defies conventional thinking.

But I’ve never been a fan of conventional thinking.

My last timed 1.5 mile run, run in regular shoes and heel striking sue to my injured right forefoot was 12:42 for the last PT test. After next week and if the condition of my swiftly healing foot allows, I’ll replace my planned two mile run with four ¼ mile sprints alternating with ¼ mile walking. I’ll hold to this for six weeks. At the end I’ll try to set a personal record for the 1.5 mile run. Eleven minutes flat (my fastest being 11:42).

Whatever the result, we can interpret it like this:

Over 12:50 – Andrew is full of shit.
12:50 to 12:42 – I need to adjust the program for a conclusive result.
12:00 to 12:42 – There’s some meat on these bones, but I need to keep working with it to know for sure.
11:00 to 12:00 – The program works.
Less than 11:00 – I am the smartest man alive!

Sprints are considered by many to be one of the best exercises for body composition and fat loss. They’re also a great way to help develop the explosively and athleticism I need for Highland Games. If running sprints can consistently help maintain or drop my 1.5 mile time, I’m set for life.

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