Every sprinter knows that to get faster, you need to do track workouts.
Track workouts for sprinters help develop speed, power, acceleration, and speed endurance, which is your ability to maintain your speed for a longer period of time.
So, what are the best track workouts for sprinters? What type of running drills and track exercises should sprinters incorporate into their training plan to get faster?
In this article, we will discuss the best track workouts for sprinters, including the types of track exercises, running drills, and interval track workouts you should be doing to increase your speed and improve your sprinting performance.
We will cover:
- What Should Track Workouts for Sprinters Entail?
- 6 Great Track Workouts For Sprinters
Let’s dive in!
What Should Track Workouts for Sprinters Entail?
Workouts for sprinters can be divided into a number of different categories, as there are numerous aspects of fitness that sprinters need to work on in training.
- Acceleration Training
- Speed Training (Maximal Velocity)
- Speed Endurance Training
- Special Endurance Training
- General Conditioning
To improve your sprinting performance, your sprinting workouts need to provide a good balance of each of these primary categories.
Depending on your relative strength and weaknesses as a sprinter, as well as your primary sprinting event (60/100 meters vs 200 meters or 400 meters), you may want to focus your sprinting workouts on certain categories more than others, though it is important not to neglect any of the necessary components of sprint training.
Short Sprints (60-meter dash/100-meter dash)
Athletes who focus on the 60-meter dash and 100-meter dash, or other short sprinting events, need to focus a significant portion of their sprint training on maximal speed, acceleration, and power exercises.
It involves a mix of sprinting track exercises, strength training, speed with resistance training such as sled poles and parachute runs, hill sprint training, and track drills to work on running form and technique.
It is still important to incorporate general conditioning, circuit training, and some speed endurance training (especially for the 100-meter dash vs 60-meter dash), but because these events are so short, acceleration, maximal speed, and explosive power are the most important components of workouts for sprinters doing short sprints.
Long Sprints (200-meter dash/400-meter dash)
The primary difference between the workouts for sprinters doing long sprints, such as the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash, and workouts for sprinters focusing on short sprints is that the sprinters who will be doing longer events need to place more emphasis on speed endurance and slightly less emphasis on acceleration.
Of course, acceleration is still important, but speed endurance is much more important, particularly once you start working your way up to the 400-meter dash.In order to maximize your performance in these events, you have to be able to sustain your top running speed for upwards of 60 seconds or more, depending on your ability level and sex.
Particularly for sprinters who focus on the 400-meter dash, working on your aerobic fitness in the off-season is an important component of base building.
Strength training is still vital for injury prevention and for building power and strength, and running drills that help improve your technique and form should also be a mainstay in your training program.
6 Great Track Workouts For Sprinters
There is no single definitive list of the best track workouts for sprinters, so we tried to put together some examples of great track workouts for sprinters that address different key aspects of sprint training, such as acceleration, maximal speed or velocity, and speed endurance track exercises.
#1: 600-Meter Accelerations
Accelerations can be another great track workout to improve speed.
As the name describes, this involves starting at a relatively fast speed but progressively increasing your running speed until you are at maximum effort by the end of the interval.
Here’s an example of a challenging acceleration track workout to build speed, turnover, speed endurance, and anaerobic capacity.
- Warm up by running 800 to 1600 meters (2-4 laps) and performing a dynamic stretching routine.
- Run 4-8 x 600-meter accelerations:
- Run the first 200 meters at your 800-meter race pace or 90% of your maximum effort.
- With 400 meters to go, increase your pace to 95% of your maximum effort, and by the time you hit the 200-meter mark, you should be at your maximum sprint speed.
- Take a complete recovery or 400 meters of very easy jogging in between each interval.
#2: 300-Meter Accelerations
Beginners can do a similar acceleration track workout to increase speed, but truncate the distance of each repeat to half, so you are only running 300 meters.
Instead of adjusting your speed every 200 meters, crank up your speed every 100 meters so that you are hitting your maximum speed in the final 100-meter sprint.
Begin with 4 x 300 meters, and as your fitness improves, work up to 6 to 8 repeats.
Take 200-400 meters of very easy jogging in between each interval.
#3: Ins and Outs
Ins and outs is a classic track workout for sprinters to work on building speed.
Basically, the concept of this speed workout is to sprint the straightaways of the track and jog each curve. This means that you will be sprinting 100 meters, then jogging 100 meters, then sprinting 100 meters, then jogging 100 meters, and so on.
Beginners can start with just two full laps or eight ins and outs.
Build up to 4-8 laps, depending on your fitness level and the distances that you sprint.
Each straightaway should be run at essentially 95 to 100% effort, and the recovery jogs can be as slow as you need them to be.
#4: Weighted Vest Sprints
Weighted vests are a common training tool for strength training workouts, but they can be used for track workouts for sprinters to add speed training with resistance.
Use a weight that is no more than 10% of your total body weight. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, the weighted vest should be no more than 16 pounds.
- Warm up with 800-1600 meters and dynamic track drills.
- 2-4 x 40m sprints from blocks with the weighted vest.
- 2-4 x 50 meter sprints from blocks without the weighted vest.
- Weighted vest alternate leg bounds 4 x 20 meters.
- Alternate leg bounds without the weighted vest 4 x 20 meters.
Drive your arms and focus on fast turnover and a powerful stride. The goal is to increase the force of ground contact at push-off to maximize acceleration and power.
Cool down by jogging 800-1600 meters.
#5: Pyramid Track Workout for Sprinters
Warm-up and cool down by jogging 800-1600 meters.
For the workout, run a pyramid of 50 meters, 60 meters, 100 meters, 150 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters, 400 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, 150 meters, 100 meters, 60 meters, and 50 meters.
Take a complete recovery in between each interval.
#6: Sprinting, Drills, and Plyometrics
Rather than solely sprinting various distances during your workouts, you can incorporate strengthening exercises, running drills, and plyometrics in between intervals.
Consider the following track workout for sprinters as an example of this varied track workout structure:
- Warm up by jogging for 5 to 10 minutes or 800-1600 meters (2-4 laps).
Line up at the starting line on the track.
- For the first 100 meters, perform the A skips running drill, focusing on form rather than speed.
- Then, sprint the straightaway 100 meters all out.
- Then, do 10 burpees.
- Then, do high knees for the next curve of the track (100 meters).
- Then, do 10 burpees.
- Then, sprint the final straightaway of the track.
- Then, do bounding for the next 100 meters, 10 burpees, a 100-meter sprint, then 20 tuck jumps.
You can incorporate exercises such as mountain climbers, tuck jumps, burpees, broad jumps, jumping lunges, etc into these workout.
The benefit of these types of track workouts for sprinters is that they address numerous aspects of fitness in one workout and require rapid shifts in neuromuscular and biomechanical demands, training your body to be agile from a metabolic and physiological standpoint.
Track workouts for sprinters are as much about running fast as they are about improving your technique. Make sure you are working on your sprinting form.
Drive your knees up as high as possible, keep your heel back under your glutes, and pump your arms, sustaining a high arm carriage with your elbows bent no more than 90°, if not a more acute angle.
Focus on fast turnover and decreasing ground contact time. Use good posture, keep your chest up, and use a short, swift stride.
If you are more of a distance runner and also looking for track workouts, check out our guide to Track Workouts For Distance Runners.