The four key ingredients of pure speed

Even long-duration sports benefit from a "speed base." But like many training protocols, how to train pure speed is counter-intuitive.

The four key ingredients of pure speed
Is that the face of a strained effort? Or of calm execution? (Photo by Sammy Wong / Unsplash)

Although the saying "speed work makes the dream work" makes me throw up in my mouth, I can't deny the truth of the claim. Speed is important, even for mountain sports.

But how to train pure speed is not as well known as the cliched phrase.

The volume is super low.

Pure speed is a small reservoir. Once it's empty, banging on the drum doesn't get anything out of it but frustration. The total number of reps available is 5-10, maybe 15 with lots of experience.

Sprints are super short.

To hit the right intensity, each rep needs to be very short. Saying "30-second sprint" is a lot like "devout atheist" or "jumbo shrimp." The duration per rep is only 5 to 12 seconds.

Sprints are not maximal.

The effort needs to be near-maximal, not full-out. In the gap between near- and maximal is a calm mind and perfect execution. Stay relaxed, and maintain good form. Going all out will hinder both. Think 95%, not 100.

The rests are really long.

Much of the benefit comes from muscle fiber recruitment and stimulating the anaerobic system. To repeatedly hit the right intensity, rests must be 2-3 minutes and passive. Don't just do something; sit there!

In a future post, I'll detail the workout protocols and benefits of sprinting, according to Olbrecht, Canova, Magness, and Verkhoshansky.