Build speed this summer

August 01 2019

The summer is well and truly here. Athletics is on the TV, the Manchester International, which sees the country’s best take on each other, is on August 14, and the greatest runners in the world are putting the finishing touches to their speed programmes.

So we thought we’d get in on the act. After all, this is the time of year all about getting outside, looking good and having fun. We’ve devised some great workouts that you can do in the gym, in the park or on the beach. What’s even better, is everyone can get involved. On the beach challenge the kids to one of these sessions that the best in the world use. Of course, before you get going, we have a few words of advice for you! 

All of these workouts are achievable but you must do a proper warm-up before. Jog a few minutes, do a few mobility exercises to get each part of your body ready. Take care to get your ankles mobile, work up to stretching your calf muscles and hamstrings, loosen those hips and make sure your upper body is equally loose. 

Next, do a few half-speed sprints over about 60m working on form: nice and upright, arms pumping, eyes focused level, into the distance. Right, you’re ready to roll! Let the games begin.

World-class workouts for you to try

If you want to work on speed and strength, who better than GB’s very own European champion Dina Asher-Smith to get us going with some great speed endurance. Of course, this is a speed session but you know what, do it once a week and quickly you’ll be running superbly over 10km in your local road race. 

Dina runs:

Three sets of 5x150m fast, with a 45-second break between reps. Take about 5 minutes rest after each round of 5. 

Emily Diamond, an Olympic bronze medalist as part of GB’s 4x400 team, has this cracker for you that lends itself to the beach:

Mark out approximately 50 metres in a straight line then sprint the 50m. Rest 30sec and sprint back. Repeat until you’ve done 400m. It's super tough, but really good fun. This works really well in the gym as well, although over a shorter distance. Try to get 20 or 30m in and reduce the rest to about 20sec and run over 400m as the longer session. 

If running really quickly is your goal then 100m runner Harry Aikines-Aryeetey has this power session for you. It sounds a bit complicated but basically involves running pretty quickly for a short distance to give yourself a rolling start, then running as fast as you can. So, run 4 runs where you cruise 30m, then run as hard as you can for 30m. Apparently, Harry can run 2.75s for 30m through timing gates, but we’ll allow you go a bit slower!

You can try lots of different combinations around these workouts. For example, 5x60m sprints with a walk recovery. That’s good for speed and power and means if you lose one or two to your kids, there’s always three or four more to get them back. Its great fun and you can race each other over just four or five strides or longer if you fancy!

Sally Gunnell, the former world record holder for 400 hurdles and the 1992 Olympic champion - who is now a super fit 50-year-old - sums up the summer perfectly and has these wise words of advice for all of you who think speed is best left for the youngsters.

“Keep surprising your body… swimming, cycling, a Pilates session, then the cross trainer or a 5k run. If you just do the same exercise, week-in, week-out, your body will work out the minimum amount of effort it needs to expend for that activity. But when the body is confronted with something new, it has to work that little bit harder.”

Try our in-club tracks at your local DW Fitness First with a free guest pass and ask a member of the team for more information on sprint workouts.

Take a look at our Summer Running Essentials, the must-have items for your kit bag this summer.