Sprint interval training and running performance

Endurance athletes are always looking at ways to improve performance, and sprint interval training (SIT) has gained increasing popularity amongst this group. Studies have previously shown SIT to improve endurance, strength, and power performance when compared to traditional endurance training methods, but these have all been laboratory based.

A study looked into the effects on trained athletes undergoing a two-week long SIT programme in the field. The athletes performed 4-7 bouts of 30 seconds at maximal intensity interspersed by 4 minutes of recovery, 3 times a week. Maximal aerobic speed, time to exhaustion at 90% of maximal speed, and 3000 metre time trials were assessed before and after training.

Given the short-term intervention, there was a significant improvement in time to exhaustion, and greater performance increases in 3000 metre time trials. Maximal aerobic speed also improved significantly following the two-week intervention. These improvements are largely due to an increase in enzymatic activity of the aerobic system, such as glycolytic enzymes and increased markers of aerobic metabolism.

The benefits of two weeks sprint interval training can have marked effects in both endurance and anaerobic performance and should be incorporated into athlete training programmes to maximise potential.

Koral, J. et al. (2018). Six sessions of sprint interval training improves running performance in trained athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 32(3): 617-623.