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Can an ultramarathon runner who runs for 6-24 hours still be considered a sprinter?  Surely long slow endurance running barely moving at a snail’s pace at times cannot co-exist with the speed of sprinting, right?  Well when first trying define what kind of running I wanted to focus on for the future, I knew that while ultimately trying to push my body to the limits of endurance and running dozens of miles point to point, I still loved the feeling and ability of being able to sprint.  Like most runners, I started out sprinting.  I competed at 14 years old in 100m sprints, and by 16 years old was sprinting 57 second 400m races.  Human athletes tend to naturally have speed as early children and gain endurance as they age.  This is obviously not the case for everyone, but as generalization.

Personally I've found though I love running in the mountains and competing with some of the world’s best ultrarunners in long endurance races, I actually perform better and finish closer to the winner in the shorter races.   This may only be temporary as I work to use speed for enhancing my competitive ultrarunning ability, but from 2010 through 2012 most of my ultrarunning finishes have been from the middle of the pack towards even last place.  Throughout my short ultrarunning experience I've still been able to sprint at times, and as of late 2012 early 2013 I am clearly targeting my training to increase my speed and sprinting power close to what it used to be as a teenager. 

Sprinting and speed is still relevant to ultrarunning.  Though it seems like it can be a waste of time, it has significant benefits to any ultrarunner.  Beyond the mental boost from covering so much ground so quickly, sprinting builds good form and helps you focus on good biomechanics and the strength of your running. Consciously working on your cadence, pace variation, stamina and strategy all lead to useful results with sprint training or racing.  In comparison to ultrarunning events I do consider sprinting to be distances of 1 mile or less.  1km reps are probably my favorite workout as you have just enough time to work up to a high speed, nearly an all out sprint but slow enough not to pull any muscle and still quick enough to vary your pace or tactics to keep up or ahead of the person next to you.

Here is a clip from 2010 winning a 800m race without any training for speed, hoping someday to improve to a 2:10 half mile and 60 second 1/4 mile!


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