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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 08 2012

Why We Don’t Sprint Anymore (plus a Primal Health Challenge)

By Mark Sisson
201 Comments

Last week, I covered a glaring deficit in the lives of most modern people: the lack of walking. And it’s not just the “normal” people who aren’t walking enough; two thirds of those readers who took the poll get fewer than five hours of slow easy movement each week. Since everyone walks at least a few hundred steps a day, people are generally aware – among even the general population – that people just don’t walk anymore. They might not think that’s a true problem, but they’re definitely aware of it. Today, I want to discuss another glaring (in my eyes) deficit in our modern lives: the lack of sprinting.

At first glance, this might seem ludicrous. Sprinting? Sure, it’s a cool thing to do, and it’s good for us, but do you really expect everyone to line up at a track and sprint all out for 100 meters? Besides, is sprinting really essential, the way walking is essential? Because let’s face it: running at top speed for 10 to 15 seconds is an unrealistic expectation for most people, especially older folks. Many people just aren’t physically able to do it.

Sprinting isn’t just running really, really fast, though. When I say sprinting, I’m simply talking about intense movement at the highest speed you can safely muster. Sprinting can be running, obviously, or it can be on a bike (and in fact, many of the sprinting studies use cycling). It can even be aqua sprinting, or running in a pool. Some people push the prowler, a weight sled loaded with hundreds of pounds, as their sprinting. They aren’t moving very fast, but they’re trying to – and that’s the key. Are you moving at the fastest, safest possible speed, given your physical limitations and the demands of the environment (weights attached to you, grade of the hill you’re ascending, your bum knee, etc.)? If yes – even if that manifests as an exhausting uphill walk – then you are sprinting.

Last week, I used pedometer-derived, peer-reviewed statistics to support my claim that people don’t walk enough. This week, we’ll have to rely on the power of the anecdote to get my point across. When’s the last time you saw anyone pushing himself to his limit for an all-out sprint? Skinny jean-wearing fixie rider doing 600 meters at a breakneck pace? Early morning jogger doing 70 meter wind sprints? Weekend warrior next door busting out the prowler for some 150-pound 40 yard pushes? Exactly; this type of thing just doesn’t happen in the real world. We don’t have to chase our dinner, nor run from something or someone that has us on the menu. And anyways, being highly demanding and costly, sprinting has always been a relatively rare occurrence. Grok wasn’t sprinting after everything all day, all the time. Such foolishness would get a hominid killed, fast. We barely even walk anywhere anymore, so there’s no way we’re going to be engaging in a difficult, costly, relatively rare behavior from our past on a regular basis (however beneficial it might be). It ain’t peer-reviewed, but oh well.

You know how I like to talk about acute stressors versus chronic stressors? Sprinting is a perfect example, perhaps the single most representative encapsulation of an acute stressor. By definition, a sprint is brief, intense, and efficient. You can’t talk to your buddy when you sprint. You can’t think about the mortgage or mull over the TPS reports you’ve been lagging on at work. You may not even breathe for the duration of a sprint. No – by definition, a sprint is all-encompassing and overpowering, and it commands all of your attention. When you sprint, your musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system are all “turned on” and on high alert.

Yeah, sprinting is highest-intensity training.

What’s truly remarkable about a sprint workout is that while the sprinting itself is all-consuming and extremely tiring as you’re doing it, this feeling doesn’t linger. You’re not going to feel beat up after some good sprint training. You might be sore in places you weren’t aware existed (because you’re probably working your muscles in a uniquely explosive manner), but you won’t be hobbled. You might feel a bit spent in the legs the next day, but you won’t wake up with an elevated heart rate from pushing too hard the previous day. For me, a sprint session leaves me feeling energized. I don’t exactly have a burning desire to exercise again that day, but I’m not a useless blob, dry-heaving and panting on the floor.

And yet the beneficial effects are pronounced:

Sold yet? You had better be, because we’re doing another poll and week-long Primal health challenge.

How many times in the last 30 days have you run (or cycled, or swam, etc.) as hard as you could for a short period of time? In other words…

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Primal Health Challenge

Same drill as last week: I want you to sprint once in the next seven days, starting today.

You’ll want to warmup before launching into a sprint, of course. First, do some active dynamic stretching – leg swings, Grok squats, some high knee jumping, walking knee raises, that sort of thing – but keep it to just one or two sets per stretch, with 14 reps per set; a recent study found that while such stretching improved sprint performance, three sets were too many and actually reduced performance and induced fatigue. Then, do three to four runs (or cycling, etc.) at 60, 70, 80, and 90% intensity to prepare for the sprints.

Shoot for eight to ten sprinting efforts. If you can’t do eight do as many as you can. I’m partial to running sprints (especially hills, which are easier on the joints), but those aren’t necessary. Cycling works very well (and a lot of the studies use cycling), as does swimming. Just remember what I said earlier – what matters most is that you’re moving intensely and maximally. Actually, what matters most is that you’re moving safely. I don’t want anyone pushing themselves so far they pull a hamstring or break a hip. Be careful and know your limits.

Since we’re talking sprints – maximal, all-out efforts – you’re going to need some rest in between efforts. I like Tabata intervals, but those are a different beast altogether. This time, take one or two minutes in between sprints (or even a smidge more, if you need it) to recover. The longer your sprint, the longer your recovery time. A 100 meter runner or a 30 second cycling sprinter might need three minutes to recover enough to give it his or her all on the next one, while a 40 yard dasher or a 20 second cyclist might need just a minute or two. Take as much time as you need to compose yourself in between efforts.

Well, readers, what do you think? Does that sound reasonable? A single session of eight to ten sprints this week? I know I’m in (I manage to do so just about every week). Are you? Let me know in the comment board. And also let me know how last week’s challenge of logging at least an hour of dedicated low-level aerobic activity each day went. Grok on!

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201 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Sprint Anymore (plus a Primal Health Challenge)”

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  1. Mark,

    I have been training for the past year in pursuit of a sub-60 second 400 meter dash. Usually my training is 6-8 reps of 200 meters at 70% or a speed day of 6-8 reps of 40-100 meters at 95% intensity.

    Even on days of 6×40, my central nervous system is wiped out for a day afterwards as it is such a full body, all out effort.

    …Tim

      1. My brother would have the same question. He plays bball 3-4 times per week along with heavy lifting.

        It’s working for sure as he has been eating mostly Paleo.

        I say going all out for a few minutes and then resting is very similar to sprinting. Do whatever you want.

        For this challenge you may want to just literally go all out with breaks.

        1. I have similar question, I want to take up tennis this winter, I wonder if that would be an activity that would count as a sprint?

      2. Yes! Basketball is a classic sport (along with soccer, Ultimate frisbee, racquetball, etc) that combines a moderate jog, with some sustained running, and then (imagine chasing down the antelope) the final kill (err, layup, TD pass, cross goal/bend it like Beckem). Hah!, if it doesn’t remind you of the hunt, it just ain’t Paleo.

        Seriously though. I was just having this conversation with the wife explaining that the human body ~responds~ to these bursts of HIITS. I don’t care whatever ‘sport’ or what some guru calls it – the human body responds to it at the genetic level. Read the Gabriel Method, where he does biking while visualizing being chased by a predator. Personally I visualize chasing the prey 😉

        1. LOL I am laughing because I HAVE biked while being chased by a predator… a snarling snapping black lab! Yes I was in a full-out bike sprint! Uphill, too!

        2. Haha, me too , but it was a Dalmatian… I hadn’t known I could bike that fast!

        3. trailside rattlesnakes usually get me up the hill pretty fast on my mtn bike

    1. Hey Tim, I’m a 49-second 400 runner, and thought I could offer you some friendly advice if you are interested.

      With the vast majority of sprinters (and especially the older ones), the limiting metabolic pathway is the phosphogen system. In other words, its usually your ability to exert maximum strength or speed that holds you back.

      While 200-meter intervals are useful, you would likely be better served working at shorter distances (70m and under) so that you are training at or above your target pace, and learning sport-specific movement patterns for that speed. An analogy I like considering is this: would a 10k runner train by running 5k intervals? I know you said you do shorter intervals too, so I’m just encouraging that you emphasize those.

      Additionally, heavy strength work would be very beneficial (5 reps and under squat/deadlift variations).

      Finally, form is everything. If you are not working movement-specific drills that challenge your coordination, that’s where you are really going to see improvement to you running. I highly recommend Nicholas Romanov’s POSE method drills.

      Hope that helps, man. I strongly believe that almost any person can run a sub-60 if they approach it right.

      Best of luck 🙂

  2. Hard to say, when I run at 2/3 I am probably faster than a lot of people sprinting, does it count? If you can’t run then damned near anything is a sprint.

    1. Depends, are you pushing your heart rate up to at least 80% of mhr or higher? If so, I count it as a sprint. I have a bad knee, so I have to sprint up a steep hill at a slower speed (around 5-1/2 mph), but as long as my heart rate is over 160, it’s a sprint.

    2. Sprinting is relative to YOUR capabilities; not that of others.

  3. As there will always be stoplight-to-stoplight stretches that I want to beat, I tend to do, if not all out, 100%-sprints, then at least 85-90% sprints more or less every working day.

    Chalk one up for the skinny-jeans (or in my case, scruffy chinos, fixie rider:-) )

    1. Haha, i’m glad you noticed that too – “skinny jean wearing fixie rider” haha! Although the chinos seemed to be getting tighter these days too.

    2. I thought of that too – I think bike commuters sprint a decent amount!

      I did 15 x 100 yd sprints on 2:00 this morning, holding 1:15. Of course, that is too many for them to classify as true sprints I think.

  4. I have sprints scheduled tomorrow, so this challenge is timely. I am a lousy runner, so I am just going to jog around the park to warm up, then come to the playing field in the middle and run a as many times as I can for as long as I can at the fastest I can manage without being scared. Is it normal to be scared of the speed at which you are going and wanting to stop because you are afraid to fall down or injure yourself?

    1. I think it can be scary! Especially if you’re not used to the feeling. I expect the more you do it the easier (and less frightening) it becomes. I do what you do sometimes, some “sprints” in a field where I run – I think I might add these in to my runs, i.e. halfway through, wonder what that would do?

      1. Hi Liz,
        what you’re talking about is similar to what runners call “fartleks” – yeah, it’s funny sounding. You do a warm-up job, then random sprints, then a cool-down jog. Growing up in (very) rural Maine, I used to do lots of fartleks preparing for wrestling season. We had a 3 mile loop (combination of field roads and pavement) that I would run: 1 mile steady jog, then do poles – sprint, all out, for 1 or 2 telephone poles, then walk for 1 pole, then sprint another 1 or 2 poles, etc – that was the second mile. Then jog in the 3rd mile.

        1. Fartlek. It’s a Swedish word. Actually it is two words:
          Fart:) = Speed
          Lek = Play (game)
          So what you’re doing when doing Fartlek is Speed Playing…

    2. I don’t know if it is normal – but I get scared too, and I am NOT fast at all. I usually try to do my sprints on a slight uphill as it isn’t as scary that way. (Also easier on the joints, as Mark mentioned)

  5. I don’t trust my legs enough to sprint on land anymore. But I do water sprints weekly. My instructor said everyone can sprint. If you use a walker and normally go 0.5 mph, then going 0.75 mph may be your sprint. There is no excuse. You can sprint! (Some medical conditions might preclude, of course.)

    1. I have that book PACE by I think Dr. Al Sears (I know of several Dr. Searses and can hardly keep them all straight), and he speaks of having a patient who could barely make it down her front walk–but she did that for her HIIT sprints anyway, and gradually improved her endurance.

  6. Those of us who live in cities and don’t rely on cars sprint all the time. In addition to a weekly sprint workout, I am sprinting for public transportation almost every day.

    If you take public transportation you are always booking it to make your transfer or catch that bus/train/ferry when you’re running late– or they are. It’s not always far, but add in a few flights of stairs and it’s enough to get you winded.

    When I lived in Boston, I didn’t even leave the apartment until I heard the bus and then I ran 200m to the corner hoping there would be enough traffic to slow the bus down. Now that I commute by bike in Berlin, I’m always racing to make traffic lights. I think in a strange way urban living may bring us closer to primal movement than living in the suburbs.

    1. So true! When I was commuting, I would dash to the bus a lot. And I consider traffic lights that are about to turn red a personal challenge. 🙂

    2. Running for a bus is *NOT* what Mark is talking about here. Sprinting as defined here is an *all out* effort involving every ounce of your willpower.

      1. JohnC,

        That’s exactly what I’m talking about. For the chronically late, running with every ounce of willpower is a matter of course.

        1. Mark,

          It sounds like you’ll need to do a follow-up article on “metro sprinting”.

          Maybe some tips or how-to’s on weighted sprints while carrying purses, laptops, briefcases, or backpacks?

    3. I definitely agree! We moved our family out of our house (prison) in the suburbs back to a home in an amazing, diverse neighborhood in a large Midwestern college town (granted, a small and pretty safe city where I know all of my fantastic neighbors). I could write pages on what this has done for myself and my family besides the independence that city living gives my children.

      If you walk everywhere, for everything, you will sprint.

      Whether it’s to keep from being late, to make it to the corner for the crosswalk so we don’t have to wait so long, or just to break things up, we sprint everyday.

  7. Usually, I do sprints on my bicycle, not running. Or, I hike up very steep trails, which isn’t a true sprint, but it is extremely hard. Sprints on a bicycle happen naturally – pushing up a small hill or racing to get through a traffic light. The steep trails just happen too. I’m not much for running sprints, probably because I’m not much of a runner.

    1. Cross fit definitely utilizes sprinting, but because many affiliates incorporate sprints or sprint lifting methods into a much larger workout, it becomes and endurance workout. I loved Robb Wolf’s argument for the short met-con. Of course, my comment is entirely dependent on which affiliate you train with.

    2. Cross fit is way too far into the chronic cardio side of things. Their “chipper” workouts are damaging and unproductive.

      1. Haters want to hate. Lovers want to love.

        I love my CrossFit classes.

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      2. I completely agree. Damaging, yes, and most Crossfitters are over-trained, and they don’t know it. HIT is not an everyday a week event.

        Notice that Mark requested that people sprint once every seven days, not 5 times a week.

        I would even say that Crossfit is the new “chronic cardio”… and just like chronic cardio it yields sub-par results.

        I work out twice a week for 30 minutes, totaling an hour a week, and my physique would put most Crossfitter’s to shame.

        Brief training, REST, and smart nutrition are far more important to a good physique, and your health, than running yourself into the ground on your weekdays.

        1. Crossfitters would say (right or wrong) that appearance should be secondary to functionality. Overtraining is a totally legit concern, but plenty of Crossfitters have gotten better than “sub par” results

        2. Crossfit IS about more than physique, although many people who are decent at it have low body fat and high muscle %. (I am 7% BF with a BMI of 26.4 – I am not nerotic, just got a free body scan the other day, ha ha)

          Many dog Crossfit – to each their own. I know that it works if done correctly. I know that it is fun BUT there are risks of overtraining as has been said.

        3. Have to agree Mark. I’m 62 and look better than I ever have due mostly to smart eating; regular exercise and yes – rest!

  8. I prefer the Tabata sprints but just did a 8-10 circuit sprint trail run yesterday. There may have been a mountain lion chasing me or so I thought….

  9. I competitively run the 800m and I actually use sprinting as the majority of my training. I typically sprint twice a week, using both short and long sprints. Long being 400 or 200 repeats and short being 100 repeats with more rest. The longer rest time is important on my 100 days because it ensures that I’m getting the most out of my sprints. My long sprint days turn into a type of endurance workout, which I see as useful for what I’m doing.

  10. saturday morning I do sprint work @ the local track. i love it.

    I feel bad for the chornic cardio shufflers as they look at me [w/ sometimes this deep pain and suffering in thier eyes] when I zoom by.

    thanks for the stoke post, mark!

      1. SO TRUE! I definitely smile when I’m “resting” between sprints. Could it be the “runner’s high?”

        1. Regarding smiling and enjoyment, read this http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21360405

          Also, although there are many ways to be fit, CrossFit is definitely my chosen method and will always be. Function before form. Anyone using any method can overtrain. If average joe is trying to knockout CrossFit Mainsite WODs without scaling and/or modifying, he is misinformed and needs to get to a good CF box quick. Haters will always be haters. Unless you’ve done the workouts and experienced the results (good, bad or indifferent) don’t knock it.

  11. Love interval sprints for a fast,high intensity workout that really helps with weight loss. Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis is now a minor problem. But thanks for reminding me that sprints on a bike count! I’ll do that until the feet feel better.

    1. I feel your pain: past August I run sprints on the beach and got the PF, really bad. I did everything (including wearing the night splint), but yesterday I did what I should have done after the first month of pain: I got the cortisone shot. Will give it some more days (maybe two weeks) and back to my park sprints!
      Meanwhile I replaced the sprints with grok crawls (sets of 100 meters, rest, repeat), 15 minutes. I find them equivalent to the sprint in the effect they have in me (panting like crazy, heart rate at 95, 100%).
      I will continue using the night splint and doing the stretching exercises, I don’t need anymore of this PF thing

      1. People suffering from plantar fasciitis have found relief with rolling a tennis ball under their feet. Keep applying more pressure and try to work your way up to a lacrosse ball. Don’t roll directly underneath the heel, but just up to the that point. In my opinion this is the best way to treat this, but I am not a doctor.

      2. I have had PF so often that it has really caused a problem every time I try to ease into exercise. I would like to caution the use of the cortisone shot though. Trust me on this one, it is a vicious cycle and in the long run, doesn’t help as much as you’d think. My body got all kinds of messed up after 2 shots and I haven’t been the same since.

        The only relief from PF I’ve had is Graston therapy (google it). It hurts like Hades, but works IMMEDIATELY. Problem solved for me. Hope that helps!

        1. I’ll second that. My husband is a chiro who does Graston and active release. Generally, he gets people better in one-three treatments and his athletes LOVE him because of how effective it is compared to so many other things. Cortisone might make people feel a bit better but doesn’t fix the underlying problem. In the end, those who use it tend to feel worse.

  12. I am coming off a 7 year stretch of chronic fatigue, no fun. So I am working my way into everything. Yesterday I tackled my neighborhood hill and climbed it 3 times as fast as I could. It’s a big hill and the trail is steep, so climbing it takes 3-4 minutes at about 4 mph. It’s a start, right? My goal is to do that every week and keep increasing the number of times I go up. Thanks for the challenge! My big goal is to get out of the fatigue hole, and this site is helping me.

    1. Great job!! I too am coming out of a (slightly shorter) bout of fatigue and it’s been so much fun getting my childhood energy back lately!

      1. Thanks for the tip. I am away this weekend at a funeral and brought some D-Ribose with me to support my energy. Normally traveling totally wears me out.

    2. How did you get out of the chronic fatigue hole? i keep trying to exercsie and do all i can with food.. but i am not getting any better- congratulations to you!

  13. Bike Racing=sprints of 2-30 seconds every few minutes over 4+ hours. I think at that point it is probably too much of a stressor for health.

  14. I am in! My primal doc told me I need to gain 15-20 pounds and suggested sprints and lifting heavy things. I’m still recovering from my first LHT session, but once the soreness wears off, it’s time to sprint!

    1. A primal doctor? That’s Awesome! Be ready to eat a ton of meat and sweet potatoes if you’re going to gain 15-20 pounds while sprinting.

  15. My 3.5 year old daughter seems to sprint everywhere. Off to her bedroom to find a book – it is a sprint. Back to the kitchen for breakfast…sprint. Off to get dressed…sprint. At least at that age, it seems like hard-wiring to me.

    1. My 11 year old has always found it hard not to zoom around. Makes me glad we homeschool, no one has told me to medicate it out of her.

      1. My friends were laughing at me just yesterday because I tend to run everyone (or walk really, really fast). So even when my 5 year old is with me we park our car, then literally run into the store. Not becauce we’re late, but because I can’t stand not to! Hope she is encouraged to keep that up!

    2. Our 4 1/2-year old loves to sprint everywhere too! We have races in our backyard 🙂

      I’m a distance runner and I run intervals as part of my regular training. Intervals are not sprints though. I still find sprinting hard but very invigorating. Count me in on this challenge!

  16. I did sprints yesterday (first time since going primal). Actually, I thought I did sprints a week ago while playing capture the flag with a bunch of 9-year-olds, but now I’m gonna revise that to “pouring on speed.” Man, yesterday’s sprints made my quads sore before I was finished! (maybe I was having muscle spams?) You bet I’m sore today. Did squats this morning on already sore legs and wondered at my sanity. I’m looking forward to all that walk time I need to log.

  17. Very timely post! This morning I had to sprint quite a distance to make the last train, else not get to work… to say nothing of the 15lbs backpack I was wearing. I noticed I could only briefly consider how ridiculous I looked to other commuters, but I certainly wasn’t recounting my to-do list for the day. I made it as the doors were closing!

  18. This is why I love sports, in my case hockey. I go out and skate very hard for 1-2 minutes, then sit on the bench for 2 minutes. Rinse/repeat.

    Other sports also allow you to sprint but I find that hockey is great because it is very intense for a very short period of time. Tons of interval!

    1. Yes, hockey is ideal. I play ball hockey and it’s pretty much exactly what Mark prescribes for sprinting.

  19. Hi Mark. I never tried a session of sprinting only, but I am playing soccer once a week and I give 5-10 full speed sprints during the game. Does it counts? Anyway I started to home-office this week and I will use my new found free time to go out and do some sprints tomorrow. Thanks for the article!

  20. I am afraid to sprint because of the effects of exertion migraines. Does anyone know what is going on? I first got one doing sprints at the end of basketball practice when I was young, fit, strong and light. In college it happened every time after the sprint portion of our soccer running practice. Oddly, I’ve noticed that if I have something in my hands when I run, it doesn’t happen. Doing 70 yard dead sprints while reffing soccer with a whistle in my hand and my mind on the play and not the running, never had one. Can someone help? I would love to do some sprinting.

  21. I’m a soon-to-be 50 (4 weeks) year old All-American sprinter (12 sec 100m).

    I’m SO glad you didn’t give the typical advice about recovery, “go all out for 20-30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat.”

    REAL sprinting takes REAL recovery. If you’re able to recover enough in 30 seconds (after sprinting for 15+ seconds), then you may be running as fast as you can, but you aren’t sprinting.

    And, hey, knock yourself out and keep doing it even if all you’re doing is “running fast.”

    There’s a reason that tens of millions of people run and jog and do 10k and marathons… but only a fraction of that number sprint.

    1. Steven – your post on sprinting (from almost a year ago) remains the definitive comment. Although many others have posted the benefits of Tabata, of soccer/basketball/softball, of other forms of EXERCISE, none of those compare to actual sprinting – to actually running explosively – for fifteen seconds. As you point out,Tabata doesn’t offer sufficient recovery, and basketball/softball/hockey/etc. don’t give you the opportunity for that maximal effort for 1/4 of a minute. (If you hit an inside-the-park home run in baseball, you cover the distance in 15-18 seconds, but it’s not likely you hit again in two minutes, and less likely you’d have eight such homers in a game. The basketball court is 96-feet in length, so if you ran baseline to baseline you’d probably be running for eight or nine seconds, but again, you don’t do repeats of eight.) You are so correct in encouraging people to keep “running fast” even if they’re not sprinting, but sprinting is something that everyone should get to at least try. I’m 60 yrs. old, play competitive baseball regularly, LHT 2x/wk., get 5 hours of walking done weekly, but the one thing I do that can’t be replaced is the eight fifteen-second sprints with two minutes of rest in between. Nothing replaces that. Thanks again.

  22. And I’d add HILL SPRINTS. 40 yards, the steepest hill you can find. Sprint up, walk/jog down, rest 10-20 seconds, repeat for 12 minutes.

  23. There is an interesting commonality between comments on the sprinting post and the walking post: many people rely on their commute to/from work as motivation!

    Maybe that’s evidence that a good way to develop and maintain a habit is to tack it on to something you already have to do. Sounds primal! 🙂

  24. When the ground outside is covered in snow and ice, I sprint in my basement. All-out running in place alternated with all-out jumping jacks.

  25. Can you explain this sentence: “Then, do three to four runs (or cycling, etc.) at 60, 70, 80, and 90% intensity to prepare for the sprints.”

    I’ve done sprinting before and have been slacking for a while. I am a 50+ woman who is not in the best shape of her life. I walk a fair amount, but I know these sprints are good for me, even though after the third one, I feel like my lungs are turning inside out. You’ve inspired me to try again.

    1. We used to do anaerobic sprints during swim workouts at least once a week. Lungs on fire is a great way to describe how it felt. I miss those sprints, now that I think about it. Perhaps I’ll get into the pool this week and give them a try.

  26. 1. Ran like hell for the bus today — took about 15 seconds.
    2. I would argue Balancing Stick posture in Bikram hot yoga (note: the hot is essential to this argument) is definitely a sprint — and it is two 10-second postures. Your heart races in this psture and you have to give your full physical output and strength to hold it. Since I do Bikram three times a week, that’s technically six sprints.

    It’s the five hours of slow movement I find hard to fit in — that and LHT (but I think I’m doing some LHT in my yopga practice too — just not enugh.)

  27. Since reading the Primal Blueprint Fitness book, I’ve added a sprint session into my workouts weekly. I have to say it’s so fun to push myself as hard as I can, and I’ve definitely noticed my endurance has improved as well. I watch people jog on the treadmills for three times as long as I run, but I come out energized when they’re trudging off the machines. Sprinting is so worth it!

    1. nice to meet you all, what about doing ONE sprint a day of 30-40 seconds? fast running on the spot counts as well?? one fast running on the spot for 30-40 seconds a day..

  28. I use a spin bike for my sprints as well as a heart monitor. I used to use the second hand on the clock, but found that was less effective in creating a systematic workout. I set the hear rate monitor to 65% of max for the low and 85% for the high. Then I sprint as long as it takes to exceed the 85%. Then I rest back to the 65%. Then I power up again to over 85% (usually maxing each sprint at 87-88% of max. I do ten of these. The final one, I push as hard as I can until I can’t go anymore, and usually can crank it to about 172 beats per minute, which is a 92-93% of my 185 max rate, typical for a 35 year old, at least according to the heart monitor manual. I am 59. Since I started sprinting on the spin bike, my recovery times have decreased, and I have had to re-set the monitor a couple of times. My legs do feel it, though. I sprint 2-3 times a week, more or less.

  29. Mark:
    Since going Primal in January, I’ve adopted the 4 level program in the Primal Blueprint. One day a week I do 10, 30 second sprints on my Nordic Track, allowing my heart rate to return to my normal slow easy walking pace in-between each one. I can get the sprints in 30-40 minutes.

  30. Sprinting is dangerous. I wear barefoot style shoes everywhere (moc3), learned how to sprint by going barefoot and still pulled muscles on several occasions. Luckily my body is remarkable at healing itself. I would not recommend sprinting to 99% of the population. Dr. Mercola doesn’t recommend sprinting for the same reason.

    If you want to sprint I would say do these things:

    1. Get barefoot shoes and wear them everywhere.
    2. Build the muscles in your feet first.
    3. Sprint barefoot while starting.
    4. Do it on a flat surface.
    5. Do it on a hard surface.
    6. If something feels off, don’t do it.
    7. Give yourself ample recover time.

    1. I agree, most people would be likely to injure themselves w/ “all-out sprinting.”

      Fortunately, we can get most of the benefit of true sprinting – w/ much less danger – simply by hill-climbing:

      1) get yourself a medium sized hill of medium slope
      2) start at the top, walk down at medium speed to warm up
      3)when you get to the bottom, turn around and take a deep breath
      4) go charging up the hill as fast as you can

      Repeat as desired.

    2. As a physical therapist, I totally disagree, sprinting itself is not inherently dangerous, it might be your choice of footwear, if you don’t have perfect mechanics, you are overstressing tight or weak muscles once you introduce high level activity. This is the danger of barefoot style shoes, they are NOT for everyone.

  31. Hey Mark
    Just found a way for me, lover of hoops, to incorporate sprints into a playful workout. I bust out a sprint on the baseline, covering three courts, down and back, and then see how I do for 5 free throws. Right now doing this 5 reps, once a week. A great workout, and fun!

  32. Since I had arthroscopic surgery on both knees a couple of years ago (meniscus tears from squatting too deeply, doing gardening in the back yard), I’ve been doing sprint intervals, rather than running 4 miles at a steady pace a couple of times a week. The sprints are much less stressful on my knees than an extended steady pace. Particularly since the acceleration is done slowly, I try to fly over the ground with only front-of-foot impact, and use hard arm swings to help maintain the sprint.
    I run as hard as possible for 30s, then walk for 90s, & repeat, for 2 miles. For longer distances, the times are modified to last the distance; e.g., for 4 miles, e.g., 20s & 2m.
    The ‘sprints’ of course get slower near the end of the whole run, sometimes slowing down to almost a normal running pace!
    I do this only about twice a week, because I have a long recovery time (always have had, but I’m 62 now, also).
    Incidentally, I’ve been eating Primally for a month now, and seem to recover sooner, and ache less, especially on the second day after the session (usually the worst day). Wishful thinking? Maybe; but I’ve also lost 10 pounds since I’ve been on the diet, so who knows.

  33. Interesting timing. While driving to work this morning I saw a man doing all out sprints in a church parking lot!

  34. If sprinting, which is technically explosively running, has awesome benefits, then how effective is explosive weight/bodyweight training compared to slow and heavy lifting?

  35. I love sprints. I just don’t have the endurance to run for any length of time but my legs can survive running and cycling sprints so that’s my preferred method of exercise. And there is something liberating about all-out running as fast as I can. Makes me feel like a kid again. Never a lack of fruitful information on here Mark. Thanks!!!

  36. Ive been doing crossfit fit for 6 years and love it.
    In addition to it I try to do a track wod a couple of times per month which usually consists of
    4x400m rest 2-3 mins between
    10×60 m sprints

    I also enjoy the prowler as well as C2 Rower sprints

  37. I did sprints last week up hill! Energizer bunny – that is how I felt. Really great!

    How often – once per week or twice do you think?

  38. I got my husband to start sprinting rather than his previous 45-minute cardio-style workouts and he loves them! Efficient, temporarily exhausting, but doesn’t wear him out over time like cardio does. We both sprint once a week.

  39. Last fall I started doing Tabata sprints 2-3 times per week. The feeling of sprinting for 20 seconds was so foreign to me at first that I knew I was on to something. After 2 months to Tabata training, I easily ran 11 miles one day as a test — having done no other running for at least 6 months. Aside from my regular sprint training, I also sprint the 4 floors of stairs in my parking garage every day.

  40. Mark-

    I love sprint work yet like many I’d get bored hitting the track and sprinting a couple times a week. As a former professional athlete I needed to get my work in but it became so tedious. The best and most fun way I’ve found to get my sprint work in is when I started to incorporate an Aerobie.

    The Aerobie is that orange flying disc with a hole in the center that when thrown properly flies up to 100 yards. My friends and I love to take that thing to a local field and chase it around for a while. We sprint harder because we’re trying to run the disc down and we’re having so much fun that time literally flies by. At the end we’ve usually gotten in an hours worth of sprints, feel great, and can’t wait to get out and do it again.

  41. We did sprints for the first time in a while on Sunday. Hubby was quite sore in his hamstrings yesterday, me just my abs due to the PB fitness on Saturday I did. The total focus is nice. And watching our 1 and 4 year olds running after us was fun!

  42. I started running 2 years ago, running intervals (faster times not dead out springs) really improved my speed! Went paleo in October, lost 15 pounds that didn’t come off with just running. Changed my workouts, ran less, added more bodyweight exercises and hikes. Incorporated sprints 1 to 2 x a week. Was doing great. Yet 3 weeks ago, pressed for time, i ran a slow 1 mile warm up and then sprinted up the next hill and pulled my hamstring. I can still bike but can not run at all. So frustrated. Maybe its my age, 47… i will still sprint, but just on flat ground with gradual increases in speed.

  43. 5 uphill sprints today (before I read your post). OK, I’ll up it to 10 7 days from now. They felt good.

  44. I hurt my shoulder so I havent been able to do any resistance workouts but I’ve been doing the Peak 8 workouts that Dr. Mercola recommends on my Airdyne along with a few hundred squats during the week. Still losing weight and gaining muscle.

  45. I generally agree with the premises and conclusions of this post. I do have an issue, though, with one theme (quite popular on MDA), that you could get your dinner by sprinting. There’s not a single animal worth catching and eating that you could get by sprinting. The only feasible way to use running for hunting is persistance hunting.

    Having said that, the two forms of running that I do are very slow, longish runs (equivalent to some people walking or hiking) and sprints.

    1. I think the idea is more like sprinting out and throwing a spear or something… Not too many animals you could actually catch, but I could see, say, sprinting toward a large mammal and chucking a spear or something…

      1. (and certainly sprinting AWAY from an animal so as to not BECOME dinner…)

        1. And plus you would not have to run faster than the animal chasing you, you would only have to run faster than your friend.

    2. I agree with you, Michael. Most hunting was probably done from ambush: being very still while an animal moved within striking range, or with some hunters driving the prey within range of their buddies. Pack cooperative hunting, more like wolves than cheetahs or lions. Also, a significant portion of the hard work of hunting was probably lugging the food back to the village.

  46. I love all the comments trying to justify non-sprinting activities as sprinting.

    I change my daughter’s diaper as fast as I can. Is that sprinting?

  47. Would anyone be willing to share their experience with sprinting form?

    I have an easy time toe-striking when I run barefoot at anywhere from 20-80% effort (which I don’t do much anymore these days)… But I find it much harder when sprinting barefoot at 100% effort. Does anyone have any tips? Or does anyone else find it more natural to heel-strike when sprinting?

    1. I remember a long time ago…well 12 years, not THAT long but still…
      I was quite the athlete in high school and was a very good track 100 meter dash sprinter. I remember when sprinting I never struck my heel to the ground. It was on the balls of my feet only. Don’t forget to pump your arms too.
      If you look at track spike shoes you will see that the spikes are ONLY on the balls of the feet area of the sole of the shoe. Nowhere else.
      I hope this helps you somewhat.

      Also gonna see if anyone else has anything to comment. Interested to see how different people feel about form. This is just from my personal experience. I was in a professional athletics club and coached also. Sorry it’s late at night here and I probably completely butchered the English language.

  48. I’d like to know what the most ‘bang for your buck’ is, with regard to sprinting. Uphill? Shorter or longer sprints? 15 min, 3x a week? Or what?
    Max benefit in least time.

  49. Sprinting or some form of exercise that requires movement and tremendous body engagement is truly beneficial in training. I do outrigger canoeing, yes you use your legs as a driving force too. With racing just starting we have been doing our fair share of all out paddles in the ocean/bay. Plus mix that in with some dead-weight pulls on the beach for several miles on off days and you have a much fitter body!!

  50. yes we are sprinting at Crossfit! also on the concept2 rowers. I find that I enjoy racing a group of people. I’ve done some hill sprints solo before, but most if not all of my recent sprinting has been done at CF, racing in a group. More intense!

  51. I always like to over complicate things and in the end the answers were there to begin with. ha ha. ok – so I’m confused with the term, because it sometimes sounds like intervals. Like for example, if I pick 2 exercises (jumping jacks and jumping rope) and I do say 40 seconds as fast as I can and than 20 second rest. Is that the same thing as sprinting?

    Also, are you just talking about outside real running, real biking, real swimming or is this something people can do inside either on equipment do something (like jumping jacks) without equipment?

  52. I recently had knee surgery so this post inspired me. I did intervals on the bike at my max today and I walked on the treadmill at a 7% grade. I obviously can’t run, but I can still do sprints! Thanks for this posting this at just the right time!!

  53. Mark, after reading your 21 day book, I do your recommended once a week sprint session. I work in Minor League Baseball and still find the time. I love it!

  54. One of my professors used to warm up the class with games, and one of them stuck with me as the best sprint/play combination I’ve ever experienced. We used to play “Everybody’s It” before the class got rolling. It is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone is it, and if you get tagged by anyone, you’re out. Last one standing is the winner. You sprint, you change directions, you feel real, imminent danger and you turn your brain off for the duration. Awesome.

      1. Well, that’s theater school for you. Not as academically rigorous as I’d like (though that’s easily solved by the addition of anatomy, biochem, politics, etc.), but it does get you moving more than most programs. And, if you get the right teachers, they really do emphasize play, which is nice.

  55. I warm up on a treadmill, and always make sure it is set to be an uphill elevation (not too steep). I only have a short time to train, so the last section, when I am tired, I up the speed and run like crazy. I HATE working out at 6am but its the only time I have in the day so I don’t run too long! I know that will improve…it already has!

  56. How about 10 three minute rounds of boxing? (sparring with head gear of course) That feels pretty primal.

    I don’t think it counts quite as a sprint (so I’ll have to go find a hill to run) but it sure feels like it.

  57. when i get caught in the rain while walking the dog, i sprint home. sometimes fido cooperates…sometimes i have to slow it down for him. is it enough? i dunno….

  58. I sprint every Monday morning. I think it is a great way to start off the week while I am fresh off a great weekend of rest. The hardest thing I have found to use for sprint interval training is the VersaClimber. Absolutely insane!! Love it though

  59. If I am playing squash twice a week, should I still do a sprint workout, or would I end up possibly overtraining?

  60. I’d love to incorporate sprints into my clients’ Pilates sessions. Any ideas, anyone?? I have a Bosu ball and a fully equipped studio….

  61. jumping rope is a good sprint – i can only do a few seconds at a time! catch breath, jump some more. after 10 minutes of that, i’ve had enough!

    1. I’m using jumprope as my sprint time also – go at full speed, rest, go again TABATA style. Duration under 5 minutes. Works for me.

  62. haha along the lines of ‘does this count’.. I really don’t like running, especially since something unknown happened to my back when I was in grade 7 (2003) and everytime I ran I would end up with a migraine.. So I haven’t even jogged for years, for fear of migraines (yes they are that bad).. This year I went to a physio and got some excercises to fix my back, PLUS since going primal I have had NO migraines except this weekend when I went away and ate bad stuff.. Never happening again.. So the question, if I get my rollerblades on and do all out sprints in them instead of running, that’s similar right?

  63. I sprint on my spin bike ( at home in garage) and do jump rope sprints. I do consider sprinting up a small hill down the street, but, the others are fun…. do I need to do the running, to fill gaps?

  64. I live in Ohio so because of the weather I haven’t been able to walk like I should, and since I haven’t done that like I should I haven’t attempted to try the running part of the plan. I think you have people like me that wish to run, but can’t at the moment due to lousy weather and not having all the ducks in the row. And while some may suggest treed mills, i myself messed up a ligament in my knee so I won’t be going back on that thing ever.

  65. Anyone who plays a sport sprints on a regular basis. I’m 39 and have never given up softball, so I absolutely sprint on a regular basis, and will continue to do so until they pry the ball out of my cold dead hands. This is exactly why athletics should be introduced to everyone at a young age, and not be CUT out of the school curriculum.

  66. Yeah, I need to add in some sprints. The one fitness class I take does plyometric intervals, which I love, but I really should dedicate one day per week to classic running sprints. They always kick my butt, and yet I never feel burned out afterward.

  67. A very timely post, because …

    Just today, I wore out my spin bike.

    I bought it about 5 years ago and I’ve ridden it A LOT since then – doing all different kinds of work outs – sprinting included.

    Just today, after all that time, something made a loud snap and the pedals went limp, losing all their tension. What an accomplishment, you know – to wear out a spin bike 🙂

    Anyway … a typical bike sprint work out for me is 10 one minute sprints in a 30 minute period, recovering in between. With Led Zeppelin loaded and playing LOUD on my iPod, of course.

    I highly recommend the investment for those who, like me, want/need to go easy on their joints and/or want a fast way to get a work out in without having to go outside.

  68. I have been doing workouts with a local personal training franchise called The Exercise Coach… the whole reason I signed up with them was reading their website and realizing that they line up 90% with what the Primal Blueprint talks about- short, high-intensity, high-weight lifting twice a week, followed by a very brief HIIT session at the end (5 minutes, with 50 seconds total of extremely intense “sprints.”) Plus, they completely sign on to a diet extremely similar to Primal, with other elements of the Sugar Detox as well. I love going in to work out with these guys and talk healthy food. The only thing that’s not quite primal is the fact that these are machines rather than free weight/functional training… but since I have some bad back problems that prevent me from using free weights to my max ability, these machines enable me to push myself really far within my range of motion without injury.

  69. Once upon a time, I worked at an oil refinery. During startup, a spark ignited the gas. I, and the about 40 others, ran to escape the pending explosions. Then we continued to run to escape the debris thrown out of it. THAT was a Sprint. These days my dog and I charge up and down short, steep hills. It’s not the same, but its the best I can do at the time.

  70. How many times do we need to sprint a week? I thought Mark says one per 7 – 10 days. There are people who do more than 5 in the past month. Should I sprint two times instead of one per week?

    1. Sprinting more than once a week would highly depend on your fitness level. Spriting is hard on the body and if you’re not a regular runner or sprinter, than sprinting more than once a week is inviting injury.

  71. I find it odd that for some reason I can only get my HR up really high sprining on a treadmill (up to 98%). If I do sprints outdoors, or even on the spinning bike, I usually get stuck at around the 90% mark before my legs feel like they can’t move any faster. Does anyone have any idea why that is?

  72. You can’t …mull over the TPS reports you’ve been lagging on at work.

    Yeah… I’m going to need you to come in Sunday…

  73. I voted 5+, but to be totally honest all occured this last weekend. 2minutes swordfighting max effort 4 times.
    Run away from short barbarian horde (children)(about a minute) then avoid injury as you play dead when they catch up) 7 times. various throwing of javelins and axes and finally dodge four charging horses four times.
    What can I say? Roman re-enacting is hard work!

  74. I wouldn’t regard my uphill struggle on the pushy ‘sprinting’ as I am possibly only going as fast as a jogger, but with a fully laden rucksack, I go as fast as I can and my heart is pounding by the time I get to the top and I can barely breath. The term ‘sprinting’ is relative 🙂

  75. I am a fan of the Tabata sprints, but instead of 10 seconds, I take as much time as my heart-rate monitor takes to give me a reading (13 seconds or so).

    I also like Dr. Mercola’s Peak 8.
    3 minute warm-up (easy jog)
    30 second sprint
    90 second rest
    Repeat 7 more times.
    You pretty much sprint on the odd minutes. It’s a 17 minute, 30 second workout, and I LOVE it.

    Quick and dirty and oh, so effective!

    1. nicole..thanks for the peak 8 suggestion! I did it this morning and added a 10-min mile cooldown run after the 8th sprint…really fun and yes, effective!

      1. Mars, you are so welcome! I’ve been doing it for years and it never gets boring.

  76. Sprinting is great and all, but it’s usually done when one has free time and a place to go with a decent running surface. Sprinting on a bicycle, on the other hand, can be done anywhere, anytime, especially on the way to/from work if you commute by bike. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the day 🙂

  77. Until last month when I was hospitalized for asthma, I was sprinting once a week with my 11yo DS. We sould race the length of the driveway, out to the mailbox and back to the house. We were up to 6 times when I got sick. I was not winded after, and felt that runners high. My DS laughed at me, cause he always beat me, but I was running for the first time in years! Hope to start back soon! Maybe today with this challenge!

  78. My friend and I did the Run For Your Lives Zombie 5K on Sunday! It was an intense obstacle course complete with volunteers dressed up like zombies. SO MUCH MUD!!! I suck at running so I paced myself so that I was able to RUN LIKE HELL from the zombies! It was AWESOME!! I definitely felt Primal being covered in mud and sprinting away from “predators”! I highly recommend it! 🙂

  79. I wish I could sprint. I did two 90% all out sprints 6 mos. ago and injured my knee. still not right since. I really enjoyed the two I got to do, now am just paranoid to do them again. my squatting ability and mobility is really compromised now. sheesh!

  80. How does heavy bag training rank for sprinting? I like to do about (5) 3 minute rounds and do pushups in between. By about the 4th round I am hittin pretty hard.

    \m/(-_-)\m/

    1. I’m with you, Brett. I love to run but am transitioning slowly to minimal shoes and don’t always feel confident sprinting on pavement. But I do 6 20- 30 second sprints of kick boxing / karate on a bag and it’s very taxing. 3 minutes is pretty long for a sprint though. To me, that would be more like endurance.

  81. I’m inspired!! used to sprint weekly( Gym as in-lander) but hurt my feet from training too hard in my new vibrams (running before i could walk) Back on it and forgotten how much i loved it – it lets me feel free!! Never posted before so just wanted to say a big thankyou for your daily blogging. Most, no all the people i know think i’m a vitamin-deficient weirdo so it’s great to be able to log on and be among like-minded souls.

  82. Make sure to warm up kids! Spent the day yesterday and did some sprints on the beach (made more interesting by trying to chase down the ever elusive frisbee) and the achilles is pretty sore today ….

  83. I just discovered a new sprint workout- “The Modified Intensive Bruce Protocol” yesterday I did a stress-echo on the tread mill to check my heart after coughing up pink froth (blood) last week. The lab modified the standard Bruce Protocol with 2 minute intervals instead of 3 minute intervals. It was crazy intense! NO REST! JUST MORE INTENSITY!

    Modified High Stress Bruce Protocol
    Stage Minutes % grade MPH
    1 2 10 1.7
    2 4 12 2.5
    3 6 14 3.4
    4 8 16 4.2
    5 10 18 5.0
    6 12 20 5.5
    7 14 22 6.0

    I was about 30 seconds away from level 6 when the doctor talked me into stopping. I am 45 and my heart rate was 190 BPM! I felt like I could go further but I was close enough to max. Great News- no problems with my heart. But I found a new super intense sprint workout- almost 10 minutes of pure pleasure! 14 minutes for those folks who are conditioned like a Navy Seal (that’s what the doctor said). All I know is that it made my Tabata look like a walk in the park. I have been doing Tabata on the stationary bike at the gym- since I am not much of a runner. I like this 10 minute workout- I am going to do it again. Give it a try and see how high you can make it.

    1. After having thought about it a little bit. Grok did not “RUN FOR HIS LIFE” for 20 seconds then rest, then 20 seconds again…He ran hard…then as the predator got closer…he ran harder…then harder…then harder and finally harder…until he was eaten or got back to safety…The first 2 stages are just a warm up…then the last 5 stages kick your butt!

  84. I had such a depressing year in 2011 (4 pets dying) that I completely lost all motivation to do any exercise at all. That quickly became a habit and I still haven’t picked myself up and gotten back into regular walking. However I ride my bike to work and to my horseriding training, so I have still been getting 3-4 sprints in a week on most weeks. I just REALLY need to get back into my walking and bodyweight exercises.. and yoga!

  85. As a morbidly obese, mobility-challenged individual, I have special concerns when it comes to sprinting (let alone just getting out and walking!). I have Achilles tendinitis and a bone spur, and some days I can barely walk around the hallways of my building on a break. But I CAN (very slowly) go up the stairs. Down is painful, but up I can do. My building is square, so I do one round, then go up a flight, then walk that floor, then go up a flight. It’s my baby-steps version of a sprint. It definitely gets my heart going faster than the walking, and it’s very limited in time because it’s just one flight. So don’t despair if you feel like you can’t do an all-out running sprint. Anything that pushes you just that bit more for a short time during regular exercise can be helpful.

  86. I recently gave up long distance running in favor of sprints, bike sprints, HIIT, and heavy lifting. I am sooo happy about that decision! My old running buddies gasp when I say I really don’t like running that much!

    I just encorpourated 3 tabata sprints into my spin class. Although the class is 45 min. Everything else was a low intensity “filler.” I do this 1x/week, a HIIT class and 50/10 for 12 min on the Jacobs ladder (holy pain!)

  87. Excellent post! I play softball once a week, so I do get SOME sprinting in. I need to incorporate it more often into my workout schedule though.

  88. I injured my hip about 3 months ago doing a side plank (sad, really). So I can’t run. I decided I’d do 60 seconds of jumping jacks ten times. Hip doesn’t hurt with jumping jacks and my heart rate goes up. Looking forward to the benefits!

  89. As far as sprinting and organized sports, I think people should be careful to not mistake activity for exercise. I love soccer, and basketball, but those are activity, not trict exercise that is measurable and quantifiable. For my HIIT, I prefer kettlebell swings. Low impact, high output, no gym needed.

  90. Hi
    I just walk – then sprint to the car parked up the road, or the lampost or the tree or whatever – then I walk again – then I sprint again.

    Easy – and fun

  91. My favorite sprint workout is 1 mile jog for a warmup. I have a road that is 1 mile straight. Then turn around. Telephone poles are spaced approx. 50 meters apart. I sprint from one pole to the next, then jog the next one. I alternate that for the mile. That gets me 10 sprints. I do the first 4 or 5 at 80% effort and the last 5 all out.

  92. Ack…started Primal 3 weeks ago and am now casted for 4 weeks for tendonitis…only sprinting I will be doing is in my dreams…other options? Upper body “sprinting” exercises?

  93. Ack…started Primal 3 weeks ago and am now casted for 4 weeks for tendonitis…only sprinting I will be doing is in my dreams…other options? Any upper body “sprinting” exercises?

  94. Great article! Many people underestimate the importance of maximum strength training (what sprinting definately is). I even would go so far to say that explosive strength is what makes you athletic. Even for old people, maximum strength training is beneficial, since it helps prevent them from injuries.

    Great site! I started a training site for myself a few months ago. I just utilize natural training tools like ropes, etc. I would love it if you could check it out and tell me your thoughts!

  95. Did a half dozen 30 sec sprints while walking the beach barefoot Sunday. First time in 20 years, and it felt great.

    As you can see by my typing this, I didn’t die! Good advice, thanks!

  96. I sprinted yesterday after about three weeks of not doing it. 4 sets of 30 seconds and the last one being all out. About an hour afterwards my lower back was screaming at me and is still bothered today. Happens every time. What can I do besides stretching afterwards that I can avoid this?

  97. I just finished a challenge where I committed to sprinting three times a week for eight weeks. I was pretty done by the end of it, but man did my sprinting improve. I mixed it up between Tabata bike sprints and hill sprints.

    About a week after I finished the challenge, a trainer at my parkour gym had me do a half hour session of sprints. While I didn’t like it one bit, I couldn’t help feeling that I did really well.

    But I think another week or two of off time is in order. They sure do take it out of you.

  98. I finally “sprinted.” Kind of sad how slow that is for someone my age – 34! I like to do a very slow jog on my treadmill and tried sprinting during the commercial breaks. I was surprised by how scared and hesitant I was!

  99. Don’t always run in a straight line. Although I regularly sprint, I did some indoor sprints recently that required me to do a 180-degree turn midway. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I woke the next morning with very sore knees, the right knee being much more sore than the left. After some thought, I figured out it was related to the turns. I never turn abruptly while running so it makes sense. I was also “leading” with my right foot as I slowed and turned so the right knee was taking more force, which was consistent with the additional pain in my right knee. I’ll now make a point to turn mid-sprint (probably on the first couple of sprints when I’m fresh and less likely to fall).

  100. I’m 45, have had years of ongoing weight workouts and cardio. I became sedentary about 5 years ago and did only occasional jogging.

    I joined a bootcamp in July 2010 (1hr/3 X weekly) and within 3 weeks, had injured my lower back. Overwork is what I diagnosed it as. Not enough rest time.

    I remained sedentary until 5-6 months of gaining weight, listlessness and feeling of depression.

    I’m now training HIIT with a personal trainer at Blitz Conditioning in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I have been running and just began incorporating regular sprints on my own.

    I just began feeling the lower back sensitivity and am worried I may have a re-occurance of my back injury.

    Do you think my running/sprinting is adding too much to the HIIT I put in 3 days a week? (I know you’re not a doctor, but what are your thoughts about sprinting engaging too many body components and I should maybe step back a bit.

    I’m currently taking a few days off from training.

  101. welp, tried my first set of sprints the morning. Only got two sets in before my asthma kicked my ass 🙁 It was disappointing but I will keep at it.

  102. Just did my first sprints this morning. 5 sets of 40yd. slight slope into steeper hill. walked back down. Did not go all out so as not to be blown out for days. You learn after years of working out to ease into stuff like this. Later.

  103. hi. thanks for such an awesome pro-sprint blog. i myself have been training with intervals for two years now, on and off, but only recently took to every other day sprinting for 30 minutes straight on the treadmill in my gym.i feel amazing. i love that feeling. i crank up my speed and totally let go of control over my feet. they just go nuts.i forget where i am what’s around me, what my name is. i just do it. it’s a painful 40 seconds but i feel like a rockstar when i complete my workout. and yes, soaking wet. personal trainers at the gym line up and stare at me as i rock that treadmill (literally).i used to be an elliptical junkie. i’ll tell you, nothing ticks me off as much as steady state cardio now. i know you can’t sprint every day you’ll overtrain, so i have to take it easy the next day, but every time i feel like i’m about to embark on steady state boredom, i go back to my high intensity.

  104. I’ve been eating primally for three months, feeling better every week and have a very active livestyle, though sprinting wasn’t part of it. Yesterday I finally felt ready to do it and – wow – it turned out great. I didn’t know I could be that fast, at some point I felt I was taking off 🙂 After every sprint I felt completely exhausted, had to lean forward to catch my breath. Afterwards I felt so highly awake and adrenalized like I haven’t felt before. I thought my muscles would be completetly sore, but today they aren’t, just a little stiff. Pre-Paleo I wouldn’t be able to move anymore, but this eating style makes my muscles recover much faster, I noticed this before from long hiking tours with my horse (me walking, not riding). I’ll surely continue doing this. Thank you Mark for all the advice and insights!

  105. Excellent article.

    At the kettlebell gym I went to, before it closed, we ran sprints alot.
    I hadnt ran hard literally in 35 or more years. So I pulled 4 hamstrings.
    It took about 6 months of half speed runs and really stretching the hip
    flexors and hamstrings before I could run all out.

    Now I work out at home. Its kind of a crossfit workout with kettlebells
    every day, one day a week heavy lifing and one day very hard sprints.
    Its easy to mix up the sprints to make them interesting. There is a steep
    hill behind my house that I run perhaps once a month and a track at a
    school nearby. I often super set sprints with pullups, snatches or
    pushups. Oh and I always run barefoot even on concrete. My best 100 yd
    dash was 11 sec. No world record but felt good about it. I run any combo
    of 50 to 200 yd runs. The varaiations are infinate. Tabata sprints are
    killers. One i do occasionally is max 50 yd sprints in 5 minutes. Both
    short and sweet.

    I never ever see anyone else running sprints in town. Lots of joggers.
    Some stop and ask me what or why. Most joggers are way over weight
    and usually dont even break a sweat. Looks boring.

    I am sold on sprints. If on a vacation and away from any equipment, I
    can always find somewhere to run sprints for 15 to 20 minutes and have
    a pretty good workout.

    By the way I am 62 years old. 6 ft tall, 180 lbs, 10% body fat, can do
    45 pullups, 10 hspu and still do the 5 minute kettlebell snatch test
    (on a good day).

    thanks

  106. Let’s see… 2 children x 2 visits to the park = Dozens of “Catch me Daddy!”
    Yep, did my sprints.
    -J

  107. I have a eleven year old son that boxes.. Apart from his long runs which equal 12 miles a week what type of sprinting program would you suggest for him?

  108. I enjoyed reading this article. I sprint very often. I have been a 100-400 meter run all of my life and now I solely play football. So sometimes after practice is over I find myself feeling like I need more. And so I will stay after and either perform 8 10 12 ; or 10 12 16 of 60’s, 50’s , and 40’s. I dont know about requirements that other peoples’ body’s have, but my engine stays running so I have to do quite a bit of running to maintain my sanity! I will even perform this on my days off, just because if I don’t I do not feel my best! I appreciated the article

  109. For anyone worried about joint impact:

    Kettlebells swings! They’re immense.

    You can pick a weight and interval scheme to resemble a sprint workout. Not 100% identical – swings will be a little lower intensity than “all-out” sprinting, but still intense.

    You can do them in your bedroom, too – 5mins 2x a week. I like 5-6 sets, starting with 30 secs on / 30 secs off, and “working into rest” – i.e. adding more work time, reducing rest time. Then switching to a heavier bell every few months.

    Beast, done!

  110. What is recommended for soccer conditioning training? When I sprint all out during a game (just started again after many years of not playing) I wind up winded and tired within the first 15 minutes. Do I just need to keep practicing? Would long distance running during the week help me not get so winded?

    Right now we practice twice a week, but almost never scrimmage using the whole field. We always do sprinting exercises, but… so far I’m still faaaar from fit enough to play at peak and I’d like to get there as fast as possible so I can start really having FUN with the game again! 🙂

  111. From past experience there is absolutely no doubt that doing interval sprints with an aerobic workout will make get you in significantly better shape very quickly…you will feel better within a day or two.

    But there’s a practical side that is not so great. Doing wind sprints can make an otherwise enjoyable aerobic routine into pure misery. As a result you may find yourself not exercising at all because you’ve made the endeavor so horrible.

    First step for most people is to stick with a relatively easy aerobic routine for an extended period of time….as it is hard to get people to do this. Only after you get beyond that point should you consider wind sprints. Then if you find yourself avoiding your routine because of the wind sprints give them up. Because exercising at a moderate and consistent pace is far better than not exercising at all.

  112. I usually like to add sprinting to my workout twice a week. I think is the best way to lose weight. Great article.

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  114. For many middle-aged and up sprinters, I believe that an extended warm up is important. Before you get into all-out mode, alternate 30 seconds or so of running with 30 seconds of walking, increasing the running speed by about one mile per hour with each iteration. Toss in some light stretches and you are good to go!

  115. Thanks for the great info. I am a male 49 years.. 5’8″ and 155 lbs. I love high intensity sprints during trail running. I run 4.5 miles each session three times per week. I wait until my second 1.5 mile circuit before the sprinting starts. I sprint about 150 meter up a steep hill (about a 20 degree grade). then on the gentle grade (~5 degree) down hill leg I sprint my ass off for about 250 meters. I started sprinting a lot about 2 years ago. I am pleased at how fast I can run now. I do this 3 times per week. I estimate I sprint about 2,400 meters per week, much of it on a gentle down hill grade. I also walk 8+ miles per day at my job delivering equipment in a hospital 5 days a week. I may be relatively long of tooth, but I am pretty sure I have never been in such good aerobic condition thanks to sprinting, yet I have always been a runner.

    1. Oh forgot to add .. I only eat meat about twice per week. I rely heavily on whole grains and a good measure of low-fat yogurt.

  116. I actually sprinted this morning for the first time in weeks. Just 5 reps up the hill to my house and back down, but I feel great. Should one only sprint once a week?