Sprint to Improve Running and Healing?

Though it seems counter-intuitive, fire helps bring new life to the forest, and even protects it from devastating mega-fires. Similarly unintuitive, could sprinting while running bring new life to running and brain healing?

Jason Robillard asks a fascinating question: can you improve performance in an Ultra marathon by sprinting occasionally for a short distance, then resuming your pace?

My personal experience, in many different veins, says quite possibly.

First, I’ve not (yet) run an ultra marathon. I ran a mountain marathon last year and it was a very challenging last 4 miles, with a lot of the run-walk strategy in play. I declined rapidly, experiencing the opposite of relief from walking and then (trying to) run.

Second, I use running as a way to help jump start recovery from brain overload. It doesn’t always work. But when I can get out and run even a hundred yards, I always return better than I left, and if nothing short-circuits me, I can usually head out for a longer run later that same day.

Third, this winter, I began adding in occasional sprints on my uphills, generally a sprint per mile of uphill. I not only feel better, but I run faster and more free.

Could all this translate into helping me:

  • recover even faster, if I add sprints into my really short runs?
  • run longer distances, by adding sprints into the uphills?
  • help heal my brain even more, through whatever biological mechanisms are at play here?

I plan to play and find out! If I remember, I’ll report back.

May God startle you with joy!

One Response to “Sprint to Improve Running and Healing?”

  • Deacon Patrick:

    Update: I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run today. I headed out barefoot into the wet 28˚F and ran a faster run (not a sprint since I’d not warmed up) for about 200 yards. Returned, waited, recovered a fair bit, repeated the same. By 11am I was able to head out and run 4 miles on the trails. So the strategy of mini fast runs seems to be working so far.

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Deacon Patrick’s Round the World Progress

Deacon Patrick's Round the World Progress