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!