As you may remember, the last time around I was too devastated and exhausted, having traveled through the eye of the storm, to write about the very topic that had initially been on my mind. But a promise is a promise - even if you are a morning-run junkie such as yours truly, so let's get to it and see what sprinting is really all about.
As a separate activity, sprinting is basically running at an accelerated speed the distance of 400 meters or less. I mention this fact because there are actually sports and individual drills created for this very purpose, sprinting hard, then pausing for a short while and doing some walking, and then sprinting again. That will surely get your heart rate up!
I was amazed to discover that someone has managed to break this activity down into three distinctive phases:
1. Start Phase
2. Acceleration Phase, and finally
3. Maximum Speed Phase
Translated into humanly-understandable terms, you start out at some certain speed, then pick up your speed as much as you can, and then finally, keep that speed up for as long as you can. After all three, you slow down and try to walk it off and get your breathing back under control.
So, what's the deal here, what is the ultimate benefit of this torturous exercise? In general terms, it will clearly build up your endurance and strength, as for some miraculous reason, our bodies learn to store more oxygen when sprinting. Obviously, you burn calories at an insane rate, which of course is always an added benefit.
Now, let's pause for a moment with the scientific talk and let me put my 5 AM Runner hat back on. I have long beenthe proponent of longer-distance running, looking for the overall change in the metabolism, a long-lasting change that will keep you burning calories long after your run / cardio is over. As such, I have always recommended, and have always personally stuck to longer runs, at least 35-45 minutes, possibly at slower speeds, yet looking to keep a constant and steady pace, thus adjusting the body to that particular heart-rate. Again, something quite miraculous happens in this case as well, and our bodies learn to process calories and burn fat in a different, long-lasting fashion.
And so, with that in mind, I have always openly laughed at the sprinters, looking down at their action as inferior and amateur. I know, I know, not exactly the most proper thing to do, and I am certainly no professional myself, and if you are looking for amateur-hour anywhere, look no further - I am it. I sort of stumbled upon a specific technique that works, and have been sticking to it religiously, afraid to deviate for a moment, as I know it brings real results.
But occasionally, just once in a great while, I take a careful step out of my protective shell, and look around to see what else may be going on in our realm. And, as of late, I have been ending most of my runs with a little dose of sprinting, I am talking the last 200 feet or so, but during that last burst, I absolutely go berserk and leave it all on the battlefield (so to speak). It may not even be all that healthy, but as I approach the last remaining couple of hundred feet of my distance, I rapidly increase speed to the max possible, and go at that full speed, knees coming up high, just really giving it my all.
Just to share the feeling during those last moments - everything becomes surreal, breathing is purely instinctive and uncontrolled, the entire part of the body below the neck seems to go forward on its own, as if a separate entity altogether! Actually, reminds me of yet another interesting activity we all do, but I won't go there... I keep it up for mere 20-30 seconds, if that, although it feels more like 20 minutes! Afterwards, everything is buzzing and singing, my head feels as if on fire and the white dancing stars are flying in front of my eyes. I am not quite sure whether or not I am getting all the benefits of sprinting described above, but it sure feels peculiar!
I just need to decide what else may spice up my running experiences, besides the psychotic sprinting bursts at the end...