Sprinting Vs. Distance training


This happened a little over a week ago, but I’ll say I was too busy to post it.(really I just forgot, but was reminded when I saw Ghamalians signature/ “I’M A DISTANCE RUNNER WITH AN INFERIORITY COMPLEX” sign.)

So, while watching football, someone mentions how NFL players are so fast, and make the obvious (though to him, mindblowing) connection that many of them were great sprinters in high school and college. For some reason this served as the cue for an insecure xc runner in the room to comment on how lazy sprinters are, and how they don’t have to work as hard or have as much dedication as distance runners do. Upon talking to this runner more, I found out he was a 16:30 xc guy who was a low 10 2 miler in track. So I offered that we do an experiment that would show that sprinting and distance running, while different, both require large amounts of work and dedication to be successful. He agreed, because we were in a room full of people and he didn’t want to look like a ■■■■■.
We agreed to the following:
We would do an average training day for a distance runner, and an average training day for a sprinter, with one day of rest in between. Workouts would be selected by each of us for our respective training days.

Monday was the distance day. The first session was simple; a 5 mile run in the morning. Being a somewhat severe asthmatic, I knew this was going to be awful.
I finished the run, but averaged something like 8:15 pace. He averaged 6:27 pace. I couldn’t keep the pace, so he get’s the point for this one.

Later that day we went on the track, he announced we were doing 6 1000s, goal time of 2:55-3:05. He ran in the goal range every time, my fastest was the last one in 3:21. He wins again.

Wednesday comes around, and it’s my turn. I pick one of my favorite track workouts, 6x150m, goal time of 19 seconds each. On the 5th I hit 20.8, but the other 5 were between 19.0 and 20.0. His first he hit 22, then 21, then he, for some reason, went all out and hit 20.5, then dropped back to 22-23 for the last 3. Point to me. He got frustrated and said speed is something you’re born with, so it wasn’t a fair thing to use to compare. While yeah, some people are naturally faster than others, some are also naturally built to be endurance athletes over performance athletes, so I wasn’t buying it.

Next we went to the weight room, a sprinters version of a long run.
He couldn’t lift 135 on bench more than once, couldn’t do a full squat with anything more than 245, and couldn’t do a Romanian dead-lift for more than 165.

He remarked that I lifted weights regularly so “of course you’re stronger than I am.” I pointed out that it’s pretty similar to how he can maintain a faster pace over longer distances because he works on his aerobic strength as much as I work on my muscular strength.

I’m not sure if he understood, but I hope he got the point of doing all that: both types of events require long hours, hard work, repetition, and dedication.

So, to all you high school sprinters who think all distance runners do is “run all the time and slowly” and for all the high school distance runners who call all sprinters lazy to make themselves feel better, realize any good sprinter spends just as much time building upon their existing speed and strength and any good distance runner spends building upon their muscular and aerobic endurance. If you get to college and you’re still trying to keep the pseudo-war between sprinting and distance alive, you just look like an immature douche.

Let the flaming begin.


Unsure of why this would be flamed.

The only reason that i think sprinters get the lazy tag is that in high school when you have those kids who want any easy way out of gym or an easy varsity letter, they join the track team and do the minimum that the coaches will let them get away with. Often times, this is sprinting, since most people associated running farther with more difficult exercise. I know at my school we don’t have a single true, legitimate sprinter, and the sprinters actually are lazy kids who come to practice, run 4x200 in about 28 seconds (for the better kids), and leave.


I think it’s probably a little easier to fake sprinting than it is distance running. The margin of time between the winner and 2nd, 3rd, etc is much larger for distance. A lazy kid would be more likely to take up sprinting than distance running. I think lazy people associate long distances with tough training.

That’s not to say sprinters are lazy… sprinting and distance are two different animals.


I agree with what most of the op said. Since my school has no good sprinters I rarely see the hard work and effort you talk about. Most of our sprinters are football players who do not necessarily want to do 5 months in the gym prior to summer practices. We sent 1 sprinter in the 400 to states last year but we sent people in the 4x800, open 800, 1600, 3200 and they were all from xc. So I do not believe all sprinters do not put in serious effort but just the ones I have been in contact with.


I understand what both you guys are saying, that’s why I think it’s important to think of “good” distance runners and sprinters. There are some quick kids that are just plain fast, but odds are after four years of high school the kids who were slower but put in the effort will be better sprinters. I have witnessed lazy and talented distance runners, though I’ll admit they’re much more rare. We had a kid who, as a freshman with terrible form and who had never run before (was a soccer player, and it was his first and only love) that ran 24/53/2:07 as a freshman indoors. I put in a lot of work in the off-season, but I was a lazy piece of **** in-season, so after my sophomore year i was extremely inconsistent and sometimes just plain awful in the sprints. Another kid who ran about the same times i did as a frosh was down to 11.4/23.5/51 as a junior because he worked a lot harder than I did.

regardless of your event, you’ll never go from good to great without putting in the extra hours, and you just look like an ass if you condemn an entire group of competitors, be it LDRs, jumpers, sprinters, etc due to the actions of a few dumb kids. it’s also prudent to remember that a LOT of athletes do track purely for the benefit of being in better shape/faster for other sports, so don’t expect everyone to take it as seriously as us.


for a guy who hasn’t even broken 10 in the 2 mile, your distance runner buddy is training much too fast. IMO, sprinters can get away with just pure talent and not working hard more easily than distance runners, but in order to really improve, the type of training sprinters have to do is more difficult than the type of training distance runners have to do to improve. like you said, the staple of the distance runner’s training is the “long” run, which is done at a very comfortable pace, for the most part, and is very easy for a distance runner when he is in good shape. the staple of the sprinter’s training, on the other hand, is lifting in the weight room, which can be physically grueling and mentally draining regardless of how fit you are.


Stupid argument in the first place. Of course both of you are going to fail at the other person’s event, you don’t train for it! This proves nothing and will never settle the argument. Sprinter stereotype=lazy, Distance stereotype=■■■■■/unathletic. Nothing will ever change with that so just do what you do and get on with your life.


the thing is, sprinting can be done by lazy people, so can distance running, but if the goal is to be lazy why pick a discipline with a long race? so most of the lazy people on the track are drawn to sprinting because it’s easier to do off no training, tho not well. then unfortunately there’s the stigma that all sprinters are that way, which is wrong obviously because there are the people, like yourself sprints, who are just as dedicated as any distance runner and some a lot more


If you’re talking about a ‘good’ sprinter and a ‘good’ distance runner, both require extreme dedication.

I know a guy who can run a 3:57 1500m off of no base. He’s lazy in the off season, and he probably wont improve. But hell, he can run a 3:57.

I also know a guy from HS who can run a 10.8 100m with virtually no training. He didn’t improve.

It doesn’t really matter, if you work hard you’ll improve. If you don’t, you wont.


Stupid argument in the first place. Of course both of you are going to fail at the other person’s event, you don’t train for it!

That was the point.

This proves nothing and will never settle the argument.

You have a hard time understanding things, I guess.

Sprinter stereotype=lazy, Distance stereotype=■■■■■/unathletic. Nothing will ever change with that so just do what you do and get on with your life.

I never disputed that those were the stereotypes. In fact I’m pretty sure I implied that those were the stereotypes throughout the post, if I didn’t directly say it. You’re so astute.

To person who asked “Why would anyone flame this?” Well, here you go.


I’d like to challenge you to the same criteria. I could definitely do that sprint workout and I have no idea how strong you are.


I think i could do a 150 in 19 seconds. At least in 21 comfortably.

that’s all i wanted to say.


The sprint workout was a rather basic and non-challenging one for anyone who possesses sub 25 200 speed and is in “okay” shape. He did not possess sub 25 200m speed.

If you’d like we could do the workout I did last night instead, which was 6x60m sprints. I averaged 7.44 doing my last in 7.36, maybe you’d find that one more challenging :wink:

For the weight room, my maxes in the last 3 months of working out have been 410lbs squat (450 if you want to use the smith machine), 900lbs leg press, 250lbs bench press, though i prefer to use dumbells.


The way you guys did it is like comparing apples to oranges. I’d say use the decathlon scoring method. Pick an even number sprint/distance events. If you are a sprinter and want to take a distance runner to the weight room then to be fair you need to run his hill w/o’s. Your dedicated distance runners also lift, difference being lower weight-higher reps.


Yeah I figured you’d have me in the weight room because I’ve seen a picture of you on Dyestat and you’re bigger than I am. I got like 210 bench, and 315 squat (I’m pretty bad at squat, especially for a runner, I have horrible form), idk about leg press.

I’d have to try that workout though, I have no idea if I could do it or not, but I’m an 800 runner and dip down to 400 and even lower for relays so I don’t know how much of a “distance” runner I really am anyways. But hey, I run xc, so I guess that counts.


Jesus Christ, I give up.

It’s not my job to forcibly remove other peoples heads from their asses. I think the message was entirely clear in the original post, and I’m pretty sure most people understood. If you’re one of the few people who didn’t get it/choose to over-analyze it, well, God help you.


You’re an 800 runner? Damn. I don’t know about the 60m workout but you could most definitely do 90% of my sprint workouts when I get to 200m and above. Tbh I’ve always been jealous of the versatility of good middle distance runners. A few years ago we had a guy who in one season ran 11.6/23.5/51.0/1:57/4:4x, and in Indoor that year another one of our 800 runners qualified for states by time in every single running event (55, 200, 400, 800, mile, 2-mile) and he cleared 6’ in the high jump his first try. I don’t understand you guys. Edit: looked it up, the guy in indoor hit 6.9/23.7/52.3/2:00/4:39/10:38, along with Long jumping 17 feet and HJing 6’.

And bigger is a relative term, I’m only 5’3’’. Crazy turn-over ftw.


Yeah, I suck at all field events though (I pole vaulted 10 feet after a few tries on it, but that’s nothing great). As for sprints, my coach never let me run any open sprint events in high school and college is even harder to dip down for some speed(I split an 11.0 4x1 senior year, but those splits are so inaccurate so I definitely put nothing into that). So I don’t have any open pr’s, it sucks. But some guys who are able to move all around the board really do some crazy ****.

But yeah, I meant bigger as in built more I guess.


I think you interpreted his post as far more critical and hostile than it was intended. In fact, it seems like you guys pretty much agree on all the major points, so I’m pretty confused as to why you just jumped down his throat :confused::confused:


In my expierience with coaching small-school Illinois track… Many teams are usually hit or miss with distance and sprinting. The established cross country teams “wow” the unintelligent crowd by tempo-ing a 2 mile race in 10:35 and later having the “sprinting school” send a kid crawling across in 12:20… Yet this same distance school would have maybe one or two DECENT (i’m talking about qualifying for finals then finishing in a pack) 400 runners…

But on the other hand, I have seen many “sprinting schools” who, to be blunt, are just straight up fast. 4x200’s, 4x100’s, hurdles, anything under 400 meters is almost a guaranteed top 2 finish.

So in the end, SOMEONE goes to state. Meaning SOMEONE puts in all the work. But with cross country, many distance runners have the sometimes insane work ethic involved with their training (This is not saying sprinters don’t try hard!). I’m just saying percentage-wise, I think the balance tips in favor of distance runners in terms of numbers who aim for glory