Speed endurance is the ability of an athlete to maintain his maximum speed for a period of 3 to 20 seconds. A different approach is to assess and potentially minimize deceleration after reaching maximum speed, also known as Vmax.
There are two key elements to consider when designing speed endurance training plans:
1. Maintaining proper running technique during maximum speed under fatigued conditions.
2. The changes and burdens observed in the energy systems and the properties of the elastic tissues.
Technically, speed endurance could be thought of as the ability to maintain sprint mechanics at maximum speed under increasing levels of fatigue. Training for speed endurance should include significant time and effort to develop the skills and discipline required to maintain sprint mechanics at maximum speed for long durations.
From an exercise physiology perspective, speed endurance is the stress zone where lactate tends to accumulate, which increases the acidity of the muscle environment due to the increase in hydrogen ion levels. In this regard, speed endurance training should target the energy systems and movement characteristics involved in the required time duration of the 100 to 200m event.
Technical characteristics and metabolic burden are essentially exercised at the same time. Secondly we can supplement additional exercises in order to further strengthen specific muscle groups, which fall short of the required endurance or specific endurance characteristics required to maximize athletic performance.
In training, applying the Principle of Progression to intensity, rest, and amount of load is a safe method to develop our athletes’ abilities. It goes without saying that basic endurance is pre-existing in order for an athlete to be able to complete the volume and duration of daily training. If the athlete does not possess this value, he/she easily develops it in the first 4 – 6 weeks of the winter (basic) preparation.
In practice, exercises that will improve running technique under conditions of fatigue during speed endurance, include special running exercises for a distance of 25 to 40 m (various forms of skipping, etc.), jumping exercises, with or without load, plyometric jumps, improvement of eccentric strength, static exercises with load (elastic resistance, weights, etc.) for a duration of up to 30″.
Distances from 30 to 150m, with short breaks between 45″ to 4′ – 6′ in 3 – 4 sets of 3 or 4 repetitions / set, is an adequate volume per workout and a decent stress on the metabolism. The intensity, depending on the time of preparation, ranges from 85% up to 95%+. Of course as the intensity increases the total volume of repetitions decrease and the time between each repetition increases.
The level of quality in the execution of the repetitions will improve over time. Patience and persistence in the execution and completion of every workout from both athlete and coach, is a must.
A major mistake when insecurity and impatience push either the athlete or the coach to try to achieve performances that are not yet “ripe” to be achieved. Stay focus on the path you have designed and you will be rewarded.