T Nation

Pro Distance Training

I am wondering about all the references to the comparing of sprinters and distance runners, their body physiques, and their training methods. I think it is unfair to say that by running distances as a bodybuilder you are putting your physique on the line.

First of all, most if not all sprinters that you are making your references to are mesomorphs. Not only that, but guys like Kerron Clemonts, Maurice Green, and Shawn Crawford are among the best sprinters in the world. That means they are among the best strength atletes in the world. They all inherit a quality of excellent genetic makeup and great work ethic. Their bodies are already built for putting on muscle and staying lean quite easily. Coupled with their weight training they are going to have amazing builds.

Distance runners, on the other hand, are almost always ectomorphs. Very tall, hard to put on mass. Makes a good runner, not a lifter. Coupled with the fact they put in 100+ miles a week with next to no weight training, they are not going to look like a sprinter.

To find a good balance of these two training styles, I think you have to look at decathletes. Take a look at Bryan Clay. This guy puts in some distance running, coupled with weight training, sprints, and lots of form work. He has a pretty good physique. Coupled with a give or take 183 foot discus throw, which is just short of the elite status, this guy’s performance in a power event isn’t hurt by his road work. Though He wouldn’t win a bodybuilding contest neither would a sprinter nor a distance runner.

Also looking at distance runners, these guys are tough. I think distance running builds a mental and physical toughness that cannot be acquired through sprinting. One of their workouts would tear apart almost any guy that works out at your gym. Look at combat athletes, who go on long runs. They take a beating, and come back for more. This could be accounted for through their other training, but I think the running takes a major part in it.

I don’t think we as lifters should view distance running as a curse. I think it should be in the category of GPP along with sledgehammer and sandbag training. A great way to build toughness and strengthen your body.

This is one of my favorite subjects. I have completed at a fairly high level as a sprinter, middle distance runner, and distance runner. Now, I have avoided running to keep in shape.

Mostly, in my own experiences, whenever I get back into distance running, I more or less disappear. I finally think my “natural” bodyweight is around 175. When I run, and it always ends up 35-50 miles a week, I drop down to under 155. Of course, the lighter I get, the better I run. End commmetn. I end up getting repetive leg injuries and have to quit.

This cycle kept up to I was 52, then I just said screw it. For the last three year’s, I took up weight training and haven’t looked back. I’m stronger now than I have ever been. I recently ran a 5k race without any running, other than hill sprints and did fine. The GPP I do involves a lot of carries and supersets.

However, I do have a desire to return to running the 200 meters in Master’s competition. The pentathlon has the discus, javelin, long jump, 200 meters and 1,500 meters. I will be curious if I get get good times with just sleds, hill sprints, and lifting.

Finally, when you go to a Master’s track meet, all the distance runners look ten years older than they are, and all the throwers look ten years younger.

I had a coach in high school who is 48 and she looks like she’s 30. She was an alternate for the US olympics.

Gary John (and everyone),

How do you all like to do your hill sprints? Distance, reps, incline, rests?

I usually do 4-8 reps of a ~100-200 meter hill with enough of an incline to slow me down considerably but not enough to make me lose a good sprint position (i.e., I stay on the balls of my feet). I either jog down or walk down depending on the day’s workload and how I feel.