Benefits of short-distance races for ultra-runners

Most trail runners training for ultra-marathons focus on logging lots of mileage, but try to avoid short-distance road races. As a result, most long-distance runners are able to sustain endurance runs at a slower pace, but will struggle with running faster on the road, or even increasing their speed and muscle strength when running ultra-marathons on the trail. For runners with a lot of endurance but little speed, their slow-twitch muscles tend to predominate over the fast twitch muscles. Short distance races will improve the ability and strength of the fast- twitch muscles. For long-distance runners who don’t add short, fast distance road running or races in their training plans, consequently, they will lose their ability to generate explosive muscle power. The lack of the muscle power will result in the decline of running efficiency and economy, and even the running form will start to break down. The loss of speed increases with age, so in order to guarantee long-term progress in running, it is important to add some fast and short-distance road running to your training plan. We all know the importance and benefits of including speedwork to our training program, but to run a 10K race or half-marathon will push our body and brain for a longer time. Once our body and brain gets used to a faster pace, when running long distances, the slower pace will feel much easier and comfortable, so our overall speed will improve. It is very important to start the short-distance training with no existing injuries, strong core and basic muscle strength. Running at a fast speed on the road might challenge muscles that haven’t been used in years. To make sure the body is able to handle a fast pace, include some core and weight training workouts.

Running a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon road race can be a great physical and mental challenge for ultra-trail runners.

Benefits of racing short distances:

  • Improving VO2 Max or anaerobic threshold
  • Recruit a greater percentage of fast-twitch muscles
  • Improving the metabolic system
  • Improving the efficiency of the neuromuscular system (communication between the brain and muscles)
  • The neuromuscular system will increase the speed at which it sends signals to the muscles, so the muscles activate quickly.
  • Improves your running form and increases the muscle power.
  • Increases mental strength

Workout to improve a 10K speed:

– 3K Warm up
– For 30 mins run 2:00 mins at 10K pace and 1:00 min easy- Alternating
– 2K Cool down

Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!