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Young female sprinter running

Becoming a Better Sprinter: 3 Concepts to Consider


If you are a track and field athlete who specialises in sprinting, you will need to follow a specific lifestyle if you want to succeed in any of your competitions. 

More specifically, your body will need to go through intense and specific training to compete at the highest level. So, if you really want to best facilitate the high levels of performance required, I will dive deeper into what that specific lifestyle looks like in my latest blog, and why each component is important. 

Sprint start in track and field

Where do you start as a sprint athlete?

You don't need to necessarily overhaul your current lifestyle to adapt to your athletic lifestyle. In fact, there may be some elements of your lifestyle that can be altered or improved to help your overall performance.

There are of course some things that differ from person to person regarding what you may or may not have access to. Despite this, there are many alternative methods available to ensure you are getting the things that you need to help you perform at your best! 

None of us are perfect and the lifestyle doesn’t have to be rigid. But, no matter what, consistency is key! If you can do the simple things often, it’ll pay off in the end. Many of these things I’ve had to personally learn along the way, and that’s okay! 

This journey is all about learning and growth which can only take place with time. And time is something that as sprinters, we are all too familiar with. 

Male athletes sprinting

1: Train as much as you can

To put it simply, a lot of your time will be spent training. 

Whether this is at the gym or on the track, you will spend significant amounts of time training. Your programme will be set up and monitored by your relevant coaches, which will enable you to perform at your best. 

Group of athletes training

What should your program include?

In most cases, there will be a certain number of sessions per week alongside rest/recovery days. Each coach has a different way of setting up their program but for the most part, a lot of specific sprint training is the same. 

It isn't always the case that the more you train the better you’ll get. It comes down to what you are doing in those sessions and how well your body can recover. Oftentimes, we as athletes overload our bodies which can increase the risk of injury and decrease performance if we aren’t careful. 

Tired athlete lying on track

Be self-aware and know when to stop

Although you may have an amazing support system, only YOU can inform them of how your body actually feels. As you get closer to competition time, it’s likely your programme will change. It could even mean you train significantly less. Recovery & rest then becomes the priority to ensure you are ready to compete. 

Not every training session you do will require the same amount of effort or demand on the body. Proper periodisation will enable you to have weeks or days where the runs aren’t as fast or the weights aren’t as heavy. The track sessions and weight sessions go hand in hand. They complement each other and when done correctly, enable you to achieve higher levels of performance!

Always feel free to ask your coaches any questions you may have. Having that open line of communication helps the coach-athlete relationship to thrive.

Athlete standing on running track

2: Allow time for rest & recovery

This leads perfectly to rest and recovery, a significant part of your lifestyle as an athlete.

Sleep is of course an important part of training and life in general, but athletes often find themselves to be a lot more tired throughout the day. This could come as a result of the session you have just done or an accumulation of sessions over the past few days/weeks. Knowing this, your body responds with soreness and fatigue. 

Your best point of action would then be to take a nap to allow the muscles to recover. When we are in that mode of complete rest, the body can then begin to recover and repair itself both physically and mentally. If we don’t slow down and allow ourselves the proper time to recover, we won’t be able to maintain the high levels of performance that we are looking to produce when we need it. We can only put so much load onto the body before we completely crash. That is why we look to avoid this through proper periodisation and rest. 

Athletes training in a gym

The perks of periodised training

A periodised training programme will tailor your training to decrease the chances of burn out.

If you are just coming out of a 4-week intense training block, it wouldn't be wise to then have another 4-week intense block without a significant rest period to allow the body to recover. Some athletes require more or less rest than others. This comes down to individual differences. It’s important for us as athletes to communicate when we feel we need more rest, as only you know how your body actually feels. 

In terms of what you do when you rest, it is oftentimes quite helpful to do things that aren’t directly related to your sport. It could be going and watching a movie, taking a walk or even starting a new hobby. 

For some of us, we struggle with completely resting in the norm of naps or chilling out in bed. Having other activities that allow you to actively rest can help you to disengage from the track whilst also being able to do things you enjoy. It is absolutely okay to have other hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with track or sports in general, so don't feel guilty about this! 

It can provide you with the right kind of balance where your brain doesn’t get too overloaded with the same thing over and over again. You can make your rest periods fun and refreshing where you actually then look forward to getting back into training. 

You are NOT defined by your sport. Track is something that you take part in, not something that should take parts of you away. Please do consider that. 

Sprinter eating protein bar

3: Keep your nutrition in check

It’s no secret that as an athlete, it’s very important to ensure you have your nutrition in check. However, this does not mean that you can not have any flexibility on what you eat and when you eat it. 

In between, after and before sessions, you will need to have a significant period spent refuelling with foods and fluids. As you train, you burn calories and use up energy which needs to be placed back into the body so you aren’t in a deficit.

Why protein is key

High protein foods will help aid muscle recovery to enable you to train consistently whilst getting the necessary performance gains.

Ensuring you eat regularly and consistently is important to allow your body to recover and maintain the necessary levels of energy to continue training and competing.

Finding a happy and healthy balance

If you have certain dietary requirements, this may make it more difficult for you to get what you need from the meals you are having. 

It is important to discuss this with not only your coaching team but also a qualified dietitian who will be able to give you alternative options to ensure you are well fuelled and healthy. There are so many different foods out there which can help aid you in your training and preparation. It's great to keep an open mind and try new things. You never know what you might like!

Athletic woman drinking protein shake

Also... don't forget to stay hydrated!

Hydration is also very important, especially as we are now coming into the warmer months.

Sometimes, we may simply forget to fill up our water bottles so we have to go to training without one. This can be very harmful to our body during training as we lose a lot of water when we sweat.

Due to the higher temperatures, our bodies will sweat a lot more to keep us cool. In the process of this, we lose a lot of water and salt which needs to be replenished to restore normal bodily functions.

Proper hydration is key! Even if it’s small sips, it helps!

Happy female athlete

Master your athlete lifestyle!

Hopefully, this has given you a better insight into some of the key components involved in the overall athlete lifestyle. There are many other things involved in the overall lifestyle that can vary on an individual basis, but I’ve attempted to narrow it down to three things that are somewhat easy to remember, which to recap are the following:

  1. Train as much as you can
  2. Allow time for rest & recovery
  3. Keep your nutrition in check

If these three things can be better monitored and taken care of, it’ll help you massively on your journey. The training of course is a major part of what is required for progression, but oftentimes the external lifestyle factors are not always considered which can be detrimental to your success. 

With that being said, it doesn’t mean that there is no freedom to make mistakes in these processes. You have to find what suits you best. You want to be in the right training environment with coaches who understand your goals, a nutrition plan that enables you to be well-fueled and an understanding of what proper rest is and how your body responds to it. 

If you ever have any further questions please feel free to drop me a message and I’ll do my best to help!

About Destiny Ogali

Destiny Ogali Neuff Athletic Blogger

Destiny is a sprinting athlete who competes for Harrow AC, and he is incredibly passionate about helping other sprinters and athletes go further in their athletic journeys!

He already has experience in discussing athletics topics with others through The Visions Podcast, where he has sat down and spoken with some great athletes, including Desiree Henry and Aidan Syers! 

You can find Destiny's sprint performances on his Power of 10 profile.

Instagram: @destinyogali & @thevisionspod

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