Developing Endurance in Speed-Power Athletes


Much of what many track and field coaches of speed-power athletes do has what I’d call an Endurance bias in that they are using training protocols and methodologies directly from or influenced by the training theory and methods of an endurance athlete. Because the physical capacities necessary for success in speed-power activities is very different than those of endurance events, this approach is fool hearty however many don’t even recognize they’re doing it. The biggest error is in over-emphasizing aerobic endurance for speed-power athletes. Many think you need to ‘establish a base’, ‘build miles’ or achieve a high level of aerobic fitness to be able to do well in any event. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the speed-power events, endurance is important but coaches should be more concerned with developing things like work capacity and strength endurance early in the training year and shift towards speed and power endurance as the year progresses. This ensures that the athlete is still addressing the biomotor quality of endurance while doing so in a manner that is appropriate for the demands of their event. It also ensures that the athlete is not receiving ‘mixed signals’ from the training stimulus. These ‘mixed signals’ come when you are trying to combine speed-power development means with a large volume of endurance (especially aerobic) training means. This confuses the body and leads to what is known as an interference effect on the training adaptation. This interference effect compromises the adaptation from the speed-power development methods so even if things are being done perfectly to develop speed, strength and power; if too much aerobic endurance work is included the adaptations will be less than what they otherwise would be.