Saturday Sprints: A Story In Photos

To aid in the quest for superhero body composition, many people I trust recommend occasional sprints, in addition to lifting heavy things and met-cons (and rest/recovery!) Dave and I kinda halfway pinky-swore to do sprints every other Saturday, and this week was our first time. New goal: begun!

We hit Eilers Park here in Austin, the location where I first started my CrossFit adventures at bootcamp. I have a deep affection for the park where I learned chest-to-deck pushups, box jumps, and the “never cheat, never quit” mindset. It has everything a budding superhero could need to get a solid workout: a wall for box jumps, a few stone stairways, a wide sidewalk that winds uphill (grudgingly known as “the snake”), and a grassy area for dumbbell work, stretching, and situps.

To understand the warmup I put together for us, you need some visual aids. First, the stone stairs. They twist at the top and go up another half flight, and the steps themselves vary in height from three inches to 14. Running up them means, first and foremost, paying attention to foot position, and guarantees plenty of huffing/puffing at the top.

Next: the snake. It curves like two Ss laid out end to end, and includes drainage grates that are conveniently located about 20 walking lunges from each other. Using the grates as landmarks, you can do all kinds of fun things up and down the snake.

Here’s the workout I made up in my half-awake, half-asleep state on Saturday morning. The WODs I imagine in that frame of mind don’t always work out – most of the time, my imagination has much more stamina and strength than my actual body – but this one was pretty good. I do love the bear crawl (especially uphill).

2 rounds:
sprint up & down stone stairs
run through playground & down the snake
up the snake: bear crawl, walking lunges, sprint, side shuffle L, side shuffle R
run through park
10 box jumps on stone wall

50m sprint, on the minute for 10 minutes

easy run: up the snake, up & down the stone stairs, through the playground, down the snake

This is the path where we ran our sprints. I think it was about 50m, but the point was really just to go all out. It ended up being about 15-17 seconds of work, so almost Tabata length. Here’s the thing I love about sprints: the effort is so all-consuming, time ceases to exist, and I’m in a state of just being. Sure, it’s a wickedly uncomfortable state, but it’s also free of the fetters of cohesive, self-aware thought. My vision narrows to a point straight ahead, or, more accurately, The Point… the location of the finish line. All I can hear is the sh-sh-sh-sh of my breath, matching the rhythm of my feet. I’d like to tell you I make up some awesome superhero persona to motivate me while I sprint. But the truth is, inside my head, the only thought, which seems to travel up from deep inside an ancient part of my brain (snake brain?!), is this:

Sprinting made us very sweaty – even my eyelids and ankle bones seemed to be producing their own droplets of moisture – and there was quite a bit of panting. I might have had to rest doubled-over a few times between the sprints, hands on my knees, staring at the dust between my feet. There might also have been occasions when I made wheezing noises.

When the 10 minutes were blessedly over, we did an easy lap through the park, then meandered down another short flight of stone steps to a small dock. This is me, sweaty, right shoulder taped from my recent Airrosti treatment. That brownish-yellowish smudge on my upper right arm is one of the many (MANY!) bruises I’m sporting right now, thanks to Dr. Nick Askey’s magic thumbs. But my shoulder is gradually feeling better.

Our chill-out spot is tucked into a little cove on the shore. A breeze surprised us, and for the first time in weeks, I actually felt cool. It was like  a drink of fresh cold water for my skin and psyche.

On our way out of the park, we saw this bench. That is a good, solid message right there.

The end.


When’s the last time you did a sprinting session? Are sprints part of your training plan? Talk to us the comments.


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  • Tim Huntley says:

    Hey Mel,

    Looks like you and me are on the same page (sprints and shoulders)… I am headed out in a few minutes for a PT appointment to get my shoulder problem diagnosed (looks to be some type of impingement that makes overhead squats sheer fantasy.

    As for sprinting, I am hoping to run a sub-60 second 400m dash next year, and most of my focus has been improving my short distance sprinting (100m and 200m) as opposed to trying to build aerobic endurance.


    • Mel says:

      Good luck with your shoulder! My humerus is apparently not sitting properly in the joint… which is not funny at all 😉

      Love your sprinting goal. Keep us posted on how you’re doing! That’s really exciting.

      • Tim Huntley says:

        Looks the the problem with my shoulder is similar (I just got back from the PT session). I have a problem with the humeral joint where the humerus is not being pulled properly into the posterior capsule (most likely due to WEAK, WEAK, WEAK muscles on my upper back, the ones that would pull the humerus back into the proper spot – opposite of what the pecs would do).

        Anyway, I need to do some very isolated strength work over the next 6-12 weeks, and not try to do movements that cause intense pain (like overhead squats).

  • Well, I ran 200m yesterday in the warm-up and 300m today. Those are the first sprints I’ve done in….5 years? I’m gonna work up to that lap! Woohoo!

    I’m so jealous you felt a cool breeze. That’s sad. Come on autumn!

    • Mel says:

      I’m so thrilled for you that you’re back to running. That is really just so awesome. It won’t be long before you’re whining about the little uphill behind the building like the rest of us!

  • Tom R. says:

    After your post last week about your 200m/swing/plank WOD, my buddies and I decided to pull out a 12x200m sprinting session. Mind you, it had been awhile for all of us, but nevermind that. We decided 12 200m sprints sounded like a great idea. Thankfully, only 1 out of 4 of us pulled a hammie. The rest of us were just intolerably sore for 3 days. We decided we will be sprinting more often. It was awesome.

    • Mel says:

      You are made of tough stuff, ’cause I was totally NOT sprinting when I ran all those 200s. Good for you! Sorry to hear about the pulled hammie!

      And yeah, sprinting is oddly awesome.

  • Janice says:

    Thanks for the WordPress tip. It is cooperating a big more than Blogger. Nick worked on my shoulder last week too. I have a nice line of bruises up my left tricep as a parting souvenir. Thanks to Nick, I can once again drive with both arms. Whoo-hoo! I’ve recently done a lot of sprint work too. I wrote about it in my blog. I’m currently fueling and resting to prep for my next sprint workout. The WOD I’m doing tomorrow beat me yesterday and that’s unacceptable.

    • Mel says:

      Janice, glad to hear WordPress is working for you!

      Man! I have to go to Nick again tomorrow, and I’m dreading it. I know it’s good for me, and I think he’s very good at what he does, but the agony of those thumbs!

      Hope we get to workout together sometime soon.

      • Janice says:

        The thumbs. *shudder* I made the mistake of suggesting we listen to Arcade Fire during my most painful session. Now, when I hear Neon Bible, I have flashbacks of that chair and the thumbs.

  • Chris says:

    First-awesome blog! 🙂
    I have been crossfitting for about 9 months and trying to BE paleo since January or so. But I came to crossfit from a running background (if you can call my feeble attempts a background lol). But I digress.
    I do some sort of sprint work once a week. My second favorite is pickups. Mark out 300 m in 50m intervals and do the following: walk, jog, run, sprint, run, jog, rest. Repeat. It sort of warms the body up to the sprint and prevents injury.
    My FAV is my superhero workout. We drag our pallet up to the old railway bed (it’s now a walking trail on the water, beautiful). We load it up with 20 and/or 25 pound sandbags (total weight 50-100 lbs). We attach ourselves with some rope and a web belt and we sprint pulling it. Once we start to tire we increase the weight and run until we can’t and then release the belt and try not to fall on our faces as our feet try to catch our heads. Great for learning pose style running as well and creates a stir on the trail 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Chris, I LOVE that pickup idea. I’d definitely going to work that into our next sprint session. And dragging the pallet sounds like SO MUCH FUN. I wanna come workout with you!

  • Meghan E. says:

    Mel. God bless you for doing sprints!!

    I last did sprints on Monday (late) evening because I couldn’t get a WOD in and I have a Warrior Dash coming up at the end of the month and need to do some Endurance work.

    My running WOD:

    WarmUp- run around neighborhood and down the hill to the playground.

    WOD 10- 30 second uphill sprints

    CashOut- walk, try not to pass out, walk some more, then essentially crawl back UP the road to my apartment. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      WARRIOR DASH! How fun is that?!

      I know it’s weird, but… I like hill sprints. I always feel like the ground is coming up to meet me, to try to help me up the hill. So sweet and thoughtful!

      Nice work, lady!

  • JL says:

    Well, I hate sprints (or any kind of running for that matter) more than I can say. So, I avoid them at all costs. In fact, Nancy was the workout at the gym one day this week and I somehow found that I was too busy to go to CF to do the WOD! Oops!! lol

    I find myself a mix between knowing I have to do it, and doing it and hating it and not doing it.