Top Speed and Speed Endurance

I am curious about where the difference between top speed and speed endurance occurs. I am currently doing 3 sets of 2x80m runs with a walkback recovery (approx. 1min) between sets. With full recovery between sets. My training partner and I time the last 60m section, which is usually done in 6.0 seconds, making the entire run approx 9 seconds. Would this type of training (or at least the first run) be considered top speed work, or speed endurance due to the walkback? Could it be both, with the first run when rested being top speed, while the second run while fatigued constitutes speed endurance?

This is coming from my knowledge of Charlie saying that anything under 7 seconds (I believe) is considered top speed work.

Thanks a lot,

P.S By full recovery I mean full recovery, around 15min. So we are definetely fully rested for the first 80m of the next set.

You want to be fully recovered between reps as well.

I would take 8-10 minutes between reps and 15 minutes between sets. Also try flying 30’s with a 20-30 meter runup for top speed/max velocity work. Walkback recovery between reps is not nearly enough rest

As you are performing them, they are speed endurance.

How instead would the day be a top speed day? By shortening the runs from 80m to 60m, or by taking out the second run.

In response to Chris’ post. I think you misunderstood my explanation. We are treating the runs as essentially a 160m but broken into two runs (with the walkback). I agree that it is speed endurance but what my question was trying to ascertain was whether the first 80m of the 160m could be considered top speed work, as it is performed at 100%. I guess what Charlie is saying is no it is not.

Thanks for the clarification (if I am understanding correctly).

Like Chris said, you need to do flying sprints and/or sprint-float-sprints b/c 80m is not top speed since you will be accelerating, running at top speed, and then decelerating before the run is done. The purpose of top-speed training is to train top-speed. So, the fact that you are running that far a distance makes it speed endurance, plus the fact that your rest is WAY too short also makes it speed endurance.

If you want to run 80m, I would say do sprint-float-sprint with the first 30m building up, then maintaining top-speed for 20m, and then decelerating for 30m. That would better train top-speed like you wish to do.

juggies, what you’re doing now is split runs pretty much. Your obviously going faster for each rep than a usual split run, but thats essentially what your doing.

The only way for the work out that you described to be a speed work out would be, if you were running 8sec in the 100. :wink: That way you would be at that 6sec range at the 80m mark. But since you and I both know you’re not running 8sec in the 100, it’s not a speed workout.

The workout that you describe is speed endurance. Cuz it’s not the amount of runs that makes a speed or speed enduance. It’s the distance or time. Even if you did one 80, it would still be speed endurance. And you probably would benefit from what Chris said about the rest, unless you have something specific in mind that you were doing.

Who told you I wasn’t running 8 flat in the 100m Treble?

Just kidding, thanks for the responses guys. I am more knowledgeable now than when I first posted, and that is a good thing. So basically top speed work entails that you do not decelerate in a run (i.e past 6 seconds or the related distance) for then it becomes speed endurance (trying to hold the speed). So like 400Stud says once I start decelerating between 60-80 then the run has become speed endurance.

A follow up question would then be this. If I am working up to 40m on Mondays for speed out of blocks (20s, 30s, 40s) and am doing the aformentioned speed endurance workout on Thursday am I missing a top speed component, that should be in the program?

Thanks guys this has been enlightening.

Yeah, but depending on phase, it may or may not be a big deal.


The runs Juggies describes have an obvious top speed component: the first 80m run in the set. So even though he adds a second run with only a walk back recovery, couldn’t you categorize the set as both a top speed drill and a speed endurance drill?

Wouldn’t an 80m sprint on its own be considered, (while a long one) a speed run? What’s the difference if he adds another rep, besides adding a speed endurance characteristic to a speed drill?

If that was the case, you could rely on one run- say 400m to cover everything- you’d get your speed work in along the way- kind of like HIT training on the track- but don’t get me started on that subject!
Speed work must be prefected separately.

This may prove ominous but I am going to disagree, hopefully somewhat intelligently.

What I think Sprinterl intended to say is that in the training I described I am running the 80m full out, as if it was a 60m or 100m race. In the 400m it would involve a more measured approach and not going “all out” from the start.

What I think is the major confusion over this point is how the first run when fully rested does not stand to improve top speed. If I run these flying 60’s in 6.0 and for arguments sake the first twenty (from a walk in) in 2.8 then would I not be hitting the top speed aspect from 30-60m and then the speed endurance from 60m-80m. With a final run time of 8.8 seconds? Despite this speed endurance aspect the 30m-60m is still “top speed”. The second set after walkback is clearly fatigued and thus speed endurance, but then a full recovery is taken between sets allowing the first rep of the next set to once again contain a top speed component.

What seems to be a consensus is that speed work has to be 6-7 seconds or less? But does this mean that female sprinters who, for arguments sake, run 8.0 in the 60m can only train top speed by running 40m-50m?

Is the theory that once deceleration sets in then top speed is finished (thus the necessity to ensure you don’t decelerate by keeping the runs under 6-7 seconds?) I must admit to being slightly confused.

To try and use some examples from the elite levels of sprinting, both Flojo in her 100m WR and Mo Greene in his 1999 World Championships do not slow down in the last 40m of the race. In fact Flojo’s fastest splits were from 80-90 and 90-100 (both .90). Does this mean that these athletes, if doing the flying 60s, would be also training speed endurance. It seems to me that they would not.

Thus the questions becomes can they maintain their top speed longer because they are such elite athletes or can top speed work be longer than 60m/6-7 seconds?

80m sprints are not top-speed on any level because you decelerate before you finish the run. That’s not top speed. It’s speed endurance and b/c juggies does two with little rest, it makes it even more of a speed end. workout than top-speed and totally negates any argument stating otherwise.

Another thing to ponder as well :slight_smile:

How you attack the sprint affects its effectiveness as top speed work or not.

If you are performing say a flying 30 with a 25-40 meter runup and 25-40+ meter decel zone you would accelerate over the first 25-40 meters differently than if you were running an all out 80 meter run.

You would gradually accelerate until you are at top speed entering the flying 30 meter zone. While in that zone you are trying for absolute top speed then the final 25-40 meters is the deceleration zone where you shut everything down.

If you hit the top speed and then try to maintain it in the last 25-40 meters after the top speed zone you are wasting valuable energy (muscular and CNS) for the remaining reps. This is also true when you acclerate flat out for the first 25-40 meters entering the zone.

That is why top speed work is specific and short speed/accel and speed endurance are specific as well.

Hope this makes sense.


Thanks for clarifying that Chris. What I was trying to say in more specific terms :smiley:

If you approached speed work like that, the chances are that only the first rep would have the requisite quality to work on speed. So technical improvement in conditions of top speed would be very hard to work on- with so few opportunities.
You point out that Flo Jo and Mo have/had great speed endurance- but that doesn’t mean that each quality can’t be or isn’t worked on separately.


It sounds to me like you’re saying that, although a speed endurance run can be fast–that is, one may very well hit maximum speed (the essence of speed work) during the run–, any deterioration in speed thereafter would have detrimental implications for the speed you “perfected” before the slowdown. In effect, any benefit you gain from hitting top speed is negated by the speed-endurance aspect of the run that follows.

I don’t understand why this is the case. Could you please further clarify?

One argument I can think of would be to say that it’s simply very difficult even to REACH high enough speeds constituitive of speed work in a sp-endurance run, since there is a psychological “barrier” in the knowledge that the run is going to be far. But in Juggies’s timed “broken 160s” which involves a timed 80m sprint followed by another timed 80m sprint, that psychological barrier is eliminated by the walk back recovery. That is, although you may count the 80+80m as a single set, the reps are performed as entities on their own. This would allow you to reach the requisite top speed.

Just an addendum to my last post.

If then, the requisite speed for speed development can be reached during these longer runs, why shouldn’t they constitute, at least in part, “speed work”?

Charlie mentioned that longer runs don’t allow for enough focus to be placed on truly developing the top speed aspect. I assume he means this in terms of repetitions at top speed. But I thought less was more. Surely 3-4 reps of 80+80 isn’t too little to develop speed. These sound like quality reps to me. Thoughts?

Nobody is saying that an all out run for 80m does not have a max velocity componant to it, in fact it also has a acceleration componant to it. However, using 80m runs to “develop” acceleration or max velocity would be a poor method. I can’t see what is so hard to understand. When you lift weights you don’t do one heavy single followed my a punch of reps at a lighter weight and think this is the most effective way to build max strength. The same goes for sprinting. A certain amount of reps at max velocity is needed if speed is going to be “developed”.
Let’s look at your 4 x 80+80 workout. The last 20 in each of the first run along with the whole 80m in the 2nd run can be chalked up as speed endurance. That is 400m out of the 640m total volume going to speed endurance.

Another thing to consider in this as well.

Max Velocity/Top speed work is extremely challenging on the CNS.

Incorporating other components into that session (The running portion of the workout) will definitely detract from the quality of work possible on top speed.

The learning opportunities (rep numbers) with speed work are maximized when the rep distances are minimized.