Interval runs are a great way to improve sport-specific conditioning. Instead of jogging a mile at a leisurely pace, which produces slow movement patterns that can hinder power and speed production, try running sprints for different lengths.
One mile equals 1,760 yards. Running four sets of intervals, 12 runs per set at 40 yards each, equals 1,920 yards. So by doing the interval runs, you will sprint more than a mile!
When setting up a metabolic conditioning program, change the distances, running patterns [forward, backward, shuffle] and rest times to simulate your sport. Below are sample programs for basketball and football.
Run each interval as fast as possible. Start at the end line of a basketball court.
Rest 20-30 seconds.
Rest 20-30 seconds.
Set up your own patterns and runs to reflect your team's style of play--fast break, full-court press, half court pick and roll, or whatever fits the situation.
This series, which can be done on a football field, consists of four sets of 12 sprints. Run each sprint at maximum speed. Walk five yards [about 15 seconds] for active rest.
With a 15-second rest between sprints and a two-minute break between the first and second sets, you will be simulating game conditions. The rest periods equal time between plays, and the two-minute breather mirrors break time between quarters. After two full sets (half time), rest four to five minutes. Then perform your 12 third quarter runs, rest two minutes, and do your final 12 runs for the fourth quarter.
Sets/Reps: 4x1; rest 2-3 minutes
When beginning this run series, start with one quarter. As you progress, add a quarter [12 runs] at a time until you can run an entire "game."
Distances and running patterns—sprinting forward, backpedaling, shuffling—can be tweaked to fit each position. Defensive backs should backpedal with a turn and run; linemen should do shorter runs; and receivers should do longer runs.
By setting up a customized interval training program, you can drive your conditioning to elite levels for your sport.