How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

STACK Expert Lee Ness does not let his athletes sprint at max speed in extremely cold weather. Check out his fallback drills.

During the winter, the cold weather can put a damper on your speed training—especially if you don't have access to a facility with turf. And sometimes, the cold is simply not condusive to this type of workout.

I am a sprint coach, so speed work for me (and all track & field coaches) is maximum velocity running. This can only be accomplished with drills over no more than 30 meters. Speed work is just what it sounds like–100-percent of maximum speed.

I typically avoid doing this type of workout when it's extremely cold, because training for speed requires fairly substantial rest intervals (3 to 5 times longer than you work.) If you're outside, this is not pleasant. If I had my athletes do flat-out speed in freezing weather, they'd need to increase their body temperature before each set, and they would be too fatigued to do the drill properly.

Below are three workouts I have my athletes perform when the weather doesn't cooperate. These drills are a fallback and are meant to work on average speed over a sprint distance, not top-end speed. They keep the athletes moving, helping to prevent injury in cold conditions. During extended recovery, athletes can simply head indoors.


This is a very tough workout, and if you're not careful, you may get sick at the end. Don't let that worry you. It's supposed to be tough. Do this around the perimeter of a football field or soccer field, with the sprints on the long edge and the recovery on the short edge.

How to:

  • Sprint for 60 yards down the side of a field.
  • Maintain a fast pace (not top speed) for the remaining 40 yards.
  • Walk across the goal line (about 50 yards).
  • Repeat on the opposite sideline and walk across the goal line to the start.

Sets/Reps: 3x2 laps with a 15-minute rest between sets

60-Yard Turnabouts

It will be challenging to sprint at the recommended 95 percent of max, but you have a significant recovery time. Time yourself to make sure you maintain speed.

How to:

  • Sprint for 60 yards.
  • Walk back to the starting line.

Sets/Reps: 3x3 with a 2-minute rest between sets.


Time each run and record it. If you do it properly, this will be hard, even though it sounds like a quick session (which it is.)

Set/Distance: 6x35 yards with a 10-second rest

You can incorporate these workouts into your program in a variety of ways—e.g.,the following routine:

  • Perform a high-mobility and movement but low-intensity warm-up.
  • Build up working from 50 to 90 percent of your max in 10 percent increments.
  • Rest for seven minutes.
  • Speedmakers x 1.
  • Rest for 10 minutes.
  • 60-Yard Turnabouts x 1.
  • RAST x 1.

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