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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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June 23, 2010

Training for Sprints and Long Distances?

QHi, Bill: I am the assistant coach of the up-and-coming Kenya inline speed skating team. (The head coach is Joseph Mwangi.) We love your work! ... Could you please recommend a program for sprints and long-distance training. - Gaggan Mehta

Hi, Gaggan Mehta: I would be happy to help and look forward to the day that Kenya produces great endurance skaters on a par with your great Olympic runners.

Without knowing more about your team, it's difficult to offer specific training regimens. But I can give you some general recommendations.

The first is to include 500-meter interval training in your program. All successful inline racers, whether sprinters or endurance specialists, must have a good 500-meter sprint. Without it, few skaters taste success on the road or track. A great way to develop a fast 500 meters is by doing 500-meter interval training.

I recommend starting this training early in the season with sessions of ten 500-meter sprints, separated by three minutes of rest. This works best when you have a group of skaters and designate a leader to set the pace for at least the first 300 meters.

Later in the season, switch to eight 500-meter sprints with five minutes rest. Cutting the number of reps and increasing the rest makes it easier for skaters to focus on quality and form, which is important as you get closer to major competitions.

As I'm sure you know, technique is essential for developing speed. Nowadays, skaters can't succeed without efficient technique. In fact, I would estimate that 50 to 60 percent of what makes a great skater is technique. So be sure you're program has a strong focus on technique. (Bill's "Six Steps to Speed" column)

Another important part of any successful training program is off-skate plyometrics. These dry land exercises help build strength and efficiency. For a guide to plyometrics, watch this Begg Sports video. (This video is temporarily unavailable.)

To give you more specific recommendation, I will need more information about your program, such as the ages of your skaters, where you train and what kind of equipment you use. You can send them to me through this column or contact me through my page on the Skater Network.

Cheers, Bill

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