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What is speed?
Around the Academy:

What is speed and how do you get it?

Speed is the ability to move the body very quickly either through water or over land.

People who can move quickly might enjoy any of the following:

  • running the 100, 200 and 400m or even the 110 or 400m hurdles
  • short distance swimming races such as the 25, 50 or 100 metres
  • Short distance cycling events
  • Speed can also help those in football, rugby and hockey

Your genetic make-up has a big influence on your speed.

There are two types of muscle fibres, type I are known as the fast twitch fibres.

These fibres can move more quickly and so lead to the individual being fast and powerful.

However, these fast twitch fibres tire very quickly so can only keep working for a short period without needing to rest.

Type II fibres are known as slow twitch fibres. They cannot work as quickly as the fast twitch fibres, but they can work for much longer.

That means that slow twitch fibres help with longer slower sports such as middle and long distance running and triathlons.

We all have different amounts of fast and slow twitch fibres.

Training will help you get faster or run further we cannot really change the amount of fast and slow twitch fibres we possess. But we can make the ones we have work more effectively.

Fast events are generally referred to as anaerobic exercise ('without oxygen) with endurance (the longer slower events) being aerobic exercise (with oxygen).

The body works so quickly during sprinting events that the muscles do not have time to take the oxygen that they need.

This leads to a build up of a toxin known as lactic acid (this makes the muscles feel heavy and sore).

It's really important to do a gentle cool down to get enough oxygen to the muscles after sprinting to break the lactic acid down into harmless substances.


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