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From the Other Side: A Sprinter’s Perspective

Sprinters are perhaps the most marginalized group in the realm of CPS sports. Several CPSers, runners and non-runners alike, subscribe to the unfortunate belief that sprinters “don’t do anything.”

Well, I beg to differ.

Before I delve into the true lifestyle of the CPS sprinter, it’s best to clarify exactly what I mean by a “sprinter.” There are generally considered to be three types of runners in track: the long distance runners, the mid distance runners, and the sprinters. The distance runners, specialize in, well, distance. They primarily train for the 1600 meter and 3200 meter runs. The sprinters are on the opposite end of that spectrum, primarily going after the 100m and 200m dashes. Finally, the mid distance runners are a hybrid of the two, running the 400m and 800m. We at CPS Track and Field combine the mid and long distance runners, creating two groups: the distance and the sprinters.

Distance running is renowned for its unforgiving grind, consisting of miles upon miles of trails, roads and shin splints. Distance runners regularly deal with fatigue, soreness and injury. My goal in this brief opinion piece is not to discount the hard work distance runners put in, but rather, to oppose misguided preconceptions about sprinters and offer a few examples.

A common refrain of sprinter opponents is that sprinters are “lazy.” This belief springs from a comparison of the distances that sprinters and distance runners run. It’s true that distance runners will run much longer distances than sprinters. However, that is not because sprinters are lazy. Consider the end goals: the longest a sprinter will ever run is 400m. The longest a distance runner will run (at least in track) is 3200m. There’s only so many strides in a sprint event. Sprinters do not focus as much on cardio as distance does, but rather we focus on maximizing the output of each stride we take. This involves a larger amount of mobility drills, form exercises and weightlifting than most would expect. A sprinter’s workload results from the nature of our body of work, not our work ethic. Most, if not all, sprinters tackle anything Tran will throw at us willingly. Furthermore, 100m is longer than most people think. That’s around the distance from the bottom of campus to the very top and then some, and odds are you still complain about it.

Sprinter detractors also remark on the “weakness” of sprinters. That’s objectively false. Sprinters pack the muscle. In fact, an article from LiveStrong notes that sprinters have thick (with two C’s) thighs. College Prep has a long history of accomplished sprinter-weightlifters. Michael X. (‘14) regularly squatted over 230 lbs. For perspective, that’s about 455 Thanksgiving’s worth of fat. Or about a 6 on the Dr. Prokup Weightlifting Proficiency scale. Huma D. (‘15) power cleans more than Tran. Even if you don’t know what a power clean is, you still probably didn’t think that was possible. Perhaps sprinter’s can’t keep up with a distance runner in a 5k, but we’re not designed for that.

Finally, perhaps the most hurtful insult thrown at us: sprinters aren’t real runners. Ask most people to name a runner and chances are they’ll answer Usain Bolt. Even CPS sprinters run. Dr.C famously characterized a runner has someone who runs at least a 8-minute pace. Say a sprinter runs a 12.75 second 100m. That’s faster than a four minute pace. Of course, it’s improbable that any CPS sprinter could keep that up, but remember the definition is by pace. Therefore, the pace of a sprinter is still within the “runner” category proclaimed by Dr. C. Moreover, most CPS sprinters can run an 8 minute mile.

Hopefully this article has helped build your understanding of sprinters. At the very least, I hope that I’ve done something to combat sprinter stereotypes. If not, well, you’ll hear from me soon.

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