Speed endurance is one's ability to run at maximum or near maximum speed for a sustained period of time. Certain running athletes seek speed endurance to better perform at their events, and other athletes, such as football or hockey players, can benefit from speed endurance in their respective sports by taking advantage of the ability to stay at near maximum speeds consistently. Developing speed endurance is a matter of proper training combined with proper diet, as well as preparation for the specific event in which the athlete will take part. Most training methods include running for set periods of time, followed by sufficient rest and recovery.
Runners will tailor their speed endurance workouts to their specific running events, but other athletes may form a routine that works on speed endurance in general. The routine will consist of running at 90% of maximum speed and effort for a sustained period of time, then resting for a shorter period of time. The run may be repeated at this point, depending on the athlete's needs. During the running, form is just as important as intensity, and the athlete must focus not just on running hard, but running well. A proper stride will prepare the muscles for more effective running and endurance.
Proper recovery is an important step during proper speed endurance training. Lactic acid can build up in the legs after exercise; this is a by-product of burned glycogen, which is the body's preferred fuel during exercise. Lactic acid can build up both during and after exercise, affecting a muscle's ability to function at its peak. During exercise, the athlete must stay properly hydrated to ensure oxygen delivery to the muscles; after exercise, more hydration is vital, as is a good diet that replaces nutrients lost during exercise. Athletes may choose to participate in lactic acid threshold training as part of their speed endurance training as well.
Athletes burn more calories than the non-athletic person, so an athlete's diet will be different when training. Generally speaking, an athlete will need more calories in his or her diet, because he or she will be burning them quickly during exercise. A diet high in carbohydrates can provide important calories, and a higher level of protein will help as well. Chicken and fish are leaner meats that can provide sufficient amounts of protein without adding too much excess fat to one's diet. Excess amounts of fat should be avoided during endurance training.