Sprints Training For the Win: Using Running and Strength Training to improve take-off speed for Rugby

Grace Brown off on a sprint for Try Time playing Tag Rugby | Grace Brown Fitness London

The Goal

I’ve been working with a Sprint Coach on a 6 month program to help me improve my take-off speed and technique for Tag Rugby.

The program evolves over 4 week cycles and includes running drills, hurdle drills, sled sprints, fartlek (long efforts), 60m pacing efforts and lots more.

This means my current training regimen looks like this:

  • 1 coached Sprint Session and 1 other Sprint Session per week

  • Weight-based Strength & Conditioning Training 3 times per week

  • 2 nights of playing and training Tag Rugby each week

  • 1 Yoga class per week


2/3 of the way through the sprints program and with my concerted efforts in the gym (check out my Instagram and Stories for details!), I have improved my 300m time trials by 3 seconds which translates to a noticeable improvement on the rugby pitch.

Woop! I’m looking forward to hitting the pitch for our first big Tag competitions this year.

With my background in track and field 400m, 800m and cross country, but specific short sprints training is relatively new to me. Back when I used to compete, I wasn’t doing the strength training that I am now. The combination of these disciplines makes a huge difference in my abilities across the board.

If you’re a runner but aren’t into weights, or you’re into weights but not running, give it a go and not only will you probably find huge benefits for your body but might actually even enjoy it!

Runner but not into weights? Find a friend who is and tag along or chat to a personal trainer about some intro sessions and to get a program set up for you.

Gym junkie but not into running? Here are some tips from my article How to get back into running from Feb 17 2018:

Top tips for getting into running

  1. Invest in a good supportive, cushioned pair of trainers

  2. Build up slowly with distance and time - if you have never run before, don’t expect to knock out a 20min fast run. Even if you feel like you’re ok, don’t push it. Be patient.

  3. Run off-road where possible as concrete is very hard on your body and off-road will help you build up mobility and stability

  4. If you’re unsure where to start, get professional advice

  5. Work on your mobility when you are in the gym - hips, ankles etc

  6. Focus on your breathing to get as much oxygen in so you’re efficient

  7. Knock out some interval training in preparation

  8. Make your goals realistic and achievable and give yourself time to build up to it

  9. Add strength training to your weekly routine for injury prevention and to help your endurance

  10. Stay hydrated, recover properly, eat well

Stay tuned for more articles on running coming soon!