Engaging in track and field has enabled many athletes enjoy fitness levels that last a lifetime. Indeed, for many people, meaningful physical activity is the only way to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and foster the athletic gifts bestowed upon them. Even in track, however, athletes are talented differently, with some capable of running short sprints, and others better at longer distances. Each has its benefits, some of which are pointed out below.
Short sprints help the body develop the quick-twitch muscles that are required for speed. Engaging in regular short sprints has been likened to lifting weights; the more you do it, the more your leg muscles develop. Such logic makes sense when you look at body figures of popular short distance sprinters: muscled bodies with strong, thick legs. Additionally, short sprints are very effective at helping faster weight loss.
Running for longer distances means you are not engaging the same pace as you would for short sprints. Individuals who run for longer distances burn calories slowly, but benefit through increased muscle endurance. Where they lack big muscular frames, long distance runners have improved cardiovascular strength and endurance which enables them run longer without tiring. Their muscles stave off buildup of lactic acid better, thus increasing the work rate.
As you can see, each aspect of track has its benefits. If you agonize over which aspect best suits you, try enjoying the run as much as you can, and slowly you will realize where you fit best.
Michael Clasby, a professional photographer, was a track athlete in high school and college, with his specialty being the short sprints. Now 40, he enjoys long distance running.