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> “sprints”, a term referring to the idea of running quickly at a rate above a sustainable pace

why would it it be "above sustainable pace".

That is literally the definition of the word. If you can run for more than, at most, a minute or so at a given pace you are pr. definition not sprinting.

Isn't any running unsustainable though ?

Not really. Google ultramarathoning, Humans are incredibly well designed to run long distances at a sustained pace, it's like the one other thing we rock at better than other animals other than intelligence.

A sprinter is wasted after 100m. A marathon runner is wasted after 26.2 miles. Then there are the ultra marathoners. I believe the analogy holds.

Humans evolved to be really good at long distance running and given proper training, time and discipline you can run an absurd distance compared to most mammals.

Sprints also have a specific meaning in Agile/Scrum vocabulary which should be pretty common around here. That's like suggesting github promotes physically aggressive behavior because it's centered around pushing. Nothing about a sprint in Scrum terminology is meant mean an unsustainable pace.

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

-- L. Carroll

What can be sustained for a short effort is not sustainable over a longer haul.

High-intensity long-haul efforts can require months of recovery, or be permanently crippling.

The 100m world record is 9.58s. The world-record marathon pace, 17.2s/100m. The Race Across America 3,000 mile bike race record, a sustained speed of 12.57 mph, or 17.8s/100m.

The specific physiological mechanisms for physical and mental exhaustion differ, but the general principles are similar: metabolites, waste products, side-effects, and damage accumulate. Absent a period of rest and recovery, these will eventually prove damaging.

In sport training, there is a carefully calibrated set of activities and rest and recovery, ranging from in a given motion (power and recovery stroke in running, cycling, swimming, rowing, or virtually any other action), to exercises, efforts, sets, workouts, seasonal, and lifetime scheduling.

Speed, skill, and muscle aren't created on the track, in the pool, on the road or trail, or at the gym, they're created in bed, when you're asleep, during recovery, given adequate nutrition. Training is stress, but a stress that's calibrated to trigger a conditioning response.

If you don't get rest, you'll simply break down.

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