Chasing Greatness

Answers to popular sprinter training questions

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Answers to popular sprinter training questions: 

12 week preseason program

I've been getting some great questions about various elements of coaching sprinters. These are questions we all should have and/or specifically address in our programs, so here are a few of them with my answers:

Howard asks:

With the consistent workout examples you demonstrated, your examples were approx 8 runs consistently. I realize it varies between athletes, however, moving forward do you intend the athletes to produce more consistent runs at the target time before setting a new target? Or do you manage both times and targets together?

My answer:

Good question. The answer is both. I have to manage them together. Just because an athlete is inconsistent does not mean they are not getting in shape or capable of progressing in volume, intensity or both. Most kids have never been consistently given target times. They just run. So they’re not thinking about intensity or pace or thinking specifically about memorizing what it feels like to run a 30 second 200 *and* be at exactly 15 seconds at the 100 meter mark. It’s a new skill for them to learn and like any skill it takes time and repetition. But they must learn it so they can do race modeling later or know how to run, for example, fast enough in a trial to get a good lane in the final, but not so fast they burn themselves out of the final, but not so slow they don’t make the final or get a bad lane.


Kenneth asks:

How do you record the times when you have a large group? Do you have each athlete run individually or are you eyeballing and
estimating times with a stop watch as the large group runs?

My answer:

I put athletes in groups of 5-8 for my varsity and borderline varsity athletes. I will put the lower tier athletes in bigger groups if
necessary. I give each ‘varsity’ kid a specific time I want them to hit for the intervals in the workout. I send the groups off every 3 seconds and call out the times as they finish.  
If you’re in the second group you know to add 3 seconds to the time I call out when you finish. Then I either write the times myself or have an injured athlete, manager, etc. record the times. Once a kid misses their time by a certain amount twice in a row, the workout is over for that athlete and they either walk for the remainder of the workout or move on to the next part of their practice. They already know what is next because I always explain the goals and parameters of each practice before it starts, every day. By looking at these numbers after practice, I can figure out which kids I gave the wrong times to and adjust them. I can look for trends in where kids fell of the pace to determine if the volume or intensity is too high (or low) or if the rest is too long or short.

This is how I evolve my workouts to be both more effective and efficient because I’m not just guessing. Well, I am guessing. We’re all guessing. Those who guess most accurately get the best results. I just try to minimize the errors I make in guessing volume, intensity and rest by keeping and analyzing my notes. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about an athlete just by looking at their workout times, even if you’ve never seen them run.  But it always comes back to testing, retesting and experimenting with how you build your workouts.

Got questions? Post them in the blog.


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