Complete Track and Field

400m Training vs McDonald’s

 

Last week I posted some information (here and here) about training 400m runners. And I endorsed the speed based ‘short to long’ approach. Invariably, every time this topic comes up, people immediately say,

‘But so and so says train slow to get fast’.

Well, here’s the thing about that…

If you perennially get a stream of sprinters who show up running 21.3 in the 200 as teenagers than you can probably train them using longer, slower intervals and get results. Mostly because they’re already freaks.

But I don’t live in that world. I live in the world of heel-to-toe landers. Kids who can’t get triple extension or get through a week 1 body weight circuit because their work capacity is junk and their team sport coaches just have them run endless distance workouts or gassers after a 3 hour football practice.

I call this world ‘The Real World’. And chances are you live closer to my world than so and so’s world.

Here’s the truth about training your 400 runners (and sprinters in general):

Teaching your 400m runners the skill of sprinting takes time and effort (aka Coaching Skill). Teaching them how to lift weights and throw medicine balls takes time and effort (aka Coaching Skill). Calculating times and playing with volume/intensity/density of glycolytic capacity work takes time, effort and good record keeping (aka Coaching Skill).

It’s harder to do it right and takes a bit longer to come together. But your sprinters will peak a lot higher when you train the specific qualities inherent to the event.

On the other hand, giving them aerobic endurance work (long slow repeats, mileage, etc.) is easy. It takes minimal planning time and not so much coaching skill. High volumes of slow running looks like ‘work’ and so people will often call it that. Especially those with endurance backgrounds. Or the lazy ones.

And with young, weak kids whose work capacity is practically zero, aerobic work and slow training will get you some short term results. Any exercise with kids is going to get them in better shape. They’ll run faster times that first season. Your endurance-based kids might even beat speed-based kids of equal ability that first season. But because I think long term, I don’t mind if your freshman beat my freshman. Because, ultimately, it is the façade of improved performance. And my upperclassmen with a base of speed and power will doodoo on your endurance based ‘sprinters’ when it counts.

Giving volumes of aerobic work and slow repeats to 400m runners is the equivalent of eating McDonalds five days per week. You can do it. Technically it is considered food. And your stomach will be full so you can easily argue that you fed yourself.

This is what slow training does to sprinters. Think about it.

 

But before too long, the lack of well rounded and appropriate nutrition will start to make you feel tired, irritable and sluggish. You won’t be able to think straight. You’ll have wild mood swings and, no doubt, some digestive issues. You’ll look down and wonder where your feet went because you’re sporting an impressive new gut. (Just because almost everyone else has one doesn’t mean it’s the right approach to take.)

Your performance will suffer because eating McDonalds does not give you the specific nutritional value you need for optimal functioning.

You’re just eating junk.

And giving 400m runners a diet of slow is just giving them junk. Junk tempo. Junk mileage. And, after a period of time, junk performances. Because you’re literally training them to be slow.

If your athletes train below race pace the majority of time in practice, you can’t really expect them to keep up with actual sprinters who encounter the specific speeds and intensities of the race as the foundation of their training, can you?

This past summer when I attended the USTFCCCA Sprints/Hurdles/Relays Event Specialist Certification School, Texas A&M Sprints Coach Vince Anderson said two things that fundamentally changed my approach to training sprinters, especially long sprinters.

When in doubt, listen to Vince Anderson.

 

In regards to understanding how much volume you should attempt to achieve when designing your workouts, especially interval type workouts, Vince said:

“When you free yourself from volume concerns, the picture becomes much clearer.”

To me, this means don’t worry about volume. Trying to build up to 12×200 is a ridiculous waste of time. (Admittedly, one I’ve been guilty of in the past.) Focus instead on intensity. Or, when in doubt, go shorter and faster.

In regards to the idea of training slow to get faster, Vince said:

“All I know is that when we trained slow and did aerobic work, I was the worst coach in the country. The faster we go in practice, the faster we run. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but that’s what has worked for me.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you listen to Vince Anderson, you’re probably on the right track.

The bottom line is this my friends:

Train slow, run slow. Train fast, run fast.

 

To your success,

Latif Thomas USATF Level II, USTFCCCA Event Specialist (Sprints, Hurdles & Relays)

P.S. When you’re ready to improve your Coaching Skill:

Complete Track & Field Coaching Education


About Latif Thomas

Latif ThomasUSATF Level II and USTFCCCA Event Specialist (Sprints, Hurdles & Relays) Certified High School Track and Field coach specializing in the sprint events. But I know a thing or two about the jumps and hurdles as well.
View all posts by Latif Thomas →
  • Pete Schuder

    Latif:
    I feel your pain, as I think back of having to run “Cemetery Hill” at Vandy in the fall and having my lower legs numb up during a 3 mile training run during my college days. I would not have classified you as the 400-800 type, for sure. Although I did have a teammate (Tom Ulan) who could run 28 min for Vandy’s 5 mile course and he ran 45.8 for 400 meters.

    As you say, middle of the road is a good idea and as I get more used to working with the high school age athlete again, I still maintain my principles of progressive training, keeping in mind that they are young and still growing and developing physically and mentally.

    I must say it has been a real revelation to see how hard these young athletes are willing to work, when they believe in a “common sense” approach to training. They are willing to “suffer” with the longer repeats, the lousy winter weather and my kind of “old school” approach, because they can see that both short term and long term goals are attainable.

    I am glad to see you taking the initiative in creating dialog on the subject of sprinting here in New England and on the high school level where we have had a few standouts over the years, but could do a lot more to be competitive on the regional and maybe even national level. Presenting your ideas and concepts keeps me thinking and tinkering with my own coaching philosophy and training sessions.

    It will be interesting to see how the indoor season goes this year as our league moves to Boston University and the Reggie Lewis Center for their dual meet season. Having the opportunity to compete on a 200 meter banked track 8-10 times in a season certainly will be a new and unique experience. I just hope we don’t get spoiled….

  • Pete Schuder

    It is with keen interest to read Latif’s discussion on 400 meter training and the great comments, some bringing back memories of days gone by. If I may, I would like to add that I think one of the comments indicated the idea that there are two types of 400 meter runners, the 100-400 sprint oriented type and the 400-800 middle distance type. I believe this to be accurate, as I was the second type, who through lots of hard workouts over my college career managed to run sub 46 for the 400 despite not having great leg speed (51.2 in high school, 9.7 yds for 100, 21.2 for 200 both in college). I ran with the likes of Evans, James, Freeman (finishing 7th at NCAA nationals) and also was coached by Brooks Johnson after college. My philosophy has always been that you build a strong foundation of base work and work up from there. It has worked well often, mainly with the 400-800 type of runners, both on the college and high school level. It does not work as well when dealing with the 100-400 sprint type runner, in my opinion.

    For most of my career I have had to deal with middle of the road athletes, running in cold, wet and rainy spring weather. Trying to do hard 90% and above workouts during nasty weather conditions is not going to produce very good results. So, doing the “heavy” strength work early on until the middle of the season and then hoping for better weather conditions late in the track season has been successful for me and for the teams I coached. The few sprint types I have had, I had to approach their training quite differently. I found out quite early on that doing lots of repeats such as 12×200 @30 seconds or 10×400@65 or running 4 min hills pretty much ruined these guys and their ability to run fast. Early on I was stubborn and thought that hard work was the cure all and would win out in the end. As I matured and I think became a better coach, I found that I was wrong and had to approach their (sprint type 400 runners) training differently. I should have known better right from the beginning as I had a teammate who won the Student University Games in 45.7 and ran 1:08.5 on a flat floor for 600 yds and he could not finish one workout with me. But he surely could beat me….

    So, I think as coaches we need to approach the 400 meters with an open mind and initially determine what type of 400 meter runner we might be working with and then adapt a workout schedule suitable to their needs.

    I don’t believe you can just run speed, speed and more speed in developing a 400 meter runner. It might work for someone who is only going to run 100-200. But on the other hand, as Brooks used to tell me too many times, “You can’t run fast if you train slow”.

    I do remember some of his most difficult workouts we did down at the Naval Academy back in the early 70′s (4 x 800 @ 1:57 with 400 jog). Took me two hours to recover enough to drive back home to NJ. The other one that was off the charts for me was 10 x 200 @ 25, 200 jog and 49 400 finish. So, even Brooks liked to put some water in the reservoir early in the season.

    I also had some great discussions with Wilbur Ross and trained with Russ Rogers, John Moon and Charlie Mays, all “sprinter types” who hated doing my “heavy type work”….

    Sorry I came onto this link so late in the discussion. Latif sent along some of his training video commercials, which led me to here….

    Keep up the good work Latif…

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Pete Schuder:

      Thanks for the post, Coach Schuder! Hard to argue with your experience or results. I agree that there are two types of sprinters and you must adjust your training approach accordingly. I do believe that developing a speed reserve and teaching sprinting as a skill is an important component to running fast times.

      When I speak of ‘training slow’, I speak more of the ‘extremes’ of 10+ miles per week and high volumes of true extensive tempo work, where athletes run intervals until their shins fall off. Obviously we share the same weather limitations and if you looked at my ’400′ program, I would say it takes the middle path. I believe in technical work and skill development, as I said. We start, Day 1, with acceleration work and use that 20m-30m accel/speed work all season. But my 400 guys get a lot of intensive tempo and special endurance(ish) work, as well as a fairly high volume of lactate producing circuit work.

      I was a primary event 200m runner in college running 25-30 miles per week in the fall and it killed my soul. So I’m sure that affects my approach to training.

      I’m glad you’re on the list. I hope you’ll share your ideas when interesting topics come up again. And, of course, we will see each other plenty at Reggie Lewis!

  • Roger Sparks

    Coach Latif, I always enjoy reading your articles and the different feedback. I am trying to break into coaching sprinters because of the coaching I see at the local school. I have both of your sprinter programs CST and CST2, which really helps provide a good foundation. In this article it referred to not worrying about the volume during workouts, focus more on intensity and if in doubt run faster for shorter distances. This makes sense to me, but being very new to program design do you still want to have a total volume that you shouldn’t exceed for short sprinters on a speed day and a conditioning/recovery day? For example, you provide a sample program design with your programs, which for someone new like me provides a great starting point. On a conditioning day it has 5-8 x 200m @ 70% R=2′. The kids aren’t in any kind of shape and you see that they aren’t hitting their times and their form is breaking down. Instead of forcing 5-8 x 200m you drop them down to running 100m @ 75% with one a minute rest. They are handling that distance better. Without focusing on the volume, how do you determine the number of reps for an exercise? Is it based on how the kids are performing? Should there be a max volume that you shouldn’t exceed depending on the distance or type of drill being run? For example, 100m sprints at 70 to 85% should not exceed 2000m total volume where 20m full speed sprints shouldn’t exceed 200m. Being new to program design I am not sure if I am over-analyzing this, but I would like to read any feedback you have.

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  • Frank Bacon

    @ Clarence- Now I will have to look up Wilbur Ross. Dr Leroy Walker at North Carolina Central is another legend. This is way I love track,and tell my girls that it isnt a team sport.Dr Edward Temple said that his job was to create an many individual champions as he could. If a team championship came about in the process,that was just extra. I’m really learning a lot from your posts and your blogs. Thanks

  • Robert McGimpsey Jr

    Man, this world is small…..my Mom graduated from Winston-Salem in 1960; when Coach Gaines was FOOTBALL and BASKETBALL coach!!! In her yearbook were pictures of such athletes as Cleo Hill and some hurdlers named Francis Washington, Carl Brown, a jumper named Joe Middleton….I looked at those pictures and was blown away; they also talked about a guy named Elias Gilbert who had set a world record; I later found out it was in the 220 yard low hurdles. I tried to learn to hurdle with form like the guys in the pictures, when I started to run track…in the 11th grade!! I lived in a small town in Western North Carolina….(still do) ….told you I had some stories…anyway; got 1 more then I’m done….had a kid come out for my Jr. Olympic program; 8th grader, first time down the runway, he takes off-hitch-kicking; lands at over 20 feet.!! I asked him who taught him how to do that…kid says nobody, saw Carl Lewis do it on TV, figured that was the way you were supposed to jump. I worked with his sprint mechanics, smoothed out that hitch-kick a little….kid goes on to long jump over 24 feet in high school and become the all-time all-purpose yardage leader in the ACC when he leaves UNC; spent 7-8 years in the NFL; kid named Leon Johnson. Anyway; I didn’t have to teach Leon nearly as much as I had to teach the other kids…….some of that “stuff” he just had, I just had to help him get it out…..Peace.

    • http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/ Clarence Gaines

      @Robert McGimpsey Jr:
      Here’s a picture of Elias Gilbert that you’ll appreciate: http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/1658
      Elias, Fran, & Joe would have been coached by the great Wilbur Ross,
      Wilbur Ross is mentioned in my blog on Brooks Johnson: http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/2011/08/quest-for-wisdom-exploring-thoughts.html
      One day I will write a blog on Wilbur Ross. I have an incredible paper that I found in my father files written by Coach Ross. Winston-Salem Teachers College was a track power with those athletes. Won events at the Penn Relays & two NAIA National Track & Field Championships in 59 & 60. Were runner-up in 58 to Occidental College, a place I now live 5 minutes from.

      You will also appreciate this blog I wrote on Cleo Hill, entitled “For The Love of The Game – How Billy Packer, Cleo Hill, & Clarence “Big House” Gaines Forged a Relationship in the Segregated South:” http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/2011/04/for-love-of-game-when-billy-packer-cleo.html

      Dad was an assistant football coach in the late 50′s & 60′s. His last year as Head Football Coach was in 1949. Was coach of the year in 1948 with an 8-1 record.

      In reference to Leon Johnson, some kids got it, some don’t. I too jumped for the first time in the 8th grade. Jumped in the 18 foot range first time out with no technique and form. I was a three sport athlete. I look at the stuff on Latif’s blog & wonder what kind of track career I would have had if I had coaches with his expertise. Pulled my hamstring my senior year in high school. Coaching matters. Keep up the great work & never stop learning.

  • Frank Bacon

    @ Clarence- Thanks for the info. Got a question……any relation to Clarence Big House Gaines,legendary basketball coach at Winston Salem Staee University?

  • Keith Whitman

    Latif-The most mind altering thing that Vince said at the Academy this summer was the comment about freeing ourselves from concerns about volume. As a long time distance coach, this struck home because I was all about that progression of extensive tempo. It’s good to hear him tell me it’s ok to let that go.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Keith Whitman:

      Keith, I couldn’t agree more. It was truly liberating to, as you so aptly put it, feel ok to let that go. Indoors I do not have a track to train on and it is unsafe to run outside. With a 30m hallway, you have to get creative with workouts and you sure can’t get tempo volume in.

      By force I’ve had to go faster more often and get aerobic and work capacity in with circuit work. Despite the high quality, low volume system, we run faster than it seems we should. But I was always held back by this belief that I had to find a way to focus on volume. I guess I was doing the right things even though, to be honest, if I had a track I would have focused on volume of extensive tempo!

      I am absolutely chomping at the bit to implement this concept this winter! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      LT

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  • Frank Bacon

    @ Latif- Ok I will. Hey is Tony back at Ventura College. This summer I had read where he was at North Carolina A& T University.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Frank Bacon:

      Tony is now at North Carolina A&T.

  • Frank Bacon

    @ Dwayne- as somebody who has been coaching for a wee bit ,you might not like what I am about to say. Your child is 9 years old,let them have fun. Enjoy running for the sheer joy of it. She is growing and her body is changing. I wouldnt start getting serious about track specfic training until she is at least 13 years old or in 7th grade. I have seen a lot of kids get burned out about track before they complete high school

  • DAVID

    The 200′s ran by Clyde Hart at 25 to 26 seconds are 90% to 95% efforts of the first 200 meters for a 45-47 second 400 meter runner. These runs are not fast for a 100/200 meter sprinter but they help teach a cadence for the 400 meter runner. I use them all the time with my collegiate and AAU athletes. The guys have run 47 and the females running 30 second 200 meter repeats have run 54 in college and high school. These workouts are not beneficial to a 100/200 meter sprinter that needs to run at close to maximal speeds to decrease their times in practice. With minimal speed work my female 200/400 meter specialists have run 24.6 and guys 21.6. The slow long intervals should be done to get the aerobic base required but speed protocols need to be addressed from the first week of training. In addition, too much milking of the base will lead to runners that cannot transition due to practicing at a slow cadence.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @DAVID:

      I think that the type and intensity of 200m repeats/progressions/intervals that you’re talking about (or that Clyde is referring to) are absolutely fundamental to the success of 200/400 runners.

  • Glenn

    We have been using Barry Ross’ ASR speed style program for 2 seasons now and have seen significant improvement in 100-400 times sticking to the short training principles. My squad aren’t high school kids, they are senior athletes who are successful at a national level. I do find that they sharpen up even more once the season starts and they get race conditioning.

    We used to train with long repeats at 80% with no obvious benefit.

    Biggest hurdle has been getting head around the notion of short sessions!

    • brant

      Also using Latif’s method allows you to have sprinters that can compete in multiple events like what most high schoolers do, like 200m-400m by training them with more sprint interval stuff they will be decently successful in both.

  • Robert McGimpsey Jr

    You guys have me confused……I don’t know what type of sprint training you have seen or been a part of; but, in my years of training athletes I’ve never seen or been around anything like what you are talking about……in my experience; I’ve NEVER had to teach a sprinter how to run fast…..that’s what they do……I’ve had to teach distance kids how to sprint but never the other way around; however, I have had to get sprinters “in-shape” for lack of a better term, so they could do what they were born to do…..run fast; and not get hurt while they do it. If you look at Coach Hart’s articles closely he says a few things that have held since track started; I guess-1-there are 2 types of 400 meter runners-sprinter types and half-miler(800) meter types and 2-that a high school athletes’ spread between his/her pr. in the 200 and their first 200 in the 400 should be somewhere around 2 seconds difference. Now he says some other stuff but I’m not going to rehash it; you can reread it yourselves….however; so that you guys don’t consider me a “bootlegger” I’ve had the priviledge of coaching kids(and I’ll stick with guys since that’s mainly who I’ve coached) with pr’s of 6.34, 10.3,10.76, 21.50,21.66, 47.80, 14.13,14.17,14.26-110HH, 37.2, 38.4-300IH, 1:52.96 (indoor) 800, and 5 23+ foot long jumpers, several 45+ foot TJ’rs-(inncluding 1 ninth-grader that jumped 44+)…..my point being that you have to know the type of kids you have; what their individual strengths and weaknesses are and take into account their chronological and TRAINING AGES..(maybe the most important factor) and not overload them with too much technical stuff too soon, give them good fundamentals of age and/or training appropiate drills and strength training (be it bodyweight, or traditional weight training and don’t neglect the lower legs); get them in both aerobic and anaerobic condition (they actually go together,i.e. Coach Hart’s article); so that they can run their races hard and LET THEM HAVE FUN!!! That’s all there is to it…..well; actually there is more ;but, that’s just the basics….it’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Robert McGimpsey Jr:

      I agree with the second half of your post. But I fundamentally disagree with the notion that speed is something that kids just ‘do’. Speed is a skill and the mechanics of speed are a skill and the movement patterns that make up this skill require large degrees of specific coordination that must be continuously taught, cued and refined, particularly with developmental aged athletes. In fact, I would argue the same thing that you’re arguing at the beginning of your post, but in the inverse. I have never heard a quality sprints coach *not* teach/coach/cue the technical and/or biomechanical elements of speed, particularly acceleration.

      • Robert McGimpsey Jr

        @Latif Thomas: Let me clarify what I was saying when I said that “that’s what they do”. Sprinters are born with the “gift” if you will, of turnover (stride frequency), quickness,……it’s been my experience that normally the most gifted halfbacks, point guards, outfielders, soccer strikers, etc. are your kids that are “natural” sprinters; if you follow me….but; I didn’t mean that I didn’t teach the drills,coordination drills, fundamentals, correct accel progression, proper leg/body mechanics, foot strike, etc…as a matter of fact; I’m constantly adding to my storehouse of “stuff”…..that’s why I read your stuff; which by the way has been most helpful. :) Latif, you and I are on the same page….we just have different ways of saying it…and I didn’t want to get bogged down in all the tech stuff in my post because you do such a good job of covering it. For instance, I just turned 54 years old, I also just discovered kettlebells…..guess what I’m incorporating into our workouts this year? They are so versatile and you can move so many different ways to strengthen the posterior chain, ……wow! So as you can see I’m an “old dog” that can be taught new tricks. (Actually kettlebells have been around since the 1700′s; they’re actually older than I am). One day; I’ll actually get to meet you; we can swap stories ( I got some doozies-all true but doozies), maybe have a couple of frosty beverages; you seem like a good dude. But thanks for making me clarify.

        • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

          @Robert McGimpsey Jr:

          Good clarification. I’ll also be using some kettlebells this year. My issue is that I have over 100 kids in my sprints/hurdles/jumps program so there is *never* enough equipment to go around! I respect your willingness to learn new things. We need more coaches like that in our sport, especially at the developmental levels.

          I look forward to some day sharing stories (I’ve got a few doozies myself!) over a couple of frosty beverages!

      • Doug

        Latif, as Dr. Weyand is quick to point out, “speed creates endurance, but endurance does not create speed.”

        • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

          @Doug:

          Perfect!

    • brant

      Here’s the thing I know what Latif is saying and no I wouldn’t say he is a clueless coach I think he is trying to change the idea of coaching and track and field as we know it. The only way to change thinking is to change the main focus now are some ideas a bit off, yes I’d say so. At the same time I’d say that there needs to be more research in the exercise world and body physiology. I’ll start by saying Clyde Hart I wouldn’t particularly say is just a so called so and so. He perfected the slow to get fast method and it obviously worked for quite a few of his gold medalists. However lets take J. Wariner for example he says Clyde I don’t like your slow to get fast approach anymore I’m going to go train with this young hotshot new coach that is saying that a man with years upon years of track knowledge is wrong. o he trades coaching styles completely to a sprint coach here is a direct quote from Darold Williamson about their coaching

      Wariner: Coach Ford, my new coach, has the same philosophy as coach Hart. My workouts are exactly the same.”

      Not true, said Darold Williamson, Wariner’s training partner and a former teammate at Baylor who also cut ties with Hart and hired Ford as his personal coach.

      Williamson said Ford’s regimen calls for more sprint work – regular intervals at 100 and 150 meters – which is something Wariner wanted in 2007 despite Hart’s protestations. Wariner continues to toy with the idea of one day competing in the 200 and 400, just like Johnson did.

      Suddenly Wariner gets worse in the 400m and 200m, cause he is not doing what “works for his body” Latif coaches high schoolers, a perfect place to try out new ideas and pave new roads because it’s not a scholarship we are dealing with it’s just kids running. He also can’t take each and every kid and train each one differently that would take an entire day with all of the kids he has. When you critique him you need to remember he is dealing with high school kids that come to track from all backgrounds some out of shape some too bulky from football. Personally I think physiology needs to change there are too many old ideas out there and we need different ideas and clinical proof that they work in all sports to find out new ways to train. I like Latif’s 100m training ideas not so much the 400m ones but we all have our own ideas and for a coach that is clueless on training 400m runners he will have success with this method. Training college and professionals is a completely different story.

  • Clarence Gaines

    Nick, I’m not Latif, but his response is in response to this article on Clyde Hart: “Training Slower to Race Faster:” http://www.athletics.org.nz/CANTERBURY/Resource.aspx?ID=1233

    Latif is making a distinction between the reality of training young athletes in junior high & high school vs. elite athletes at the college level.

    • Harry

      Hi Latif,
      I think it’s very individual. You put a guy like me doing some extreme training and all my test values will be broken. But I would be careful in putting sprinters to slow training. It depends on what you are doing I guess.

      • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

        @Harry:

        Agreed.

        • Philipp

          One really smart and successful coach once sad:” if speed is the name of the game never get to far away from it”

          He was a middle distance coach!!!!!….he succeded by cutting down aerobic parts of his training and by including speed work at competition speed beginning with the first week of training

  • dewayne

    Thanks for the reply. My daughter at 9 ran a 14.30 and 28.87 this past track season with no true speed work as you define it. She ran her 14.3 in May and never ran faster. Track season here in San Diego starts in March thru July and possibly August. She is playing club basketball now. I usually pull her completely from bball in January. I do start her two days a week in November(middle of month). Is that to soon for her or not a problem at all? My goal for her this up coming season is 13.7-13.8 range for 100m and low 28 for 200m(anything in the 27′s is butter, for she just turned 10 in July). In your opinion is this being realistic? She would say low 13 and high 27 for 100/200.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @dewayne:

      Hard to say. At 9 years old I wouldn’t worry about much more than keeping it fun and loosely guiding her in the direction of understanding the very simplest basics of technique. I also wouldn’t talk to her much about needing to hit specific times. Those might be good guidelines for you, but I’d keep the focus more on consistency and, again, fun. I don’t think 2x per week is an issue as long as the workouts stay in that 30-45 minute range and you’re keeping the length of the runs pretty short.

      • dewayne

        @Latif Thomas: So from November to January keep her distances short? So what is the furthest she should run? Can i not do 200′s or 300′s?

  • prochargedmopar

    Thanks Coach. We will focus on maximal strength, efficency/technique, and plyo’s. I must say You got some wicked plyos in the speed 2 program that I like alot. We’ll integrate those as his strength improves. His pr in 200 was 22.5 this summer. We’ll either make him faster if he wants to come out at 23.3(his prefered way to start) or slow him down by sticking a leg out in his lane on the track as he passes by on the backstretch. ;-) See you next summer!!

  • Frank Bacon

    @ Latif- Even though I dont know where or what I will be coaching this season, I am still reading,researching and reflecting. John Smith did an interesting interview on Flotrack during this World’s Championship in Daegu. He said(paraphrasing) that he had to back to the drawing board break everything down to its basic elements and anaylze. Now if Smith is doing that with the success he’s had……….well who am I. The problem in our sport at the developmental level is these “geniuses” who take one course and think they are the final authority,and try to sound like a walking textbook. KISS is the rule of the day,and knowledge is power in the hands of a wise man but merely air in those of a fool- Bacons Law #1

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Frank Bacon:

      Yes and as you know, 70% of coaches at the youth level qualify as fools. Of course, we’re mostly preaching to the choir at sites like this because those fools aren’t reading this stuff or having these conversations.

      • Zac Haupt

        I have learned from Tolbert,Paff,Boo,Lane,and Taylor; and nowhere in there training have I seen run slow to run fast! I say this because our sprints coach believes that they can’t run fast if they are out of shape so last week his sprinters ran a total of 26miles. He says this is how they train in the BAH

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Frank Bacon:

      Agreed.

      • Frank Bacon

        Okay up until this point I have enjoyed this discussion. @ Rain-if the coachesin your neck of the woods dont know how to coach a talent like your daughter,just let her run for her club team…….she’ll be fine. Now the thing that got me going is this comment-”You guys have me confused……I don’t know what type of sprint training you have seen or been a part of; but, in my years of training athletes I’ve never seen or been around anything like what you are talking about……in my experience; I’ve NEVER had to teach a sprinter how to run fast…..that’s what they do……”. As if that wasnt enough it was followed by-”Let me clarify what I was saying when I said that “that’s what they do”. Sprinters are born with the “gift” if you will, of turnover (stride frequency), quickness”

        Mr McGimpsey are you frellin kidding me- Yes there are some folk that are gifted by the creator with talent,but the vast majority of good athletes LEARN and can be TAUGHT how to perform and exceute properly with a GOOD coach. Let me re-emphasize what Latif probably has already said- Sprinting mechanics and speed are skills that can be taught……..dont believe me I’ll give you two examples….1) Gail Devers-started her career as an 800 meter runner in high school coverted to a sprinter /hurdler,Bobby Kersee at UCLA refined her technique as a hurdler/sprinter

        2) Tony Veney is one the foremost authorities on speed and sprinting mechanics,USATF Master Coach,former USATF Director of Womens Sprint Development. All of us would do well to listen to what he has to say in this vid….follow the link and listen

        http://youtu.be/vVqDrOyP8X4

        • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

          @Frank Bacon:

          Frank, play nice. Robert clarified his statement and he is teaching speed as all of us pro-education coaches are.

          Vince Anderson also talks about how Jessica Beard was an 800 runner in HS and now look at her.

          Regarding Tony Veney – Love that guy. We speak regularly and he has helped my coaching tremendously. He has a new program coming out exclusive to CompleteTrackandField on the sprint hurdles and the information is really excellent.

        • http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/ Clarence Gaines

          @Frank Bacon: Frank, I see you put up the same Tony Veney link on “How Do You Get Fast:” http://youtu.be/vVqDrOyP8X4 Good Stuff

          I’ll recommend one more thing for you to look at since I see you like Brooks Johnson – A blog I did on Coach Johnson:
          http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/2011/08/quest-for-wisdom-exploring-thoughts.html

  • prochargedmopar

    What about this training using repeat 200′s for building “strength endurance” but still focusing on acceleration, block starts, and race modeling? We attended your summer clinic and have 2 of your programs. Chris won the med. ball throw competition, ran a 49.9 as soph, but has a horrendous 4sec drop the 2nd 200m. First 200 avgs about 0.8 from PR. here is the material by clyde im refferencing. http://media.speedendurance.com/ClydeHart2007USATFHandout.pdf

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @prochargedmopar:

      Sure do whatever works for you. But I’d warn against basing your progressions off of a collegiate program that has athletes training full time through summer and fall and also designed for athletes who were likely running 21.5 and faster as high schoolers and who run a full college schedule.

      Nobody really knows what Clyde Hart does or how he does it. Even his assistant coaches fail to get results when they break away from Clyde and even when they steal Clyde’s athletes.

      You can do repeat 200s for ‘strength endurance’ or, more specifically, glycolytic capacity. But I’m not going to get over 5-6x200m in a workout and I will run them fast enough where that isn’t possible and give rest in the 4-6′ range. Your kid is going to run, at most, 2×400 in a meet. Why does he need a base of high volume at submaximal pace? Free yourself from volume concerns and the picture will become much clearer.

      The reason he drops off so much in his second 200 (it should be between 2.5 – 3.0 seconds) is because when he does interval work in practice, he goes too slow. He lacks the specific endurance to finish the race. I’d also get his first 200 to be consistently in the ’200m PR + 1.0 second’ range.

  • Frank Bacon

    @ Coach Jones- Have a suggestion for you,it something that I have been contemplating. Have those kids you are working with think about not running high school track at all and focus on working with you and your club. This practice seems to be working with soccer,baseball/softball,volleyball and basketball

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Frank Bacon:

      This is why education is the key to success for coaches, especially those of us working with the youth (8-18) population.

    • http://TrackMom.com Rain

      @Frank Bacon:

      Exactly.. It’s a little swimming up stream for track now but I believe, shortly it won’t be for the high level perfomers because High School Just can’t develop these great athletes properly. I would consider it when my daughter gets of age.Every school in my area loves XC as a “base” and no parent or outside coach input. It’s like taking your Ferrarri to a Toyota Repair shop and expecting it to be running better when you pick it up?? REALLY

      • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

        @Rain:

        Specialization outside the high school program is a slippery slope and a controversial topic. My bias, of course, is that I consider myself to be capable of developing these athletes at the HS level. And I’d hate to lose talented kids to the club team like I lose my talented kids to soccer and basketball. At the same time, if my family had the option to take me out of my terrible HS program and develop me at the Club or AAU level, we would have done it.

        I’ve gotten in trouble for talking about this before. I think I’ll write an article about it and stir the pot a bit. Of course, if my daughter was as talented as yours and I had no confidence in the HS program, I’d be looking for the same options.

        If you’ve written about this on your site, send me some links so I can refer to them when I write something or if I can post it on this site, let me know as well.

        • http://TrackMom.com Rain

          @Latif Thomas:

          You are right it is very controversial and YOU are a very capable coach, that being said I think that of course there are athletes that have talent and some not as much but they can be maximized with the training you discuss here on your site,coaches just aren’t buying because they can get a great athlete to do what they do on their watch, instead of thinking long term and learning yearly..What I mean is this..State Championship or Youth Worlds(dependeing on timing and training etc..) Sometimes you have to decide what means more long term I find that to many don’t have long term big goals but a wait and see attitude. We are learning daily..I for sure don’t know half as much as you I just know I don’t want what is being developed to the best of Our Knowlege today wasted on 4 years of XC no proper instruction no expert quality resistance training, no implementation of good functional motor skills no proper rest and recovery and then the school runs my child into the ground for the sake of the team and says when not performing she was burnt out because she started as a Bantam… We take it one year at a time with balanced expectations. To be a great sprinter takes God, alot of quality training,great rest and recovery in and out of season and an athlete that is willing to be patient in the process
          Thank-you for you light in a dark place of track and field keep up the great work and please consider writing a post or three:-) over at TM e-mail me

          • http://TrackMom.com Rain

            @Rain:

            Last thing, We have no confidence in the local H/S programs thus far and the abilty to furter develop her talent. Hopefully that will change. There are athletes here that never improved in 4 years but they still shinned because who they are as athletes not anything else. I know others(high performers) in our area that are already declaring No H/S track but we remain open with the correct academic and track fit got a couple of years to find them :-)

  • Frank Bacon

    Latif here is the problem with most developmental coaches( age group/high school).They see things from Clyde,John, Tom and try to modify them to their kids……guess what-IT DONT WORK!!!! Why because first off most dont know what they are doing to begin with,second they dont want to learn and third- go back and read #1. Valery Borzov,the great Russian sprinter got a late start in the Russian system( meaning he didnt go to the sports academy), but during his reign as one of the premier sprinters he rarely ran over 60 meters in practice-4x4x60 5 minute break…..had several sub 10 and 20 second times in the 100/200 between 1969-1976, and ran a couple of sub 46 second 400′s. Of course there will be some numb nut that will say Borzov was “hopped up”…..but the Soviet sport science was waaaaaay ahead of every body else at that time. For those of you that have doubts check the archives of USATF’s Track Coach newsletter or read up on Dr Micheal Yessis. When I put my macro/mesocyles together ,I had them critiqued by my USTFCCCA Instructor. He offered me the same advice that Vince Anderson gave. So to you CBLF’s out there who dont have a clue and cant buy a vowel,find something else to do with your free time and let those of us who put in the time,effort and sincerity to make our kids not only better athletes but better people as well,get on with the business at hand( CBLF by the way is carbon based life forms….cause thats the only reason you have the position where you are)

  • http://www.phoenixbobcats.org Coach Jones

    Coach,

    Great information. I have always been against putting a ton of “slow” miles on our younger athletes.
    I have been coaching club athletes for over 30 years and feel I have been applying the philosophy in your article today.

    What I am facing now, is that I am getting High School athletes who have been trained wrong for a season or two and they want me to help them to get faster in 3 weeks….or the next season.

    I think I know the answer, but what is your take?

    Question 2.

    I am working with a High school Sprinter, girl. We started after your High School season ended in May.
    she is 5’8…125.
    Her Coach had her running the 100 (12.75 ) ,and 200 (25.02 )
    I would love for her to do the 400. We have been toying with the idea and I am asking your for input and a beginning suggested workout for her.

    she wants to continue to run in College. She has Big college grades and scores but not big college times.

    coach Jones

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Coach Jones:

      Question 1: They have unrealistic expectations and must be told that very fact. You can’t cheat phsyics or physiology. There are no short term answers. You can’t undo poor mechanics and develop the glycolytic system in 3 weeks or make long term, permanent improvements in that time. These things take time and repetition to fix.

      Question 2: I can’t really give you a ‘suggested workout’ because I do not know the athlete. Generally speaking I would say that her acceleration is poor based on her relatively poor 100m time compared to her 200m time. So acceleration and glycolytic capacity would be where I would focus with her. If she can run 25.02 she should be able to run 54.5 or faster if trained properly. But with those times she is likely a 400 runner.

  • Joe

    What are your thoughts on applying Joel Jamieson’s energy system principles (eastern european approach) to track? Keep up the great work coaching.

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Joe:

      Haven’t looked at it yet, but I’ll watch his presentation sometime this week.

      • Joe

        @Latif Thomas: Joel’s presentation is okay, but his book is great.

        • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

          @Joe:

          Cool. I’ll get the book. Thanks for the recommendation!

          • Frank Bacon

            @ Rain- checked out your website-FANTASTIC- also saw the vid of your daughter running and all I can say is here comes the next Allyson or FloJo. My question is what state are you in. HS sports in California,Illinois,New York,Ohio,Texas,Florida and Pennsylvania are hot spots. But I understand your concerns. In my area most of the coaches have a distance background and have no clue as to how to coach a good sprinter/jumper

            @ Latif-its not 70% Latif its closer to 85% maybe higher of clueless HS coaches and programs

  • Nick

    I’m a little confused. When I train my sprinters, I train them fast on shorter distances and slower on longer distances just like CST taught me. Should I stop doing that in preseason and in practices. What should I do? When I train my athletes I have them go full speed and rest 1 minute for every 10meters ran. It has brought my athletes success. I even had an 8th girl run a 12.49 100m last year training this way and my male 8th grader broke our school record. Please help clarify Latif.

    Thanks,

    Nick

    • http://www.completespeedtraining2.com Latif Thomas

      @Nick:

      You have to go slower on longer distances, of course. I can’t get too specific because I don’t know your program in totality. It sounds like you’re on the right path and you should keep doing what works for you. I would just say that, generally speaking, on our interval days we should increase the intensity and rest and decrease the volume.

  • Luis Rodriguez

    Latif Your the best!!! Let it be known that this works even in swimming with slight adjustments. But I’m a firm believer in your theories.

    Plus, the McDonalds comparison was hilarious LOL!!!

  • Robert McGimpsey Jr

    Man, I wasn’t going to put anymore up but; that’s the first picture I’ve ever seen of Elias Gilbert……in Mom’s yearbook; it said the guys didn’t have a coach in 1960;evidently Coach Ross had left??? I’ll tell my Mom I corresponded with you….trust me; I’ll try to get better till I leave. Peace.

  • http://cgscoutperspective.blogspot.com/ Clarence Gaines

    @Robert McGimpsey Jr: My dad coached the 1960 track team. He would probably say that he supervised and let the athletes coach themselves, because they had been taught so well by Wilbur Ross. My dad said this about Wilbur Ross: “When I’m asked to name a coach who did more with less, I always point to Wilbur Ross.” “Won the 1959 track championship with only 3 athletes scoring, Elias Gilbert, Godfrey Moore, and Russell Rogers; and without a proper track.”

    The following are Wilbur Ross’ words (excerpts), from a document he wrote, “The Impossible Dream” Winston-Salem Teachers College (1953 to 1960):

    After six years (1959) I decided to leave Winston-Salem to go to Maryland State College at Princess Anne, Maryland for more money and more facilities (a 440 Yard cinder Track). But I left TC as Winston-Salem Teachers College was called with all of the collegiate records in the Hurdles. Gilbert held the 110 Meter Highs at 13.4 ,the 220 yard lows on the turn at 22.8, 220 yard lows on the straightaway in 22.1, Washington had the 440 yard hurdles in 51.2, and our 480 shuttle hurdles relay in 57.5(grass) at the Penn Relays. the NAIA championship in 1959, won with only three athletes( Elias Gilbert, Godfrey Moore and Russell Rogers) this was the only team to win with so few athletes to date. Our group won all but one place at the 1959 Penn Relays, Gilbert won the 110 Meters, the 400 Meter Hurdles, with Russell Rogers second and Herbert Conaway third, plus we won the 480 yard Shuttle-Hurdles relay in a record time of 57.5 with Carl Brown, Russell Rogers, Joe Middleton and Elias Gilbert) this was the first time any school had performed like that. Godfrey Moore won the triple jump and our 400 Meter Relay team won a class relay. Along with those victories we won the Carolina’s Relay for three consecutive years of 1957,1958 and 1959. Our group won the Florida Relays, the South Carolina Relays and the Quantico Marine Relays of 1956, 57 and 59.

    Gilbert won the 1958 NCAA 110 Meters Hurdles,Fran Washington won the 1959 AAU 220 yard Lows, and Gilbert had won the 1957 lows while breaking Harrison Dillard’s record in 22.5 at Dayton, Ohio.The name of Winston-Salem was known around the nation and the world at that time.

    Both Gilbert and Fran Washington won the MVP honors at the NAIA championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. We were viewed by the University and College teams throughout the country as the Hurdles power. Only Lee Calhoun was in our way in the 110 Meters event and Ancil Robinson in the 200 Meters hurdles event. Track and Field News called me the
    Magician of Hurdlers, and named me as one of the six best track coaches in the world. In spite of all these victories and honors we did this without a 440 Yard running Track and adequate support. I left Winston-Salem much better off than when I arrived, to prove it, the following season our team won the NAIA championship for the second year, with Coach Clarence “Big House”Gaines as the coach. What a way to end my Mission at Winston-Salem Teachers College. Big House Gaines later revealed to me, “That the athletes that I left that made up the 1960 team, were some of the finest young men he had ever associated with, a great group of student athletes and Champions “When I look back over this experience I can’t believe it really happened,because it was such an enjoyable part of my life.”

    Photo of 1959 track team: http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/1609
    More Photo links: http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/?q=track&wssu=on&st=1840&nd=2011&b=r&o=a&s=advanced&dv=true

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