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Answers to popular sprinter training questions

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First, don’t forget I’ve posted Week 7 of
my 12 week preseason 400m training program.

You can check that out by clicking here.

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

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

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

Got questions? Post them in the blog.


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