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Too Fast, Too Far, Too Soon?

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I was out at the track yesterday doing some speed work to take advantage of the nice weather.

I haven’t done anything approaching speed training since last summer so I knew I was going to have a tough time putting things together.

I also knew I was going to run longer than I should have because I wanted to test out 2 ways of running the turn for my sprinters.

During the course of that workout I made (confirmed) a few important realizations that are easy to overlook when you are the coach holding the stopwatch and not actually out running at the same intensity as your athletes.

And this applies *regardless* of the sport/s you coach.

The first is the importance of a short to long program.

Part of my workout was 5×30m from a crouch. Not only was I completely vertical by 20-25 meters, but it wasn’t until the fifth repetition that I even felt like I was getting good force application, lift or correcting the anterior pelvic tilt (butt sticking out) that was screwing up my acceleration.

And I actually know what it is supposed to feel like and can make mechanical corrections mid-stride.

So if I had those problems at that distance, you can imagine what your inexperienced athletes are
doing wrong.

So if they haven’t mastered (and you haven’t effectively taught) the ability to accelerate over that distance, then you certainly shouldn’t have them run any longer distances.

That said, I broke my own rule by running 2×110m around the turn.

I realized very quickly that by about 45m, I could not maintain an efficient, effective and powerful sprint position, proper mechanics or technique.

Why? Because I was unable to run 30m, so it was only going to deteriorate exponentially at longer distances.

All the reason to ensure your athletes meet certain benchmarks at shorter distances before you let them run longer.

But the length of the run and the accompanying ‘rust’ from my layoff isn’t the only reason I couldn’t maintain over that distance.

I could also feel, very clearly, that my physical strength was not sufficient to get acceptable force
application or maintain required posture conducive to slowing my rate of deceleration.

(Because by 40m or so, *every* developmental athlete is starting to slow down. The fastest athletes are the ones who decelerate slower than the competition. ‘Accelerating’ past someone in a race or when running someone down on the field is a myth and an illusion.)

What’s more: if your athletes are running longer speed endurance type workouts (2 x 110, R=10’ is a good example) with longer rest very early in the season, they’re in trouble. Because they should be doing more general speed and speed endurance work during the first 4-5 weeks of the season.

Sure they’ll run some fast times early. But they’ll top out midway through the season and run their fastest times long before Championship Season. To paraphrase my college coach:

‘Flying in March, dying in May, dead in June.’

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I spent more time on other athletes’ training this winter than
my own.

But it only proves, once again, that specific focus on developing absolute strength, core strength and explosive power is critical to developing fast athletes.

Now, none of this is new information to me.

But actually experiencing just how pronounced these issues are myself, instead of just reading about it in a book or article (or stealing my workouts from those places) really drove home how important it is to have this type of structure in your speed training program.

If you’re truly serious about developing faster athletes that is.

So think about your progressions. Because PRs aren’t very exciting if they come in March and are fond memories in June, when it matters.


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