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10 Best Gifts for Sprinters

I’ve always loved getting the best equipment to fuel my passions. As the holiday quickly approaches here are some ideas that might help guide you to buy for the sprinter or athlete on your gift list.

1. Blender


a) General Blender: try Magic Bullet that is small, compact and does the job making simple 2 or 3 ingredient smoothies such as fruit and yogurt.


b) Premium Blender: both Vitamix or Blentec will grind seeds, dark greens like broccoli or kale , flax and pumpkin seeds as well and whole frozen fruits like strawberries. Check out this recipe on my blog here.


2. Athletics Tights for training


a) Tights for all occasions = can be purchased inexpensively at retailers, which include Costco, Wal-Mart, Sears, TJ Max. Low priced tights are perfect for layering in colder weather when one pair won’t do and baggy sweats or rain gear interferes with training.


b) Premium Athletic tights = Lulu lemon tights are hard to beat. My second choice would be Nike and Addidas and UnderArmour.


3. Water bottle that does not leak = Nalgene is hands down the only water bottle I’ve continued to use and keep coming back to. It does not leak. The wide mouth versions are perfect to keep clean; you can freeze water in them in the summer and add an insulated cover found at the same place you purchase your water bottles. Nalgene is perfect for hot beverages, smoothies and they wash wonderfully well in the dishwasher.


4. Protein for smoothies and protein shakes = Sunwarrior protein is a preimium vegan based brown rice powder. It comes plain, flavored vanilla and chocolate. You can also try premium Whey Protein from New Zealand but I like the variety of non whey for my smoothies.


5. Subscription to a Top Nutritional Journal = Understanding more about nutrition is one of the easiest ways to enhance a sprinters ability to get the most out of his or her training.


6. Books for Sprinters = Speed Trap and The Charlie Francis Training System are two easy to read and follow book that are available here on the site or at Amazon.com. Both will give the sprinter in your life an overview of the world of athletics and sprinting at the development and elite levels.


7. Medicine Ball = Dynamax medicine balls are made of leather and made in the USA. For the most premium brand go to www.togu.de . For some reason it’s difficult to find good medicine balls out of these two companies.


8. Massages = the best place to find quality therapy is through athletic injury clinics or from other coaches or athletes who may make personal recommendations. You can’t go wrong with gift certificates.


9.Rain Gear = It does not have to be Gortex but light weight rain gear can stop the wind and keep you warm and prevent the rain from getting you wet. Muscles perform best when they are dry and warm.


10.Personal timing device = I have been wearing the Timex Indiglo watch for a long time and I love it. I time everything and log the results and use my watch in the water as well as its waterproof.



I wish you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and all the best 2016 has to offer. I hope my list of the 10 Best Gifts for Sprinters gives you some great ideas.


Angela for CharlieFrancis.com.


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8 Extra Tips to manage Sprint Injuries

I always appreciate the feedback I receive regarding my blogs and posts.

A long-standing member of our forum has responded to a recent blog I wrote about sprinting injuries.


Thanks for the article Angela. I have been having Achilles issues this year. When they are warm I’m good. They get cold and I cant walk. I wear high socks to bed.

I am going to start using ems and ultra sound at night.

What are your thoughts on compression socks?

My response:

Thanks for your feedback ‘Long Standing Forum Member’

It's very annoying to have plantar fasciitis and tendon injuries. An injury slows us down and requires us to spend time we often don’t have to try and fix the injury. If people need to spend extra time at something if often means thorough rehabilitation doesn’t take place.   Hopefully this information will be a motivator for the steps that can be taken to heal quickly and prevent future injuries.

In addition to a recent blog post,I have added  8 extra tips to help you manage your sprint injuries. 

  1. Use Heat

Several products can be useful used locally and then wrapped with saran. Some examples of creams to use are: RUB A535, Voltaren Emulgel, and Traumeel. Loosely wrap the saran area with a tensor bandage. This can be done at night.

You can use this method for training as well and the saran may or may not stay in place. Wear more than one layer on the legs to maintain extra heat.

  1. Change Warm up

My suggestion for the warm up is to complete entire duration of the warm up without any pounding, running or jogging for area that is injured. My guidelines for a warm up if you are suffering from plantar Fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis would be the following. For the first part of your warm up choose the easiest exercises for you (the exercises are you most adapted for) and progressively add slightly more demanding exercises keeping in mind this is a warm up not a training session (yet).

*I will post a specific warm up routine anyone can do which is very effective, complete and will fully prepare you for a serious level sprint session.

I have strong opinions on warm ups for the performance of a sprint training session based on witnessing a great deal of not enough warm up duration, exercises that are performed too early in the warm up or a failure of a complete warm up all together.

Goal. Entire warm up performed off your feet entirely.

Initially you may find this to be annoying but you get used to it quickly and it might be enough to keep you healthy enough to perform some speed work and or drills during the injury.

  1. Prioritize your sprint training

Performing shorter faster runs are easiest on the lower limbs as you are limiting pounding. The idea of keeping off your feet during your warm up does two things. One it enables your body to heat up before any specific stress to the injured area occurs. Two, performing the warm-up off your feet will reduce the total volume of pounding per training session and per week. Both ideas shore up energy to be focused on sprinting which you need to prioritize at least 2 x per week.

Choosing alternative exercises to maintain appropriate high intensity stimulus is also important in combination with prior mentioned ideas. Examples are using explosive medicine ball drills into a crash pad, hurdle walkovers with or without a medicine ball, extensive medicine ball circuits for both maintenance of fitness or improvement of fitness. Drills can be performed on gym matts carefully once the warm up has been completed, Electronic Muscle Stimulation has the ability to replicate speed training protocols when used properly.

  1. Replace old shoes

Shoes lose the shock absorbing qualities they have and progressively wear out and provide less and less support. Look to replace your training shoes when the tread on the bottom begins to show wear.

  1. Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax baths provide moist deep heat that accelerates and promotes healing of tendons and compromised areas that are difficult to treat. Buying personal paraffin wax baths are economical and easy to use. Paraffin is also soothing to use and has side benefit of improving the texture of hardened, rough, dry skin.

  1. Individual ice baths for feet and calves

Purchase 2 pales that come up to your knees if possible. Try a place like Home Depot or a hardware store. Fill each pale with cold water and add desirable amount of ice to each pale. Alternate your feet up to as far as your knees if possible for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the sensation of cold stops. Rest your feet and legs out of the cold by alternating into a hot tub, bath, hot paraffin wax or just sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes at a time. Repeat this cycle 2 or 3 times. It’s ideal to perform this before and after training., before bed or more than one time per day. However you perform this type of therapy, contrasting temperatures in this way will promote circulation to a very specific area of your body.

I suggest timing your intervals to see where your tolerance begins to diminish. Over time as your circulation improves, so too should you injury improve.

As a general rule, many injuries respond best to routine and varied method of care opposed to one method you think might work. Each person responds to different therapies in their own individual way depending on their make up.

  1. Compression Socks

I think compression socks make sense providing they don’t stop or slow down or prevent circulation. You want overall reduction of inflammation in the entire body as well as in the specific spot you are dealing with. Therapy needs to be address in a multi pronged way. I don’t know a great deal about the socks but their use for varicose veins is well documented as very helpful. I would not count on compression socks as a one step homerun but I’d use them in combination of the things I have discussed.

  1. Stay off your feet.

I know it’s not often possible especially for athletes that work so they are able to train. It is critical that you understand how much you stand or use your body for work needs to be factored into your therapy needs. Activities like shopping or walking are deadly energy wasters for athletes needing to perform. The need to rest your legs and body increases if and when there is an injury to heal.

We spend a great deal of time discussing training but the reality is injuries happen to everyone and it's critical to learn how best to heal quickly.

Warm regards,


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7 Tips to Avoid Sprinting Injuries


Sprinting has become increasingly more interesting for people who are not competitive track and field athletes. Sprinting as fast as you can is one of the most exhilarating human experiences in life. By adding sprinting into your weekly exercise plan you will be improving fitness, strength, body composition, mobility and you will improve your overall health. Sprinting at your maximal effort can be one of the most intense forms of exercises outside of Olympic lifting. ( understand why your current weight routine might be slowing you down. See CF Lecture Series : Weights for Speed Part 1) 

Here are my top tips to stay healthy while adding sprinting to your workout routine.

1. Warm yourself up.

Muscles perform optimally when warm and hot. Relaxed, easy movements like jogging and skipping with little or no effort are ideal to prepare for sprinting. Keeping muscles covered up until your sprinting preparation has been completed makes it easier to get warm. Warm up for sprinting blog

2. Include light, full range of motion drills before Sprinting.

You are not ready to run your fastest just yet. Keeping your warm up clothes on, taking your time and adding a few exercises like side skipping, arm circles, small numbers of sit ups and a few calisthenics add some fitness building as well as more warmth to your preparation.

3. Add Sprinting Specific Drills to the warm up

You will help yourself by practicing a few movements, which mirror the broken down parts of sprinting. Three simple drills in the suggested volumes of 3 x 10 meters is the best way to start. You will progress this distance over time. Typically, it’s ideal to not exceed 20 meters unless you have become an expert sprint technician.

  • Bum kicks, standing straight vertically, heals touch bum isolating the work in the hamstring.
  • “A” March, think of marching in a band where you want yourheal that is off the ground to be parallel to the straight leg which means you perform a proper right angle with the bent leg.
  • Running “A’s”, like a march, keeping a right angle but touching down repeatedly as you run on the spot. You want to have high knees but you don’t want the knee exceeding the height of your hip.

 4. Stretch

I know there is a great deal of debate, discussion and research regarding when and how and for how long to stretch. I’ve seen people do so much stretching they run out of time and energy to sprint. It makes sense that if warm muscles perform produce best sprinting results that muscles react best to stretching when warm. Think of stretching at this point, as a checkpoint to see what specific stretches may need to be done to ensure you are ready to do strides.

 5. Relaxed Strides. It’s not jogging or sprinting.

It’s not jogging or sprinting. When I say relaxed that is not the same thing as easy. Relaxation is everything in learning to sprint well. The before mentioned steps and preparation will give you your best chance to sprint naturally without thinking. (see sprinting as a hind brain activity in Speed Trap and The Charlie Francis Training System) Progressively run 3 to 4, 50 to 60 meter strides and increase effort and speed as able. Walk back after each one before repeating the next and take your time but do not rush.

6. Spike ready?

Before you are ready to do some sprinting, take a small break to once again stretch your increasingly warmed up muscles. At this point you have progressively prepared your body to do it’s best. To begin sprinting I suggest starting with distances of 10 meters to start. An excellent drill for all levels of sprinters is to lie flat on the ground or track, on your stomach, with head down and either have someone clap or start yourself. The idea is for you to scramble up without thinking to the 10-meter mark. 2 to 3 sets of 3 x 10 meters with this start is an excellent first step to expanding the distance to 20 meters. (I suggest taking 2 to 2. 5 minutes between each set and stretch and lay down and shake your legs in-between sets). This exercise intrinsically places the body in a sprinting position as you get up from the ground


7. Final Suggestions to Avoid Sprinting Injuries


My guess is most people reading this will look at my last sprint volume suggestion and laugh. I know this to be true as one of the single biggest problems with non-experienced sprinters is too high volumes and distances that are too far to begin with. This vital fact sets people up to fail. Keep it simple in the beginning and don’t underestimate the value of high quality short sprints to start your sprinting adventures.

Take rest intervals and breaks seriously. Short distances of 10 and 20 meters can be a walk back recovery but don’t rush. Rest intervals between entire sets are needed. Be sure to take 2 to 2.5 minutes rest before repeating another set. It’s important to allow your best effort without failing.


The more work you are able to do on the grass before sprinting, the more you will be able to save your body both short and long term.


I hope you will enjoy sprinting fast and safely.


Best regards,



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