Overspeed. Decide for yourself.
Does overspeed make sense? ( refer to "Running into the trouble", above).
Is there a need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to safe, proven methods that can be repeated with grand successes?
Is the risk worth an alleged return?
Why didn't Charlie use overspeed to develop some of the most most repeatable methods for speed training to date?
( because he didn't need to..., an idea the may be too simple for most?)
Keep in mind this. If you get injured, you may never be capable of returning to the same abilities as before. You would not be the first to have this happen or the last. ( this idea was a main idea we used to navigate daily training for more 2 decades)
My mission after losing Charlie to a 5 year fight with Stage 4 NHL was to maintain the content he spent his life creating and experimenting with in order to achieve significant and repeatable results in sprinting.
I encourage you to study some or all of the massive archive of content at charliefrancis.com. The forum review of 2002 as well as 2009 offers some of the best content from the website’s world class forum to which Charlie contributed over 10,000 posts himself from 2000 to 2010.
Take a look at our Weights for Speed bundle here to learn why lifting weights and building strength are critical but study why Coach Francis and Coach Ange Coon prioritized speed training followed by lifting weights.
This is a list of lifts Francis and Coon used and Coon continues to use while coaching sprinting at the highest developmental levels.
Lastly, the best context for a full understanding of why Francis became a world class sprint coach is inside his book "Speed Trap". The story revolves around the events of 1988, but for me the most interesting part is how Francis discusses many of his ideas and how he came to them and why. For passionate athletes looking for more in their training this book might help you find it.
Sprinting your own race requires a recipe only you the reader can decide and experiment with. I trust this information will become content you find useful and enjoyable for your speed, sprinting and power sport pursuits.
"Sprint your own life"
Coach Charlie Francis discusses Central Nervous System work, fatigue and it's relationship with sprinting, high intensity work like heavy lifting and explosive drills used in track and field.
Hamstrings are not supposed to be sore and tight 24/7.It is not normal or desirable to have sore and tight hamstrings around the clock. I am not talking about bodybuilding, cross -fit, training to have an instagram rear end. I am speaking about speed training, sprinting and literally kicking butt across the finish line or end zone first and often. If you can’t walk from tightness and soreness of your hamstrings, trust me…. Your speed training suffers and worst case you get injured constantly.
Speed training is different than anything else regarding sports as it’s unique in how you ultimately gain speed consistently.
Sure almost anyone can get faster by making simple routine improvements in the warm up as one example. But how to max out on becoming a speed demon you will need to pay attention to each variable often get overlooked in sports.
Tightness and soreness can be managed and needs to be managed to be fast, get fast, stay fast and get faster.
Some soreness of the hamstrings will be natural when doing speed work or high volumes of work related to speed work. Chronic tightness will never end well for anyone.
When you are able to balance the training loads needed to become faster as well learn to manage soreness and tightness proactively it will help with injury prevention. Coaches and athletes need to learn the factors effecting hamstring health and when they are addressed they will be creating an ideal environment for speed training.
Factors to be addressed to prevent Hamstring tightness for speed training.
Planning and Methodology of Speed Training includes:
If you are a sprinter wishing to compete with success it will be a good idea to have a plan to improve your speed development and it will be your job to know which methods of training and recovery you respond to best. Repeating successful methods will be the most efficient way to make the most of your annual speed-training plan.
It’s common for those interested in speed training to think running more reps of sprints at any speed will bring success to becoming a faster athlete. Monitoring quality and rest intervals of speed training is key. Successful methods of training for speed might create muscle tightness and soreness but managing active regeneration, diverging from what might be written down for training opposed to responding to how individual sessions play out will help you keep your body healthy and prevent injury.
1- The Annual Plan:
Take a look at a one hour lecture of Coach Charlie Francis’s plan to create one of the fastest people on the planet who eventually broke the world record and won the gold medal at the Olympics in a record breaking time.
Note: Annual plans need to be customized for individuals more so as an athlete improves over time. Beginners will have a more generalized plan. Take a look at this informative video on tips to prepare all athletes in sport.
2-Continual Improvement of Personal Nutrition:
Eating well has never been as important for athletes due to increased processed foods devoid of nutrients. Environmental stress depletes our food chain due to damaged soil and pollution. Athletes proactively managing their diets will be rewarded with more consistent training gains and improved recovery so adding work becomes seamless. Basic supplementation via a simple protein smoothie is easily adopted and will enhance your achievements for your speed training goals. Read this blog for more info
3-Practicing Rest and Active Recovery:
Learning to be good at doing nothing was how I first observed the essence regarding rest and recovery. The trick is to add varied methods of rest and recovery into your training day and cycle the same way you routinely practice other training variables. The rewards are large, as you will experience once you are prepared to put in the time and work.
4- Massages Don’t Have to Be 1 Hour:
One of the most innovative aspects behind Coach Charlie Francis’s training methods was born out of the idea of his own experience of had to quit sport prematurely as he was suffering constant hamstring injuries due to tightness and soreness Finding ways to keep muscles loose with short and consistently preformed massages. Check out Charlie Francis Facebook Page to see how it might be done.
Simple Things First and Consistently
Tight muscles means circulation of blood flow has been compromised. Creating circulation can happen manually with massage or contrast baths or perform low intensity exercises, which promotes blood flow. Continued tightness restricts motion and prevents routine high performance within daily workouts.
Log raining habits to record patterns that will impact training goals.
Fatigue can be one of the first signs of dehydration. It’s easy to be lazy about drinking water but it is not a difficult thing to make sure you are drinking enough water before, during and after training.
Make a List of Your Routine Regenerative Habits:
Check them off or list them in your diary once you have completed each action.
Stay Off Your Feet:
Part of managing fatigue and energy as an athlete is building in a routine where you are not on your feet. Find ways to get things done while resting at the same time and prioritize all things that effect your performance.
Are You an Expert Sleeping?
Sleep is the best and most natural way to heal and keep your body recovered. Learn about eating foods to regulate and optimize your hormones from reducing blue lights from electronics and phones to understanding blood sugar management as one of the most important ways in the prevention of food cravings as well as eliminating energy drain which deprives consistent training goals achievement.
Low Intensity workouts to alleviate, treat and prevent constant muscle tightness and soreness from speed training ( low intensity is performing work at 75 percent or less your maximum effort or speed)
You don’t need to have resistance on the bike to get the blood flowing. Creating tension on the bike may have adverse effects to promoting needed circulation to tight muscles.
Performing recovery runs or tempo at 70 to 75% your max effort on grass in flats will promote cardio vascular fitness and provide a flush of your tight muscles. Finish the last runs at the same speed you began.
Using an interval of 45 seconds of running in deep end preferably with floatation belt. Start with 1 set of 10 reps of 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest and build up to 2 sets of 45 seconds over time. The Jane Project
Alternating high intensity training with low or very low intensity:
Elite sprinters are able to handle 2 or 3 high intensity speed sessions per week.( HI is defined as 95% - 100 percent of your best time) To optimize speed work allow alternation of high and low intensity work. ( low intensity work defined as 75 % of best time or slower) The hamstrings ( as well as the central nervous system) need 48 to 72 hours recovery and to repeat speed work.
Typical Rest Interval for 10 Meters of Speed Work:
Is 1 min rest for each 10 meters of speed work / rest time may increase as quality and distance improve with experience and age of athlete
Stuff To Do Before You Start Your Speed Training
Make a habit of wearing layers to begin training especially keeping your hamstrings and glutes warm. Extra layers can be taken off once technical speed training begins.
Wrap With Heat and Plastic Wrap:
Apply heat and or anti inflammatory creams depending on severity of tightness and soreness of hamstrings. Wrap with plastic food wrap and tensor bandages and covered by tights loose fitting sweat pants to bed. Repeat in the morning for training sessions. We used to do this routinely for hamstrings, glutes, calves and low back.
Epson Salt Baths Are Awesome:
After training Epson can minimize some lactic acid in your muscles. Keep baths away from competition prep.
Use Water To Bounce Back:
Swim in it, drink it, and use it to heat you up in a bath or cool you down to contrast showers and baths. Water can promotes circulation by submerging yourself in it, exercising in or drinking it because it accelerates the removal of waste products in your system.
Actively keeping your hamstrings healthy and loose will save you a great deal of time and heart ache and allow you to train successfully and consistently. Your hamstrings are one of the largest muscles in your body and when you have a problem your hamstrings it will creates other issues that ultimately prevent you from sprinting your best.
“Sprint your own race”
I really enjoy the part of this site when I receive notes randomly giving me feedback. I will not lie and say the past controversy as told in "Speed Trap" has not made life a bit of a hurdle no pun intended. It brings me joy to report I continue to hurdle successfully over each barrier life throws my way for me and my family. For this one reason I feel compelled to share stories that touch me. This note I have recently received is a great example. The name and exact location have been changed with permission from sender as it is not relevant to the content.
"Sprint your own race"
I am a Canadian working in the EU. I used to coach track in a Canadian city and have seen you rundown in Provo Utah back in the day. I never had the honor of actually meeting Charlie and talking face to face with him, but really enjoyed the forum and have learned a lot from him that way. I have read Speed Trap a few times and I believe that Canadian athletics really did them selves a disservice by banning Charlie for life. I was yet not coaching when the Seoul Olympics took place, but I can remember exactly where I was when Ben crossed the line in the final. I suspect that jealousy played a big role in Charlie getting blackballed.
I was at the Canadian Jr champs in Vancouver in 79 when Mark McKoy ran at his first Jr nats. I was stretching close to Mark and Charmaine Crooks and they kept talking about "Charlie" and how he would be happy with their performances. I did not know who "Charlie" was at the time.
I know that I am not telling you anything new, but I believe that Charlie was one of the few true geniuses in track and Canadian track could have learned much from him. I have taken some courses from “Mr Sport” and have talked to “Sportman” over the years over a variety of subjects and know that this coach is a big fan of Charlie's. I am as well, and just want you to know that there are voices out there not only in North America but all over the world that acknowledge the legacy that Charlie left.
Thank you for keeping the fire burning!
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
A Coach who has taken time to share with all of us ( how cool is that?)
Dept of Sport Science
University of “someplace in EU”
I love to eat and I love to cook and I love to share especially when it comes to food. I made this salad up inspired by a yummy salad I enjoyed at a new restaurant around the corner from where I live in Toronto Canada.
Ange’s Kale, Parmesan and Chicken Salad (Delicious and Nutritious all in one. I love it)
- Chop up desired amount of Kale once you have washed and dryed
- Slice or grate from a solid block of parmesan cheese. ( yes, store grated will do fine but likely it's not authentic quality parmesean so even if you just buy the real deal once please try so you will experience the taste difference. The cost of grated is always less for the simple reason that you likely don't know the quality of the cheese they use)
- Roast chicken breast with skin on and bone in the night before or buy a cooked chicken at your local butcher. Don't be afraid to experiment with where you buy cooked chicken or raw as you will be amazed at how quality of chicken tastes substantially better. Watch Project Jane to see me talking cooking for athletes here.
- Add one hard boiled egg sliced ( eggs are one of the easiest and most affordable forms of protein you can have. I always try to buy organic eggs and eggs from chickens that are free range ( the means the chickens are not locked up or not locked up as much as caged chickens)
- Add chopped handful of your favorite grapes
- Add several sprinkles of black toasted sesame seeds
- Add 2 to 3 TAB of black beans
- Apple sliced from 1/4 to 1/2 gala or your favorite variety of apple
- Drizzle with red wine vinegar.
- Add desired amount of Olive Oil toss
- Add sea salt to taste and pepper if you wish
Serve with Sparkling water or green tea or my new favorite drink ever, full fat cream with cocoa and a tiny few teaspoons of sugar.
Enjoy and go try this fantastic and nutritious salad as soon as you are able.
I think there is a great deal of confusion for many coaches and athletes about what actual speed training looks like. To be fast you must run fast. To run fast you must set yourself up to succeed. You will not run fast if you are tired and tight as one example. You will not run fast if you are not able to give 95 percent effort. DON’T repeat runs for speed training if you are not feeling 95percent effort is possible. The reason you don’t want to do perform speed tired or tight is you will repeat runs performed poorly. Otherwise it’s likely you are practicing running that is not fast or technically sound. It’s essential you show up to practice each day and each workout feeling great, rested and ready to grab anything you are able to from each training session.
Below is a simple question asked by an interested person who saw an interview I did on the performance of life, rest and regeneration.
I listened to you recently in an interview online. Could you give an example of a high intensity workout for speed? Thanks Roy
Thanks for your note Roy. An example of a high intensity speed workout might be the following in a short to long method of speed training.
- 4 x 10 meters from crouch start or from blocks (volume is 40m of speed) Rest between each 10 meters would be slow walk back / slightly more rest if you use blocks. ( rest between sets might be 2 to 3 minutes / sitting , shaking your legs)
- 2 x 20 meters from crouch start. Rest between each run ~ 2 m/ rest between sets 3 to 3.5 min) (volume is 40m speed)
- 3 x 30 meter from crouch start Rest between each run 3 to 3. 5m /rest between next set 3.5 to 4 /5 min (volume is 90m speed)
- 1 x 60 m crouch start (volume is 60m) (v= 60) (if you did another 60 m rest might be 6 min maybe a bit more) . Total v = 230m
Above is one example of a speed workout for a beginner without much background in sprinting and without a developed Central Nervous System CNS. The workout shown above would be preceded by proper warm up. For more info checkout this blog post Warming Up for Sprinting in Track and Field
Important Definitions for Speed Training
Speed / pure speed:runs that are 7seconds or less performed at approximately at 95 percent / slightly less with full recovery.
What is full recovery?
Generally speaking you use 1 min of rest per 10 meters of speed work. If you had a hurdle in the way that won’t be pure speed because by definition It’s difficult to perform you max 93 to 95% with a hurdle in the way. Therefor true speed must be done in absence of hurdles and before hurdles are practiced. Rest between reps will be slightly different than rest between sets. Depending on the fitness of an individual will
Speed Endurance:7 to 15 seconds of running with full recovery between runs. One example of SE would be 60m and above for most including 100m.
Specific Endurance:15 seconds or above up to about 600 meters / 100m or 200m runners would not be running 600m but 400 meter runners would (As a 100mh I did a lot of 300m repeats (7x300m) in fall and spring for strong fitness base)
Special Endurance:15 seconds or above with incomplete recovery (note/ most people will not maximally benefit from doing high quality Speed Endurance because “ practice makes permanent”. For that reason performing Specific endurance combined with pure speed in the initial phases of running makes a ton more sense until the technical aspects of an athletes development can be solidified over time.
Running fast is fun. Learning to run fast is fun too but it’s hard work. It takes time, lots of energy and lots of practice and knowledge. Sprinting requires skill and often our skills have been learned the wrong way. Children know how to run and well meaning parents and coaches believe they know a great deal about skill when often they don’t. It might help some of you to think back to when you used to race your friends in the playground. What did you do? Likely every one would line up and race a reasonable distance. Likely the younger you were the shorter the initial distance. The other thing that would happen is you might race until you were tired. There is an actual feeling to running fast and once you have run fast and well remembering what the feeling is and how to best repeat it can be an incredible asset in how you perfect the skill of learning how to sprint fast.
Let me know if you have any questions.
I get many questions about strength training for sprinting and it’s usually from athletes, coaches and concerned parents. Recently one such athlete asked “ I am curious as to whether gaining upper body strength would be beneficial to running faster?
In two words "Absolutely Yes!"
Everyone is potentially able to improve their upper body strength but your strength gains in your upper body are not necessarily going to be 100 percent transferable in improving your speed development.
Here is the complete question from the athlete from the website.Athlete Question:
I am curious as to whether gaining upper body strength would be beneficial to running faster?
I currently have good strength at 70kg 180kg below parallel squat & 180kg RDL. I can bench only 100kg as I don't do the exercise or really train my upper body much. Should I train my upper body a little bit more?
Gaining upper body strength is essential to improving your fitness, your overall strength and therefor it will directly and indirectly be beneficial to running faster.
Getting stronger in your upper body you will not guarantee improved speed. Begin to integrate bench, arm pulls, seated row, incline and decline bench. Adding pushups with in your warm up in small numbers as well as adding pushups into tempo days is another way to raise your upper body strength.
Incorporating strength training for sprinting has been an area of specialty for Coach Charlie Francis. I strongly recommend reading Speed Trap to fully understand his training methods. I also recommend purchasing the Weights for Speed Bundle. Reading this material will give you a comprehensive look at how to plan effective training for speed development. . You need to prioritize speed work, add lifts only if you are able to maintain high quality work. When it comes to sprint workouts everything possible needs to be done to put yourself in the best possible situation to run well every time you perform a sprint. Quality sprinting consistently needs to be your end goal to improve your sprinting.
Here are a few ideas you might think of when you begin the discussion on how to add a variety of upper body training and how that will help you towards sprinting faster.
1. Making sprinting a priority in your training, combined with lifting weights, will supplement the high intensity demands of sprinting. Weights for Speed Bundle
2. Using a medicine ball in your warm up and within your training does not only add an element of strength training to your daily routine but it is also adding an exercise that helps with mobility, core strength and coordination. Use a very light medicine ball and don’t’ be hasty moving to the next weight of medicine ball.
3. Adding upper body mobility exercises to your daily warm up like arm swings front and back help loosen the area around your shoulders and neck.
4. Practicing Power Speed Drills within your warm up and making sure you are using your arms for each drill is an important addition into your training. How you use your arms in your drills will transfer into your running. South Africa Practical Sessions Bundle
5. Stand in front of a mirror and watch your arm actions while using your arms as though you are running. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down while consistently maintaining a 45-degree angle at the elbow. Hands should be relaxed and practice holding hand in a fist with the thumbs up (don’t clench your fist tightly, tightness has a tendency to migrate into other areas which is not desirable for sprinting)
6. Weights to add into your weight lifting routine: Bench, Arm Pulls and or seated rows, upright row, incline and decline bench, pull downs and push ups. Cleans are an advanced lift which require technical advice to make the most of this exercise.
7. Practicing explosive medicine ball throws and drills allows you to both gain strength and utilize and or convert the strength you have into power for running. Examples of these throws are in GPP as well as South Africa Practical Series download.
8. Running Tempo in your off days facilitates loose muscles, muscles that are more mobile and muscles that have greater circulation which makes them easier to get stronger and also easier for you to utilize strength you currently have. A great example of a tempo workout which combines upper body strength training is the:
PUSH UP / SIT UP WORKOUT
Everyone learns to dread this workout but you will love the results.
TRY THIS PROGRESSION FIRST.If you have been routinely doing tempo such as 2(10 x 100meters) with less than 5 minutes rest between sets you will likely have little trouble doing this workout yet there is a specificity to all training so give yourself a few weeks of doing this workout 1 or 2 per week before you will start to feel great doing it.
I strongly suggest beginning this workout with a shorter distance such as 80 meters and using less than 10 pushups to begin (for woman) and less than 20 situps (for men). Initially men will have little trouble with the pushups and the woman will have little trouble with the situps. Obviously exceptions apply. A reasonable starting number is 4 to 6 pushups building to 10 over 2 week period. 10 to 12 sit ups building to 20 in a 2 week period. If this progression is too steep a more radical reduction is suggested. NON TRACK athletes may need more progressive progressions.
It's recommended that you modify warm up for tempo. If you are stiff from speed work take more time. Cooler weather like the spring and or fall may require more time. Use contrast baths before and or after tempo to jump start a warm up leading into tempo or speed workouts.
PUSH UP AND SIT UP WORKOUT
Full workout is 2 sets of 10 x 100 meters ( *tempo pace / low intensity as defined by 75 percent intensity or lower)
- Method =
- Run 100 meters and do 10 pushups
- Run back 100 meter do 20 varied sit ups ( press here to see varied sit up circuit in GPP)
- Repeat to 10 sets
- Rest is less than 5 minutes for elite athlete / if it takes you more than 5 minutes begin the progression of this workout with 1 x 6 x 100 meter of push up / sit up workout. Repeat 2 to 3 x per week for 2 or 2.5 weeks before trying 10 x 100 meters.
Send me questions if you have any.