Sprinting and Central Nervous System Fatigue

Practicing sprinting requires a thorough warm up with drills, which mock the actions of the sprint technique, before practice and routine active regeneration after practice. Your warm up and your regeneration are to insure you show up to sprint in your best form possible each and every time. Practicing makes permanent and to improve your speed you must run fast once and over time develop your ability to repeat high quality sprints.

A soccer player has recently posted on our forums that he wishes to get faster. From what ale1231 has shared with us thus far he is already fast and strong which are two excellent attributes for speed improvement.

An area of speed development often overlooked by athletes and coaches is the role daily active recovery plays in training. Currently, Ale1231 does not practice routine, active regeneration.

The following is an excerpt from an ongoing post by ale1231. I have made some comments and asked some questions to him about his current understanding about sprinting and central nervous system fatigue. (CNS fatigue). For anyone hoping to make more of their speed, it will be helpful to understand what CNS fatigue is about. You can take a look at the entire thread here.

Ale1231 says:

I have no idea of how someone feels when their cns is fried. That is a good question. How could i recognize when I'm doing too much?

Read more about regeneration and recovery here.

Coach Ange's comments:

It’s not surprising that you are not familiar with what it feels like “to be fried” or “feel fried”. Learning about CNS fatigue will enable you to manage your energy and ultimately your performance

How do you feel today?

How did you feel before training?

How did you feel after?

Ask yourself these questions daily and log them in your training diary.

Do you have a memory of what you have felt like from training and performance that was at your best?

Completing training due to exhaustion needs to be avoided at all costs.

Reviewing training and performance provides a window into how you will be able to manage your energy.

Logging daily training provides a record of variables to be adjusted up or down to maximize results and prevent training to exhaustion.

As an athlete I timed all aspects of my training to learn the correlation of what I was doing and how it felt at any given moment.

For example: For the 7 to 8 years I trained seriously, My warm up was routinely just under 60 minutes.@ 10 minutes I completed jogging, after that I did a series of skipping and other easy exercises @ 18 minutes I was ready to perform Power Speed drills and after drills were completed I did strides and was then ready to put my spikes on.

The “old school mentality” of sport has been:

Work for the sake of work.

Push through it no matter what.

No pain, no gain.

More is better, because you can.

The guidelines I practiced to make routine improvements over an 8 year period were”

LESS Is More.

Something is better than nothing.

Stop while you are ahead.

Pain is an indicator that something is not good and almost 100 percent of the time you will be further ahead to end training at that moment. 

Popular training stories in the media rarely discuss the subtleties of how to achieve consistent performance for speed development.

Heart rate monitors can be used to monitor % of total effort.

Electronic Muscle Stimulation can be an excellent tool that is easy to use and affordable for self use.

A timing device or an app gives you feedback on times for runs

Symptoms to be addressed, which may indicate CNS or overtraining, are lack of appetite, inability of sleep or to focus, consistent bad moods or lack of desire to train.

The idea I am trying to get you think about is how you feel and then what you need to do about how you feel as a result of that information.

Feeling horrible at the beginning of a warm up is not abnormal. Feeling horrible after 20 or 30 minutes of training is usually never good. I used to tell people that if I was not feeling great at the beginning of my warm up, 99% of the time I felt ready to train hard after 20 to 30 minutes of a progressively low intensity warm up. Unless I was sick or there was something wrong, training went smoothly 99% of the time or I took time off.

My guess is your talents and instincts up to this point have brought you far. For further improvement learning to understand how you are feeling and what those feelings mean will help you to unlock potential you never thought you had.

For the sprint work my goal is to do 2 sets of 3 60m runs. I will use an app which very is reliable. I don't have a track near my area for now but i do have access to a field which i have already measured intervals of 10m.

So basically i'll be recording every day i go and write down my times. My idea for sprint work would be the following:

Monday 2x3x60m

Wendesday 2x3 fly 20m

Friday 2x4x30m

Let’s use your current goal of training to further understand CNS fatigue.

Routine volumes of runs mean nothing without data. Have a written plan on paper, adjust it according to your data (in your case a timed result of each rep)

Ending your training exhausted is not desirable. End on a strong note while you are ahead opposed to ignoring signs, which likely indicate fatigue, which leads to repetition of poor quality.

It takes knowledge and skill to walk away from training when the results don’t match the goals you put on paper.

Maybe you are able to perform exactly what you set out to do but over time it’s unlikely that this will be your pattern. More likely is you are making ongoing adjustments as quality of speed improves.

Never forget that injuries are time expensive, disruptive and possibly create ongoing issues which detract from consistency. For these reasons avoid all mistakes that lead to injuries. Plan for habits that prevent the circumstances of getting an injury.

Regarding regeneration... I never looked into specifics. Just began writing down the calories. Making sure i get enough protein and carbs. Weighting what i eat to make sure i eat 2000 calories. So far i've dropped 2 kilos. After speed days i have low intensity days in the form of soccer practice. And if we do have to sprint at practice, i'll go at 80% max and for low distances

An athlete who is receiving regular regeneration methods and treatments is able to increase the volume of high intensity work by as much as 40% Chapter 5 Recovery and Regeneration The Charlie Francis Training System

What I might just do now is look more intro contrast shower and other regeneration methods. Makes a lot of sense to get our bodies 100% for maximum effort. 

Edit: I don't squat anymore. I feel there are other exercises more relevant to sprinting such as stiff legged deadlifts and romanian deadlifts. I won't be lifting much just to maintain my current strength and maybe build it up a little.

My emphasis is on developing that speed by sprinting. Improve my mechanics and my rate of force development from sprinting itself.

To successfully integrate a weight lifting program based on world records set by sprinters which include Olympic Gold medalist Ben Johnson in the men's 100 meters 1988 Seoul, Korea and Mark McKoy men's 110 meter hurdles 1992 Atlanta, Georgia. Weights for Speed-Charlie Francis Lecture Series

  • Learn what it feels like to train when you are 100 percent.
  • As a general rule, an unwillingness to train can be a strong indicator of fatigue.
  • Doing some kind of Active Regeneration might be chosen in place of a training session on days you don’t want or feel like training. The hope is to return to training the next day feeling your best.
  • Always be prepared to adjust training to ensure you are at your best.


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