Telltale Signs of an Elite Sprinter and making the most of your nervous system ( CNS training)

November 05, 2019 by James Francis

Hello Dear Reader and lover of Speed development and  Sprinting;

Take care of your nervous system. Learn everything you get your hands on about the CNS and don't take your energy and your health for granted. Also, last amount of advice on this, learn what Chuck said ( I'm the only one allowed to call him Chuck, so watch it ;0) about CNS, training and sprinting and practice it. He was so on the money about so much and don't let the drugs fool you. The IOC, The Iaa....f-ers, they want you to be fooled. Drugs work but they are illegal and you need to keep your self safe and don't f around with drugs. There are other ways to be your best and it's never all about the money, as much as it seems.... of course it's all about the money, but you have zero if you don't have your health. 

( you need to delve deep into the lectures but only once you read the print stuff that gives you perspective. Perspective is rarely taught unless you have awesome parents or grandparents or unless you are wise beyond years and you have lots of love and kindness in your heart to see what the world is really about) 

Thank you so much for showing up to read my blog. I'm interested in questions and knowing what you think. Bug me if I'm not attending to you faster. ( faster is better right? ;)

( photo of Charlie @1972 Olympic Games in Munich 100m heats)

There does not appear to be volumes of quality information or research around the central nervous system and sprint training.  Coach Charlie Francis educated himself on this topic primarily because he was forced to quit his sprinting career early due to injuries he later learned were due to chronic tightness which could be prevented. ( before signing off as a competitor, Charlie was plagued with one injury after another due to the primary focus of high intensity work with little attention to rest or recovery. "Speed Trap" the book Coach Francis cowrote in 1989 with Jeff Coplon, tells a story about his life as an athlete and coach. Francis wanted different for his athletes. 

You will find the most specific information about how the CNS and sprinting in another book Francis was asked to co write with Paul Patterson. "The Charlie Francis Training System". Understanding how the CNS works in speed training has been central to how Charlie coached countless sprinters, coaches and a variety of athletes from multiple speed and power sports.

Here is a question asked by forum member;

Forum Member Question

What is an efficient nervous system, which if an athlete has, allows him/her to be naturally fast? I'm familiar with the telltale signs of short temper, the quickness of their feet and a bunch of other stuff.. but moving past those subjective tests, what are the true metrics of a powerful CNS? Read in my psychology textbook about the sodium/potassium ion pump, action potential, excitatory neurotransmitters.. are those phenomenon’s related to someone's inherent speed? And that leads to the question - how can I purposely affect/increase these measures? Will supplementing with electrolytes translate to increased firing of neurons?.....

I saw Andre de Grasse at Canadian Nationals... he's a standard IMO of what a person with a superior CNS is. He is twitchy. He couldn't stop moving. There was always some articulation of the limb going about even when he was drinking his water. He could not be still. I think it's that neural configuration plus zero aggression/excessive effort that lets him run very fast.( forum member from since 2013 and junior pan american team member)

Coach Ange’s Answer

According to 'The Charlie Francis Training System', two telltale signs of an elite sprinter are:

1- High level sprinters tend to be short tempered; explosive and intense… an explosive personality is an indication of an explosive nervous system.

2- The athlete who can move his or her feet at high frequency is a candidate for sprinting.

( taken from 'The Charlie Francis Training System' page 10.  See also “Theory and Methodology of Training The key to Athletic Performance” by Tudor Bompa Chapter 13 )

As far as true metrics of a powerful CNS go?
CNS has to be fully regenerated so that the chemical environment required for optimal transmission of nervous signals is intact. (The Charlie Francis Training System page 29 to 32)
Supplying excellent nutrition including electrolytes will optimize your physiology to both develop and enhance the nervous system you already have in place. Electrolytes work best during and post workout.
Motor pathways, characteristic of optimal technique and efficient routing of motor signals must be in place …. Appropriate training creates chemical changes. Notice “appropriate", not any training that some feel works for them, which advance the capacity to do both CNS work and muscular endurance work under conditions of correct technique, before fatigue is reached. (The Charlie Francis Training System pages 29 to 32)
Routine regeneration is important because it will be your first line attempt to take full advantage any training you will perform.  The training effect of the  work you perform will be minimized unless you routinely ensure your personal chemistry is ready to respond to high quality work. Otherwise you are not optimizing your existing level of performance. 

Regeneration is equally as important if not more than training. My suggestion is to apply a few routine methods of regenerating to your training week and see what you think? 

This means more contrast baths for all of you.

"Sprint your own race"

Warmest regards,

Coach Angé Coon  




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Managing Muscle Tightness for Sprinting

July 29, 2019 by Angela Coon
Overtraining and lack of understanding of how to train properly are two factors which might contribute to muscle tightness. ( One example would be that we alternated high intensity sprinting with low or very low intensity training. Sometimes especially in my early days of training we might take more than one day to full super compensate from high level speed work) Constant muscle tightness is not normal for sprinters.  Ongoing muscle tightness is not desirable for sprinters and may put you at high risk for serious injury which may be difficult to bounce back from.  Tightness can indicate your muscles are working hard. Learning to run in a relaxed manner will help prevent injuries but relaxation during sprinting often comes with athletes who have greater knowledge and experience. We used to have a saying about training. "you can always add ( work) but you can't ( easily) take it ( the work)  away". Knowing when to stop working hard is one of the most difficult things to teach athletes and coaches and parents who all mean well but don't fully appreciate the cost and effects of small or large injuries in sprinting.
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Speed and Power Coach speaks about Coach Charlie Francis

July 28, 2017 by Angela Coon

Coaching a high school track program as been a great deal of fun and created a lot of excitement for me and the kids I am working with. 

Seeing athletes I used to train with and compete with has also been an enjoyable experience. 

Sport as been a huge amount of fun throughout my entire life and it's rewarding to get notes from people across the globe that have been inspired by myself or the work Charlie and I did to create 

Thanks for reading. 

You may also enjoy reading this blog. 



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" LIKE " it or " DON'T LIKE " it ?

July 07, 2014 by Angela Coon

"LIKE"  it?

"DON"T LIKE"  it?

I grew up not just "LIKING"  track and field .I loved it.

I have told many people : Track has brought me some of the very best things in my life.

Historically I have not "LIKED"  some aspects of track and field. 

In the past 26 years I have endured some of the most difficult events in track and field history and thankfully I "LIKE" track again. I think I might even say " I LOVE IT". 

What I don't get is why people like to steal other people's stuff and publish it. 

I don't " LIKE " when people do this sort of thing.  

I guess some people" LIKE" my stuff so much they want to give it to everyone. I am sure they must be a great people everyone " LIKES". They  are just so generous don't you think?  

I tried sending these people a note saying I don't "LIKE" that you have stolen my copyright protected material and you are not supposed to publish it without my permission. 

I am wondering if the conclusion I have is correct. 

Do these people "LIKE" the work of my late husband Coach Charlie Francis? 

I wonder if they know I might not "LIKE" what they are doing. 

I wonder if they think I am dead. I don't think they know I am alive and make my livelihood from selling my material. I don't "LIKE " that but I guess I need to wake up, get off my sprinters butt and do more about this sort of thing. GEE Whiz. I better get busy.

Good luck with your training and make sure you are taking care of you.







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Sprint and Speed Diaries by Angela Coon May 1st 1992 Woman's 100 meter hurdles

May 01, 2014 by Angela Coon

Training Diaries

I am sharing some of my speed and sprinting workouts with people interested in seeing methods discussed on our forums here since 2000.  

I am thankful and happy I wrote so much down. I encourage anyone to keep a journal no matter what it is you do. It helps you reflect, it provides information to repeat or change and it’s a record you may want some day.

I think it might help people to see workouts performed while also learning methods of training they are able to further research through books like “ Speed Trap” and or “ The Charlie Francis Training System”

The workout below was done while Charlie was doing some work with the Detroit Lions. This video was posted by the head strength and conditioning coach who hired Charlie at the time.

Friday May 1st 1992 ( 2 workouts today one in am and one at 5:30pm – I think the workout  was meant to be earlier but sometimes things don’t work out that way when your primary objective at that time was my husband’s work )

Bed 1:30am / Wake 8:15am ( we would have been in Detroit at a hotel)

-         Short hot and cold

-         9am breakfast oatmeal , milk and water ( supplements multivitamin ,boron, zinc, primrose oil, ginseng, calcium)

-         10am treadmill 6 to 7 minutes

-         Few sit ups and pushups

-         4 x 10  - 15meters A skip, B skip, Running A’s , Tripling

-         4 x 8 hamstring curls ( Nautilus machines  60lbs, did not like this equipment but CF hated it as well and it bothered my knees while doing it

-         2 x 45lbs bench ( I must have done 2 sets of 10 to warm up not 2 reps only).

-         1 @ 65lbs

-         1 @ 75lbs

-         =====================================


-         11:30 am 3 egg omelette / cheese and mushroom / water

-         Got back to hotel room, had a short 10 minute nap/ cleaning lady come to clean room so I  went to hot tub/ then showered

-         1pm = had one hour nap

-         Snack before training club house sandwich  3 pieces

( I remember always being hungry and always having trouble feeling like I was not eating enough. Looking back now I see how incomplete and unscientific my eating was. My training was 10 out of 10 and my eating was about 6 or 7 out of 10 IMO).

4pm = more supplements before training. ( I really got sick of taking supplements but they really helped me as well. It’s  a game . You need to figure out what works best and figure out what does not work and this takes a lot of time and energy and we got a ton of supplements for free which was very helpful. ( supplements = *carnitine musashi,  calcium, sublingual glutamine, ginseng, zinc, primrose oil, licithine, amino acids, * green musashi  )

5:30 pm  = Warm up = 2 laps around track

-Sit ups and medicine ball throws

-6 x 15 meter drills Askip, B skip, bumkicks, Running A’s.

- 4 x 150 meters with 6.5 to 9 minutes rest between sets

  1. 18.09
  2. 17.9
  3. 18.09
  4. 18.42


= Warm down = 8 x back and forths over 100 meters shaking very easy

Dinner = Veal marsala, soup , water, milk

Did another hot and cold, massage and slept very well.


NOTES : The worst part of my training were runs like the ones I did on this day. I never felt good or great doing them. I always felt it was a  task. I loved doing speed , I loved lifting weights and I also loved training hard. It was Charlie's opinion that I lacked the time and or background doing longer work/ speed endurance because I was out of the sport for so long at the age I needed to be doing differently. Having said that you have what you have and as a coach you need to try and find ways to accomplish the different variables of your event while not forgetting the individual. 



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Speed Trap review from 1991 by Joe Horrigan of Soft Tissue Center in LA

June 21, 2012 by Angela Coon


Soft Tissue Center
6222 Wilshire Boulevard • Suite 313 • Los Angeles, California 90048 • (213) 932-1855
Review by Joseph M. Horrigan
Speed Trap gives you a front-row seat for one of the most revealing and explosive shake-ups in sports history—the story of Ben Johnson, the track and field athlete who tested positive for anabolic steroids at the '88 Olympic Games and then was banned from international competition for two years. This book places you right in the action and captures all of the feelings of determination, experience, jubilation, fear, anxiety, frustration and resolution.
Charlie Francis takes the reader from his own Olympic competition experience (Munich '72) through his early coaching days with the athletes that he would ultimately mold into national and world champions. His successes become even more impressive after you read his insightful comments on the training facilities and funding that Western athletes have to work with, such as those in his own Canada, as compared to those of the Eastern bloc countries. This emphasizes the over-whelming odds that the independent Western athlete must overcome. One Polish coach whom Francis admired, Gerard Mach, was appalled at the lack of facilities and funding that the world-class Canadian athletes faced.
To help even the odds, Francis began utilizing new training ideas regarding a theory that exercise physiologists are examining today. The theory revolves around the idea of central nervous system fatigue in high-intensity training. Scientists are not sure where this fatigue actually occurs, but. Charlie said, "It doesn't matter if you are dealing with fatigue theory A or fatigue theory B. If you exceed certain intensity [velocity], then you change the training, and you
need to change the recovery, which may add up to 10 days."
Francis was unable to delve too deeply in this book into the exact specificity of his training methods. There is simply too much material. A follow-up training manual is in progress and will be available in the near future. Those readers who would like to know something about his training ideas may refer to his exclusive inter-
view that appeared in the June '90 IRONMAN.
In this book Francis eloquently covers the progression of the coaching, the growing success of his track club, the steady rise of Ben Johnson from mere participant to superstar and the eventual showdown with perennial champion Carl Lewis. Even those who are not die-hard sports enthusiasts will enjoy the saga.
The politics of testing, the multimillion-dollar inquiry in Canada and the testimonials that occurred in the Dubin inquiry concerning the Ben Johnson incident rocked the sports
world, not so much for the information itself, but because of the fact that the unspoken truths of world-class sport were being brought forward. Many readers may not have any idea of the complexity and the power of the sports political hierarchy. Reading this book may change how you view sports forever.
Speed Trap concludes with a description of the changes that have occurred in the Olympic Games because of the tremendous fees that are paid by the networks and corporate sponsors and the influences that are stated and also assumed. These developments do not always fit into the reality of superior performance.
Francis also presents the evidence of the various dangers in other sports: "An Austrian downhill skier was recently killed in competition, and the dangers of boxing are well established." The book states, "We permit adolescent girls to attempt dangerous maneuvers or to arch their backs to the point where they grind down and permanently deform soft, young vertebrae. There is no official outcry against these demonstrated health hazards. They are deemed part of the athletic territory—a crowd-pleasing ingredient of the show."
Regardless of your individual point of view, you will find this a most revealing and exciting sports book. Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews have given the book great notices already. I most certainly agree. Prepare yourself for a front-row seat.
Editor's note: Speed Trap, by Charlie Francis With Jeff Coplon, is published by St. Martin's Press, New York, 1990 and is available at better book stores.
66 IRONMAN November 1991

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