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"
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”
The best hamstring exercises for sprinting comes from sprinting itself. Speed drills ( or Power Speed Drills) are also effective hamstring exercises for sprinters and runners. The hamstring exercises noted below are supplementary to your speed training.
Outside of sprinting fast , I wanted to share some insights on Christian Thibaudeau’s T Mag article recommending his “ 7 best hamstring exercises” and how they fit into my training experience as a sprint hurdler.
2. Natural Glute hamstring raise
3. We called this exercise Hamstring Ups
4. Leg curl
5. I am not familiar with this exercise
6. Band StompingWe did several versions of band resistance exercises but not like this. This exercise looks like the leg swings we did ( daily) only with added resistance. It looks like a great exercise.
7. Stiff Leg Good Morning
- Half Squats were the first exercise
- Vertical / Upright Row
- Leg Curls
- Incline Bench
- Reverse Leg Press
- 6. Dead Lifts.
( These lifts were ordered in priority and sometimes I might not have been able to finish all my lifts. I loved the feeling the results of lifting weights, getting stronger and running fast. I hope my comments shed some light on how we used the hamstring exercises discussed above.
Canadian National athlete Dan Brady completing a 2 x 600m breakdown
at Riverdale Park August 2016
Tempo for Speed Training
Tempo running is defined as running performed at 65 – 75% percent of one’s maximum speed. What is important on how to perform tempo is you want the last rep of your runs to be the same speed as the first runs. For example, if you are not able to complete 10 repetitions of 100 meters at an even speed, start with a shorter distance and improve that distance over a few weeks. You might also try slowing the overall speed down. To improve the quality of your tempo running monitor by hand timing your runs and making sure you are consistent with short breaks.
FACTS regarding tempo running for speed training
- A wide range of people with varied ages and skills will be able to benefit from tempo for speed training. There are also many ways to perform tempo versus just the running version which you can see in the GPP (General Preparation Phase) download. Examples are pool tempo (see Project Jane download), bike tempo (bike workout download) and indoor matt running (basement tempo download).
- If you are a speed and power athlete who has not been performing tempo runs 2 to 3 x per week, adding in these cardiovascular building runs into your training will facilitate improved capillary density which indirectly increases blood flow which improves recovery. (Note: you will need to take something out of your current training plan to add more into it)
- 75% of top speed is the upper limit, in the same conditions as your best time for the distance. Adjust the effort level to suit conditions - long grass, short grass, smooth, bumpy ground etc. It’s a preferred practice to do all tempo on grass if possible in flats not spikes – this means you adjust pace downwards.
- Tempo aids in recovery and the ability to stay warm between reps and sets. It can have an indirect role in speed development by increasing the muscles’ ability to generate more heat.
- Typically the session volume would be as follows:
100 – 200 meter specialist – 2000 meter per session 3 x per week
400 meter specialist - 3000 meter per session 3 x per week
800 meter specialist – 4000 meters per session 3 x per week
- Upper limit is 75% effort levels over distances of 100 – 400 m per repetition. Although the volume of each session would adhere to the above guidelines the length of each rep would result in different training effects.
- Above 200m distances could produce too much lactate for sprinters of early training age or trained inappropriately to handle. You need to gradually build up the distances and intensities so that lactic is not a problem along the way.
- SPRINTING AND TEMPO running can coexist fine in any training program as the tempo running is so low in intensity that it does not effect the CNS (Central Nervous System) and because the total volume of tempo work is small. (2000 m per session)
- AEROBIC TRAINING interferes with speed and strength development when the volume gets out of hand. In small quantities it’s fine and even enhances the speed and power development through recovery.
- Different types of tempo for different purposes
Tempo performed in The General Preparation Phase of training (GPP) will be different than all other phases of training, which include SPP and pre competition and competitive season training.
Two different types of tempo performed during GPP
1. EXTENSIVE TEMPOExtensive tempo are low intensity with incomplete recovery. Performing tempo in this way serves to flush out the system of impurities like lactic acid and promotes CNS recovery and promotes cardio fitness. FACT = extensive tempo can replace continuous runs even for the 800m+ distances.
Examples of Extensive tempo would be Big and Small Circuits or repeat 100’s.
Big Circuit (big Tempo Circuit ) add 00’s
walk 50m between reps
walk 100m between sets
(we used a football field length wise, marked 25 m, walked back and performed the runs in this way)
2. INTENSIVE TEMPOMore intense runs than extensive tempo and not recovery work but used in the early stages of a speed development program and definitely not during the competitive phase of the season. This type of tempo is only used during GPP as it creates lactic acid and might be confused with what coach Charlie Francis discusses as medium work. The breaks are still short. In GPP intensive tempo is done for foundation of overall fitness.
Examples of Intensive tempo would be 7 to 10 x 300 with 4 to 5 min rest reducing recovery length over time or 600 breakdowns x 1 or 2 .
NOTESHere’s an interesting note from Coach Charlie Francis in Forums from 2002 to 2004 “In later stages 100 meter sprinter Ben Johnson (born Dec 30 1961) did not go past 300 m in tempo. (Ben told the author that he performed 300’s and further distances from 1977 to 1983) but he did sessions of 10 x 300 in 45 to 48 seconds with a 100 m walk recovery. Earlier still he did 600 m breakdowns (6,5,4,3, 2,1) with walk equal to distance recoveries for tempo work in early season.
An example of how the author performed tempo running year around during competition was to do varied tempo distances 2 to 3 x per week alternating with Speed and Power work performed 2 to 3 x per week. Typically speed and power work together on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. Tempo and recovery work we would do Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays. A tremendous amount of variability might exist from individual to individual and day to day in terms of how much volume performed. It would depend on how the adaptation happens daily and cumulatively over each training block annually.
INTENSIVE tempo performed during other parts of a season such as pre comp and comp when quality needs to be first and rest intervals long and complete will create the opposite effect for an athlete as I have discussed above. For further reading go to Amazon and look at the Key Concept Books series of books and Speed Trap. For an extensive overview check out the charliefrancis.com site for the Vancouver Seminar 1 and 2 series.
There is more to discuss about tempo but this blog will give your more than what you need to experiment as a beginner or elite athlete.
I am always around to answer questions. Curious minds learn more.
I wanted to share this chart ( Copyright 2015 www.charliefrancis.com ) with a wider audience outside of some of the information dense lectures Coach Charlie Francis presented.
This chart is interesting because in one glance you can learn a great deal regarding the volume and intensity guidelines for the development cycle of any person wanting to experience or prepare for sport or specifically, track and field. Track is said to be one of the development sports for acquiring the skills of speed and strength. Swimming is another development sport facilitating the skill of endurance. Gymnastics is the third sport used to develop a persons speed, strength and flexibility. ( See " Theory and Methodology of Training " by Tudor Bompa 1983, ISBN number 0-8403-6015-0 / as well as " From Childhood to Champion Athlete " Bompa 1995, ISBN number 0-9697557-1-6)
I started this blog wanting to write about coaching young children. I get many questions from parents asking about how to make their child and or athlete faster. It would be an incomplete discussion unless I was able to share this information rich, chart. I have found parents and coaches commonly over prescribe work volume, intensity and have limited understanding on what exercises are best for which ages.
It has been my understanding that Charlie spoke to Tudor and was consulting him when he was creating this chart. Not only has Tudor been one of the best coaches in the world and he has also been our friend for several years.
As a side note = My first complete weight training program was penned by Tudor. Charlie was always modifying the paper copy according to my routine speed improvements. Having both Charlie and Tudor in the weight room for my training was not so bad for my confidence starting out.
I hope you find some interesting content here.
Take care of yourself ,
The Small Workout
Is there such a thing as a small workout?
Yes. Most certainly.
The big workouts play a role. The small workouts play a role. The habits in between all count.
I see this often in my clients and in my life and when people at parties want the secret to how to train.
The general idea is you need to learn as much as you can, experiment with your coach and fellow training partners and apply what you know for sure first and don’t give up.
I have made so many mistakes in my training and I had expert advice and a well-rounded, athletic background long before the expert advice.
Here is some quick but very important advice that was taught to me by the best =
- Keep a journal. It’s very important.
- Listen to others but DON’T ACT on what they say until you think it through.
- Read and study what makes you enjoy what you are spending a great deal of time doing. If you are a high level athlete or want to be one then your entire life revolves around your sport.
Lifelong fitness and lifelong enjoyment of staying healthy and mobile requires change which brings a constant need for you to adapt. The more you understand what works for you now, the better you are equipped moving forward in your life. This idea provides an investment into you but also into the ones you love.
The small workout could be a set of depletion push-ups.
It could also be a set of multi position sit up circuits (see Project Jane sold here at www.charliefrancis.com)
Maybe it’s a full and complete warm up and nothing else.
I have seen the best athletes in the world show up to train hard, asked how they felt by their coach and then given the day off so they could rest that day because they did not feel ready to train.
Maybe you are not the fastest man or woman in the world. Maybe you just want to excel in the training you are already doing. The principles are all the same.
Remember: It’s not all about THE BIG WORKOUT and it’s not all about the Small Workout … but both matter and count. Balancing each type of workout and learning when to apply each will bring you long term, sustainable success and health. You might even be able to run really fast in the process.
take care of yourself,
Look at what happened..…how cool is this?
My last blog was about liking it or not liking it. It was about people stealing others work (in this case it has been items from my online store) online and acting like it’s no big deal. I don’t like it. I had sent the offenders a note, I did not get a response (why would they respond?) and then I discovered the Digital Millennia Copyright Act. It’s a form found online you send to the appropriate provider. In my case it was Facebook and YouTube. I was impressed to get a response within 24 hours and shortly after that I received notice that my material had been taken down. How cool is that? I like it! Thank you to the law makers of the DMCA!
On another note I wanted to talk a bit about something slightly different.
Coaching : What is the key role of a coach?
If you asked 15 different people you would get varied answers. The higher level of athlete and the higher level of the performance the more similar the answers to what the key role of a coach might be.
Some people feel it’s the information a coach is able to deliver while others feel it’s the inspiration and or leadership.
When Coaching and teaching children it’s important to bring enthusiasm, leadership and , inspiration and while expecting knowledge might not be as high of a priority until the skill level improves.
If you are able to make others believe in their own abilities and if you are able to inspire the talents of each individual for their own success, the power of this idea can be unstoppable.
I don’t like hearing when teachers or coaches are not inspiring. My son has argued with me on this point and while I might agree coaching teenage boys requires slightly different skills and may I say courage than other categories of people, I still believe negative bully type leadership has a limited prescription for success that might thrive only in military settings.
There is a great deal of information out there on the web. How you go about sifting through what works best might depend on who inspires you the most.
I’ve felt fortunate to be given enough time to realize my own athletic talents. I was and continue to be inspired by the information you will find on this website that changed my life.
The letters I receive from people all over the world are just one of the things that inspires me now. I am thankful for people who take the time to tell me their stories. I like it! .... thanks for reading ... ange