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

August 30, 2019 by Angela Coon

Hello Dear Reader and lover of Speed development and  Sprinting;

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 www.charliefrancis.com 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 www.charliefrancis.com 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 week or two of training and see what you think. .

This means more contrast baths for all of you.

"Sprint your own race"

Warmest regards,

Coach Angé Coon  

 

 

 

View article »

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.
View article »

Weight lifting exercises for speed training

November 22, 2018 by Angela Coon
Strength and power are essential for the 100m. Which are the best weight lifting exercises to use to improving your speed? Coach Charlie Francis and Coach Ange Coon share what they did to achieve repeatable and consistent results for speed training.
View article »

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 www.charliefrancis.com. 

Thanks for reading. 

You may also enjoy reading this blog. 

 

 

View article »

" 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.

best,

ange

 

 

 

 

View article »

9.79* A TIFF Documentary

September 24, 2012 by Angela Coon

 

9.79* by Daniel Gordon – A documentary @ TIFF ( Toronto International Film Festival)  Opening Premiere  September 8th, 2012

  •  How Daniel Gordon’s Documentary took a shot at changing some feelings I have had about the last 25 years of my life and he didn’t even know it.
 Gordon didn’t really change my feelings about a story I am more intimately attached to than most. What he did do was a brilliant job sharing a story that sport fans across the globe will love hearing about.

  •  When I first came across this documentary it was during the 2012 Olympics and the 55 minute BBC version was like a bad accident,
 I didn’t want to look but all of sudden my headphones were on and I was  turning up the volume and adjusting my headset .  The topic of my late husband’s work drew me to view this film but once the music set in and I realized  a significant story was going to be told . Fast forward to the evening Premiere of 9.79* and unknowingly at a few different moments in the movie, I fell apart. Maybe this is why I  could not read  “ Speed Trap”,  book for 10 years after it was written? 
  •  Did Gordon change the how I felt about the unjust treatment  Francis faced throughout his 22 year career post Seoul ?
 No, Gordon can’t change how I feel about something so personal to my life. However, Gordon understood what Francis knew which was re instatement was secondary to more important issues… His film brought to life the stories of 8 people who ran in Seoul, the coaches and managers and a few others central to the story.   He did so by allowing the key players to say in their own words what happened Sept. 24 1988. Charlie would have applauded Gordon’s work without question. 
  • What did I think of 9.79* The Documentary?
 Daniel Gordon did an excellent job sharing information on a larger scale that I have understood too well over the past 25 years. I think his documentary allows others  to question what  really happened. 

 
Thank you to the people who sponsored the making of this film. It seems odd for me to watch something I really had nothing to do with but yet it has been the backdrop to most of my adult life. 
I hope anyone reading this has the fortune to enjoy the Canadian TSN showing October 9th, 2012. 

Best in sport,

Angela Coon

View article »

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
SPEED TRAP
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

View article »