What are the Best Hamstring Exercises for Sprinting?

October 12, 2016 by Angela Coon

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. 

1.Back Extensions
One leg back extensions are a no brain – er in my opinion.  Coach Charlie Francis  still preferred both leg work to prevent injury. I do singles and doubles and also add in arm pulls with varied weights. I find single leg anything requires more attention and higher risk of injury almost all the time outside of those days when you are feeling AMAZING. Learn your own body and what works best for you. Careful training is smart training as prevention of injuries is time saving. Injuries suck and are draining in multiple ways. Coaching athletes to be cautious is tough. Learning it as an athlete takes time and most much learn the hard way. Sometimes you might not get second chances depending on injury severity.  Don’t confuse caution with less effective training or cautious means you are weak or afraid.  I rarely missed a full training day ever. Training might be modified but I always view training as an opportunity to see how much I could "get" each time I stepped into a workout.  Elite athletes tend to understand caution better than less experienced athletes .  Single leg stuff is higher risk for cramping. I guess cramping does not matter so much if you don't mind missing training. I was taught to  " Live to fight another day" and if you don't have to do something with risk don't. Find an alternative exercise or skip the exercise entirely.  I have a back extension machine and it's one of the most essential exercises for anyone and especially important for sprinters because of how it develops your entire back end. 

2. Natural Glute hamstring raise
I know I already made the point of ultra careful but if you are trying new hamstring exercises be fully warmed up and progress slowly.   The disconnect in literature regarding training IMO can be not knowing the common training mistakes and what the exercise looks like within a performance program vs a fitness program.  Keep the  emphasis on slow with this exercise. Start with a repeatable angle  and work towards going lower over time. You can get plenty done without going to the floor.

3. We called this exercise Hamstring Ups
( CT calls this Scissor hip Extension)  We did this exercise first with double legs and then progressed to single legs.  I would not start doing this exercise with speed. Make sure you can successfully do this exercise for 3 sets of 15 over a few to several week period , feel great at doing it and then add the variable of speed.  As a trainer or coach make sure your athlete or client is fully warm. Cramping is very common with this single version. 

4. Leg curl
We did a lot of leg curls or hamstring curls as we called it. My first weight lifting had leg curls in each 6 week block of 1. Anatomical Adaptation Phase, 2. Max Strength Phase One, 3. Max Strength  Phase Two.  After this background we did a lot of supplementary leg curls depending on need and time of year. 

5. I am not familiar with this exercise
but it sounds interesting and I love how easy that would be do replicate anywhere.

6. Band Stomping
We 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
I never did much of this exercise but I know CF liked it. I was much better at  squats, cleans and RDL in that order so consequently I spent more time performing these lifts. You need to choose exercises where you get the biggest bang for your buck in your training. 
My first organized weight lifting was 6 weeks beginning in August and ending in late September. This training coincided with the end of my competitive  season and the very beginning of my fall training in Canada. 

  1. Half Squats were the first exercise
  2. Vertical / Upright Row 
  3. Leg Curls
  4. Incline Bench
  5. Reverse Leg Press
  6. 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. 


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Tempo running for Speed Training

October 05, 2016 by Angela Coon

Canadian National athlete Dan Brady

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

  1.  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)
  2.  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)

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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)

  9. 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.

  10. 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

Extensive 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)

More 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 .

Here’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. 






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Bike Tempo and Pool Tempo for Speed Training

August 25, 2016 by Angela Coon

I may have some days from now on when I have no time to get running tempos in at all....

Forum Member Question
I wonder if doing bike tempos can have negative effect on sprinting mechanics.

Coach Ange’s Answer

I am not able to think of any good reason bike or pool tempo would have a negative effect on sprinting mechanics. Avoiding tempo in a program may make it a challenge to perform routine, quality speed work as a key benefit to performing low intensity exercise promotes circulation which helps keep muscles loose and limber. Utilizing bike and pool tempo ensure an adequate volume of low intensity work gets performed in an annual plan. Bike, pool and tempo substitutes are used for variety in training, limited facility access, poor weather, and travel distance to training as well as avoiding excess pounding of running. We have used the bike and pool for tempo with success when I was a 100m hurdler on the National team. We continued to use tempo training of each variety with Professional athlete in the tennis, NHL and NFL.

Tempo is used to flush muscles of lactates produced by high intensity work and to ready the muscles for speed training and other high intensity work. Performing low intensity work such as tempo assists in vascularizing the muscles, which facilitates greater blood flow. Greater blood flow facilitates a higher rate of access of fluid in and out of the muscles so you are increasing the circulation.

Extensive Tempo:
Slower, recovery based tempo used primarily during the competition phase as you want to make sure none of the non speed day training competes with the energy systems needed for performing quality speed work. Use the guideline of running 75% your max effort but never forget the last set needs to be performed at the same speed and quality of the first set no matter the volume of total runs. ( 75% max effort of what distance, under what circumstance and with what kind of conditions / wearing flats or spikes for max effort) When performing extensive tempo during competition season be conservative if you are unsure of speeds)

An example of an Extensive Tempo session performed during competition phase might be 1 or 2 sets of 10 x 100 meter for 100/200m National level sprinters with consistent rest breaks and up to but not more than 5 minutes rest between sets. I might never do bike or pool tempo with an athlete during comp season especially if they had not ever done it before. Pool can be unexpectedly tiring and then becomes something other than low intensity.

Intensive Tempo:
Faster/ harder tempo where by you are using the quality of the runs to rule recovery while controlling breaks and trying to keep them as short as possible but never to compromise quality. This type of tempo is used extensively during GPP (General Preparation Phase) as well as the fall and spring training.

An example of an Intensive Tempo session performed in the General Preparation Phase for a 400mh National level sprinter would be 600 breakdown x 1 building quickly to 2 sets with last 100 meter of each run up graded hill. Rest intervals might be 4-5 minutes after first 600, 4m after 500, 3.5m after 400, 3m rest after 300, 2.5m rest after 200 and 2 minutes or less before the last 100 meter run up hill. Take 20 minutes before you perform next 600m breakdowns.


Forum Member Question
With bike, one is not able to extend his fully, because the position of hips is fixed and range of motion of the legs are limited, resulting in "sitting back" posture.

Coach Ange’s Answer

The main goal of tempo is to facilitate more work of high intensity especially as it pertains to speed work. While running tempo facilitates other mechanical strengths for runners, performing alternative tempo methods is useful for a variety of reasons mentioned above. (Injury prevention, time saved for travel to facilities etc.)

As a general rule for training finding ways to accomplish your athletic goals in a variety of ways will ensure consistent training with little or few injuries. There is an ideal way and then there is a compromise. Don’t make the mistake of believing the compromise won’t be as good or better than what some insist is the only way.


Forum Member Question
Will this carry over to one's actual sprinting or sprinting drills?

Coach Ange’s Answer

Yes, tempo performed as a low intensity exercise facilitates high intensity work and all other types of low intensity work. The more fitness you have the greater your ability to grab onto all other variables of your training. I was taught this idea early on in my training, as athlete and maintaining fitness became a main goal as the premise for all other work I needed to get done.

Guidelines for tempo speed:
75% of your maximum effort or overall speed may seem vague for people trying to understand how exactly to perform tempo runs. You want to be able to finish the last run of any chosen volume of work the same way you began the run. Timing yourself might help but routinely it’s better to have your coach time the runs. Be mindful not to run too fast on the first rep or first few reps. Speed can be added but you cant take it away. Be conservative until you have experience of what a tempo circuit feels like in a week or two of training. A coach can time the runs and have the athlete raise their hand at the beginning and end of each run. Over time you will see the pattern and speed of the runs. A coach needs to learn to watch for mechanical breakdown of an athlete and stop work right away. Even if you are in the pool or on the bike when quality begins to diminish your estimation of workload has been over done. Stop when you see degradation of any kind.


Forum Member Question

…or are these too unsimilar to have any carry-over effect biomechanically?

Coach Ange’s Answer

Biomechanics won’t be successfully maintained if the foundation of fitness has not been in place and stays in place throughout the season. Fitness is usually best attained using a variety of methods of training. A person will be able to accomplish greater volumes of meaningful work of all kinds when the work is varied and spread across the spectrum of both low and high intensity work.


Forum Member Question
I've read also that treadmill tempos can have negative effect on sprinting mechanics because of longer ground contact time due to the belt moving forward.

Coach Ange’s Answer

Tempo on treadmill will never match the tempo on grass but it can be successfully used as an alternative the same way basement, pool and bike tempo can be utilized. Speed work done on treadmills is not recommended and might be where you are referring to ground contact times.

Tempo performed badly any place should not ever be continued or repeated.

Providing alternatives for tempo is not to say you want 100% of tempo performed as an alternative. Having said that if it’s the only way you can sustain successful training due to lessening pounding from foot or ankle issues then that is what you need to you do to get the job done.


Forum Member Question

I wonder what I should do.....bike or treadmill. 

Coach Ange's Answer

How about you try both and follow the videos that are based on real results are record your experiences.


Forum Member Comments Questions

Bike - possibility of causing sitting back.

Treadmill - possibly cause longer ground contact time, but more movement specific (mechanically).

Coach Ange's Answer

Use the treadmill as a tool to perform tempo. If possible use the tempo to come on and off and mix exercises in between for another type of tempo we use which mixes exercises like sit ups and push ups and low intensity exercises which can enhance the type of work you wish to get done in lieu of running.


Final Comments from Coach Ange

Bike, pool and basement tempo each provide excellent alternatives to tempo runs which facilitate speed training in athletics.

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Actively Regenerate your speed Training

July 21, 2016 by Angela Coon

One of the simplest and most attainable ways to immediately gain improvement in your speed training is to begin practicing daily rituals of active regeneration.

The definition of regeneration in the Merriam-Weber online dictionary says “to change radically and for the better, to generate or produce anew” and my favorite is “to produce again chemically sometimes in a physically changed form”.

I found the definition of regeneration helpful when trying to best describe the implications of routine generation for your existing speed-training program if you add small amounts each day.

A priority trick you must learn is to install various methods of regeneration into your existing plan, as is, if you want to see improvement.

The simplest methods of active regeneration are repeatable at home and are not expensive. The best way to practice and benefit most from active regeneration is to remember small amounts performed routinely on a schedule works best.

Here are some great ideas to get your started

  1. Get some mason jars, fill 3 up on your kitchen counter and make sure you drink that amount of water every day. If you are travelling for training or comp buy a few days supply of bottled water ahead of time for the trip and take them with you don’t get dehydrated (if you are flying, buy some as soon as you land)

  2. Epson salt baths, as soon after your speed training has been completed as possible, to begin the cycle of your body healing

  3. Epson salt baths done before bed might also help you sleep.

  4. If you have not yet tried contrast showers, today might be a good day to start. If you have concerns about health always check with your medical doctor. Begin your shower as hot as you are able to tolerate it and follow with cold. Alternate 3 minutes of hot with 1 minute of cold ensuring your head is getting wet. Repeat so this water circuit takes 12 minutes and always end in cold. The first time you perform this will be hard. The more you do it the more you will enjoy it.

  5. Clean up your diet. If you are going to training hungry and tired or finishing training too early as you need to eat, something in your diet is not working well. Craving sugar and fat both indicate issues as well. Athletes put extreme demands on themselves both physically and mentally. For this reason the room for error is amplified.

  6. Exercise on your off days on a stationary bike for tempo or in a pool. Water has incredible healing properties. Bike training can ease joints and help accelerate circulation to speed up the rate at which you recover.

Speed Training taxes the body in an intense way. Achieving balance between work and rest in speed training takes time to learn. Learning to rest and recovery actively, even a little bit each day, will help you consistently make gains and actively regenerate your speed training.



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Fundamental Key Concepts For Speed training in any sport

June 29, 2016 by Angela Coon

Proudly I’d like to announce the completion of 7 books in the Fundamental Key Concepts eBook Series that were created to enhance the education of coaches, athletes and parents on world class methods of how to perfect speed training for any sport.

I guarantee reading one of these books will change how you think about your training if not draw you in to read more about how you can change your athletic successes no matter what your level of participation in sport.

Here is what one coach has said about the information available and his opinion about the content at CharlieFrancis.com.


The following is a list with links of the 7 Fundamental Key Concept Books for you to enjoy and learn from.

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. 

1- The Structure of Training for Speed (Key Concepts Book 1)
2- Training for Power and Strength in Speed (Key Concepts Book 2)
3- Compensation and Recovery (Key Concepts Book 3)
4- High Intensity Training Expanding the Limits of Performance
(Key Concepts Book 4)
5- Race Dynamics and Sprint Techniques (Key Concepts Book 5)
6- Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) for Maximum Speed
(Key Concepts Book 6)
7- Fundamental Guidelines For Building a Champion Sprinter
(Key Concepts Book 7)

Here is the list. I hope you love these books as much as so many coaches and parents have told me they have enjoyed reading and learning from them.

Let your passions guide you to where you need and or want to go.





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High School Coaches Support Platinum Sprint Information

June 22, 2016 by Angela Coon

One of the reasons I have made a commitment to www.charliefrancis.com was my belief that building more knowledgeable coaches will always be a worthwhile goal.


Here is a recent letter I received which I wanted to share.

Check out the latest and last book in the Key Concept series now.

Fundamental Guidelines For Building a Champion Sprinter
(Key Concepts Book 7)

Enjoy, best, Angé

Hey Coach,

I'm the Strength Coach at “X” High School in “A Place” in Nebraska.  Yes ma'am, I have both Speed Trap and CFT Manual.  I'm 53 years old and I've been a Strength Coach for 30 years, mostly part-time but the last two years I've been the full time Head Strength Coach for all sports.  I've experimented and researched everything I can get my hands on but Coach Francis's work speaks for its-self and I would like to understand his philosophy and methodology on a deeper level.  I don't Coach any other sports, I'm solely responsible for the weight training but I would like to start implemented speed work, change of direction, med balls and plyos to ensure a more balanced athlete. 

Thank you for your time,

 “Signed self proclaimed fan of charliefrancis.com material”

Physical Education Teacher
“X” High School
Head Strength Coach


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Managing Muscle Tightness for Sprinting

May 18, 2016 by Angela Coon

How to successfully manage muscle tightness for Sprinting

Athlete Charlie Francis is wearing #412



A certain amount of muscle tightness for sprinters or any athlete is normal. Hamstring tightness for sprinting left unchecked over time will lead to hamstring pulls and other injuries that are time consuming to recover from and prevent you from making the most of your goals.   Understanding the difference between normal tightness and having chronic tightness in one area of your body is the first step to managing tightness. Managing muscle tightness for sprinting will help you train safely, avoid injuries and make the most of your training efforts at practice as well as in competition. Let’s look at the ways we can avoid muscle tightness for sprinting and avoid issues that might become chronic and prevent us from success regardless of our sport.



It is not easy to know exactly what combination of work and rest is needed to avoid or manage muscle tightness for speed training. A certain amount of muscle tightness is normal but chronically tight hamstrings or any amount of tightness routinely occurring is not considered optimal. Making sure you have a training program that has a sound methodology from a coach you trust is a good start. Gaining more knowledge about training from both coaches and athletes who have achieved success will help you navigate how to train effectively and safely.

Two books I often recommend for athletes, coaches and parents are  Speed Trap and The Charlie Francis Training Manual. Both books are enjoyable, easy reads with a wealth of information based on world-class results in sprinting.

For Kindle Version:
  1. Speed Trap
  2. The Charlie Francis Training Manual



Actively regenerate your worked muscles with massage, water therapy, acupuncture and EMS as often as possible. Training fresh muscles will bring you rewarding results. If you are routinely training overused and over worked muscles you may not be enjoying the results you expect. Not regenerating enough or routinely may be the reason why your results in training and competition are disappointing. Practice active regeneration every day. Find ways to administer active regeneration on your own as well as combining therapy from a trained therapist you trust.

To understand the role recovery plays in training take a look at Super compensation and Recovery here.



 It’s not uncommon for athletes including sprinters to disregard eating nutrient rich balanced diets. The high volume of calories burned in training for many athletes makes the idea of measuring foods for their performance qualities a lower priority without an understanding much about consequences. Foods that create inflammation in the body might differ for each individual. A simple list of inflammatory foods includes alcohol, sugary foods like cake, candies and hard to digest meats such as red meats and pork. Refined, processed foods are also high in inflammatory properties. This is not to say you should not eat these foods but limiting your daily consumption will help you improve your nutrition and maximize your training opportunities.



 Drink it , soak in it, swim in it and train in it. Water has healing, cleansing and regenerating properties and when it comes to muscle tightness using water in any way or all ways possible will be helpful.  Insure you drink enough water each day by setting up the amount of water you need in your kitchen or take it with you water bottles. Soaking in Epson salt baths loosens tight muscles and helps reset the nervous system and is easy for almost anyone to perform at home.



 Prevention of muscle tightness begins with keeping your muscles warm and dry as much as possible. Wearing layers of clothes allows you with the option to remove clothing once your training progresses. Depending on your climate the idea of protecting your muscles from extreme hot or cold applies.



Warming up should be the most routine thing you do in your training with subtle adjustments to add or take away parts depending on the intensity of the training on any given day. Warm ups need to be progressive, somewhat continuous and gradually elevating the intensity as time moves forward. Warm ups should be intentional and very low in intensity.

These are a few key ways you will be able to better manage muscle tightness for sprinting.

"Sprint your own life" 




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10 Best Things to know for Competition Day in Athletics

May 09, 2016 by Angela Coon

No matter what your athletic goals,learn the 10 Best things to know for your best competition day ever.


1- Allow more than enough time to get to the track and warm up.
The time you need to set aside includes the time it takes you to get to the location of the meet, the size of the meet and level of the competition. Always plan to add at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes on top of your warm up just in case. The younger the athlete the more moderate the time needed but you still want to set yourself or your athlete up to succeed. Hope for the best but plan for the unexpected.

2- Nothing special.Two words you need to learn, repeat and practice.
Competition day is about repeating what you have already been practicing. Don’t make changes, forget about well meaning onlookers, put your blinders on and make the most of what you have already been doing in practice.

3- The smaller the meet the more likely it may not run on time.
This is not always the case but depending on the time of your event, begin to track the schedule of the track meet as soon as you are able so you can plan when your warm up begins.

4- Don’t make changes or decisions about anything on competition day.
Your job at the competition is to see how you are able to perform based on where you are at for this moment. Make an analysis after the competition or a few days after and preferably with your coach. After you have done this you can plan to decide if any change is needed.

5- The most important night to have a proper sleep is the day before the night before your competition.
It’s expected that your nerves might make sleeping tough but resting up the night before that ensures you don’t go into the competition without sleep.

6- Preparing yourself as an athlete to be independent and self-reliant
will empower you and train you to be responsible for yourself in case your coach is not able to be around during the competition. Routinely support from a coach or parent is great if you have it but some meets don’t allow it and sometimes it’s not always possible. It’s best to have a plan for competitions that includes the coach not being around.

7- Don’t listen to anyone except your coach.
If you are at a track meet and people are offering advice let them know to speak with your coach. If you are a coach it’s your job to teach your athlete to avoid listening to others or train them to direct questions away from them especially during a competition. People may mean well but competition is not the time to make changes or have discussions that might distract you from your event.

8- Dress properly. Keep your equipment with you at all times.
 Layers provide the best warmth for your muscles. Plan for change of weather and pack everything you need but as pack as lightly as possible. If you need to travel for the competition take key things for your event on carry on.

9- Take notes.
Reflection of your process in training and in competition can be a powerful tool for improvement. It’s also a great to look back on how you progressed and compare your times and have a record of your accomplishments.

10- Nerves contribute to performance and are a necessary bi product of preparing to compete.

Routines, habits and replication of what you do in practice help you prioritize your energy for performance.

Set yourself up to succeed, have fun while doing it and Get out there and follow the 10 best things to know for the best Competition you can have.



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Sprinting and Central Nervous System Fatigue

May 04, 2016 by Angela Coon

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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Massage Mondays

April 18, 2016 by Angela Coon

Massage for your muscles will help you to run fast and  help you make the most out of your sprint training.

If you like to run fast and you have never had a massage perhaps reading this blog will help you change your mind on how it will benefit your sprinting.

In the sprint world I became a part of in the mid 1990’s, a 10 to 15 minute massage was performed multiple times in a training week. Multiple short massages was one reason I had the ability to perform routine high quality speed work week after week with few injuries over my entire sprinting career. 

Massage for sprinting was not about luxury or about relaxing to music while a therapist performs a massage.  Massage for sprinting was about performance to run fast. 

Massage for sprinting is about performing a little bit of muscle work at a time, before, during and or after a training session. The hamstrings are perhaps the most critical area of the body for a sprinter. The hamstrings need to work efficiently and without error for a sprinter to routinely perform high quality runs. An athlete must sprint well once before that quality of sprinting can be replicated. Much can be gained if the hamstrings are properly prepared from appropriate massage. Much can also be lost if a sprint training programs does not include a variety of regenerative therapies performed routinely. 

Key Guidelines of massage for sprinting
  • before competition use light, slapping type of massage
  • don't go deep into the muscles within 48 to 72 hours of competition unless the competition is insignificant 
  • deep massage lowers one of muscle to far for what's needed for competition 
  • use of inappropriate type of massage performed by an unskilled person can 
  • undo the training effect you have accomplished during final preparation for key competitions.
see more about these guidelines page 64 The Charlie Francis Training System

Massage is important because it will speed up recovery time and improve flexibility. These attributes can benefit athletes and non athletes.  It's an exciting idea to know that small fragments of time will be gained in a race by hundredths and thousandths of seconds when appropriate massage is performed for sprinters. 

 The malleability or tonus of the muscles determines what sort of leg speed you can put out and this of course is a key determinant of performance The Charlie Francis Training System
To watch a practical session of how Coach Charlie Francis applied massage for sprinting checkout South Africa Series Practical Session 5: Massage Demo 




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