Track Workouts for Sprinters

Easy Way to Plan Track Workouts


Hey, everybody, Latif Thomas here and today what I want to do is just take you through the basics of how I sit down and set up my progressions and set up my workout planning for my sprint groups.  And so as you can see here what we have is just basically a picture that I took of my white board.  And what I did very simply and what I do – and, again, this is not the full version.  This is more of a detailed outline.

Track workouts for sprinters we break the season up into basically three chunks, three four-week chunks because we have the typical 12- to 13-week high school season.  And this allows me – because I'm a visual type person – allows me to understand my progressions and where I'm trying to go.  But it also helps me organize my overall planning and look for commonalities in training so that I can consolidate workouts and make things as stress free as possible.  Because as track coaches, we're often under staffed and we're responsible for a large group of athletes.  And one of the keys to having a good sprint program is, as much as possible, individualizing the workouts to all of your athletes while at the same time not having to write individual programs for each kid.  And so that gets a little bit tricky, but this is a way that you can simplify that.

Again, we're going to take a look at what I call my long sprint and my super long sprint group which is my 300, 400, 600 runners.  We run the 600 in the winter here in New England.  But you have that short sprint group so those are like my 55- to 200-meter runners, and my long sprint, three through six, and then we have the kids that ran through the fall who obviously can't do the same workouts, and they're mostly 300, 400, 600 guys and girls.  They can't obviously do the same workouts as we see here – this is the came-from-nothing, sort of regular basic program – because they're already in shape.  So you can't have them come in and do these same workouts.  It'd be too easy for them.

So I have at the very least just with the track workouts three different programs that are being run.  And that's just too much to deal with.  I probably have about 50 kids this year between boys and girls sprinters.  And if I don't get organized, that's not going to work out.  So this is how I set it up and then I can figure out so like, for example, doesn't matter who you are, on Mondays for the first two-thirds of the seasons, we're doing speed work, excel work.  So the first – as you can see here, this is just the basic outline of what I did.

So we're going to go look at the Excel file so it's less confusing.  But here I can put all my notes down.  I color code it so my 300, 400 runners are in blue and my 600 types are going to be in green, and some things are universal.  And so we get a look at this and this helps me progress things so I can see it because you obviously cannot just make workouts up as you go along or say, "Hey, what do I want to do this week?"  That's not an acceptable way to write workouts.  So, of course, these aren't all the exact workouts that I'm going to do.  These are guidelines that help me understand basically where I'm trying to go.

So here you kind of see what I did.  I do this for all my three different sort of event groups and I break it down.  Again, I do the same thing for the lifting, I do the same thing for the plyos, I do the same thing for all the progressions I want to do because it makes it so much easier to do it this way than try to guess or wing it particularly, again, for someone like me who needs to see things to really understand them.

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So let's break this down and, instead, we'll look at this in an Excel file.  So here's for the winter of 2010 my long sprinters group.  And here you'll see the things that are in green are going to be where the 600 runners are going to be doing something a little bit different.  But, again, remember these are 600 types that are going to be coming down to the four by four more so, not going up to the eight or the thousand.  And, again, I'm a speed guy.  I don't believe in doing excessive endurance type training for non-endurance based events which even the 600 I consider to be a speed event.  Of course, even the two mile is a speed event, but that's a different conversation for a different day.

So what are we basically doing?  Let's take a look first at our first group of four-week section on Mondays.  Again, for me it's easy.  All our meets are on the weekend so this gives you a basic understanding.  So we're coming through first day, all my sprinters.  This is going to be the same for my short sprinters and even people that ran through the fall, whatever shape they come in.  Speed work, acceleration development, pretty standard.  Doing it early in the week.  It's the most intense work of the week.  They had Sunday off.  Let's get our speed work in.

Come back the next day for my long spring, my 400 types, 300, 400, and come back with some fast hill work.  Because we're trying to go 90 percent intensity here, seven to eight minutes rest, that's going to be fast but they're going up a hill.  And so that's going to take some of the speed out of it and so it's going to become just like a good, base lactic type of workout.  My 600 types are going to go a little bit longer at a little bit less intense pace but keeping the rest relatively short, and we're going to build an – my goal here is to build an anaerobic base.

Because what's the reality of the situation when you have these longer type sprinters for the most part, 300s, 400s, 600s?  If they did not do cross country or they did not train through the fall or whatever, they played a different sport, soccer, football, whatever it is, they're probably coming from a program that either did like a football program that does very little of anything but maybe some speed work but not really conditioning wise or they came from super distance-based backgrounds.  Like if you have a soccer player, they probably just did all distance runs the whole time.  That's how they trained.  And so my goal here, they've already done a lot of distance work.  This is going to be especially the case when I look at my better 600 runners looking out – that train and did cross country in the fall or whatever.  They don't need to do run any more mileage.  Train slow, run slow.

So, again, these are the type of workouts that I'm going to do.  Come backs.  All right, so we have an anaerobic alactic day here.  Today more like an anaerobic lactic so we're not challenging the exact same energy system.  Come backs.  Pretty standard fare here.  Going to do our tempo runs, our recovery work, our conditioning work on Wednesday.  I don't generally go more than – like to do tempo work meaning like 75 percent intensity or slower at over 200 meters because I think that ruins running form.  And one of the big problems that you have anyway, particularly the longer the sprint/short-end speed endurance type thing, is that do all these long, slow runs and it ruins mechanics.  So I want to keep it quick, a little bit faster, and we're going to go about 3:1 work-to-rest ratio,

All right, so now we're going to come back.  Had our recovery day.  We're going to come back and go quality work again on Thursday.  Split runs for our 300, 400 types so maybe some special endurance.  I want to try to get at least a couple reps in.  Again, I would rather build, particularly in this short season, I would rather have kids do, say, two times at 450 at a pretty good clip, 90 percent, than having them just go do a bunch of pointless slow running.  I don't think that that's the best way to train sprinters by having them – I'm getting away from this idea of excessive aerobic base.  I want to build an anaerobic base, and I would rather prepare them for the demands of the event than spend time that I don't have doing a bunch of slow stuff, having kids run on their heels, and a bunch of nonsense.

So, again, similar workout here for my 400, 600 types.  Come back Friday.  Early in the season – I know we got to try to win dual meets, whatever.  Early in the season, especially that first three, four weeks, I'm not giving them pre-meet the day before a meet.  We're training through it because we only got 12 weeks to get to the big meets and even less than that if you're talking about the early big meets like the league championships where a lot of your kids are going to start to drop off.  I don't have time to give them a day off, come in and run one, two events on meet day, and then be done.

So that's what we're looking at, that first thing.  So, again, now let's kind of go horizontally here.  We're going from acceleration work and so we're starting the first couple weeks depending on who you are.  Body weight stuff in the weight room.  We're going to jump to our heavy stuff.  Then from there we're going to progress from acceleration work to acceleration work or max velocity work depending on the athletes and their demands and whatever.  That's just a logical progression in terms of our regular old short to long.  And then, of course, once that real competitive phase comes, weeks 9 through 12, we don't need to work out quite as much.  I want to give them a little more time so we're just going to work out on Tuesday and Thursday and do all of our quality work.

So, again, let's look at the progressions here.  Tuesdays first we'll call the prep phases.  You've got these hill works that are going to come in on the flat surface.  Some speed endurance work for our regular sprinters so maybe 100s, 80s, 120s, whatever.  Decent amount of rest.  Again, same story, they're going to come in, do some 150s, 200s at go pace.  So, again, I like to run faster than race pace whenever possible.

When you think about – what argument some people are going to make, I'm doing too much fast work.  If you think about running a fast time, the key is still speed reserve.  If you have an athlete who wants to run a 50 flat 400 and your goal is to get them to run we'll say 24 flat, 26 flat for splits, if they have a PR of 23 flat, going out 24 flat is going to be brutal.  That's a blistering pace.  But if they have a PR of 22 flat, going out 24 is not that hard.  So they're not running as fast a percentage of their top speed so their speed reserve is better so maybe they'll run a faster time.

You want to even go longer and say what about your 600 runner?  Let's say you have a 600 runner that wants to run a 138 flat in a 600.  That's a pretty decent time.  If that athlete has like a 62- or 63-second 400-meter PR, they're too slow.  They're going to have to run each of those 200s at such a place at so close to their PR, they're not going to be able to maintain.  You get that 600 runner to maybe run a 59-, 58-second 400, they can jog through those slower paces and get there.

So how are we going to train them to run faster?  Speed reserve, weight room, plyos, running fast.  Train it fast to run fast.  So, again, let me go to that Tuesday workout in the competitive phase.  We're going to do some race modeling stuff or some max velocity, some speed work or special endurance or speed endurance for our 600 types.  Train it faster than race pace.  As you can see, what we're missing a lot of here is distance runs.  "I want 600 runners to run distance."  No, they don't.  I don't think they do.  Maybe on a mental recovery day, but generally speaking, no.

Wednesday's basically our continuous recovery day.  Tempo runs.  Again, same thing, tempo runs and some easy tempo work for 300, 400 types.  In the competitive phase you don't really need to do a bunch of interval work at this point, competitive phase.  They're just trying to get them fresh.  Six hundred types, maybe they will so we'll do some intervals.  Depends on the kid and their skill level and what they feel like they need, a lot of mental stuff here in these last four weeks.

Again, Thursday we're doing our split runs or long sort of special endurance.  Special endurance might be a stretch because the rest is kind of short so we're not going to be able to go quite as fast.  But, again, I want these kids to see what it's like.  If you have athletes that don't know what it feels like to run fast special endurance type pace in workouts because all you're doing is repeat 200s all the time at 70 percent or repeat 300s and 400s at 70 percent, you've got a 400-meter runner who can run 51, 52 in a 400 and they're out doing repeat 400s at some terrible pace running on their heels and other stuff.  I don't see how that helps them run a fast 400.  I just don't get it.  I don't see the value in doing it that way.

So we're going to go and drop down, do a little bit of special endurance, bump up the rest, shorten up the distance, see how many we can get.  Just like with our aerobic work, we're going to build base.  We're going to try to go from 8 times 200 to 10 times 200 to 12 to 200 at 70 percent with two minutes rest.  I'm going to try to do the same thing with these special endurance runs.  See how many they can handle with tat rest.  Quality work.  Quality work.

And, again, we keep the volume fairly low and we're not challenging the same energy system every day.  We're letting it recover, right?  You have your alactic – anaerobic alactic.  Then you come back electrolytic.  Then come back aerobic.  Then you come back – again, going back to electrolytic system and doing more lactic work.  Then you come back easy tempo work.  Then you come back into meet.  So you're not over training energy systems or doing back-to-back energy system work.  So you're paying attention to what's going on, you're making it be common sense.

Friday, pre-meet in the middle part of the season for your 300, 400 types, but I'm going to still get a little bit of interval work or fartlek work in for my distance type or my 600 types because they do have obviously more aerobic demands in the six than they do in the three or the four.  But, again, I still need them to be able to run a good 400, not be plodding along all slow.  Again, I think if you think about your fastest even sort of like tweener mid-distance events, if you run the 600 or even 800, kids that run really fast 800s can run really fast 400s.  For the most part they have faster 400s and probably have faster 200s.  It still comes back to speed reserve.  So if you are not training at race pace or faster, I don't see how you can be prepared in a meet.  All of a sudden run face pace or faster.

Competitive phase, same with our regular long-sprint types.  Easy tempo day.  Probably some race modeling, some fast stuff, some quality work.  Easy tempo day.  Some intervals for our 600 types.  Race modeling.  Something specific.  Something fast.  If you have access to a track, that's going to be better.  In the winter I do not so we're kind of guessing.  So that's why understanding how the physiological effect of these workouts is going to help you get a better idea of what you're trying to do.

Pre-meet Friday, meet on Saturday.  And what I mean by off recovery on these Sunday days, what that means is either take it off or if you're really sore or tight or stiff and you know you got to come back and do something on Monday, let's get out for a jog, let's foam roll, let's stretch, let's do something like that on your own.  That's going to be up to you.  The good kids will do it and they will run fast times.  Then other kids will start to follow them.

So that's the basic idea.  Gives you a basic understanding.  I know I went through it pretty quick but just give you a basic outline of how I set things up.  Now, of course, I do get much more complicated than this when I actually go to write them all out, but this will give you an outline to help you put your ideas out in front of you so you can get an idea of where you want to progress because you have to be using a logical progression going from more general to specific if you want to get your athletes to peak when it counts.

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