By Carl Valle
In an earlier article, I alluded to the 100 m analysis, and in this article will be planning training from the information collected. The point of analyzing data is to act on it, and any program can benefit from information that describes and profiles a performance in rich detail. Essentially, breaking down a performance into splits that are easily understood and retested is the foundation to training. Everyone has heard the business phrase, “you don’t manage what you don’t measure,” but one more caveat is needed. The devil is in the details in speed development, since the elusive 1-2% improvement separates who is on the podium from who is watching the finals from the stands. It is no secret what the goal of this article is: a full explanation of what an athlete can do training-wise to get faster next year. This article specifically breaks down splits into realistic and concise training changes necessary for improvement in the 100 m.
I’ve always been fascinated by maps and cartography. A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going — in a sense it’s three tenses in one.
~ Peter Greenaway, British filmmaker
A Recap of The Race Analysis
In an earlier article, an extensive review was shared to explain the value of 10 meter segments, or splits, to analyze competitive performances. In this article, we will build on those results and explain how an independent 100m performer plans his season. Obviously, the outline listed below is a rough and incomplete summary of the strategy for improvement, but it’s a perfect working model of what key performance indicators make a difference in the sprint events.
When trying to improve the 100m, a straightforward method is getting faster, specifically at the top velocity zone. The reason for improving maximal velocity is that the obvious speed endurance is easier to support with trainable conditioning, and acceleration historically adapts to reaching one’s max speed. At the 2014 Windsprint seminar, it was good to see Mehis Viru survey different coaching systems and their unique beliefs on what areas in the 100m to work on. One particular coach felt max speed was the most important because it was the key limiting factor. Another coach felt acceleration was more trainable and likely to create improvement. Lastly, another coach preferred speed endurance, as it was the least genetically limiting. It was interesting to see three different perspectives, all with merit, make coaches at the conference think of the best approach that transfers most effectively. All the ideas for speed development during the conference were interesting, but the strongest evidence is always the historical data that support the theory, specifically workouts and, of course, the times themselves.
Revisiting the splits and corresponding velocities, Evan Scott’s 100m race clearly identifies the phases of the race where training can improve his performance. Starting out with the basic zones of 0-30m and so on, we will step inside the mind of a self-made athlete who has improved his times year after year. Each time segment and corresponding velocities, if appropriate, will be showcased in detail with Evan’s words.
0-30m – Improving early Acceleration
Evan Scott- My goal is to run 30m in 3.85. I did 3.93 with an imperfect start in Sundsvall, and my biggest limitation and problem has been technical in the first 10m. I have consistently had a hard time getting complete extension out of the blocks and the first few strides. I believe this is largely because of training on my own at all times and only having competition pressure in races, while some other people may have a training group or a coach working directly with them. To improve this, I plan on traveling during the fall to work with different training groups and coaches and develop consistency in this portion of my race.
Maximal strength and power have always been my strengths as a sprinter, and I plan to continue developing them by using general lifts with moderate to heavy weights in the weight room. Heavy squats, power cleans, and variations of these lifts are staples in my training.
To help with specific strength, I include lots of resisted sprinting in the form of both sleds and hills. I believe these tools help ingrain great running mechanics, particularly the acceleration after the first 10m, and help develop strength in a manner that has a great carry-over to the 60 and 100m.
30-60m – Improving late Acceleration
I aim to run a 6.5 x 60m during the indoor season, which will require a 10m best split of no worse than 0.89, ideally closer to 0.87-0.88. — Evan Scott
This portion of the race relies on a lot of elastic strength and power. To develop these in a way relevant to sprinting, I believe that high quality, fast sprinting combined with intense plyometrics with a vertical focus give the best results. High quality sprinting comes with doing fast sprints in an adequately recovered and ready state, aiming to improve upon previous performances and moving up the standard or average performance, as timed via Freelap or another electronic timing device.
60-100m – Improving Maximum Velocity Speed Endurance
Evan Scott – Vertical plyometrics have consistently shown to have the greatest correlation to top end speed and to give the best results. I choose depth jumps as the ideal exercise for this, but there are many options. I prefer to do depth jumps because it fits the facilities and equipment I have, is an exercise I have experience with, and is something I believe can be done very safely. Because of the nature of the exercise, it is also easy to manipulate the intensity of exercise through the drop height, surface, or resistance (via weight vest).
The biggest change I am making in my training this year revolves around a change in facilities. Previously, it was not possible to do maximal sprints beyond 50m in the facility I used. This distance is now extended to 75-80m. This will allow me to do more maximal speed and short speed endurance work of high quality and will give me more opportunities to focus on relaxation, optimize technique for better efficiency, develop endurance specific to sprinting, and more. To accommodate the greater volume and frequency of this type of work versus that of previous years, I will be reducing plyometric volume and intensity when these distances are a focus of my preparation. I believe there is a great deal of crossover between maximal, top end sprinting and intense plyometrics, and I believe care needs to be used to make sure there is appropriate overload to the lower legs.
I will also be choosing my meets in a manner that reflects my abilities. I learned a lot of what is good and what is bad in terms of meets this past year, and that will allow me to better focus my energies on meets that give me the opportunity to run fast times and improve upon my personal best. I am not focusing on indoors or on maximizing my 60m time, but I will use indoors as a barometer to see where I stand and what areas of my race need most working on before going back into preparation for outdoors.
Closing Thoughts on Seasonal Planning
Very rarely do we see an athlete plan their training in the sprint domain, and it was nice to see general ideas on how one can get better by using splits. The best way to project and create the future is by reflecting on the previous year and past performances, looking for patterns and trends. Like most coaches do, looking at similar talents and improvement curves helps blaze a trail for younger athletes to model and learn from, and experience will dictate what is different for each individual. What I have learned is that personalized programs work when adapting general systems by tailoring training to precise splits. Only when training is managed by sound monitoring and testing will we be able to make more advancements in speed, and that comes from dissecting speed and reengineering development.
Please share this article so others may benefit.