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Q&A of Speed Training
Here I got a chance to answer some of the many questions, and here are questions you as a sprinter or even a middle distance runner may want to know.


Here is an article on setting up the starting blocks that will
help your sprinters:

Q: Am an athelete coach in Uganda, Africa. my inquiry; Gym and
plyometric work stresses the nervous system. so does speed work.
My question though is that does harness running (elastic rubber
tube strapped around the waist with partner trying to hold the
athlete back as they try to sprint) which is resistance training
have the same effect as the above mentioned. or can it be done the
day after a speed work out.

A: When doing the resistance work, if an athlete is running at
full intensity, then this will tax the CNS. This is speed work
and the resistance runs are simply the same as a regular full
intensity sprint.

I can't think of any reason an athlete would do harness work at
less than full speed, so this would be a substitute for or part of
a regular speed workout and should be treated the same because
it is the same. So don't do it the day after a speed workout any
more than you would do 2 speed days in a row. (There are some
exceptions to this rule.)

Also, when possible, use a shoulder harness as opposed to
resistance only at the waist. This way athletes can run 'hips
tall' and won't be bent at the waist which often happens
when not using the shoulder harness.

Q: I do have a question about lifting weights for youth [say
ages 11-13] is it safe ,is it beneficial , can lifting stunt
growth or do bone damage. I listen to quiet a lot of different
ideas on this can you enlighten some? Thanks
- Duane S.

A: In 99.9% of situations I don't start athletes lifting weights
until they are 14. Until that time, they will benefit significantly
from body weight exercises and core training. You can
teach proper lifting technique of traditional lifts like the
squat, deadlift and clean (I just do the high pull with young
kids) by using a broom stick instead of weighted bar.

When they get older and are physically ready for weight, they
will be miles ahead of their untrained peers.

The problem with weight training is that for it to be effective
athletes must go heavy. But the loading that comes from heavy
weights can hurt athletes and potentially stunt growth. The bad
outweighs the good. Athletes shouldn't be lifting to gain size
at this age, so 'light weights' is pointless. Use bodyweight
exercises and circuits until high school and you'll see
plenty of positive results.

Q: How much of the Complete Speed training techniques might be
applicable to young children (8-10 yrs old)? What portions would
you consider implementing for soccer players of this age? Do you
have or can you recommend other techniques more age appropriate if
this program is not?
Thanks, Ed

A: Other than the strength training and advanced plyos, they can
do anything in the program. The difference in mindset comes from
you as the coach/parent, etc. Kids this age don't really need
organized, detailed training. They need to just be kids.

What you should do if you want to give them the edge is teach them
the right ways to move and react, work on their coordination,
introduce the speed drills and running mechanics that facilitate
speed. Better to teach them good habits now than force them to
unlearn bad habits later. This will put them at an incredible
advantage over their peers who are just running around crazy
with no thought, ingraining bad form and technique into their
neuromuscular systems with every step.

The important thing is to keep the instruction simple, workouts/
practices short and keep things fun by making it a game. There
should be no winning or losing or competition, just positive

Q:. I am looking after a Women's Basketball Team preparing
them for a Aust Basketball League which commences March 10.
So far they have been working on endurance with some explosive
work (hills., stairs) plus incorporated active recovery days
(pool sessions, light training). The girls are now involved
in 2 sessions a week of team training, a club game, fartlek
training and hills/stair training. I am looking for help to
develop the 5 week preparation prior to the commencement of
the League. Should I do some speed work on the track by way
of sprints e.g. 400, 300, 200, 100, 50 or should it be more
shorter explosive sprints. I look forward to hearing your
thoughts on all this and learning. Kind Regards, Raelene

A: I would start to phase out the hill and stair training and
focus more on acceleration and speed endurance. I don't like
to go crazy with the stair work because I find tha the pounding
often results in shin and knee problems.

But in basketball athletes are engaging in constant short
bursts of speed, often in a state of fatigue. So they should
train under these conditions. Of course they need to learn how
to accelerate when they aren't tired before doing the speed
end. work while they are. But with the practices, game and
fartlek runs, they're getting endurance training.

I would alternate the fartlek runs with the interval work on
the track. Also, when you say 'some speed work on the track by way
of sprints e.g. 400, 300, 200, 100, 50', none of those distances
(except the 50) qualify as speed work. At the pace they would
run these distances, at best it would qualify as intensive
tempo and, for the sake of simplicity, these would be considered

But by looking at all their training so far, the specificity
is underdeveloped. They need speed endurance.

Q: I have heard that stretching before training or competition
weakens the muscle. Is this correct?? Should we only stretch after

A: Excessive static stretching before performing any explosive
movement can reduce power output by up to 20%, depending on the
study that you read. This is temporary, but long enough to ruin
your ability to accomplish the task/s at hand.

You can do some light stretching before your dynamic warm up,
but save the static stretching for after your warm down which
comes after your practice or competition. That's where you'll
improve your range of motion.

Q:I have one question: I have a 11 yr old girl, she is flexible,
can do splits all the way to the ground, touch her foot on her
head etc... but she can not run, its like she runs in slow
motion. Is there anything that can help?
Thanks, Kim

A: Yes. Stop doing so much flexibility work. There is such thing
as being too flexible. Ultimately, athletes only need to be flexible
enough to go through the range of motion required in sprinting.
The fastest sprinters, male and female, usually have good range of
motion, but are would a little bit tight.

Speed, in large part, comes from storing and releasing elastic
energy. When an athlete is excessively flexible, that ability is
diminished and so they run slow, spending a lot of time on the

Though it is an oversimplification of the process, if you keep
stretching a rubber band, eventually it becomes too loose to
be of any value. It will no longer recoil when stretched and
so you won't be able to fling it very far. You can think of
your muscles in a similar way.

Q: I was planning on working out the boys on this type schedule
M-W-F speed training and plyometrics
T-T weight training and agility drills

After reading one of your news letters on strength training maybe
I should reverse the schedule? Since strength will increase speed.
- Thanks, Emmit

A: Weight training should be done on your speed days. Though
agility work is potentialy as taxing as speed work. Also, in
my experience, speed work M,W,F is going to be too much to
maintain over time. They'll start to break down.

Also, 2 days per week should be plenty for plyos.

YOur set up could look more like this if agility is as important
as linear speed:

Week 1:

M,F: speed/plyos/weights
W: agility/weights
T,Th: recovery/tempo, technique

Q: Quick question-- I remember reading that following a substantial
hamstring strain/tear, you recommend doing some light form runs to
help break down the scar tissue. My questions are how long should
the runs be, at what degree of intensity, and do you recomend a
dynamic warmup (if so, the standard warmup movements you guys
prescribe?) before starting? Any advice you can give would be greatly
appreciated. Thanks.
-Jim R.

A: I do. This is something I learned from Charlie Francis and
when I first read it I was a bit skeptical. I had chronic hamstring
problems as an athlete and I always babied it back from injury so
I thought that putting any stress on it before it was 100% was crazy.
However, I used it with athletes to great success.

I wouldn't call them light form runs (I don't believe in 'form
running' by the way) I call them regular accelerations over short
distances. Maybe I should call them 'sprints' so as not to
undervalue the intensity. I start out by doing 1 set of 10 x 10m

Go as fast as you can handle. Remember it's only 10m so you won't
be able to get going fast enought to put serious stress on your
leg. If everything goes OK, we'll try to add another half or full
set. Once that becomes easy/pain free, we'll do 1-3 sets of
10 x 15m. From there I think you see the progression. We're still
getting our regular sprint volume in, we're just keeping the
distances short to avoid undue stress.

Of course I recommend doing a dynamic warmup, though I would stay
away from any hamstring dominant exercises, particularly early
in the warm up, until feeling loose, you have a light sweat
going, etc.


If you have a question, then tune into next time's Q&A or of course PM me and ask your question and it will be posted here.

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