Coe, Johnson, Bolt and the Star Affect


Track and Field has many stars throughout history that have changed the way we think about training. Everyone when they first start coaching wants a cookbook. As we move forward we begin to understand there is no real cookbook. The reality is every athlete must be trained differently. However, certain schemes can be much better then others when developing a single athlete or training group. For example, Sir Coe was during his time as an athlete was a game changer and not just for his talent. He really changed the game of training as many distance coaches tried to replicate his low mileage high intensity program. Many coaches in the states tried to reproduce this program over and over often times coming up short. After almost two and half decades we as a group of American coaches realize that endurance work must balance high intensity work to get the best results for a mid-distance and distance runner. Later the Daniel’s running formula would combine these two concepts and allowed young developing coaches a model that works well. In 1996 a pair of gold shoes changed what Americans thought was possible for sprinting. I will never forget Michael Johnson destroying the competition in the both the 400 and 200. Naturally, everyone wanted to know “what the heck was that guy doing in practice!” Now just like Coe’s farther/coach Michael’s coach Clyde Heart shared a lot of what they did in practice multiple weeks of training in different phases. Again young coaches where given a model they could use to start training their athletes. This lead to American’s being super dominant in the 200, 400, and 400h. The program works at all levels for running fast in the 200 and 400. I have done short to long programs vs. long to short programs in a track season and the data pointed to with a least high school kids the better performances came from the later. Many of you might be asking “well what happened with the American 200, 400, 400h and 4×400 men in the most recent Olympics?” A number of factors like bad luck, injury, other nations using Hearts model, and another less obvious factor could play a role. Usian Bolt made the 100 dash sexy again after the 2008 Games and pushed it further into the spot light after Berlin. His star power and outrageous performances had many coaches trying to figure out what are those Jamaicans doing in practices. Amongst my colleagues many of them began to use a heavy dosage of acceleration and max velocity work. A lot of people do this without an understanding of a year long season and the fact the Jamaicans workout multiple times a day. (For more info see Jimson Lee’s eBook on Jamaican sprint secrets) I believe we are seeing a new wave of training that will certainly make us much better at the 100 dash and 4×100. However, in the long run I believe the current Bolt affect could lead to an era of increasingly limited number of podium athletes in the United States in the long sprinting events. Interestingly enough if you look at Bolts career as a super rough and long Periodization model what were his events early in his training age before he moved to a different phase?