Sometimes sprinting has a paradox or phenomenon that needs some investigating, and that’s when Pierre-Jean Vazel is a invaluable resource. One can argue he is the best in the world at sharing the context of performance in the sprint events. Below is a quote from member Evan (Davan) and I will elaborate on this in a few paragraphs.
Since pretty much everyone does starts or some kind of acceleration work or drills from the beginning (even if it isn’t the focus), it is convenient (if you are trying to justify your system or tie it to some current elites) to call everything short-to-long and just write off all the intensive tempo as “split rep special endurance” or “so easy for a person who runs 19.6 and 9.7.”
The same can be said on working on top speed mechanics with fly drills (read more speed work) during pre-comp phases when those are working on skill work. Well when is is not speed work? Block work done all out to 30m is still speed work regardless if you are doing longer runs with intensive tempo. Add in plyos and heavy weight work when are we doing long to short then? Or what about recruiting 100m talent and placing them in the 400m? Just add endurance? When on the old messageboard I coined the phrase short to long and long to short because of the Tom Tellez workouts showing an array of 100m guys going from longer and slower work and still going 9.8s and low 9.9s. While perhaps others used that description before me, we must include some important details besides a gross generalization. I was wrong to just include the running only as stimulus for speed as plyos and other factors (such as race load and scheduling) play a big role as well.
Then we have intensive tempo at 85%, the bane of sprinters? I don’t buy that 75% of world class times is tempo for those guys especially when they are not running world class times in the fall. I do think that 85% may work for the talented, as the adaptations to speed need to be slow when you are born with speed and need to stay healthy. Intensive tempo is still fast especially when those do it with feather touching stides or relaxed pace since the speed of the athlete is about the center of mass traveling not about ground contact times. 22 second 200m times are still fast when you are going 85% all out.
My point is that one must look at the context with a fine tooth comb all the time. When our 4x100m relay broke the League record last year and struck gold at the division state meet it was because we made the decision to remove the individual events. We didn’t perform better than the other teams it was that we removed events that we would have done only average in and kept the athletes fresh. It would have been more impressive if we had multiple events and doing well in all of them. My thoughts were that we had two 10th and two 11th graders we would expand on the individual events more as they matured. All of them did two events plus the relay but I felt that the training included a general set of biomotor abilities that could branch out to better performances as they developed. Since we had no indoor program I had to look at both acute and long term development.Going to the All State meet as 10th graders would make them veterans as seniors so they could handle the big meets better. Was this the best approach? Who knows but context matters. I felt that the reason we were the best that day in May was because we had good speed at 100% instead of faster speed at 90%.