Getting Faster – A Road Map and Perspective


Lot’s of talk about therapy, fascial connections, and now the brain in coaching circles. What is the prime reason training wise people are getting faster in the 100m? If it was the 1990s everyone will say technique. 2000s it was force into the ground. Now? I am not sure. What I do know is that watching and observing what people do in training still has merit. Yes athletes are tempted to go to the dark side and cheating exists, but what we need to do is see what every one is doing training wise. I wrote a few articles on timing, something that I am shocked still is a problem in track and field. We tend to get a lot debate on training theory, slightly less on physiology, some in biomechanics, but never in time and reality. I focus on rest periods, distance, speed, and general technique. Workouts are my road map as the island methodology may not be about grass and tendon compliance, but doing enough to get faster, not showcase on youtube impressive exercises or therapy interventions.

I believe that volume at lower speeds may be the culprit to why athletes are faster. Yes maximum contraction is key, but relaxation rates are the yin to the yang. Measuring that is possible, and my feeling is the longer runs may force adaptations we have problems doing. While I do believe Dan is not dated on the use of lactate analyzers, I do think other actions inside the muscle cell are happening, along with other neurotransmitter changes that may be harder to evaluate in the lab.

The simple idea of following the 10% rule may be the reason Jamaica doesn’t do indoors. True some speculate other reasons they are not competing indoors, but many athletes who skip indoors tend to have a more gradual and less aggressive program. Slow build up of fitness, something advocated in the forum is underrated. What’s the rush? Yes it’s great to fly people to Toronto or other therapy hotspots because it’s interesting, but the true sign of a great program is to let training and management of the load be so precise therapy is minimal and secondary. My best years have come from patient development because no pressure to perform existed because it was an off year (no world championships or olympics). The volumes should be based on what athletes can handle, not the powerpoint scheme of another program. Everyone has copied or has been influenced by another, and it takes years to remove security blankets of other mentors to truly follow our own hearts and minds.

I do less plyos for pure sprinters and progress half the rate now. I think it’s liberating not to be feeling like one has to do 42 inch hurdle hops like Linford Christie, or squat like Ben. The thinking I have is the most boring and remedial solutions of ensuring people are getting sleep, come in to the fall in great shape instead of extended party circuits, is the direction we need. Henk saying doing as much as necessary is a great start, but I think running more and less alternate means and extreme high intensity elements is helpful. I do believe maximal work is going to help break through barriers, but the rate you get their should follow something conservative like the 10% rule.

So back to relaxation? How do you combine both raw power and the finesse of intricate coordination? I don’t think it should be Long to Short or Short to Long, but pretty to faster. When things get ugly from fatigue, the cross-extensor reflex and Central Pattern Generators are impaired by protection mechanisms. I think good sprinting is about handling acidosis and other buffering issues while getting in to sleepy relaxation mode. The ability to have stiffness and relaxation at extreme ends and rapid alternating rates is the name of the game, and I think tapping into it rep after rep is key. When we compete we may imprint good qualities, but the quality of the training week is less during competition phases so we need to think about the big picture. Race to train and train to race is the saying, but it requires very purposeful meet planning to get the optimal conditions.

My thoughts are longer runs may help maximal speed from a neural component as even submaximal work does improve maximal speed. I think racing and previous sprinting performances make permanent motor engrams. 16-18 races a year combined with good fitness sounds to simple to many, but I think the ability to train heavy and safe for months is the path to success. Observing what they do (fast athletes) was very helpful for me, as no presentation or blog can replace onsite observation and recording workouts. Sometimes running before sprinting is necessary, and just doing it consistently and slower at first leads to fast athletes later.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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