Last Updated on March 12, 2013 by Jimson Lee
Bud Winter coached at San Jose State University from 1944 – 1974 and was responsible for the legendary “Speed City” in the mid 1960’s.
In total, he produced 1 NCAA Championship, 49 NCAA records, and 27 Olympians including great athletes like Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, and John Carlos, just to name a few. He also coached Greece’s Chris Papanicolaou, the first man to pole vault 18 feet.
His basic approach to sprinting was a simple 8 step plan:
1. Use high knee action
2. Use good foreleg reach
3. Run high on toes
4. Have good arm action
5. Maintain good forward lean
6. Bound forward, not up
7. Run tall, with back straight
8. Be relaxed, with loose jaw and loose hands
Many thanks to Gary G. from Scotia, NY, for providing the information below.
Here is an overview of Bud Winter’s program. I consider myself kind of an expert on Bud Winter as I studied all about him and have read his two books. I also have met John Carlos and Bud Winter, who was ahead of his time and many coaches have taken bits of his program and some quote him often.
Here is his “sprint” program, I will send his endurance 400 program on another email.
Basically, he classified his sprinters as either the sprint type or the endurance type. Tommie Smith never ran farther than 320m in training but set WR’s at 200m, 440 yards and 400m. Here is his program:
4 weeks of x/c running and strength games, every sprinter would start with 1 mile and by the end of the month they would run 10 miles without stopping.
Intervals would start; slowly at first, every month faster for 5 months, here is an example of a week:
- Monday – 10x 100 on grass, 100 walk, (they started @ 15 down to 11 after 5 months.)
- Tuesday – 6x 200m, with 200 walk ( started @ 30, 23 in 5 months)
- Wednesday – 3x 320m, 15 minutes rest between (started @46 to 38)
- Thursday – Repeat Monday
- Friday – Starts and Finishes @ 150m x 5 (Winter would blow whistle 4 times and group would speed up and slow down, at tape they would practice leans.
- Saturday – Test Day, 2x 60 yards, 1x 165 yards, 1-2x 320m
- Sunday – Jog or rest
During this time period they would do drills every day, when they were in top shape they would do what Winter called a “relaxation test”, almost like Charlie Francis’ flying 20’s, they would run 9/10 effort over 30 yards with running start, timed, idea was to show the sprinters that you run faster with 9/10’s speed and not all out.
In addition, after the main workout, they would do what they called “killer dillers”, you start at the common finish and sprint out for about 25 meters, Winter would blow his whistle and the sprinters would slow to almost a walk, he would then blow the whistle again to speed up, this would go on until the 300 mark, then everyone would TRY and sprint home, if they could.
They also would do starts every day but Monday at 20-40 yards, 6 total.
In-Season: Faster, shorter reps, quality.
- Monday – Choose 1:
- 10x 100, no time, 100 walk -or-
- 3-4 laps of wind sprints -or-
- 2x 275m, no time
- Tuesday – 3x 200m cut-downs, 200 walk, (Winter felt if you could do 25-24-23, you were ready for a 47 400m) Late season, just go out hard for 50m, float, 100m, sprint 50m, 3x.
- Tuesday – Time Trial Day: 2x 60 yards, 1x 320m, hard but not all out.
- Thursday – Starts and finishes or if big Meet on Saturday, then REST.
- Friday – REST
- Saturday – MEET
- Sunday – REST or jog
If you are a big fan of Tommie Smith, be sure to read his autobiography Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith.
Nearly 40 years later, he details what the “Silent Gesture” meant to him and surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the “Black Power” that we all believed was the true meaning of the no shoes, black socks, single black-gloved right fist!
He also reveals what his life has been since. I feel the book was written 20 years too late. There is also a lot of baggage and bitterness to be told, but after all, it is his story.
I’ll post the training for Lee Evans on the next article, as it is totally different. It is refreshing to see how Bud had the insight to coach these two 43/44 second Quarter-milers differently. Most rookie coaches would put them all in the same training group, or heaven forbid, move them up to the 800m!
In the USA: Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith (Sporting)
Cheap snowboards says
I’ve read one of Bud’s books, it was actually pretty cool – your blog post just reminded me of it. I’ll have to try and get his other book if I can find it.
Tom Shaal says
Is there any place or person that can assist HS coaches with writing a successful 400 meter training program.
It is almost impossible to gain the knowledge needed, given the fact that I also coach football and basketball.
We are a small school in rural Nebraska and most of our athletes are multi-sports athletes, so the program would have to be geared towards in season only.
Can you help?
There are plenty of resources from coaches all over the net (and this site especially) that deal with 400 meter training programs. You really can’t go wrong with either. However, when it all comes down to it, you really have to know the athletes that you are training, as their needs may differ from what a particular workout gives.
Andrew Hecker says
The San Jose State track was 440 yards, with calibrated finish lines for metric distances. Yes, finish lines, not start lines. Metric conversion for sprint distances was only at the finish line, nowhere else on the track (there were the offset start lines for 1500, 3000, 5000 and 10000, plus 3000 steeplechase–yes there used to be a pit out there). The 1/5 mile or 352 yard marks were painted on the track and had a short square post inside the curb so each split could be seen at a distance. Quarter laps (110 yards) had a pole. So Winter’s workouts were in Imperial distances, All of these distances quoted above are converted to metric.
Jimson Lee says
@Andrew Hecker, thanks for the update. yes, Bud’s workout were Imperial, In the last update for his book, we did modify the workouts for metric to coincide with today’s track.