This article is guest blogged by Lee Ness, a UKA qualified Event Group Coach for Sprints and Hurdles, the Head Coach/Sprint Coach at City of Salisbury Athletics, and Running Club and Track and Field Team Manager for Wiltshire Athletics Association.
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400 Meter Training: Short to Long, or Long to Short
Short to long, long to short, complex, short-long-short, long-short-long. Which system do you use? My answer is ‘none’ and ‘all of the above.’
I heard Loren Seagrave speak at the European Sprint Conference a couple of years ago. He said ‘if it ain’t broke, break it.’ I liked the quote because it matched what I did. I know that we always look for evidence to support our world view (confirmation bias), but as it was Loren Seagrave, I was prepared to accept that.
You see, my system, if you can grace it with such a term, is to change the system each year. There is good reason for this. Generally, I have athletes from around the age of 13 to the age of 18, when they go off to university or college. During this time, I have to make sure of a few things:
That they adapt to the training over the course of the training year (I have them the whole year, September to September, not just for a season)
That they adapt to training over the whole five years they are with me.
That they learn all the skills that they need to.
To achieve this, I will adopt a particular philosophy each year(short to long for example) and have themes. This year my philosophy has been to use complex variation method, covering GPE (General Preparation Exercises), SPE (Special Preparation Exercises), SDE (Specific Development Exercises) and CE (Competitive Exercises) in a single session. Each segment of the training has been progressive over the macrocycle. GPE would increase in difficulty; SPE would increase in load, SDE increases in volume or difficulty and CE in intensity.
My theme this year has been front side mechanics and trying to improve running posture, so all the sessions have had some form of this as well.
Next training year (starting in September) my ‘system’ will be to adopt a Clyde Hart style approach, which is my favourite. My theme will be all about arm action.
Jimson has many Clyde Hart workouts and progressions on the site. My absolute favourite is the Tempo 200’s. We adapt Hart’s sessions slightly due to the age of my athletes. This is how I do it over a macrocycle:
After a 2-week total GPE phase (which is nothing more than a trick, keeping the athletes off the track for an extra 2 weeks to give them a rest. Otherwise they would train without my knowledge!), and a 2 week GPE/SPE combination we will start on the Tempos. I will hang the whole training year around this progression. We will do the Tempos every second week. Everyone will start at 12, girls on 36 seconds and boys on 32 seconds, all with 2′ recovery. We have some excellent swimming beep timers that we use for pacing (it took me about two years to find a repeating beeper that could be set to 1/10 seconds and then found I was looking in the wrong place – here is what we use Finis Temp Trainer – Amazon)
Each time a session is completed to time, the next session the athlete moves onto the next level, in this case, 11 at 31 (or 35). If they don’t complete it to time, they stay at that level until they do. In Hart’s sessions, he reduces the recovery, but we keep it at 2 minutes throughout. By the end of the training year, we will have my top athletes running 3 at 23 (or 27). In my opinion, this workout has everything.
So what’s my system? Depends when you ask!
About the Author
My name is Lee Ness. I am a UKA qualified Event Group Coach for Sprints and Hurdles, the Head Coach/Sprint Coach at City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club and Track and Field Team Manager for Wiltshire Athletics Association. I’ve been coaching track and filed for around 7 years. I coach all the sprints, from 60m to 400m plus the long and sprint hurdles. In my sprint group I have 36 sprinters and 10 hurdlers of various ages, starting from 13. In my group I have three athletes in the UK top 10 rankings for their event.
I write about sports performance in general and have written a book called The Sports Motivation Masterplan which will be released on September 1, 2014 by December House. The book is a support guide for athletes and parents, helping them with the role of mentor through their journey from young aspiring athlete, to elite performer.