Track and Field (or Athletics) has been around for over 100 years, and I think all coaches have an arsenal of favorite workouts to prescribe to our athletes. These workouts are usually backed by sports science, and they work on specific energy systems, such as speed, speed endurance, or endurance sessions. (We also have weight training for strength training, but that’s another story).
For example, a good workout to develop speed (> 7 second sprint) is 2-3 sets of 4 x 30 meters with full recovery (walk back to the blocks, about 4-5 minutes).
40 years ago, we only had access to analog stopwatches, which worked fairly well, because you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Now that Electronic Timing and smartphones apps has hit the consumer or prosumer market, we now have access to more accurate timing systems.
And thus, our workouts can now change with the use of technology. Gone are the days of prescribing a standard 10x50m, for example.
If you’ve read my Blog for a while, you know I am an advocate of Freelap Timing Systems, but for the purpose of this article, ANY electronic timing system will work. So here are sample workouts using electronic timing that can bring fresh ideas to your arsenal of workouts.
After Max Velocity, it’s all downhill
If you measure some fly sprint times (i.e. running start, no blocks), say 30m, 60m, 100m, 150m & 300m, and plot those data points, you will see an exponential curve that has common properties for ALL athletes, from over-the-hill Jimson Lee to Usain Bolt. The times are different (obviously!) but the curve is consistent which means you can calculate any other point on the curve for that athlete with relatively high accuracy.
I’ll show some examples using this Freelap Sprint Calculator:
Please see the user guide for more info (I discuss some features later in this article):
If I do a time trial of 30m and a 300m, then I can calculate what my 60m time would be. Great info, but what can I do with this?
Here is the difference. With the INTERVENTION calculator (under Preferences… Intervention), I can add 5% to that time, and make this a speed endurance workout consisting of:
N x 60m flys where N is the number of runs under the 5% “intervention”.
i.e. 30m fly time trial in 3.49 sec
300m fly time trial in 39.20 sec
Predicted 60m time trial in 7.08, and 5% intervention in 7.43
So the athlete would probably run at least four 60m fly sprints with full recovery under 7.43 sec. If the 5th run is over 7.43 seconds, stop the workout.
This kind of training would benefit a Masters sprinter, as quality low-volume sprints are the key to success, instead of higher volume workouts (and lesser quality) that can leave you injured. Because we know once you are injured, the season is literally over.
Workout #2 – Using Non-Standard distances
One of the key benefits from the Freelap Sprint Calculator is the ability to enter non-standard distances, like distances from hurdle markers.
There is no 40m or 50m mark on the track, but you can easily use the hurdle marks. (i.e. Men’ 5th hurdle is 50.28m or women’s 4th hurdle is 38.5m) There is no need for the measuring wheel, which is a time saver.
There is no reason to use fixed distances in multiples of 5 or 10 meters! The calculator adjusts automatically.
Workout #3 – Improvement Predictor
Using the previous example:
i.e. 30m fly time trial in 3.49 sec
300m fly time trial in 39.20
If the 30m fly time improves to 3.39 (one-tenth faster), the 300m should improve to 38.33, without having to re-test the 300m time trial.
This is great if you do a speed session on a Monday or Tuesday, before a meet on the weekend, using those meets to get “race ready” for the big meet down the road. And you don’t have to use 30m as a test, you can do 25 or 35m, or any short distance.
This improvement predictor is also handy to see what kind of speed you need to break 50 sec for 400m, for example.
Workout #4 – Adjustment for Blocks
You can adjust for blocks by using the block factor (under Preferences.. Block Conversions). For elite sprinters, that may be 1.0 hand time (see my article on Valery Borzov) but realistically it’s more like 1.10 to 1.15 depending on the athlete. The program uses 1.17 by default but you can change that.
As I mentioned earlier, this is handy if you just tested a 30m fly (or any short distance) on Monday, and he sets a PB for 100 or 200m with blocks on the weekend in a competition. With these 2 times (30m fly, 200m blocks), the curve changes and adjusts for next session the following week.
Workout #5 – Accurately Time your 40 sec Run
I love the 40 second run (or 2 sets of 40 seconds with full recovery) but the distance varies from 300m in Youth/Masters, to 350m in Elite athletes.
Let’s say I have an athlete who can run “about 317 meters” in 40 seconds. I place the Freelap TX Junior transmitter at 317 meters (the 310m mark is well marked from the relay zone). If the athlete runs 39.76 seconds, then:
317 meters * (40 seconds / 39.76 seconds) = 318.91 meters
If the athlete runs 40.31 seconds, then:
317 meters * (40 seconds / 40.31 seconds) = 314.56 meters
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