Hi guys, was wondering if anyone can help. I coach a female athlete very soon to turn 16. I have coached her for a year, her times when she came to me were 13.49 fat, and 8.42 fat (60m i) she then progressed to 8.30 for 60m and at the first meeting of the season April 09 she progressed to 13.2 twice in one day with a legal wind. Following the pb her times slipped 13.3/13.40 fat and a 13.59 wind -2.8. The season continued slipping away until we called a halt at the end of June. After a holiday we just worked on technique (knee lift was low so worked on keeping hips up) and general conditioning. We started the GPP in August, used tempo, med ball, hills 20m - 60m, bodyweight conditioning, technique etc. It seemed all was well, training 3 times per week, plus other stuff at school, progressed into SPP, still keeping med ball and other conditioning going, introduced weights in small doses mainly learning technique (which is sound) difficult to do tempo on grass so not so much of that. Introduced acceleration and speed early enough along with med ball for power and small volume vertical box jumps as first indoor race late Nov and 2 in December. The races did not go well 8.48, and 8.67. I reduced the volume of sprinting slightly and dropped the weights and plio but retained general med ball work to see if she would freshen up then tapered the training a week before a meeting on the 10th January but the outcome was no better 8.65 and 8.62. I have started to increase the sprint volume but all of it at a reduced intensity of 95% and included tempo work albeit over 60m as the outdoor track has been frozen. I’m open to ideas especially from forum users who have had experience of this type of problem with young female athletes. The guys in my group are responding well to the training and hitting indoor pb’s and although she doesn’t always do exactly the same training it is similiar, she obviously needs something quite different.
How are things with her nutrition, sleep, personal life?
As far as I know ok, she did have a low ish blood count but has taken prescribed iron tablets and according to her she is okay now. She trains well and shows no signs of struggling, its just not happening in races or as well as it should when doing speed work which is why I thought by backing off for a couple of weeks before and over christmas she would be sharper.
How is her bodyweight? I’ve had girls that age and ability level struggle when their body matures. They can get much curvier seemingly overnight and their power to weight ratio takes a big hit.
This can especially be a problem when there is no tempo in the program. Tempo helps with leanness and recovery from speed work. Perhaps you can insert pool work to accomplish the tempo goals and you might need to restrict the intensity part of the work, which could be done if there is sufficient tempo/fitness.
Thanks guys, she did put on some weight during the summer but has trimmed back somewhat. Tempo is the one area we have struggled to fit in as where she lives does not have a decent grassed area nearby. I think I am going to have to include it into the work she does on the track at our training venue until she can get on the grass. She trains 3 times a week with the squad so I reckon on the following:
Tuesday tempo and med ball
Sunday tempo and med ball
Thursday tempo and med ball
Comments please, we have been working S-L should I continue building to the right this way gradually increasing the distances or should I be looking to include longer work e.g 150m from now at the same time as developing speed and 60-80m.
You could do tempo on the bike or in the water, to save her legs from too much volume on the track. How was the weight loss accomplished? Any chance she may have developed an eating disorder?
I have had pretty good results having athletes run their tempos on the grass just inside lane one, where the drainage seems to be slightly better, resorting to the track in the worst conditions.
The No Excuses basement tempo videos came in handy during the big freeze recently.
What kind of volume in metres are we talking about for your speed and tempo?
Thanks, on the ball, we do to its just we have had ice and snow for 4 weeks but going to try tommorrow night. Speed volume around 680 per week (2 sessions) (the 3rd session mostly med ball for power) at its peak and usually 2000m per week of tempo during GPP but that has been lacking for quite some time. I’ll have a chat re swimming, lives in a hilly area so not sure about easy bike rides, although a gym bike should do it, any experience in what’s best ?.
Her weight dropped from 137lb to 119lb, (5ft 3inch tall) by cutting down on empty calories, so I don’t think there is an eating disorder as it seems to have levelled off and shows no other signs. Thanks for this guys I appreciate the help, keep it coming please.
That’s a huge weight swing for that body weight. It’s no wonder her times on the track are bouncing all over. I would think a little bit of time letting her body stabilize while she improves any lost strength, power and muscle mass should get her times moving again.
Thanks Stikki, it is a difficult time for girls of that age the body changes so much. Her conditioning sessions have improved so had hoped the increased strength and less excess weight would result in better times. I guess its not as simple as that. I would welcome from you and others comments/replies to my questions re tempo and statements regarding volume of speed and tempo.
Agree with points made about dramatic weight loss. Female athlete I coach lost 4lbs recently and didn’t run to potential.
Down the line, when you are happy with overall status of athlete (weight, general health, etc) I might look at increasing speed volume while maintaining ratio: 35% speed / 65% tempo.
I have found it hard for athletes to run indoors and maintain form thru outdoors with such low vols of speedwork and like to flesh out programs with more runs at 95%.
Also, is she being massaged? Could be muscle spasms.
Thanks, good comments, interesting about your athlete re weight loss, how long did it take for her to regain form ? (I realise of course everyone is different).
What volume of 95% work are you advocating for that age of athlete. ?
Do you think that 2000m of tempo is sufficient ?
Should I continue with conventional S-L build up of distances or should I be using distances such as 150’s straight away. ?
Would welcome your comments.
PS She was able to run tempo on grass last night - 1200m
Not saying this is right or wrong but female athletes I coach (year or two younger than your 16-y-o athlete and also basically doing S-L) built up to 3x4x40 hill sprints.
Now in short indoor season but not immediately before a race doing sessions like 4x30 starts / 3x60 in and outs / 60+80 smooth from stand so pretty much same as you.
16-y-o boys tend to get more submax stuff (4x150 or sets of 60s if on S-L) as they are usually stiffer and speeding up a lot at this age (bad combo for hamstrings).
Girls aged 16-plus, I’d start slightly increasing speed volume to help get them home in races as targets become more important but I’m not talking about elites here with unlimited access to massage so putting in 95% work for safety reasons.
Not sure about dropping S-L. Adapt it by all means but wouldn’t make any wild swings in training.
2000m of extensive tempo a week would be in proportion to your 680m of speed work. Is she a real power animal? Is she doing extensive med ball circuits and plenty hurdle walkovers too?
Would welcome thoughts on this from anyone.
Hi, thanks for this, hills very similiar to ours, similiar sprints also, I was building her towards 80m work until she had the 1st bad run, so I kept it at 60m 95%, that might have been a mistake. I probably in hindsight kept going up in distance still at 95%.
I will stick with the S-L and use the rotating microcycle I mentioned earlier in this thread. If I can increase the volume a bit then I will, but keep the acceleration limit quite short to ensure 95%.
She does a lot of medicine ball, both the power session with 10m run outs (usually once a week) and low intensity mostly twice a week after speed work. We have used hurdlewalkovers as well but perhaps not as often as we should for her as hip mobility is probably crucial due to body changes (mental note).
Thoughts anyone ?
She managed 1600m of tempo on grass last night followed by low intensity med ball and hurdle walk drills.
I have coached many girls in that age bracket over the years. I think you are on the right track with your training, so i would investigate the other factors – many already mentioned by others.
Getting some tempo going will help with the weight – though the actual weight isn’t the issue – it’s how lean they are. I have had many girls get curvy around that age, and they slow down, of course. It can be very frustrating for the coach and the athlete. When that happens, adjusting the training typically isn’t the answer, though you can add more tempo and try to guide their eating to get them more lean.
Another factor is often motivation. I’ve had younger kids who are much hungrier than older kids who get distracted by boys, transportation, jobs and many other things.
Bottom line is to find out what you can about those things, offer guidance and stay the course with your training. There likely are other factors in play here beyond the training approach.
Thanks for your positive feedback Speedz, the girl in question is motivated, she is one of if not the athlete with the best attendance at training and always gives it her best shot. She does get wound up before races so we are trying to get that under control and she seemed more in control in the January races yet the outcome was the same. The following is the first 4 weeks of training I have pencilled in starting next week.
Comments from all would be appreciated. Speed and speed endurance sessions at 95% for now.
Sun 4x30 3min 4x40 4min 4x50m 5min + Abs
Tues Tempo 1600m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
Thurs 2x4x60m 2min & 7 min + A’s 3x30m
Sun Tempo 1400m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
Tues 2x5x60m 2min & 7min + A’s 4x30m
Thurs Tempo 1400m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
Sun 4x30 3min 4x40 4min 4x50 5min + Abs
Tues Tempo 1600m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
Thurs 2x4x65m 3min & 8min A’s 5x30m
Sun Tempo 1500m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
Tues 2x3x70m 3min & 8min + A’s 4x40m
Thurs Tempo 1500m + Med Ball + Hurdle Drills
I like what you’re doing and wouldn’t change it up. Just exercise some patience and see how things go while trying to see if there are other factors – outside of training – that might be involved (often hard to do).
Sometimes changing things up or over reacting in an effort to gain improvement can be detrimental (overtraining).
Is she doing any weight training?
Thank you, she was doing weights a couple of times a week but mostly 1 or 2 exercises after speed or power work. Nothing heavy all well within her capabilities and her technique is very good. I stopped them in December as she was blaming the weights for her lack of form, as you will know its common for girls that age to blame weights for anything, so I stopped them for psychological reasons not because I thought they were doing any harm. I just stepped up the med ball a bit to compensate.
Your thoughts ?
Other members feel free to comment.