Athletes who want to "work the ground"

“Charlie always pointed out was that as you get stronger and faster you actually lose the sensation of pushing against the ground”

That’s a quote from Flash in an old thread. So I have an athlete who has gotten stronger but actually has gotten slower. He’s never lifted before until this year. After testing he’s running slower by a significant margin. His bodyweight hasn’t even changed and everything else is practically the same. It is very clear though through observation that he is trying hard to be powerful, really looks like he’s trying to “work the ground”. He was not coached this but it has suddenly changed his stride pattern. Some more great insight by Flash from the same thread:

“I seem to recall Charlie mentioning a few times that as young sprinters get faster and begin to feel the ground less, sometimes they panic and try to push harder against the track to get back that feeling of power. That’s what you want to avoid. In one of his videos (I think it’s Vancouver 2002), he mentions Angella Issajenko walking over to him in tears after he had just timed her in a PB. When he asked her what was wrong, she said “I can’t feel my legs.” And Charlie replied, “That’s what it’s suppose to feel like.” After that, she was fine.”

Does anyone have a clip of this or can provide an excerpt of what else Charlie said regarding this in Van '02? I don’t have that film and it can’t any longer be purchased.

But this is exactly what the athlete I’m working with is doing - trying hard to get that feeling of power from working the ground. I haven’t corrected this just yet other than trying to get him to focus on his arms instead, to just step down, but he still wants to work the ground with his legs a lot. I don’t want to over-correct him by trying to tell him to be quick and to stop applying force either. I think that post has some tremendous insight, but I was wondering how one might apply this information? I realize that some sort of other cuing may help, and perhaps there are some sprint drills that might help him to get back into his natural stride pattern without having to be put into paralysis by analysis.

Have any of you had to address this kind of issue before? Any thoughts are appreciated!

CF in one of his Videos said something like “you should never try to go “really really hard” regardless of the speed. That it should be just a smooth execution… and if everything is correct, it will be Fast. There is no such thing as trying really hard in sprinting”

And once this feeling easy is achieved by you have him work on proper mechanics/technique, he will need constant reminders for it.

As an example, last week I did 30m sprints up a dirt hill by the house. The last 10 meters or so felt like flying 10s to me. That lets me know that i am ready to reduce the angle even more to run even faster. IMO most ppl would want to look for a steeper part of the hill to sprint which is the exact opposite of what CF would tell you if he were still here. A lot of slower folks just love to chase feeling the effort.

Have him do a some reps of say 30 meters. on the first 2 tell him to work the ground and try to push through the earth. Then on the next two tell him not to try to push. Just run. I bet the second set will be faster. I know a guy who works the ground so much he is fucking stomping.

ffs peeps.

sprinting is hind brain.

buy the book. It’s called Speed Trap.

If you can’t connect the dots after that, sorry. nothing I can help you with anyway.

Thanks Balance and Chris. Upon closer inspection, part of the excessive GCTs may be due to a lack of tensegrity in the deep front line (he has a history of an abdominal issue from several years ago). While his limbs move powerfully and dynamically, he seems to lack the rigidity in the core to stabilize the pelvic region when his limbs apply greater force. It seems this is reducing the efficiency of how energy is being stored into the proceeding strides, thus limiting his ability to continue the acceleration phase. Worked on having a solid body position and maintaining pelvic neutrality this week, and he does seem to be moving smoother. We’ll work on this for a few more weeks and test.