Bioenergetics and top speed.

I am aware that top speed is predominantly result of rate of force development (power), strength, elasticity, leverage, and foot quickness, which is expressed differently depending on how those variables are combined (finding and staying with optimal rhythm through proper relaxation).

However, would it be also dependent on bioenergetics?

Coach Francis did mention on his books quiet a lot about expanding the alactic envelope in order to develop speed further in elite sprinters, and he also mentioned that novices should benefit mostly from general fitness, and intermediates should do a lot of lactic anaerobic training.

I wonder if that apply to top seed as well, not just speed endurance or strength endurance.

With alactic, it is clear that even with all the power, strength, elasticity, etc in the world, if one doesn’t have enough bioenergetic envelop to sustain acceleration effort long enough (about 6 seconds for world class sprinters) maximum possible speed cannot be achieved (one may get too tired to keep increasing speed)

I would think maybe alactic envelop cannot be developed without strong foundation of general fitness and lactic anaerobic fitness, and that general fitness and lactic aerobic fitness can affect how much alactic envelop one can achieve and develop, thus affecting how much top speed one can achieve.

Simply put, for novices and intermediates, I wonder if it is possibility that mediocre general and lactic anaerobic fitness can be limiting factor in expressing higher top speed?

I think there is some truth to this. I remember Charlie saying something about lactic work for lower level athletes being more impactful on their max speed simply because of the velocities being relatively higher.

For example, a high level sprinter might go 32s for 300m, which is an average velocity of 9.4m/s, but he is capable of hitting 12m/s at max.

But a lower level sprinter might run 36s for 300m, with an average velocity of 8.3m/s, but is only capable of 10.5m/s at max.

So with that, I think it shows that during a lactic sprint event such as 300m, the lower level athlete will obviously reach higher than 8.3m/s since that is an average (300/36), so he might be hitting 10m/s somewhere in that race, fairly close to max at some point.
Whereas, the elite sprinter, will obviously be hitting higher velocities than the 9.4m/s pace at some point during his run too, but it won’t be that close to 12m/s during a 300m for him. Maybe only 11?

I’m doing a lot of guesswork here, but I think you can get the picture that lactic work may have a bigger impact on the envelope for the lower level guy, whereas the lactic work will do little for the elite guy, in terms of expanding that envelope because there is a greater differential between the elite’s speed reserve.

Not to mention, speed / special endurance can earn you more seconds when you’re a lower level sprinter since it’s a bigger component of the race.

I could be wrong here, just going off of some things I think I remember being said.

Interesting topic

kwave and Brett I think you are talking about two different topics here at the same time. Are you talking about top speed and development of it or you are talking about distribution of different qualities during the race so that you can be as effective and developed as possible at the given moment of your career?

What is max speed?
In my opinion, maximum speed is an outcome of the acceleration. Whether the maximum speed can be sustained for prolong period of time or not that’s totally different matter.

General fitness and lactic anaerobic qualities are contributing directly and indirectly to max speed development.
Indirectly: when both will allow you to have a greater number of repetitions with the higher quality at the further stages of your program.
Directly: influence can be observed when there are no other runs in the program except SE.

In regards to novice, even if you’ll do GF and lactic anaerobic quality the athlete performance should be going up, that’s it, that’s the nature of novice, you can literately throw any sensible workout and they should be able to improve.

So if I understand correctly, I think you’re talking about the concept of speed reserve, where if you have higher absolute top speed, speed far lower than your maximum is relatively easy and doesn’t get that lactate on you (like 12m/s guy going 11 vs, 10.5 guy going 8.3)

You’re definitely right on that, I was just thinking of a different concept, where I’m wondering if if lacking general and lactic anaerobic fitness can limit your absolute top speed (like 12 m/s for the top guy, 10.5 for intermediate), and therefore lead to increase in expression of top speed after those general, lactic fitness is improved. Not comparing how lactic fitness effects one with higher top speed vs. lower top speed, which is about speed reserve concept.

Please give me your thoughts
Thank you.

So when you say directly: influence can be observed when there are no other runs in the program except SE, do you mean that in sub-elite athletes it’s likely running SE can actually induce remarkable improvement on top speed? Would you attribute to improvement in time due to SE reps to top speed improvement, not just improvement in ability to hold the same top speed? Would you say that top speed can improve as a result of improving general and lactic anaerobic fitness itself?

It’s true that novices tend to make quicker, easier early gains; however, there are athletes out there that have been playing sports, but new to speed training that don’t improve at all until they gain proficient in their technique and train with good system.

Thank you.

When I was saying directly I meant L to S approach.
Athletes are covering majority of SPP by performing SE runs or I could say intensive tempo in most cases due to ridiculous volume. Distance is getting shorter, recovery getting longer, athlete getting faster its very simplified explanation. Basically leaning towards classical periodzation, (booooo! Lol)

Running L to S approach for beginners or intermediates should influence their top speed, when/if training is done with little bit of thought and careful planning behind it.

Before you were talking about intermediates, anyway.

In any case whether intermediates or sub-elite athletes, both have to get to the higher level, so they have to get faster, as the athletes getting faster and faster they are spending less and less time in lactate zone, so if you are working on max velocity only (as you called it top speed), I’ll repeat myself, only, would you go further than 60/70m? If yes/no then why?

I have seen pretty good improvements (from 10.7 to 10.2 in one season) in the groups where they are running special end and Intensive tempo during SPP I, the only problem is that only around 25% of the group survived and were able to compete effectively in the season (pretty SHOCKING!!!)

So there you go, you can improve from both ends. However which approach will allow you to have a greater gains and technical efficiency? Cause there is no chance that your 300 is going to look as good as your 60 from biomechanical stand point of view, unless you are going around 32sec. As Angela and T-Slow have mentioned in early posts “there is no point in moving to 15, 20 or 30 metres if you aren’t getting the first 10 pretty close to mechanically optimal”

When we are developing Vmax and other aspects of speed, QUALITY is the leading factor in this whole process.

Going countless times through this forum I have come across pretty good quote

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” Aristotle.

I’ll let myself drift from Vmax little bit and say it as I see it, at the end of the day Vmax is important factor but you are not going to win medals because you had fastest Vmax segment during the race, you are going to win it because you are the fastest/first crossing the finish line.
You have to ask yourself questions:
Which qualities are priorities for me at the given season and how I go about it or which qualities/abilities/skills need to be developed to allow me to improve?
What do I have to do to get to the next level?

Pfaff stated during conference that at the time when he was coaching Surin and Bailey that they have rarely performed runs longer than 150m, even thou he thought that athletes he coached could benefit from SE runs.

Glen Mills in his interview said that in his program all qualities being developed at the same time all year round (sounds familiar?)

Its very late, I apologise if I am jumping out of context sometimes, hope I didn’t make things too difficult or confusing.


ps. “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”

So would you say classic L-S can improve top speed through improvement in lactic and aerobic fitness? (if one has make through the training without breaking down)

When it comes to working max velocity only, it would be heavy on top speed work, such as EFE, FEF, and flying sprints.
Though, other works should still be done, as doing too much of just one thing won’t be good.

I’m not asking about lactic and aerobic fitness influencing top speed because I believe classic L-S is the best.
I just wanted to know how lactic and aerobic fitness can affect top speed.

I know that even in S-L approach with vertical integration, it’s still possible to work lactic fitness with split SE reps, SE reps towards later phases, and strength endurance (running A’s), and aerobic fitness can be challenged with works like tempo and pool workout.
If the FITNESS aspect of L-S approach can improve top speed, I don’t see why S-L approach can do the same and more (because of better quality and technique)

I really just wanted to know if fitness can be a limiting factor in improving speed until it is improved.

Better start and speed endurance can of course improve overall time, but top speed is the foundation of speed.
I’ve read that someone with 0.85 speed that decelerate to 0.9 towards the end will beat someone with 0.88 speed that can hold it.

With Glen Mills training, all qualities being developed all year round, that’s like crossfit?
Vertical integration works all qualities, but develops fewer qualities at any given time, while mainitaining others (like acceleration and general conditioning in GPP, top speed in SPP I and SE on SPP II while other things are on maintenance mode)

Thank you.

Sorry mate but I don’t really know what you are really asking for.
The questions you are popping out are all over the spectrum of speed development.
What type of fitness you are asking/ referring to lactate, aerobic, general etc…? Are you asking how they affecting top speed in the race, tests, as a single rep or in the training process?


If you do a basic mathematical model/calculation you’ll find out that 0.85 with deceleration to 0.9 will go faster than 0.88 with consistent splits but yet again you are talking here about totally new level, elite athletes running sub 9.9.

You have started from beginner going to intermediates, sub-elite to world class athlete.
I would like to help but I am bit confused.
My suggestions:

  1. narrow the group you are want to find out about eg. intermediates (10.50-10.80)
  2. select the fitness you wan to talk/ find out about or component of fitness

Re Glen Mills, All qualities being developed at the same time, it doesn’t mean that they are being developed in the same training unit, they are being developed in the micro-cycle. If you haven’t seen any CF materials and heard from Charlie on the forum about his approach or whatever and only heard that he is developing all qualities at the same time, what would be your thought? crossfit?

Well, I’m asking about how increase in lactic anaerobic and aerobic fitness can affect top speed; so it would be two questions. Lactic affecting top speed and aerobic affecting top speed. I know you’ve given reference of some success stories, but I want to hear what your theory is for how those improvements occurred. When I say top speed, it means fastest 10m split possible; whether it be in a race or in a flying sprint.


  1. Group - I’d say elites need improvement in alactic fitness so I’m more curious about intermediates and below.
  2. Type of fitness - how aerobic fitness (like tempo) and anaerobic lactic fitness (like running A’s and speed endurance) can affect top speed; especially in a metabolic sense, rather than neural or mechanical point of view.

Regarding Glen Mills, is he also using his own version of Coach Francis’s vertical integration, where he focuses on a few qualities at any given time, but doing everything else during that time in a maintenance mode and changing emphasis depending on where his athletes are in the season?

Biochemistry is Not my strongest sides. But I’ll try.

There is more than just aerobic workouts/fitness and lactate affecting the maximum velocity/race outcome (time).

The whole hormonal process is pretty massive.

Couple of examples:

There is pretty good data about the whole endocrine fitness during different exercises/activities and changes in response across time, eg. Plasma Insulin and Plasma Glucagon are more stable in trained athletes, you don’t want your insulin to keep going down and crash after the warm up, do you?

70% of VO2max activities are stimulating both Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) hormones to a very high level, those hormones contributing to increase protein and enzyme synthesis, they are also stimulating increase size and number of mitochondria in cells. At 70% of VO2max Luteinizing hormone is increased by nearly 30%, this hormone stimulates production of testosterone and estrogen (the changes in production of Leuteinizing hormone depend on VO2 Max level, gender and the phase in the cycle Follicular Phase/Luteal Phase) Just like Luteinizing hormone level changes (depends on the cycle), other hormones behave in similar manner. Progesterone, Follicle-stimulating hormone and Estradiole are reaching max at around 60% of VO2max in the Luteal Phase. T3 also enhances effect of epinephrine.

Protocols of training with moderate to high blood lactate values (recruitment of fast glycolytic fibers is favouring lactate production) tend to produce the most substantial responses of GH in blood, also those lactate values influencing serum cortisol level.

Re: Mills

The point is that the qualities are present whether they are emphasized or not they keep being developed over period of time. You are keep talking about vertical integration, there is more than one way to look at somebody’s training plans, what about horizontal integrity?