Early season high school training and CF

Hi folks,

I’m a high school coach, who this year turned towards CF’s ideas of training for my sprinters. While I definitely seen improvements, I’ve also noticed a lot of small early season injuries that I haven’t witnessed in past years and all in locations I’ve never dealt with before - quads, hip flexors, and calves.

The most obvious change I’ve made as far as programming is moving a from a long to short to a short to long. In past years the first week would be more of a ‘hell week’ - 100s, 200s, 300s, long hills, high volumes, attempts at high intensities but looking back much more stuff in the 80-90% regions just due to the amount of work being done versus recovery.

Now week 1 was 4x10, 4x20, 4x30 on Monday, a tempo circuit Tuesday (about 900m plus core work), 3x30m Wednesday plus plyos, tempo circuit Thursday (1100m plus core work), and 2x23 seconds. So basically everything was either max or below 70%. I’m 99% sure I’m screwing the intensities but what do you folks recommend? It seems like a few weeks in they adapt, but what do you all (especially folks familiar with the 12 week season of US high school) for the those first 2 weeks.

Much thanks

Is everyone doing the same workout and same progression? Is there any individualization of load?
Are they all completing every last drill or run you assign them?
What are their training backgrounds? How much general prep do they have under their belts before adding the HI work?
What kind of therapy, if any, are they getting?

this was going to be my question.

I suppose as a high school coach it’s not going to be appropriate to do any hands on work, but perhaps you could invest in a few foam rollers, or something…

First, thank you all for replying.

For the large part, the break down is by event group, so the long sprinters do something different than the short sprinters, but within the group everyone is expected to do the workout unless I’m made aware of something (ie if someone notes they didn’t sleep well or are a little sore I will modify). Within the workouts, the most individualization I will get to is stopping kids early if I see anything I don’t like - ie postural breakdown (though I don’t think my eye is good enough/some of their postures START relatively broken).

Training backgrounds for this group are pretty much all 14-15 year old boys who play other sports, so the vast majority that I get in the spring were basketball players (pretty much all of my winter sprinters are now baseball or volleyball players). General prep at this point is something I generally have moved away from in the spring (which I guess is what I paying for) because 95% of my kids are coming from other sports.

Therapy generally sucks - we have 1 foam roller.

Digging about a bit on my own…
First, you folks have suggestions on which CF books are worth purchasing in regards to this topic? I have the CFTS but that’s it at the moment.

Second to my own issue, it looks like I need to better introduce intensity and develop more of a fitness base. I see the intensity piece as things like using the same distances but creating shorter sprint zones and allowing more time to build up to max. At his time would it be worth allowing shorter recoveries since I need to improve their fitness more than their speed.

What I’m less confident on is general fitness building via CF. In my past long to slow builds this would be 100s and 200s at 80-85% perhaps I just haven’t read enough of Charlie but how should I go about building this??

Tempo work typically comprises intervals of 100-200m done at 75% of best time or below. So if they are wearing flats and running on grass, it will be very below. Charlie always stated that tempo should be run at a conversational place, meaning if someone was running next to you, you should be able to talk to him while you’re running. The last run should be just as fast as the first. If not, you went too hard (which most people instinctively do). I would start them off at no more than 1000m total and gradually work up as they seem able. These are young kids. They’re bodies are expending a lot of resources just growing and developing. You can complement the tempo with easy med ball tosses back and forth or light med ball toss-and-chase drills up and down the field.

For strength work, start with calisthenics and med ball throws for a while before introducing weights.

I also think the short to long approach is not as critical with young, developing sprinters. If you’re going to get any other of Charlie’s books, I would HIGHLY recommend the Key Concepts Elite Edition ebook. Go to the end on developing young athletes. A big mistake with young sprinters (which I made with myself, “woulda, coulda, shoulda”), is expending too much effort on the short explosive work, when in fact you’re going to get much more bang for the buck focusing on the right end of the force-time curve. Because they are naturally slower than more advanced athletes, and their race times are longer, they spend more time in speed endurance.

The general fitness alone, built through tempo and general strength work will do a lot to increase their speed endurance early on without specifically needing higher intensity SE work initially. Their explosive power and speed at the left hand of the force-time curve can likewise be developed through general means like explosive med ball throws.

Speed work should be doled out in very small quantities and focus more on teaching proper technique and relaxation. Flying 20s can help with this.

I also think three speed workouts a week is tough for young kids. Even most adults have trouble handling that much unless they’re getting regular therapy.

Flash, thanks for replying like this - you make a lot of sense, and I have actually been doing the tempo workouts like you’ve said - perhaps a little fast but not by much. I guess the only piece I’m trying to wrap my head around still is then is should I stick to the hard/easy only or if I should allow that 80-something percent range into the mix (or is that still not useful).

The 3 speed days a week is an issue I’m beginning to agree with - time to rewrite the plan.

Again, much thanks - its awesome having other, smarter and more experienced people giving their insight.

Flash is the man.

Also though Pinky, you have to consider how your work has been spread. If you’re doing sprints up to 30m on Monday, and a similar thing on Wednesday, chances are the athletes won’t be recovered in time for another quality speed session. So a 2 day HI is obviously something popular especially among lower level athletes. But, I think early on you can do fine on a 3 day HI, as long as two of those sessions are special endurance. You could eventually morph it to a 2 day high too. But either way if you just stick with a 2 day HI from the get-go, like Flash said, it’s important for lower level athletes to work on the other side of the curve. So including more volume from special endurance may be something to look at. Speed, and technical proper acceleration work is important, but if a high school kid does just one session like that a week, they will be fine and progress with proper supercompensation. So I would definitely put my energy into more of developing SE

Yeah, actually reached out to my old high school coach - guy churned out 400 runners like you wouldn’t believe (though in New England so not too exciting), generally has me thinking of aiming a lot of my young guys at the 400, not because I necessarily want all of them to be 400 runners in the end, but because it requires such a wide range of capabilities, and training for all of them should help produce a more complete beginner. So yeah SE it is, god willing we’ll actually have more than a 40m straight to run by the end of this week…