I’ve been practicing many drills commonly taught by Coach Francis’s videos here.

So far, I think I have the most difficulty properly executing and understanding EFE/FEF drills (AKA cone drills, speed change drills, pick up drills, in and outs).

I’ve watched GPP video and more, and searched some forums (although I’m not very good at searching) but this is really hard to understand.

I know there probably isn’t one right way to do it, and can very it, but as a self training beginner, I find it really difficult.

When I attempt to do it, the sensation I get with going fast to easy is very uncomfortable. I feel like I’m running very steep downhill and I can do nothing but to reach in front and cause a lot of breaking force, I can really feel my hips drop, rhythm totally destroyed, and in case of FEF, I can’t regain sprint position (not that I can achieve it well anyways, but a lot worse than usual) and rhythm at all, with all attempt to do so only making me tighten up.

Even when I attempt to do something like 60s with 20 acceleration and hold or something, I often struggle to just hold; I’d either keep on attempting to go faster (not that I can accelerate for a long distance anyways), or just slow down so much that my form breaks down.

When I’m going very slow, I think it’s not difficult to achieve sprint position (for a beginner that is); hips high, knees driving to parallel, stepping down from that position and all. However, when I’m going faster, because of my center of gravity traveling over the ground due to previous efforts, I just…can’t just do those things slowly as I should. It’s like…if I attempt to do so, the ground contact time is too long for the speed I’m traveling at and my legs just fling backwards like crazy and I lose sensation of “up and down”. I’m surprised I’m sensing this because I just didn’t think this problem could apply to such a beginner.

I felt like it’s teaching me bad mechanical pattern and thought about dropping it. However, I also read that it’s very helpful for fighting this paradigm known as dynamic stereotype or speed barrier for some reason I don’t understand.

Can I please get some inputs on how I can fix these problems with execution and also why this drill works? I do know that in the book speed trap Coach Francis attributed Ben Johnson’s success during early acceleration phases of 100m during 88 Olympics.

Thank you.

You are thinking too much when you run. Just the fact that you’re providing descriptions of all these sensations indicates you’re trying to track too many things at once. You’re definitely thinking too much about your legs. It sounds like you’re consciously trying to put power into the ground. If you run correctly, you shouldn’t really feel your legs very much. You would really benefit from a coach watching you and giving feedback.

Regarding the speed change drills, I think you’re trying to make too big a contrast between the easy and hard segments. Just focus on your arms. Your arms are the throttle. The legs will follow the arms. When you go from easy to hard, simply pump the arms harder. It’s kind of like jumping from 1st gear to 3rd. Don’t try to jump from 1st gear to warp 2. That will cause you to tighten up. You’re simply increasing the rate of acceleration until you hit the next marker. You’re not actually trying to hit top speed, which you can’t do in 20m.

When you change from hard to easy, ease up slightly on the arm pump and try to maintain and cruise at the speed you’re at. We’re not robots, so there will naturally be a slight upward or downward drift, but you’re not consciously trying to change speed too much.

Most importantly, whether it’s an easy or hard segment, RELAX. If you don’t relax you can’t run fast, period. If you have trouble relaxing, stop worrying about your speed and focus more on smooth technique. It’s kind of like practicing power cleans with light weights until you get it down. That should gradually develop confidence in your technique, which will promote relaxation and lead to increased speed without consciously trying.

I was going to say the same thing -another way to call this drill is RFR / FRF, where R stands for relax. Perhaps this will help you mentally in the way you also execute the drill, e.g., not ‘giving up’ on the R segment(s). Perhaps slightly longer R sections -but not the F ones- may help you (re)gain the proper technique. “First do it right, then speed it up.” You said so yourself! Also, holding the right position takes time to master due to technique and specific strength issues. Lastly, training on your own and coaching yourself are not making your life any easier…

Just as an additional clarification, during the hard segments your intent is to accelerate hard through that segment. Your goal for the easy segments is not to reduce speed, it’s to hold your speed and cruise. The exception to this rule is the initial easy segment for a EFE run. Rather than maintain, your intent for this initial segment is a gradual buildup of speed so that when you hit the first marker at 20m you should roughly be going at the same speed you would be at 10m if you had accelerated at maximum from the start. It’s basically an easy rolling start. Since you’re not accelerating at maximum from the start, you don’t have to lean forward as much and can run a little more upright, which allows you to use this initial easy 20m to get the stepping over action going in a relaxed manner, so when you hit the first marker all you have think about is pumping your arms harder.

I hope this helps.

Yes, I do think I am thinking too much; which is because unfortunately I’m having to train alone for now. I don’t think about my legs regarding speed and power of force application, but I just think about direction of force application with legs (which is stepping down), while attempting to approach speed and power side using the arms. I think I tend to tighten up and panic when I sense problem with stepping down and hips dropping.

I really need to somehow figure out the fine line of difference between attempting to accelerate vs. maintaining. It may be because I unfortunately don’t have good top speed and I guess the difference of effort needed between accelerating and maintaining is really small…For now, I only know how to either accelerate (or attempt to do so) or decelerate to tempo speed. I guess I just need more practice with this.

With “don’t try to jump from 1st gear to warp 2”, do you mean don’t try to make speed change too abrupt; and to just “wait for it” as Coach Francis calls it?

With relaxation, I feel relaxed if I feel like I’m vertical and hips high in a good position. However, my perception of relaxation may not be enough of relaxation. I think it’s something that even world class guys need to constantly work on, as Coach Francis said the main difference between Ben Johnson at 84 and 87,8 was relaxation, and I’m sure he was already really fast, experienced, and relaxed relative to most people.

Thank you.

Yes, I agree that me having to correct and coach myself while executing drills are probably hindering my learning process, as my attention is divided. I hope in a few years I actually improve a little, and have more opportunities open up for learning as well, meeting some good people.

Thank you.

I don’t really feel like I’m struggling too much with first E of EFE, but as you mentioned, not getting as low might help even more so. I just currently have difficulty with those markers and all because of lack of experience and skill. I often have sensation of time going too fast even though I’m not moving fast at all, and I actually sometimes fail to even notice markers…I’ve read that advanced, experienced sprinters have exact opposite, where they are going very fast, but time perceives to be slow and they can sense everything that’s going on with their body and their surroundings. I think I’m just trying too hard to feel those sensations, when I’m not ready to do so, just because I’m all alone unfortunately.

Thank you.

Yes. For your purposes I would underemphasize the speed change because I think it’s making you tighten up. Just pump your arms a little harder during the “in” segments and ease up the arm pump in the “out” segments. Start with that until you feel more confident and develop better control.

Something that Charlie mentioned a while back, and I experienced when I trained with him, is that when you run faster and are relaxed, your limb movements actually feel slower. That’s because there is less extraneous muscle activity, so you are more aware of the muscles that are firing. There’s an old coaching cue in sprinting that you run fastest when you think you’re only going 80-90%. In fact, I distinctly remember Pioneer complaining that when he tried to force easier workouts on his sprinters and told them to ease up on their power, they actually ran faster unintentionally.

I think your advice of having less contrast between E and F is what I should start with for now; hopefully I can find a point where I can maintain decent technique. With running faster with less perceived effort, my experience is half and half. Sometimes I lower my effort too much and actually go too slow with less effort, while other times, I would actually do it right and go relatively faster. Of course, I’ll need more practice with this too in order to eventually distinguish between “barely jogging effort” vs. “relaxed sprint without forced effort.” Of course, even when I have too little effort and go too slow, it’s not because my arm movement is too small or because heel recovery and knee drive is not there, as in real jogging mechanics.

Thank you.

I’ve implemented E-F-E in a different sense, such that i took my stride lengths from 50-60m and 60-70m segments of 80m and 90m longer accelerative runs, and placed it at 30-40m and even the 20-30m segment.

So my stride length average from 50m-70m of faster accelerative runs(or even 60m-80m) was 9 strides, which equalled 2.222m(average stride length over the 20m segment). These were in spikes on grass flat and in runners/flats on rubber track.

I then set up marks on the grass track from 30m-41.10m every 2.22m increments and accelerated(in runners/flats) normally from a 3point stance to 30m and at the 30-41.10 m segment , I had to clear/reach each 2.22m mark. The 30-41.10m was my ‘F’ or fast portion, with
the 0-30m portion being my ‘E’ or easy portion, because of the accelerative/drive phase warm up runs and sets.

I treated these runs as ‘medicinal’, in the sense that they were like medicine the doctor gives you. If you take too much or too little of the medicine he prescribes, you get more sick or don’t heal fully. This is also why I only did these runs in flats/runners on the grass as well(because the boundish/top speed stride lengths that I was bringing down to 30m stride lengths). I only implemented these ‘medicinal top speed stride length segments’ once every 2 weeks or 3 weeks, within my schedule where i normally sprint 2x a week.

So at 30m during longer accelerative runs(60m-100m), I’d get there in 18 strides, and at 40m i’d arrive at 23 strides. This would equate to a 30-40m average stride length of 2.00m, while in spikes on grass or rubber track in flats/runners. However, doing the drill my 23rd step would touch further down the track, at 41.10m. Thus during my style of E-F-E runs I’d run the ‘F’ segment(which for me was 30-41.10m and sometimez 20-31.10m) with a slightly longer 2.22m stride length.

This session would encompass:

15-20 minute dynamic warmup

At 30 minute mark 3-4x10m 3 point start walkback recovery(1.45m accel rate x 5)
-with the 1.45m accel rate i set up 5 marks every 1.45m up until the 7.25m mark. I had to really agressively extend to reach marks 3,4, and 5. As a result this made the first 7.25m of the 10m very hard. By default, it turned the first 7.25m of the run into the ‘F’ portion and the remaining 2.75m as the ‘E’ portion of the run.

At 45 minute mark 3-4x20m(1.45m accel rate x 5) at 2:30min. intervals
-again, the 1.45m accel rate x 5 made the first
7.25m of the 20m accel as the ‘F’ fast or hard portion, and the remaining 12.75m as the ‘E’ easy or float portion.

At 1:05:00 or 1:10:00 into the workout i then did the E-F runs(0-30m easy, 30-41.10m fast). I did 3-4 reps of these 3point with the 1.45m accel rate for 3 marks only. Since only following the rate for 3 marks(4 strides only) it made the accelerative nature of the first 30m an easy run, as opposed to the 10 and 20m previous runs when following the accel rate for 5 marks or 6 strides.
-when i could do 4 quite comfortably, the next session(which was in 2 or 3 weeks), i’d replace the last 2 runs with 30m runs, where the 2.22m spacings were now from 20-31.10m. So the runs would be 0-20m easy and 20-31.10m fast or hard.

When hitting the 2.22m stride lengths at 30m i had to do something with my arms such as, envision fantastic flo-jo running fricken 10.54 in seoul. It was only for basically 3 pumps and seemed to be my left arm, where i brought it up higher and shot it more forward from the hip.

So you control speed of the runs using different stride lengths? working 1.45m for early acceleration and 2.22m for fast late acceleration, with 2m for hold phase? If 2m is a natural stride length for you, how do you lengthen it by .22m? I know that consciously lengthening stride by reaching and pawing (or pulling) is very bad. The only other way I know how to extend stride length beyond what occurs naturally is to do it almost like semi-bounding; where I’d strike down really hard and hyperextend from my hips out the back with each step, which will slow down my recovery and kill my stride frequency.

From what I understand, stride length is all about how much force you put on the ground; and with increase in speed, ground countact time goes down, which is why rate of force production must be exponentially high in order to have both stride frequency and length. Of course, leverage also comes to play, but from what I’ve seen, world class sprinters that aren’t tall have longer stride length than tall non-elites with longer legs. Rate of force production seem to matter more.

If you have any better way you know in which you increase stride length, I’d love to know.

Thank you.

When i lengthen at the 2.22m segment(fast/hard segment) im clearing each of the 5 markers but getting nearer and nearer with each stride to stepping on some markers. Realistically its only the last 2 markers(mark at 38.88m and mark at 41.10m) that i end up stepping on.

Since i already warmed up with the 10m and 20m first 6 steps drive phase/staying low/really extending, to reach the 1.45m marks 3,4, and 5(steps 4,5, and 6), by the time i get to the 30m mark(during the 41.10m runs) im actually at about 17.7x-17.8x strides. Whereas during faster frequency(slightly shorter initial accel strides) longer accelerative runs(60-100m)during different workouts, im at 18 strides at 30m. Thus, with each of the 5 strides of the 2.22m strides, I’m running out of ‘real estate’(so to speak) to where I’ve got to controllingly lean torso/‘stay fast’/pump (for me) my left forearm hand to get the last 2 marks.

Actually I have( as you alluded to about a ‘easy’ 2m strides segment following the 2.22m X 5 strides), set up a mark at 51.10m and continued on relaxed/pumping after 41.10m, and got to it in 28 strides.

For more clarity regarding this drive phasish/initial hard segment of the first 7.25 m, my first step touches down at about 0.40m, 2nd at about 1.60m, 3rd step at 3.00m, 4th step at 4.40m, 5th step at 5.85m, 6th step at 7.30m.

I always try to stick with a fairly conservative foot spacing out of my 3 pt position, rather than extreme wide like some of the NFL 40 yard dash demons, or the extreme foot spacing hegemony, Asafa ‘sub 10 king’ Powell.

When I first started doing accelerations within these ‘rigid unnatural parameters’ i figured i must be overstriding since it felt slow, hard, n strenuous. Upon viewing my video however I realized they were still 0.25second strides, so I just stuck with them. They seem to be getting easier, and since they’re somewhat unnatural regarding the strenuous feel for steps 4,5,and 6, they seem to serve as a ‘3 step strenuity warmup’ for the ‘5 stride 2.22m hard 30m-41.10m segment’ where the 'relaxed strenuity occurs for the last 2-3 strides.

The GPP video has several angles of EFE.

At 1:00, it looks like Mark McCoy doing EFE

That sounds like an interesting approach. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I follow it. But doesn’t that potentially have the problem of introducing a targeting element to the stride, kind of like acceleration ladders? It seems like it’s making you think about where your feet are landing. The last thing you really want to do in sprinting is think.

I like Charlie’s cues for the different phases of a race: flick the hand and pump the arms.

Regarding acceleration ladders and thinking about where you place your feet, I only use these spacings(1.45m X 5 markers) once every 4th or 6th session for accel type work.

Ill also use just (1.45m X 3markers), (1.40m X 3markers), (1.30m X 3 markers), for start/accels of various longer distances for separate sessions.

For charlie and the cue, flick wrist and pump it, he and ben really were ahead of their time. The way I see it regarding his start, he pops up to get a jump on everyone but as well, preserve his toes by standing up and striding after his 1st

Theres a interview on youtube where dan pfaff is talking about staying low and driving for too long and how for most guys its going to lead to achilles/lower leg injury via initial stressing of
flexor hallucis and brevis(overloading while on
stretched reflex at and during initial foot strikes of first 10 meters).

I feel when i use a conservative foot spacing out of 3 point, by default I have to rise after the first step, thus standing up and accelerating from an upright safer running stance(safer in terms of saving the toes from taking more of a beating).

I’ve watched the GPP video many times, especially for the running mechanics part. I know Coach Francis points out how the arm movement becomes more aggressive and hips rise higher with F versus E but I just really have hard time actually noticing any difference. Unless it’s some couch potato running with poor technique, it’s really hard to tell when someone is moving fast vs. when someone is moving slow. It just looks the same. I just can’t really see with my eyes speed and effort of run even though I usually do better with looking at angles (like, I can tell usually someone sitting vs. hips tall, knees driving vs not, heel recovering or not, arm range motion etc).

Is there anything else I can look for in order to distinguish F and E?

Thank you.

Well, if you’re viewing your own videos and you still have your cadence and mechanics in place, I guess it could work if you can work up to being able to replicate it. I wish I could see like a picture or video though, since I’m a bit lost with details.

Thank you.

When you say you’re clearing earlier markers during fast segment and stepping on the last 2 markers, do you mean that your stride length isn’t able to keep up towards the end?

With arm pump, do you find fast arm pump give you more stride length? I could only lengthen stride length by almost doing like a bounding with long ground contact time. I guess I seriously need to develop more rate of force production.

Thank you.

I know that Ben Johnson tend to get upright early during the race, but I just don’t understand why. I thought staying low for longer was better for acceleration and top speed, like Mo Greene did.

I didn’t know that staying low has higher injury risk; now I really want to know why Ben Johnson and Mo Greene had completely different approach to sprinting, even though they were quite similar in terms of best times, size, and the fact that they both ran their best times off of lower top speed than they’re capable of (.83 for best race, even though they both had faster than .83 top speed).