For Ben to catch Bolt

Charlie, you’ve seen the splits, with Bolt and Asafa going through 60 in 6.32-6.33 in their best races, and you’ve seen Bolt split .82-.82-.82-.83 in the second half of the race.

So, let’s say that Ben in his prime (86-88) was competing directly against the Bolt of Beijing, and Bolt won, as many here suspect would happen.

What might you do with Ben’s training for next year?

What’s with the obsession of Ben Johnson on these forums? I don’t get it.

He would get murdered by Bolt or Asafa anyways.

Who do you think coached Ben?:confused:

This is all speculation of course.
Well, first-off, I don’t think for one second that Ben would split through in 3,80 on the new track surrfaces. Ben was hugely in front at 3.80 then but now Bolt was behind at 3.78. I feel certain that Ben could have split 3.75 on such a surface but I’m not convinced the surface would make much difference beyond 40m unless the energy conserved by a more efficient return from the track at the start helped at the finish.
Leaving that unclear assumption out, if Ben gained .01 from 30 to 40m, then a 6.27 60m split would be possible. That plus finishing the race would likely give a theoretical Ben a 9.67 to 9.69 BUT that would NOT be enough as Bolt would simply be forced to run through and record 9.63 or so. The wind difference would move Bolt farther in front if it outweighed the cooler temp in Seoul, possibly to 9.59 or 9.58.
Aside from spending more of the early SPP on grass (requiring an extended trip south of Toronto!!), you can’t react or panic based on what others do, so I could only rely on further training gains from the same approach.
Bolt is so young that he can gain plenty there too- or he might implode as well. That’s just not in my power to forsee or influence.

I take it from comments you’ve made before about Bolt’s 200’s and the 100m result, that someone liike Ben (or Asafa) might race a few 200’s, instead of ignoring them because they don’t pay as well–an note I’ve made for myself for next spring.

But a lot has been said about those 300’s, including Cameron and the seminar with Steve Francis that KK attended. What I’m trying to figure out is whether there is a REAL training effect for someone also doing short to long, or whether it’s just a cultural thing the Jamaicans have. I do know that there was some work done in Finland a decade ago with 400 meter sprinters running with EMG equipment attached to legs, and the result was that neural recruitment was observed toward the end of the sprint (new fibers recruited to replace those that shut down due to lactate/H+ concentration). But to do this as a pure sprinter, you would need to be doing something like 300’s in 32-33, not 37 or so like Franno has apparently been doing (but was this actually max pace for the 300’s or starting pace at the beginning of the season?).

In one of the slides you had in the Vancouver04 presentation, you talk about working both sides of the spectrum at the same time, and it mentions in short to long, the special endurance runs would be split runs. What I’m wondering about is not 3X3X60 or such but something longer, like, say 2X2X150 with rests like 1 min/full recovery to emulate the effect of long overdistance run hard.

Is there really anything “there” from what Mills, Francis, and Cameron have been saying, or would running fast enough to produce recruitment enough to have a measurable effect take so long to recover from that it would just mess up one’s indoor season?

Your suggested method can work but it doesn’t really sound like Franno’s approach with Asafa’s 300s as they are nowhere near his capacity, grass or not.
Adding the 2x(2x150) would increase the time required before optimal indoor times. Where would you run these? Indoors?? If so, you could run into problems from the tight turns- so 2x(3x50) would work better and be more complimentary to accel needs. You need to mark the track- run from start to 50m finish and cruise to a stop, turn right around and start from that mark to another mark 50m back, which should leave you the same deceleration zone back to your original start line for rep 3. It’s plenty tough!

What is the environment these 300s provide that is somehow supposed to improve 100m performance? I assume the 300s are to overload the lactic energy system as you suggest with little chance of injury. In which case we should be a able to reproduce this affect with other training means. Our only problem with not doing them is if they somehow overload something we are not aware of and this is the only way of doing that (I assume this is not true).

For Asafa based on what I see in competition (his 400m runs at the start of the year) the only thing I can think of is that they are a mental test.They give him the confidence he can handle the lactic. But then when you are running 9.8 and below (something I can only dream about) how much lactic do you really even feel? For me 10-20m from the end of the race (about 9.5s in) I felt pretty good!!! If the lactic “tolerance” is not useful for the event itself maybe it serves as a base for other training (more likely) in which case what is this other training? My guess is a higher volume of shorter faster runs - a la S-L.

Turn around 50m sounds like one idea but for me the risk of injury is too high. I’d just do the 300s or get on the bike and hammer out some reps to failure or close to it - as mentally that is very hard. Alternatively you could do Running As for 300m - sounds familiar?

Some more to chew on here:

HAMPERED BY injuries in the twilight of his junior days, Usain Bolt made an unacceptable, according to so-called track and field ‘experts’, start to what turned out to be a dream senior career.

Bolt’s biggest junior achievements came in 2002, when he won four CARIFTA Games gold and the World Junior 200m title, and 2003 when he won the Pan Am Junior Championships title (20.13 World Youth Record) and World Youth gold and 2004 when he became the first junior to go sub-20 (19.93 at CARIFTA).

However, despite winning the National Trials 200m in 2005 (20.27), along with the CAC Senior Championships (20.03), he failed at the Olympic and World Championships. Bolt had missed the Olympic Trials with an injury, which kept him out of the World Junior Championships in Italy in 2004.

At Athens, Bolt, under the guidance of former coach Fitz Coleman, ran 21.05 and failed to get past the first round, while in 2005 at the World Championships, he finished eighth in the final in 26.27 after suffering an injury.

However, according to coach Glen Mills, who identified Bolt’s early problems in Part One which was published yesterday, the sprinter turned the corner in 2006.

muscle strain

Bolt had also withdrawn from the Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games team in 2006 because of a muscle strain, but Mills said the focus was on the Olympics and the World Championships.

In preparing for the challenges ahead, Mills said after assessing Bolt’s 200m races, he was not ‘satisfied with the job he was doing around the turn’.

He was making technical and biomechanical mistakes which forced Mills to devote most of the season to making corrections.

“We did a good job and his turn running is a major part of his performance now,” added Mills, who rates him as one of the best ever curve runners.

“We also decided to work on his biomechanical ability to sprint, as in the past, he was far striding … although pretty quick, he said. Bolt adapted easily as he “gets a good mental idea of what you teaching him,” said Mills. " … and so, his sprinting ability improved significantly”.

It was behind this, that Mills said he knew Bolt would be a good 100m sprinter, but he was not ready to rush him into the event because of his injury history.

“His top-end speed, which I saw from day one, is tremendous. He is the kind of runner who can close a gap and change gear significantly” said Mills, who said the better 100m sprinters are ones with good top-end speed, putting Bolt in the class of Great Britain’s Linford Christie, American Carl Lewis and Canadian Donovan Bailey, all Olympic 100m gold medalists.

Bolt was ready by age 19.

“Despite the fact that he was still young, we felt he had, over the three years of development, reached the stage where he was ready to take on the world, and in a serious way,” Mills explained.

“World Championships 2007 was the sort of beginning. His preparation for that was pretty good and history showed he was the silver medallist (in the 200).”


With the World Championships out of the way, an event Mills said if it wasn’t for an injury Bolt suffered shortly before the Osaka event, he probably could have won or at least run Tyson Gay closer, it was down to more assessment as Beijing was the next target.

They moved into the Olympic year, Mills said, with supreme confidence.

“We felt that we could turn things around significantly in the Olympic year and so we started the year with a great intensity working on his strength.”

Mills, who praised Mickey Haughton-James for giving the use of his Spartan Gym free of cost, commended Bolt, who had given his full cooperation for the first time.

He also said the gym, which has some of the “best equipment in the island”, was used to “great advantage in developing his overall physical”.

“And once we saw the significant strength improvement that we accomplished in the off-season, we knew we were looking forward to a great, great season.”

was not surprised

So, Mills said he was not surprised when Bolt, running without any strong competition, registered 9.76 at the Jamaica International in May.

Mills wanted to test Bolt against stronger competition and went to challenge Gay in New York later that month and the result was a world record 9.72.

“From then, we knew we were on target. It was just a matter of ensuring that we would get him to peak again in August at the Olympics,” Mills said.

Bolt did peak and Mills described it as the “greatest satisfaction” because, after some impressive early season performances, he was able to get him peak at the right time.

“We felt that the 100m would put him in good stead for his 200m competition,” added Mills, who said Bolt’s preparation races in Europe were also spot on.


In his first 200m after trials, in London, Bolt ran 19.67, but Mills, who was ill and not present at the meet, found several errors in the race.

"His start was poor, he ran a poor turn by his standard, he came off the turn unbalanced and because he did not relax at any time in the race, he was in a hurry, his strides and everything were out of timing.

“When I assessed the race, I said to myself, if he is capable of running that time even without competition, then given the right conditions, he is going to run a tremendous 200m.”

Mills and the fast-learning Bolt went about correcting the problems within days and Bolt shocked everyone with a time trial run at the Olympic camp in Tianjin.

Mills said so impressive was the time, they had to check if he had started at the right position.

“So we went into the Olympics pretty confident that we would take both races,” continued Mills, who said they always had great respect for Asafa Powell.

Mills said he was not surprised when Bolt broke the 100m record and was only surprised by the 200m record because he did not know his superstar could overcome the hype so quickly.

Now, moving forward, Mills said he expects Bolt, who doesn’t have the best of starts, to improve on that significantly come next season.

“Hopefully, next season we will get it down, or the next … but his start is going to get significantly better and I think it’s going to set him up for super time that will shock the world.”

So a bit more involved here than yams and grass tracks.

What did he do with the weights? What was his rep schemes and exercises?

Don’t be fooled, Glen Mills knows his stuff if I’m not mistaken I think he coached Raymond Stewart too, and he has always been noted for training his athletes to perfect their technique…sooo athlete with raw talent + strength and technique = world domination (I go to Spartan gym too by the way, I hear the athletes go in the mornings though)

I believe what lkh was hinting at, and Charlie has mentioned previously, is that perhaps this overload manifests itself in maximal recruitment of the involved muscle fibers in a serial manner, as opposed to the simultaneous manner characteristic max weights and max speed work.

These benefits would be in addition to whatever glycolytic benefits the training would bring.

I would imagine that this type of work can be introduced earlier, allowing athletes to get these recruitment adaptations earlier. Also, some athletes may handle this type of work more easily, and can accumulate a greater stimulus this way.

Finally, this may be a way to extend the adaptation period for maximal recruitment gains, through the inclusion an additional type of training, which obviously has ramifications in the annual plan.

Is this the case?

Does this warrant inclusion in the training plan?

While this work would need to take place earlier in a training phase, in which phase would it be optimally included in, and at what relative volumes?


I’m actually trying to get at several things. The principal of these is that when I see Bolt running 9.69 (fooling around into the finish) and 19.30 (into the wind), and then after all those heats, he goes to Zurich and says he isn’t even tired…saying, “well, he’s running on grass tracks” is an explanation I have a hard time taking seriously. No doubt he IS running a lot on grass (there are apparently only 4 all-weather tracks in Jamaica), but I want to know what ELSE the Jamaicans are doing differently…and information seems to be gradually coming out.

About the lactate and 100m performance, the Locatelli paper about this shows 100m sprinters (~10.6 performance level) with ~15 mmol/l lactate readings and ~20 mmol/l lactate readings for 200 (21-21.5 performance level). But the overall conclusion is that a higher level of stiffness is required to REACH those levels. The impression I get is that what you actually get for 100m development out of the special endurance 300s is neural recruitment (after initial fibers break down due to H+ acidosis).

What I’ve actually seen from John Smith’s training is that 10.0/20.0-type people start in Novemeber with 300s at roughly 44-45 (Charlie mentioned something similar for Ben), and the 300’s gradually get faster, until HSI runs the 300’s at 35-36 just before taper for indoors, and that performance level is also reached just before tapering for outdoors; Those 300s are really considered here to be part of the training, rather than general prep. It almost seems like the Jamaicans are doing something like John Smith’s whole training phase…and then they go short to long.

I get the impression that the Jamaicans are indeed training harder in general prep, and the grass surface likely plays a role in this by loading the joints and muscles less, and likely allowing more work and/or quicker recovery.

So now, what I’m really wondering about that we might actually be able to USE from what we’ve seen:

(1) Can you get additional gains in 100m by training harder in general prep (including weights) and emphasizing neural recruitment that you can utilize in a serial manner to achieve higher speeds during the s-l SPP that follows?

(2) If you ARE targeting neural recruitment earlier, are 300’s the optimal way of doing this? There are certainly other methods, such as 150 split runs, the 50’s that Charlie mentioned earlier, and glycolytic short speed endurance (sets of 50-80m run fast with 1 min rest between reps, which has been used in the past to train for 200/400 indoors).

(3) Given that Mills (I don’t know about Franno) says that he trains speed from the very beginning (so you don’t worry so much about losing speed from a longer GPP), would you get greater gains in recruitment from a longer prep phase, as it appears the Jamaicans are using (since they race 400 in late Jan-early Feb)?

In which case can we do this work on the bike instead? Also how long would the adaptation last and can it be maintained by traditional SE1?

I’m not sure. I would think that one of the benefits would be the specific recruitment patterns involved. If that is the case, I would think you’d want to do the work on the track or perhaps a hill if you had an appropriate one. As there would be a lot of fatigue generated, I’d think you’d want the training to be specific. However, the bike might work, especially in someone with injury issues limiting the volume of speed work and early in the season.

As for the second question, again I’m not sure, but maybe it can be looked at similarly to hill or isorobic work, in that it is a learning/teaching tool and the adaptation is maintained as you transition into more specific work. For hills/isorobic this would be speed work and for out situation, it would be SEI as you mention. Whatever adaptations do occur, maybe they set the stage for the more specific work and are maintained by that work.

I would see the adaptation as a “preliminary step” that would need to be channeled into more specific fitness. It might be another way to impose a very high neural, as well as metabolic, stimulus early in the season, especially for certain individuals.

This allow might be voodoo talk, but I don;t think we should be so quick to dismiss something like this, as there may be more than meets the eye.

Curious for your thoughts.

0- That would be my impression as well. As fibers drop out, more are brought in.

1- Possibly, and I would think it gives you more options for more individuals, which is perhaps where L2S originated.

2- I don’t necessarily think the actual distance or set up is critical, just the effect you are looking for. There needs to be high quality for a relatively extended time. Perhaps the options should suit the physiology AND psychology (for what type of set-up will they put out for) of the individual, as well as technical needs (acceleration vs. speed).

3- I think by including the short speed work, you maintain speed and allow for a better transfer between the types of work.

The implication here is that sprint reps do not have to be particularly long, nor do rest periods have to be particularly short in order to induce sufficient acidosis to affect recruitment patterns. But I know from other research done on supramaximal interval training that the reps need to be longer than 7 seconds to induce glycolytic effects (i.e. the rest needs to be short enough or the rep long enough to induce sufficient glycolytic metabolism).

Something like 2-3 X 3 X 80 where the rests are 4-6 minutes (reps) would seem to work to produce lactate and obviously would involve much higher running speeds than 300s in 37. But is this better or worse for recruitment patterns that you can put to use during SPP than, say, 50s with 30-60 sec rest (reps)?

Not so sure about this. Training on grass/softer surfaces loads the tendons more (depending on surface can be A LOT more) therefore making them actually do more work, not less, on grass. I’ve experienced this myself with my achilles.

J APPL PHYSIOL 92(2):469-478
Energetics and mechanics of human running on surfaces of different stiffnesses
Amy E. Kerdok1,2, Andrew A. Biewener3, Thomas A. McMahon1,2,dagger, Peter G. Weyand3,4, and Hugh M. Herr1,5,6

Mammals use the elastic components in their legs (principally tendons, ligaments, and muscles) to run economically, while maintaining consistent support mechanics across various surfaces. To examine how leg stiffness and metabolic cost are affected by changes in substrate stiffness, we built experimental platforms with adjustable stiffness to fit on a force-plate-fitted treadmill. Eight male subjects [mean body mass: 74.4 ± 7.1 (SD) kg; leg length: 0.96 ± 0.05 m] ran at 3.7 m/s over five different surface stiffnesses (75.4, 97.5, 216.8, 454.2, and 945.7 kN/m). Metabolic, ground-reaction force, and kinematic data were collected. The 12.5-fold decrease in surface stiffness resulted in a 12% decrease in the runner’s metabolic rate and a 29% increase in their leg stiffness. The runner’s support mechanics remained essentially unchanged. These results indicate that surface stiffness affects running economy without affecting running support mechanics. We postulate that an increased energy rebound from the compliant surfaces studied contributes to the enhanced running economy.

You didn’t bold the text stating the 29% increase in tendon stiffness. This means the tendons are doing MORE. I didn’t say anything about the body’s metabolic rate. Obviously, running on a softer surface someone is going to be running slower therefore the body’s metabolic rate would not be as high. I stated that running on a softer surfaces loads the tendons more. Thanks for confirming this.

Just have some people who are used to running on relatively hard surfaces put on some very cushiony shoes and run on a soft surface. (I’m talking about a good amount of running here, not just a couple sprints). Guarantee many of them will complain their achilles’ are sore the next day or two. Ground is doing less work on the body therefore tendons are doing more work for the body.

Read the discussion in the whole paper that I linked above and related work by Kerdok. I don’t think that the Jamaicans are doing significant training on grass–some like MVP seem to not have much else to train on–is open to debate: We know that. What is open to debate is what they get out of it, and if that is something we should emulate (if we have other options).

The paper is actually about compliant tracks (I couldn’t find published work specifically about grass with anywhere near this amount of information) across a 12.5:1 stiffness range. The evidence shows that within this range, running speed goes up (this might not be true for 60m but apparently is true for 200m and longer) and the injury rate goes down by up to 50%.

At the softer end of the stiffness range, though, the research shows that running MECHANICS start to change. This makes me wonder if to get the advantages the Jamaicans associate with grass (or maybe they keep their grass short so the grass tracks aren’t that soft) we actually want to run on soft tracks (I mean softer than rekortan) rather than grass.

Also, research shows that the human body seems to have a feedback mechanism whereby a particular total stiffness (leg stiffness + surface stiffness) is selected, so running on grass to augment leg stiffness doesn’t seem to work.

My impression is what they’re getting by running on grass is that the softer surface is easier on the body–so they can do more work. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a transition phase needed to the grass (except the Jamaicans always seem to run on grass) and from the grass to running on mondo analogous to what you go through adjusting to running in spikes after you’ve been away.

Although our results support the fact that running on a decreased ksurf results in a reduction of metabolic cost and an increase in kleg without affecting support mechanics, future studies need to be done to find a true metabolic minimum. Our measurements were designed to examine surfaces that were within a stiffness range that had already demonstrated an enhanced running performance (29). However, support mechanics are progressively altered to accommodate extreme decreases in ksurf. As mentioned above, our results support our hypothesis that these support mechanics would remain fairly constant over the 12.5-fold change in ksurf but also show a significant change in these variables at the lowest ksurf studied. This raises the possibility of a trend in data as ksurf goes even lower. McMahon and Greene’s (29) work supports this speculation. We also anticipate that, as ksurf decreases even further and the virtual consistency of the support mechanics seen at the higher stiffnesses is lost, there would exist a true metabolic minimum. Studies that looked at running on surfaces with extremely low stiffness, such as a trampoline and pillows (30) or sand (24), which also have high damping ratios, indicate that runners likely increase the amount of center-of-mass work that they perform and thus substantially increase their cost of locomotion (24). We propose that a study be done to examine lower ksurf values than were studied here to determine at what substrate stiffness a true metabolic minimum exists as a relation of speed. We believe that there exists an optimal ratio of tc to surface resonant period that can be used for the future design of tracks and even running shoes to minimize the cost of running.