Help with HS Practices

I am the head track coach for a small high school. I am a little ashamed to admit it here, but I took the job mostly because I am the head FB coach, and I wanted a chance to work with the athletes in the spring (we don’t have spring FB). I get a lot of athletes who are out simply because they want to get faster / more athletic for other sports.
I ran track in high school, but besides that I don’t really have a lot of knowledge on training for track and field. Although I probably didn’t have the best motivation for being a track coach, I do want to do the best job possible to make the kids fast in football, but most importantly, in track.
Anyway, I’m looking for some help in developing my practices this season. I have Charlie’s manual on the way, but I’d like to hear your input on how to organize this for the good of everyone (as much as possible).
We don’t have a track here. We run on the football field or on the street. I only have one assistant. We are starting track tomorrow (Feb 28). We won’t have all the kids there because bball is still going on. All but about 5 kids (out of 35-40) have or will have (in the next couple weeks) just completed a winter sport. Here’s my general plan so far. Let me know what needs to change. Don’t feel bad about letting me know how poor it is.
Monday: 800 m warmup jog, static stretch on your own if necessary, dynamic warmup and form run, plyos and speed/acceleration work (starts of 10, 20, 40). Then we will split up into a 100-400 group and and 400-3200 group and do the designated workouts. (Everyone here wants to be a sprinter). (Max effort upper lift)
Tuesday: Same warm up, but not the plyos and speed work. The workouts will be some kind of conditioning, tempo, or longer (1-3 miles).
Wed: Same warmup with acceleration work. Then split up. (Max effort lower lift)
Thurs: Same as Tuesday
Friday: Same as Monday (Rep Effort Upper Lift)
The first couple weeks I am planning on keeping the speed/acceleration and plyos very low volume, then increase volume. We will focus on getting a base with longer runs by the distance group and long repeats for the sprint group (400-600 meters) with a lot of rest on M, W, F. For instance, tomorrow I am planning on going 4 X 540 with full recovery tomorrow for the sprinters. I am going to tell them to just focus on running form throughout the run rather than worrying about time.
Sorry so long and probably isn’t easy to understand. Let me know what you think. I have already learned a ton on this site the past couple weeks.

I am the father of a high school sprinter going through the anxiety of watching h.s. coaches not having the best format for training… in many ways resulting in various negative effects.

Based on what I have learned of CFTS and the forum, I like how you set up your program in principle… yet I am wondering where you got the overdistance workout from. “4x540 with full recovery”.

I am not a fan of overdistance, or long special endurance over 350m even for 400m high schoolers. I like CF principle of building on quality; no speed work that is not quality, that the body hasnt adapted to nicely.

One of the considerations is that with long speed before basic speed is developed (not to mention endurance) you might get into a middle range speed that will become “grooved” into the neuro-muscular system, and thus ultimate top speed is affected negatively.

I sugest you go to the “sprint training” section and look up “lactate threshold training” and take the time to read it. You will get a broad and expert view on training intensities for sprinters.

good luck and great to see a coach looking to optimal training techniques for the his athletes. !!!

joesdad, Thanks for your reply and your suggestions. The more I learn about training the less I feel like a I know. I guess I’ve always had the “you need a base” approach, beings that’s what everyone has always done around here. That’s why we did the 540s (the length of the block behind the school, BTW). Most of my athletes are coming from either bball, track, or not much exercise at all. I thought the longer runs would possibly help get them in shape / build a base. I will try some of the lactate threshold workouts on speed days.
I obviously don’t know much, but that’s going to change.
By the way, could I be putting my athletes in jeapoardy by having them do their workouts outside in near freezing temperatures? We do a warmup run, then form run / stretch inside, but then have to do the workout outside. I assumed if they were wearing sweats and stayed warm, it would be ok?

the “longer” runs could help if the intensity is low and if they are placed between high intensity days -or at least high for their currenct level; it might be better though to work via keeping rests short rather extending the intervals (up to 200-300m per interval the most will work fine)

can i ask what do you mean by “lactate threshold workouts on speed days”? does this come from the thread?

good luck with setting up everything!

no one else is concerned about the use of ME movements right away for everbody?

I think you should do two lower body days and only 1 upper body day since track is more focused on the legs. I would start out with some easy tempo. Here are some good starting wokouts for 100-400 peolpe.
-8X200m @75% w/ walk back recovery, 1 lap jog after #4
go up to 12X200@85% with 90 seconds recovry.
-balnace circuit
stability circuit
abs curcuit
-2x5x5 wall sprints
3X falling start 20m
3X 3-point starts 20m
-sprint 70% 100m walk 100m, sprint 70% 150m walk150, 200, 250,200, 150,100.
-4X30m flys w/ full recovery might want to do hills in the begining. 6X10seconds hills @85% walk back recovery
That would be Monday throught Friday. Include your warms ups and drills along with lifting.

We do Defranco’s West Side for Skinny “People”. We work up to a five rep max on ME days. Was that your concern?
I am trying to get this program throughout the school for all athletes. I know it’s not perfect for everyone, but nothing is, right?
I don’t really think it’s necessary to lift lower twice if you are running. A lot of people can’t recover quick enough with 2 lower and a lot of running in their respective sport, in my opinion.
What are wall sprints, and could you explain the circuits ws100?
I was referencing the lactate threshold in the sprint training section. Is that what you mean?
Thanks a lot for your time and suggestions guys.

well, actually i am trying to clarify what these lactate threshold sessions will involve…

Coachf, I am the strength coach for a Div 1 HS and here are my thoughts:

In regards to weight training, many high school athletes who have been previously subjected to inferior coahcing are entirely unfit for any semblence of ME training.

The name of the game must be to establish fundamental levels of mechanical efficiency in lifting/ movement/ landings, etc, dynamic flexibility/mobility, relative strength, muscle cross-section, work capacity/ conditioning, speed, etc…

GPP is the name of the game. I have a couple articles which address this on my site if you are interested.

thats what i meant, you need to test everybody and put them through a GPP body comp phase before you start to really load up. I think 30 push ups, or 15 dips, 10 pull ups, 50 BW squats would be good measures before starting intense weight training. Of course you can do the repition method to bring their musculature and joints up to par to be able to handle it, but maximal exertions without first prepping the joints and muscles seems to be a road to injury or lack of success. I am sure Coach Defranco would tell u the same thing.

For people pretty new to track, I would suggest a GPP that focuses on technique work (form); I have had good success with doing short hills (20-60m) on a small incline (I picked this up from CF’s seminar), focusing on maintaining the ‘running A’ activity (speed/accel work). I would keep the pylos low also and would not do 400-600m as tempo distance (especially for the short sprinters); I would keep it to 100m or 200m at first. I am a big fan of deadlifts and ham glute work during the GPP to prepare for the intensive speed work and Olympic lifts.

OK, I agree with that totally. I don’t let people squat with a bar unless they can do it with great technique. We start out making everyone do bodyweight squats. I do have a lot of guys (particularly fatty’s) who can’t do anywhere near 30 pushups or 10 pullups, but can bench press with great technique. I assume that is ok? I know it would be great if I could require everyone to be able to do 30 pushups before they lift weights, but I’m not convinced it’s the best way to go about it.

Here is what I’m thinking for an example of lactate threshold workouts.
6-8200 w/4 minutes rest done @85% of best time (workout done in flats)
300 w/4 minutes rest done @85% of best time (workout done in flats)

James Smith - I checked out your site and spent about 2 hours reading. Great stuff. I am going to get this stuff figured out somehow, someday… hopefully soon.
Thanks everyone for your help.

may i ask the rationale of such sessions? not saying there isn’t one!

they just seem to be somewhere in the middle -intermediate speeds, as frequently referred here in the site- and it might be difficult with these sessions to either facilitate the recovery process, or let the speed be further developed…

had a brief look at your first post -are we talking about speed work here?

could you please elaborate your way of thinking?

I was taking the advice of joesdad. He suggested I research some of these training intensities. I would simply like to prepare my athletes to maximize their potential. Can I ask what you would suggest for a typical week? What type of workouts should I implement, and what are some examples. I am very new to developing a plan to train track athletes, unfortunately. I really feel terrible about it. We just started practice this week with just over half the team. We will have everyone starting next week. Our first meet is March 24.

What’s there to feel terrible about?
Basically your first post and tentative schedule was not that far from “good”. Hey coach “good” is way ahead of the game as far as high school averages go, believe me.
There is a definite learning curve here. Dont get too bogged down in the details. Try to find a basic pattern and build on it as you build your understanding. The experts on this forum have had the benefit of many months and years studying this material.

My only concern was intensities and distances of your special and speed endurance work.
At least you had full recovery… no harm = good.
I would simply keep your speed end spec end between 120 and 350m, and make sure your base speed is covered well on short speed days.

For Sprinters:
Short Speed:
-starts/accels/ flying 20-30m/ 100% pace.full recovery.

  • 80m accels: first 40 accel, 40-60 max v, 60-80 relax maintain form. 100%. Full recovery.

Speed end/ spec end:
-on your speed end. and/or spec. end days just make sure they go through the short speed accel basics (accel/max v) through the first 40-60m and maintain throughout with good form(120-350m). Quality.
Full recovery (or shorter for say 2splits of a 200m or 400m training- but at 90-95% of max).
i.e. 2x2x 200m at 90-95% with 2-4min. recovery btwn reps and 6-10min btwn sets.

CF says CNS 100% speedwork (day1) needs up to 6 days to recover.

  • that’s where 90-95% saves their butts.(speed end is close to the short speed days). and you have your tempo in between as well. Also speed endurance being longer than short speed actually is more muscularly taxing than short speed is cns taxing. I would keep intensities less than 100%.

Tempo intervals (intensive- 75% of max pace and extensive 60-70%of max for recovery days) keep a balanced base condition plus other recovery factors.
For extensive (between speed days) tempo, do intervals (100/200/300/400s with same or less walk in between) up to around a mile or more total.

Basicaly do your speed work fast (90-100%) and your recovery tempo work below 75%. Anything in between is bad for ultimate top speed. (this is a novice’s standard (me) but it works until one can apply more advanced details.

Maybe someone will be kind enough to flesh out a basic (not too comprehensive, but sound) sched for you including:
tempo intervals
speed end /spec. end
I believe I could work out a better schedule with what little I’ve learned than my kid’s coach is doing now.

for the coach:
these sound pretty good and i understand the circumstances are not the best…

just a few comments on the above, if i may!

first of all, i agree with the intensities and recoveries (long) and this is what i meant when i asked before

i would be a bit more conservative going up to 350s, or at least give it some time till they are ready for them

i don’t get the accel part on the 80s; do you mean build-up for 40m? if the focus of this session would be max speed, perhaps the first 30-40m should be used for build-up followed by a flying 20; it won’t be easy for the kids to reach top speed at 40-60m, it should be reached during the accel, if they go flat out from the start; hope you see my point… The maintain part is good for the kids, but emphasis should be made to really maintain it, good technique at least, if not the speed part

for the speed/special endurance sessions, again, i would wait a bit for the 350s -even for the 400m guys, let the first few come from race; also, since accel work is done on other days, i would give it some rest -for safety, too, from pushing all the time- and because there is a tendency sometimes -especially if they are doing the drills altogether- for starting quickly and getting tense, loosing relaxation and technique for the rest of the distance… let them leave hard, but not 100% and maintain good running throughout (90-95%, depending on distance and for spreading CNS stress, as you mentioned!)
again, the splits might be a good idea, but at the same time they are tough workouts, so wait till some good level is there first…

i would put the longer tempo intervals earlier in the “season” dropping interval distance later on -unless there are other issues you want to work with the kids (general endurance); intensity-wise, yes, keep it low!

hope it helps!

Right on.
I got this from Kitkat’s short speed workout for his concurrent (vs. short to long or long to short) sched.

For the 80’s I was suggesting a speed workout (100%) where one puts together the basic stages of a sprint; accel/ max V/ relax
If the accel phase is shorter than 40, so be it - cut it down to: 30 accel/ 30-50 maxV/ 50-70 relax maint. form-technique, which inhibits deceleration.

A good thing is that one can take this and apply it to longer sprints… we just extend the maint. phase. Easy to understand for the kids. I liken it to a car going through its gears.

[of course in the actual running of the 400, one should temper accel/max V a little in prep for the second turn intensity.]

60-80m can also, I have seen, be used in a speed/spec end workout at less than 100% on another day if one stays shorter than longer.

I agree somewhat with concerns about longer speed/spec end distances initialy. That’s why I wrote 120-through-350…
It seems logical to build speed end distance gradualy, yet “concurrent” training advocates for 400m runners wouldnt agree.

I do agree form experience that no more than 350m sp end for 400 runners…
get them to the edge of the cliff with good form and quality and let them go over at the competition for optimal 400 results.
Also I believe in minimizing the amount of 400s run fullspeed prior to a target meet - about 3 or 4 in a 5-7week period.


I think I am gaining some understanding on what you’re saying.
So for the 80s… I assume you guys are saying it takes 30-40 meters to reach full speed? Are they really running a nearly all out 60 and then relaxing / maintaing for 20?

I had planned on doing some low volume acceleration / starts on MWF for everyone to build explosiveness and acceleration, then do a speed workout more tailored to their race. (EX: this week Monday everyone did plyos (18 total jumps of different types) then sprints 2X10, 2 X 20, 1 X 30 with full recovery. 100% effort. Wed was no plyos, but 2 X 10, 2 X 20, 1 X 40 all out. Tomorrow would be similar to Monday. Although I have cut back a lot compared to when I started coaching track 2 years ago, I still feel like this type of speed is important for all athletes. Probably b/c of my football and bball background. It sounds like you are saying this isn’t safe to train at 100% even if the volume is this low. To me, this just goes against the way I was brought up. In sports like football and basketball, especially football, athletes compete at 100% multiple days in a row, correct?

Tomorrow, for the sprinters, I was planning on having them do 4X5X50 at their 200 m race pace with 45 s rest between reps and 5 minutes rest between sets. Is this an ok way to work on sp end and have quality?
Thanks for your help.

yeah Coachf,
In general:

  • takes 30-40m to reach max speed from a dead start; the digging in against the ground to move the body to speed.
  • then when max v is reached: there is less digging in, but a rapid turnover, with less friction on the ground… flight at max speed. This usualy can last only around 20m -

then - relax/maintain form stage:
maintain form, pump arms, knee lift, shoulders down, face relaxed… minimizes deceleration.

that’s it. apply it when you do longer runs -100s/200s/400s races and when you speed train.

Do footballers etc realy go 100% all the time? I dont think so. Joe was a WR and he ran more in practice routes than any other position. I know what your saying, but I am just going with IMO the best system devised by the best coaches, bar none.
In many ways I consider CFTS geared towards “the” sprinter… not that "herd " of sprinters. If you want “that” sprinter to be the best he /she can be, then he/she should train like the best. As far as I am concerned, an elite sprinter is a race horse and is trained like one, and the others gain from the best system as well.
sorry for the soapbox …
BTW too many track coaches IMO overstress their runners; just like football. But unlike football, with all types fitting into a puzzle of executing, its just one man one lane, whoever gets there first wins. one race. all things being equal, its the better preperation that makes the difference.
You can go with what you’re saying and it might not be too bad but if you want a superior result IMO you’ll get with a basic CFTS as you follow the learning curve.
From what I’ve seen and tried to install for joe in spp and pre comp stage has been:
again, in general:
day 1: short speed- full rec.
day 2: ext tempo -60-70%
day3: spec end 90-95%, short rec. more btwn sets.
day4: ext tempo
day 5: speed end. 95-100% full rec.

As far as volumes of speed work, how many reps, etc, there is a graph or table somewhere… not sure -I just go with a sense of what is good; intuition day to day.

(Fri workout seems mathematicaly ok 4x5x50 for some kind of spec end)

Just a general question:

It’s fine if Wednesdays I’m doing 100% effort accel/max V work…and then saturday I do 100% speed endurance, right? I do tempo on every off day, except fridays because I do tempo thursdays currently. Thanks