In-Season Work

I’ve started running with and coaching a local college track team this year. I compete as an “unattached” runner while the kids run for the school. Anyway…

I’ve got a kid who was at 11.0 at the end of last season as a sophomore (coached by his HS coach) that we’ve worked down to 10.7 to open the season this year. I attribute it to everything I’ve learned on this website and from the Charlie Francis books/videos. He’s amazed by his transformation and the fact that we do so much less than his previous coaches did - he’s used to doing 6x300 at “full speed”, 15x100 at “full speed” with 1 minute in between each, etc. I only started in December so there wasn’t any time to do much of a GPP and we began with a 2 week GPP and then got into a short SPP. Now we’re in-season.

This is where I’m less comfortable. I don’t know how to handle in-season training and I don’t know which CF product covers this best. Leading up to the first meet, where he ran a 10.7, we did :

Monday: Bad weather ran us off of the track after we only got some starts and 1x120 down. We went to the weight room and did deep squats, hamstring curls, and bench.
Tuesday: Tempo - 15x100
Wednesday: Again, bad weather kept us from doing much… we did relay exchanges (which was nice for speed work), and some starts, all on the dinky indoor track which has practically 90 degree “curves”
Thursday: rest.
Friday: Meet. He ran a 10.73 100 meters and a leg on a terrible 4x100 (45.something!!!) that our next two fastest guys couldn’t be on (I was working, other guy is still in basketball season). We were VERY happy with his 100 time.

Soooooo, next week rolls around

Monday: Caught inside again. I wanted us to do SE work outside (my main guy is running the 200 too) but we settled on 5xEFE (20 meter increments), and 5x20 meter starts. We then did basically the same weights as the previous Monday - deep squats, hamstring curls, and a little bit of bench.
Tuesday: Tempo - 15x100
Wednesday: 5x10 meter starts, 1x220, and relay work.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Meet. It was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit out there and it looks like everyone from every team ran about .4-.7 off their best in the 100. My guy went 11.6 into a -1.9. This was after he ran a great 4x100 leg (and I ran a pretty good one too!). He then ran a 24.0 200 meter into a similar wind; he was practically dead at 130 meters in. We knew that it wouldn’t be great this early in the season because we’re doing a S-L but didn’t expect it to look that bad.

It seems to me that he was running significantly worse than he had the previous week, even when taking into consideration the wind and cold; the winner of the race went 11.1 and is a 10.7 guy, 3rd place went 11.3 and is a 10.8 guy, etc - based on that, my guy should have probably been somewhere between them.
Looking back, I was desperate to get him some SE work and that, combined with the overdose of speed work from Monday and Wednesday (relay exchanges) probably totally drained him. I feel really bad now because his confidence is a little shot and it’s probably totally due to me overdoing it that week. I think he still finished in the top 8 but he was 3rd overall the previous week.

My girls faced similar drops. Our top girl went from running a 13.0 in the first meet to 13.7; next one went from 13.3 to 13.9.

So, my proposal for the rest of the season for weeks that we have a meet is:

Monday: Speed work, SE work (moving towards more SE as the season continues), and weights
Tuesday: Tempo
Wednesday: Starts - maybe sticking around 10x20 or 5x30 or something.
Thursday: Tempo (or rest if a Friday meet)
Friday: Rest (or meet day if a Friday meet).

Does this make sense?
We’re aiming to peak in mid-May. It’s so strange going from an SPP where we can get 2/3 real workouts in a week to in-season where we can only get 1 (or 2 if we count the meet…). Does this basic outline give us enough work to keep improving?

Do you have a meet almost weekend? If so, they are getting SE work from every meet. Also, relay work tends to be quite taxing. They need to get up to speed to execute the pass and every time they do this you might want to consider it similar to a flying 30m. You can still do 3 workouts a week in addition to the meets, but you have to carefully monitor their intensity and volume. Don’t be concerned about peaking for every meet, or you’ll never get a chance to get into a heavy training block. The big training blocks are important for improvement but athletes won’t be able to perform at their best while in them. If they have a couple of easyish weeks after a couple of hard weeks, you should expect SBs and/or PBs.


We have a meet this weekend (which, again, I’ll miss because of work) and then a nice little 3 week block coming up with no meets. After that, it’ll be a meet every weekend into May.

I was considering the relay work as speed work, but I guess I didn’t realize just how much speed work it really was.

Thanks for the advice about “don’t be concerned about peaking for every meet.” That’s just now dawning on me.

really good advice. thanks…

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Plan the end of your season first. Figure out what those last 2-3 weeks are going to look like, then figure out what the 2-3 weeks before that will look like. Then figure out what else needs to fit between now and the time you’ve already planned. :slight_smile:

  2. If there is a major meet they need to be ready for, in the 2-3 weeks before it, don’t allow anyone to compete if they have a minor injury issue, or even something that is just ‘off’. The resting they get won’t slow them down, but competing and injuring might!

  3. I have made the mistake in the past of doing relay practice on fresh legs and expecting the marks to be the same in a race. It doesn’t work very well. :slight_smile: The incoming runner, on fresh legs in practice, will be running faster than they will be at the end of their relay leg in a race. If you find a spacing that works in practice when they haven’t just run 100m, the outgoing runner may end up ‘getting away’. The mark needs to be shortened a little bit.

  4. I had a very good middle distance runner “peak” for every meet, starting with about 2 months to go until the last meet of the year (in August). Our planned meets were every 2-3 weeks. This was a conscious decision on my part trying to improve my runner’s confidence. They did spectacularly vs. the competition early in the season. As the season went on, the winning margin kept decreasing (despite my runner’s times improving over the season). By the end of the year, the winning margin was gone and it was an unexpected fight to win.

The issue here was actually totally different for us last week. I was Leg 1 and I came in way faster than I had in practices - I guess I can chalk that up to adrenaline - and ran up on Leg 2, the 10.7 guy.

But I really appreciate your posts, rainy. This is really helpful stuff.
We’ve been working towards our May 11th meet and I’ve been working on building up to that and then a nice 10 day taper. I’m really hoping we can get my guy to 10.5 and 21.x and me to 10.8 or 10.9.

This week:

Going off of some of Rainy’s points, this is what we’ve done in the run-up to this Friday’s meet. I’ve done everything with the team, though I won’t be able to make the meet because of work.

*Starts (5x20m @100%)
*Top Speed (3xflying20)

  • S.E. (2x220 for guys, 220-120 for girls [who have not been to practice enough). {{I think I should have limited the guys to 1x220, but they were adamant that they wanted more work. I decided to avoid a fight}}
  • Weights: 2x(5x80% squats), assorted light weight machine work {{I can’t tell them anything in the weight room. It frustrates the hell out of me}}

Tuesday: Tempo: 15x100

*Starts (6xfalling 10, 5x25),

  • Relay exchanges (2xf30, basically, because we were nailing them and didn’t have to go beyond that).
  • Weights: 3x(10x65% bench), assorted light machine work.

Thursday: Light Tempo: 8x100 @ 65%

Friday: Meet. All of my short sprinters are going 100, 200, and 4x100.

Saturday & Sunday: Total Rest

I wanted to get some start/acceleration work in on Wednesday because I feel a lot of the team - girls especially - are woefully underdeveloped here because they didn’t make it to the earlier practices. My 10.7 guy has some technical start issues we wanted to iron out and I feel we did that. I’m telling everyone that they don’t need to expect PRs right now because we’re still training.

Would it be good for me to emulate meet conditions Friday night or Saturday morning, or to sneak an extra speed/SE day for myself - with flying 30s, plyos, and the like?

I guess I should move this to Training Journals.

CF gave us the advice of not doing MaxV (Flying20 or 20E/20F/20E) within the same training session of speed endurance 80-150m or special endurance 1 150-300m.

Maybe It was a misunderstanding from me, maybe special endurance is ok and It was just about speed endurance 80-150m, imposing too much workload on the hamstrings in the same training session and increase the exposure of the injury risk.

What have been your result so far with that kind of protocol?

Thanks for the response, ado.

Both myself and 10.7 guy had some hamstring issues as we transitioned out of our mini-GPP into our SPP. That was mainly as we were moving from acceleration work into speed work. We haven’t had any injuries since then.

I guess I just forgot Charlie’s rule on that. I wanted to be able to keep some speed work in our workouts while also getting some special/speed endurance work in as well. I kept it down to 3 flying 20s to keep from overloading, but I don’t know. I guess the results tomorrow will tell me something about how much work load that was for them.

Let us know how it goes. I’m really hoping your 4x100 guys don’t injure themselves at the end of the day. :slight_smile: Young sprinters tend to be pretty bad about injury-prevention and will run even when something might be wrong, especially if they are expected for the team!


Here’s my guy’s 10.72 to open the season. He’s second from right with the black top and red shorts.


This is just me blatantly bragging on my dude!

I am not of the same ilk as the others posting here but I have read over many threads and had opportunities to apply what I have learned. Just a brief synopsis of some quick relevant tips germaine to your posts

When you think of 2-3 wk blocks of time also consider how many meters your athletes are running in total, per intensity categories (hi-lo-med), recovery between hi-intensity days

400 M Relay work is part of your hi intensity meter tally. If you have an athlete that is also multi-event, LJ, TJ, etc, the speed they use on approach, drills, all serve as short speed work and therefore tally up as well.

Just because an athlete has their regained their wind during relay reps or sprints doesn’t mean that their CNS is ready to fire again. When they say they are ready for another rep, give em a bit more time.

A couple thoughts on speed endurance- 1. coaches sometimes think speed endurance is only achieved by placing reps one after another. The idea is to develop the ability to maintain one’s top end for longer durations. When athletes fatigue after a couple of close reps they are increasing the threshold but what percentage of their true top-end speed are they maintaining. Its similar to when a coach has an athlete do “killers” on a basketball court and call it speed endurance. After they run a couple times (acceleration included) they are not working speed anymore, just the duration of that pace.

If you have less time for GPP then its okay to extend GPP into the season so as long as you aren’t expecting quality performances all the time. Your athletes, for the sake of their confidence, must understand to some degree that they are under load. Use meets as a speed endurance workout with quality tempo (ON GRASS in flats if possible) the day before and after the meet. This is for their health.

Hope this makes sense

Yes, sonic, it makes sense. I especially like the part about SE and how we can get in trouble with working duration of a particular pace rather than speed.
I just bought the Key Concepts book and have found it incredibly helpful.

Results from the last meet:
100 meters: my 10.7 guy (hell, from here on out: Gray) ran 11.4 to finish 4th overall. He said there was a very stiff headwind. The winner was a consistent sub11 guy with a PB of 10.70 - ran 11.26 to win this time around. So I reckon my guy was probably in 11.0ish shape, which isn’t bad, all things considered…but I’m a little concerned, because if he was in 10.7 shape to open the season and is now at 11.0, it means I’ve done something wrong between then and now. More on that later.

200 meters: Gray ran a 23.4 to finish 10th. He said the headwind was even worse this time around, so I think it’s actually not bad at all. We’ve set a goal of 22.2 or better for this season so we’re still a way off, but he’s responding well to the Spec. End. practice.

4x100: They got to the meet too late and couldn’t run. Argh.

After re-reading CFTS and then reading the Key Concepts book, I think a big mistake I’ve made lately is trying to combine Gray’s Special Endurance, or SE II, into his speed endurance, or SE I. It seems so obvious after reading everything, but… running a 220 isn’t helping his 100 meter finish at all! Running 150s aren’t helping his 100 meter finish at all!

My idea was that SE I would progress to SE II with the S---->L. Earlier in the season, through most of January and early February we were running 60s, 80s, and 120s. Then we started going past that as part of the SE II into 150s, 220s, and split 300s, leaving the SE I behind. I think that was a big mistake.
I haven’t seen a video of the last meet, where he went 11.4 into a headwind, but he tells me that he got off to a very good start and led until about 70… but then fell back.

In his 10.7 race, he led to about 50 and then fell behind the eventual winner who was flllyyyiiing, but only really slowed down at about 80 or 90.
What I think is happening is two-fold:

  1. We’ve had a pretty heavy training load as of late, whereas we were pretty light before his 10.7 run. He understands this so he’s not too down about the time.
  2. We mostly quit with the SE I stuff and now he’s lost a little bit at the finish.

We’ve got a month till the next meet. I want to go with a 3+1 thing but I want to make sure we keep all the elements in place even as we’re ramping up volume and intensity for these three weeks. For this week:

Monday: SE I
Tuesday: Tempo
Wednesday: SE II
Thursday: Tempo
Friday: Break
Saturday: Speed
Sunday: Break

Looks like a lot of work - I prefer to do little work inseason and race every week. The races are the best workouts - have your short sprints run the 100/200/4x100 most weeks.

Sun: Rest
Mon: 2x20/2x30/2x40/2x50 (submax)+throws+WTS
Tue: Ext tempo
Wed: Relay+WTS
Thur: Rest or ext tempo early season
Fri: Pre meet mb throws/starts


Sun: Rest
Mon: 2x20/2x30/1x120-150 (submax)+throws+WTS
Tue: Ext tempo
Wed: 2x20/2x30/Relay+WTS
Thur: Rest or ext tempo early season
Fri: Pre meet mb throws/starts

Ramping up vol and intensity at the same time may not be a good idea.

I agree with rb. Once the season starts its too late to do any heavy training, unless I have blocks with no meets. During the comp season workouts should be more specific. Don’t over train.

Ok, thanks guys. What I was describing with my last post was for a block with no meets - our next one is April 5.
What RB block-quoted was my (bad) setup for the week of the last meet. Our performances weren’t bad, considering the conditions, but it’s clear that I was overworking them.

Edit: I’m just looking at how crazy that Monday practice was. I feel dumb for throwing everything + the kitchen sink at them 5 days before the meet.

RB, can you explain the Monday workout: : 2x20/2x30/2x40/2x50 (submax)+throws+WTS ?
When you say “submax” do you mean that literally, as just anything less than 100%? In the Key Concepts book, Charlie mentions a Mennea workout where Mennea was running a bunch of hand-timed 6.4/6.5 60s and that counted as subbmax because his max efforts over this distance put him at handtimed 6.1/6.2ish.

When we ran our SE workout yesterday, some of my athletes were a bit mystified by the concept of running at 95% or 97% (strangely enough, the girls had no issues - just the guys). If your Speed/Start workout above is submax in the sense of 95-97% … what are some coaching cues for this?

On that note, I told Gray to just relax a little after our first 120 yesterday ---- he did that and proceeded to blow by me and run a really great time on the second one. So his “95%” wound up being better than a lot of his “100%s”

It’s easier to stay away from terms such as “submax” or “95%” with your athletes. Most athletes don’t understand the concepts or don’t want to understand. Make it easy for them - set a cone at 20-30m and tell them to accel to the first cone then ride it out for the reminding of the run - this should help keep the intensity down.

If you have no meets - i’ll probably do something very similar to what I listed above - one of the keys would be when is the next meet.

No meets:
Mon: 3x30/3x60/throws/wts
Tue: Ext tempo
Wed: Rest or Mb circuits
Thur: 2x20/2x30/2x100-150/throws/wts
Fri: Ext tempo
Sat/Sun: Rest

I guess the mb circuits on your Wednesday would all involve low-intensity medball work, rather than big medball throws and/or hops+throws?

Two issues that are still unclear for me:

  1. My 400 guys. Some have funny schedules that doesn’t allow them to come to practice with us, some just joined the team (because they’re basketball players OR because they actually just signed up), etc. This is more a personal issue than a real planning/periodization issue, I guess - but it’s like I’m always scrambling to come up with the best way to make use of the times when they’re actually at practice. I try to stay on them with 300s when they show up.

  2. My girls. We’ve got one girl who has been training with us on and off since we started, but the rest have just shown up relatively recently. I hate throwing them in the more experienced girl’s workouts, because they really lack the strength at the start that she’s got. I really want to do some hill work, pushup starts, falling starts, and basic accelerations with them. Although I understand that there’s no reason to focus on tenths of a second at the start when we can focus on the second at the end (of deceleration)… these girls are really, really bad coming out at the start, and I feel like acceleration and more basic GPP-style stuff might help them with their speed too. Does it make sense to focus on acceleration work once a week with them during this 4-week break?

Don’t understand your first question… I see no problem with working on acceleration during the 4 week break - acceleration work is the foundation!!!