Intensive tempo

As I said, I think max velocity stuff is great, but if you don’t have someone coaching it, it isn’t going to be nearly as good as-if you’re having them coached by people like Charlie and other elite coaches. In itself, the volume is extremely limited and if you aren’t running them with great technique, you’re ingraining even worse technique into the athlete(s). Further, most athletes that are developmental need to get in better shape anyway and flying 20s aren’t going to cut it a lot of times. Nobody runs close to meet speed in practice anyway, so a little bit slower with a lot more volume may have greater effects (especially when ground contacts aren’t completely different) on upright running than doing uncoached flying 20s or whatever else.

I’m not going to say that top speed isn’t important as it is probably the most important part of a training program for short sprinters, but I think the effect of coaching on those runs is quite understated and the physiological effects alone may not be as significant as everyone wants to believe. I think that’s why self-coached athletes or athletes who just have stopwatch coaches don’t get the same effects from doing pure top speed work and get crapped on by guys that do the old school cutdown tempo workouts and the like. Plus, intensive tempo is this ubiquitous term that encompasses different things. If you’re running @ 85-90%, but taking long rests (5 minutes or more) is it intensive tempo? You can probably handle much more volume and run more relaxed @ those speeds and still not have the ‘bad’ effects of what is sometimes called ‘intensive tempo.’

Are you doing those old school workouts? :slight_smile:

Talking about old school workouts, these are the fall workouts from one of the best d2 programs in the country.

mon: 4x300 60%

8x150 75%

1x800 all out

2x6x100 13sec

I didn’t list the plyos, weights etc.

Maybe I should be! I did some in the fall.

What are the rest periods for these workouts?

I can find out. Tons of sprint drills and plyos.

At times when we do trials over 60m & 80m depending on conditions, our athletes run faster than they do at meets. But invariably of course the athletes rise to the occasion at a meet and run as fast if not faster at a meet than they did in training. The meets should replicate training form.

In my view it is almost impossible to run seriously fast if one has not done it training.

I am not advocating for people to not run fast in training. I am saying that due to the lack of adrenaline and other factors, people do not run as fast in practice. If you are having people race in practice, then you’ll have different results! I am talking about practice where people are generally running individually. Even when competing against others in practice, few run close to their best. I’ve experienced this myself and have talked to two guys recently who have run 6.5s in the 60m and neither approach their competition speeds in practice even when they are trying to run “fast” 30s, 60s, or whatever else. Most people do a crappy job handtiming in practice anyway. I’m talking about times either taken from video or timing gates.

Loren Seagrave has also said that none of his athletes come within something like 2-3% of their personal best in practice and most are something like 4-8% off for the majority of their runs (even when trying).

My main concern is when something of this nature is used BETWEEN speed sessions. That’s why I like to define anything like it as speed so people will think to separate it by 48 hrs.

Glad to see you are back and feeling okay!

That makes perfect sense in your template. I think where people, including myself at times, have gotten confused is just labeling anything under a certain % as a bad thing. I remember you mentioning before that you have even used it as a way of extreme unloading (instead of dropping to 95%, to even lower than that), but counting it as a “speed” session rather than as a “tempo” session.

What are your thoughts on the volume aspect that arises when you change the intensities? It seems as-if you can get more productivity out of a slightly higher volume workout that utilizes a bit less intensity, but similar rests versus relying solely on intensity as the main mode of development. I’m talking about developmental athletes BTW and more in the early special prep phases (versus pre-comp or comp).

I wouldn’t want to cause more confusion by trying to define the volume change but it will for sure be higher. Example from our training; Speed 95 to 100%, 4 x 30m blocks, 80, 100, 120, 150. = 570m
slightly sub max 4 x 30m blocks, very sub max 6 x 150. = 1020m

I guess the key thing to note with workouts below 95% is how much do the mechanics change and if you employ these sessions with alterned mechanics for a period of time what impact do they have on race mechanics.

Intensive tempo gets you fit very quickly but how do you translate that fitness across to improved performance at higher velocities? If you can work out how to use it to do this then you have a reason to use it. If you can’t then what is the point?

I agree, int tempo gets you fit very fast vs ext tempo that’s one of the reasons why I like this kind of work.

This is exactly why you can’t spend alot oof time in a phase that doesn’t allow complete extension. Fitness is relative and specific to how the muscles are used in the event itself.
That said, there is also a danger of “going to the well” too often, which can result in a loss of ROM due to CNS overload.

BTW, those 6x150’s at submax is another way to get some longer work for outdoor prep when you are stuck indoors on a 200m track.

And just as a general statement of training that happens to apply to this discussion, it’s why you can’t look at a single method or take a single coach’s soundbite out of context.

In the context of Charlie’s system with (generally) 2 max speed and one speed endurance day, intensive endurance doesn’t fit anywhere that won’t cause problems. For the reasons he has outlined endlessly.

But in systems where there is not as much emphasis on max speed work or whatever, intensive endurance might very well fit just fine as a borderline type of training between max speed at the one end and speed endurance at the other.

Which is why different schools can all produce champions and why mixing systems often causes major problems. Different systems can all be internally consistent and all work, but they only work b/c they are internally consistent with one another (e.g. they make a tradeoff somewhere in the overall layout).


Very good points Lyle, I played around with CF systems and found it can be done if given enough rest btw sessions. For example:

Mon: Speed: For example 2x40-50-60

Tue: Int tempo: For example 5x200 rest 3-4mins

Wed: Rest, therapy

Thur: SE: For example 2x3x90

Fri: High end ext or Int tempo: For example 4x300 rest 4-5mins.

Sat/Sun: Rest, therapy

2 hard/1 off/2 hard/2 off

Sure but you’ve also changed a bit at least how I tend to think of CF short to long which is

mon: starts/speed/weights
wed: SE
tue/thu/sat: ext end

By dropping 2 days/moving to one speed day and one SE day, you made it work.

I’d also mention that people tend to forget that what an athlete would do as a pure versrion of that athlete (e.g. pure track sprinter, pure OL’er, pure enduro) is different than when mixed sports athletes (e.g. most team sports) have to integrate that type of training into other aspects of training. They also tend not to have the maximum requirements for each capacity since htey are balancing stuffout for the needs of their sport.


A track sprinter is sprinting and nothing else. And must develop max speed/SE/etc. to the utmost.

An Ol’er is lifting and nothing else. And must develop technique, strength and power to the utmost.

An endurance athlete is overtraining (ha ha) and nothing else. And must develop Vo2, LT and economy to the utmost.

Athletes in sports that require speed, strength or endurance have to work that into their system (and don’t reqire any of the individual capacities at absolute maximum like the pure sports do).

So something like intensive endurance which gives some of the speed benefits and some of the endurance benefits seems a reasonable compromise. For the same reason that, while an OL’er might be lifting 4-6 days/week for several hours, 2 sessions/week of weights may be more than sufficient. &c


I agree Lyle, I found that type of setup works well for me esp during outdoors. Something about the long tempo runs, it does the trick for me. I will say I am not a fan of old school int tempo workouts 6x200 at 85% rest 2mins etc but prefer more modern workouts for my body type 5x200 at 80-85% 3mins rest.

I guess part of my confusion exists with what I thought was included in the term ‘intensive tempo’. I thought that not only was there a difference in intensity (Max V >95%, SE > 90%, IT < 90%) I thought that while Max V and SE tended to avoid much of a lactic component by using complete to nearly complete recovery, IT tended to introduce a lactic component by NOT using complete recovery. Part of my confusion concerns whether or not a 100/200 sprinter needs much of a lactic component in their training. If we’re just talking about reduced intensities (i.e., 6 x 150 @ 85% w/ full recovery) I understand and would consider this low intensity SE, but if not using full recovery and doing true (my understanding of the definition) IT with incomplete recovery and a lactic component, I guess I’m still confused.