My 400m Guy's Prep Heading into Olympic Trials

Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m so glad people are enjoying it. I think it shows how much we are able to learn from Charlie’s principles and from members here who’ve been sharing information over the years.

I will continue later this evening hopefully.

I wanted to make a suggestion for those of you trying to log workouts or keep notes. Check out the Evernote app. It’s free (there’s a paid version if you use a ton of memory) and it works across every platform- PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, so your notes can always be uploaded and are always accessible. I have a lot of trouble keeping organized, so Evernote has really helped ensure I log everything. I’ve logged workouts, notes from conversations I’ve had with people regarding the season, schedules, etc. It might be helpful for some so check it out!

Hi Ollie, the Lactate Threshold thread is where the KitKat program is outlined. I bought the Ebook because it’s way easier to read than the million page thread and you can keyword search easily if you read it on a PC.

You can book an appointment with Waldemar as long as it works for his schedule- he doesn’t work full time anymore. He’s a great guy. I’ve been going to him for at least five years or six years now.

shit yeah!

Looking forward to your next post, T-Slow!

KK, whatever experiences you can pass via this forum, you know it would be a pleasure for us all!

And it’s MUCH worse with youth athletes too. I’ve had the luck of coaching a talented youth athlete recently who made it pretty high on the IAAF top list. Going into the national championships the athlete was in superb shape and was hitting significant training PBs. The previous year the athlete had been about 1% off the championship record, and I thought the record was in serious jeopardy with a good race.

That is, until 8 days before the championship race, my athlete went for an EIGHT HOUR HIKE IN THE MOUNTAINS. I got a text 7 days before the big race day saying they couldn’t workout b/c of this hike. It turns out they could not walk up or down stairs for the 2 days after the hike, and the 3rd day it was still painful on the stairs. The race did not go well.

What is it about a taper for a major championship that brings out the most creative ways to tire oneself out? I’m guessing it’s the excess energy from the reduced workload?

I copped on to an easy solution right after the amusement park trip of doom…

I have had an athletes do some things, not as bad as the above, doing peaking phases. Thing these athletes are highly intelligent individuals, yet the least intelligent has never done anything ‘silly’

So I jumped ahead a little bit in the last post. After the amusement park incident and our Friday attempt to work out in the east end, I thought back to a conversation I once had with Waldemar in his living room while drinking one of his fantastic cups of tea with lots of manuka honey.

“Do you know what the biggest injury risk to athletes is?” he asked. He paused for dramatic effect then barked, “Women!”

He recounted a story from when he was working with an international soccer team, and they were visiting another city for a match of some importance. The players had been rested and carefully prepared. Upon arrival in the visiting city, their rooms had been placed on the ground floor, and Waldemar suspected there was evil intention behind it- so that girls could easily sneak onto the balconies and into players rooms. The athletes would then show up the next day to the game looking poorly rested with tight muscles despite the coaching and therapy staffs best efforts.

Of course, Waldemar is no ordinary man- he is the Alpha King Jedi-level recovery and regeneration specialist, so he spent the night pacing the hallway in ninja-like fashion listening for noises emanating from rooms, and when he heard something, busted in and threw the women out.

Basically, he was saying that no matter how well you prepare an athlete, they can unknowingly turn into their own worst enemies, and sometimes you have to engage in somewhat paranoid behavior and protect them from themselves. (As Charlie would say, “Total paranoia is total preparedness!”)

So the answer was clear. My athlete was going to have to move into my place until Trials. To be honest, I’m single, no kids, no problems, so though this wouldn’t work for everyone, it certainly was easy for me to accomplish.

I have a pretty small apartment, so I vacated my room and slept on the couch. This way he had no excuse not to get a good night’s sleep. His girl could stay over occasionally- no problem. He had put himself under a self-imposed sexual moratorium from the day after the amusement park incident, so I wasn’t too worried about him screwing himself up in that sense. I made sure that things got pretty boring once 11 o’clock hit. Here’s a sample of one of our late evening conversations:

“What, you don’t have cable, and you have a 20” tube television?"

“Uh, yes.”

“So what do you do for fun when you’re at home, just watch movies and listen to records?”

“Yeah, pretty much that or read.”

“Jeez man.” (Totally judging me and pitying my boring life)

I showed him how to use my turntable. Stereo geek is my number two hobby after track geek. (Ask ESTI- he showed up to my place and was shocked to find my living room dominated by a totally impractical speaker placement called “The Cardas Method”)

My athlete occupied himself by playing through my record collection over the next few days. He actually got pretty into my stereo, and I must say there is almost nothing you can do to hurt yourself while listening to records, which was comforting when I had to leave during the day to go to work.

I knew for a fact that he was getting to bed earlier by staying at my place; like many people with ADHD he has issues with getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and the record playing routine was providing a welcome calming period before sleep, allowing him to settle hours earlier than normal.

Our next couple of workouts went well. We had 200+200, where he hit the first tempo rep in an absurdly easy looking 21.99 and backed it up off a few minutes rest in under 24 seconds- I don’t have exact notes for the length of rest and the exact split of the backup rep, but it was what we needed. He is a speed creature, and our prep was seriously shortened, so obviously endurance was going to be below ideal.

The rest of the taper went very smoothly. To be honest, we didn’t lift much during the season, and since things were progressing, I didn’t want to overcomplicate things so there were mostly just medball throws (squat throws over high jump pit, hop throws, double hop throws, overhead back, squat throws with vertical push) and minimal safe plyo work (despite the foot issue, he feels plyos really help him so we included some). Keep in mind this is a guy who can bench press 300 lbs. with ease off of pretty much no work, so at the time absolute strength gains were not a major priority.

We had a workout with some accels to 30m with a couple of 60m to 80m runs at 95%. Everything looked good, and his muscle tone was coming down nicely, just like Charlie said it would on the 10 Day Taper download. I was doing the massage myself during the taper, and it was a daily occurrence. You could feel the muscle becoming more pliable, and he was complaining less of tightness in his legs as the taper went on, except the tightness in the left hip flexor remained an issue though I hoped we would get away with it.

On Sunday afternoon two days before we left, I gave Waldemar a call and thanked him for the assessment he had done for us, as it really helped me to understand some key things. I told him we were leaving Tuesday morning for nationals and we were sorry that we didn’t get up to see him again for a final check before heading out. This was something I really wanted to do. That was when he dropped a bomb- “Well I’m heading to Hamilton on Monday- would you like me to stop in Toronto so I could give him a final check?” WOULD I? Are you frigging kidding me? Obviously we jumped at the chance. I mentioned to Angela that Waldemar would be stopping by to work on my guy and invited her to come and hang. She instead invited us to work at her place as she has a couple of massage tables, and I could avoid the expense and hassle of renting one. Wow- talk about a confidence boost of epic proportions!

These are the type of people we here at are dealing with. I can’t tell you in words how incredibly generous and kind Angela and Waldemar are with their time and energy- their actions tell you right there. It is such a blessing to be able to interact with people who have a passion for what they do. It makes success a much easier thing to attain!

Monday was an exciting day. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of school so I could meet up with Waldemar and Angela. We also brought a friend of ours along who is a very good developmental high jumper. She ended up placing 2nd overall at Trials.

Once we got started downstairs, our friend was first up. Waldemar examined her muscle tone and pronounced it very good. She is very tall and narrow, with obviously very good base talent for high jump. She did not require any acupuncture, and received a general lower body massage that was heavy on Waldemar’s signature rocking and shaking style.

He then checked her lower back, specifically the erector spinae and found that there was a clear strength differential between the left and right sides. The athlete was immediately able to identify a “specific” high jump exercise she had been asked to do at school that involved using a resistance band to raise the arms and twist the torso, but only in the direction she jumps!

Waldemar had a couple of suggestions- first to balance the rotational work on both sides of the body rather than just favouring one.

Second, he had her assume a reverse-hyper position on a flat bench, and placed a rolled up towel under the groin to raise the hip slightly off the surface of the bench. This would target the weaker spinal erector slightly more and help to even out the imbalance. (I don’t remember if you place the towel under the weak side or the stronger side- I will find out and report back, but in the meantime try it out and I’m sure it’s fairly obvious) I actually had some photos and video, but I left my bag in a taxi which contained my tablet. I am still hopeful of getting it back, and maybe I can post a few things.

He suggested doing the hyper complex as seen on the GPP DVD regularly- straight leg hypers, 90 degree bent leg hypers, and the upper body hypers also. He showed her a few other cool exercises to target particular muscles in the quad / hip flexor area.

It was then time for my athlete to get worked on. I was nervous hear what he was going to say about my athlete’s muscle tone. I had been doing all the massage during the taper period so far, and I hoped that I’d been doing the right stuff. I must have watched the “10 Day Taper” video at least six more times during the taper period just to make sure I understood as much as possible about muscle tone and what I should be feeling, as it’s a poorly understood concept even at the highest levels of athletics, it appears.

I asked Waldemar once he started to check his legs, “How is his muscle tone, is it crappy?” I am much more positive usually, I was just nervous about my massage work being inferior.

Waldemar’s reply showed me once again how important mental approach was to the Optimist track group. He quickly replied, “No! His tone is quite good!” He then quietly reminded me how important it was to remain positive especially in the taper period. Listening to Charlie and Waldemar talk, Optimist wasn’t just the name of the club, it was clearly a philosophy that underlined everything their group did.

I was relieved to hear that his tone was good. I got a lot of practical help from ESTI in figuring out how deep to go with massage. Charlie’s massage video, the Jane Project video, as well as the Taper video helped enormously also.

Waldemar also checked the upper right side of his back, as he has tightness and pain between the spine and the scapula that gives him the feeling that he has difficulty breathing deeply. He decided to treat him with acupuncture. My athlete had complained incessantly about tightness and pain in that area throughout the training period, and with just one treatment from Waldemar his complaining dropped for the rest of the season by 90%. Im not saying it cured the problem, because nobody can do that in one treatment, but the difference was incredible. This made my athlete feel VERY positive heading into the competition!

hey, buddy! I’m hanging out for the next chapter… :smiley:

Wow, I took way too long between entries here. Waldemar did a great job as usual, and gave us loads of great information. Angela was extremely kind to help us out.

Anyone who has read my past posts knows that I make the odd major error. Looking back, my mistake was not requesting that Waldemar take a close look at the groin muscles and the rectus femoris area. These zones are continual areas of tightness for my athlete, and I should have requested an extra careful examination of these areas. Regardless, we headed out feeling very positive which was the aim.

We headed to Calgary early on Tuesday morning. We ended up staying with our jumper friend at first, then scored a room on a virtually deserted floor of a distant dorm, which was a fortunate turn of events. There was one weird guy who was always complaining about his aching back that kept hogging the TV in the common area, but he was harmless. Getting placed in a distant dorm kept us away from the big crush of athletes staying in the main dorm, and allowed for good sleep and a minimum of distractions. We also arrived well before the event, which allowed a couple of days to settle in, check out the track, and double and triple check the schedule.

The way the 400 worked was that there were 16 auto-qualifiers who were placed in a two heat semi-final. The top three finishers per heat + two next fastest times made up the final.

Now there was a complication of course. I was almost expecting a swerve and we got one!

First, there was a technical meeting. I showed up- and NOBODY else did except the officials and one pair of coaches who had showed up to ensure their athlete had been scratched, even though lane assignments had already been completed. The officials casually mentioned that they would rejig the lanes- and this is where I cut them off. I had already checked the timing tower, and my athlete had received lane 5, a pretty good lane assignment, and I wanted them to promise that accepting what was clearly a late scratch wasn’t going to impact my athlete negatively.

The heat sheets were placed on the timing tower, and LUCKILY I took a picture of the lane assignments.

The event was later that evening. The warmup passed fairly uneventfully, and he headed to the call room. Upon checking in, the fun began- all of a sudden, he had been switched to lane 1! He was furious, and I had to act fast- there were only 20 minutes until the event was due to take place. I ran to the timing tower, and saw that they had pulled the previous lane assignment sheet and replaced it with a new one- in which my athlete had Lane 1, and Lane 4 was inexplicably left empty.

(Let me jump back in time quickly- just a few weeks prior to me standing there being told my athlete had been suddenly thrown to the wolves in Lane 1, I had taken a trip out to Michigan to watch ESTI’s athletes compete at Michigan State Finals. I saw him intervene when one of his throwers had a couple of his throws were compromised. He stated that Angela had once told him, “You must always protect your athletes AT ALL COST.” This had stuck with me instantly, and I had thought about it quite a bit since. If not for the trip to State Finals, I don’t know if I would have acted as decisively.)

Back to the Lane 1 debacle- I collared the nearest official, and said I needed to talk to the competition director immediately. He was the epitome of bureaucrats when he stated, “Oh well there’s only 20 minutes until it starts so…”, basically implying that I should give up.

I’m not going to lie, I told him in no uncertain terms he better find the guy, and find him fast and there might have been some swearing involved. The official was totally useless, so it was on to Plan B- storm the timing office. I barged in and asked why the lane assignments had been changed when at the meeting I was assured no changes would be made. They tried to ignore me, but it was pretty hard as I wasn’t going to leave, and I had photographic evidence of the initial heat sheet. I reluctantly brought up a technicality from their own technical manual that froze them, and they quickly had a closed door meeting. “He can have Lane 4” was the reply.

I sprinted back to the call room, and informed my athlete that he had Lane 4. It was almost time to run.

He got out pretty well, and took it through 200 in what looked like pretty fast. He was in the mix coming down the straightaway, and took a quick look to the right, holding off the guy in Lane 5 for 3rd place and an automatic qualifying spot in the final. The time was 47.51, a .47 second PB! After the race he stated his muscle tone felt quite low, so it looked like we had got things just right with the taper- he got in with an automatic spot yet his muscles should be in good shape for the final. Once again, what can I say about KitKat’s 400 program and about Charlie’s 10 Day Taper DVD? Every time I read over the Lactate Ebook, or watched the Taper, I found something new. It is packed with layer upon layer of wisdom and allowed a rookie coach and rookie athlete to make a national final off an improbably short period of training.

After the semi, he did the cooldown KitKat recommends in the Lactate Ebook, and we had access to an ice bath which helped immensely. This cooldown was a big hit with my athlete- he really felt refreshed the next day.

The next day was the final. I tried to work on the tightness in his groin and hip flexor, but it is such a complicated area that there wasn’t much I could do about it. He wanted to contact one of the better known therapists to get ART, but I was wary about getting work from someone I didn’t know. This may have been an error on my part.

T Slow,
It’s great to see people replicating methods and getting results.
I have heard many people say the most fun they have or " had" was in the very beginning.
Keep up the great work and I really love and think it’s cool that you are sharing your info with everyone to learn from.
Very cool.

Great reading… you have brought your athlete along a great journey, and it is so very interesting… with of course, the best yet to come!

Yes, I think we all enjoy these posts! Keep them coming, please! :slight_smile:

So the day of the finals was exciting. He qualified 6th, so (I believe) he had lane 2.

According to him, his muscles “felt amazing.” He felt powerful and light, so the careful taper had clearly worked. We got away with having the bare minimum of necessary tone to qualify for the final, which allowed him to feel optimal on the day it really counted. However, the psoas / groin was a concern. It was tight in that area, and it was something that had bothered him in the past, but looking back, it was something that was probably always an issue, but he had just got used to it over time.

One of the things I recognize about my coaching style is that I can be quite conservative. I’m not too keen on introducing new things to the program unless it’s very early in the season. If I don’t know how it’s going to go, I’m just not that keen on introducing random variables. When it comes to therapy, I’m a big fan of Waldemar’s approach and not a big fan of Active Release Techniques.

Although I know Charlie had used Dr. Prebeg quite a bit and his work is seen in the Jane Project, I think it is important to look at the context. This was during a troubleshooting two week period when he was evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of an athlete. She was clearly not in the middle of a competition phase, so aggressive therapy would not be much of a problem in that situation. In addition, anyone who has experienced ART knows it is a VERY clinical model of therapy. The therapist (usually a chiropractor) comes in, either uses acupuncture, acupuncture with microcurrent, or EMS to prepare the area to be worked on, leaves the treatment room for 20 minutes, then returns to do a few passes for no more than 8-10 minutes, and then the session is complete. This is the model that caused his left groin / psoas to become aggravated when the chiropractor treated it with acupuncture with microcurrent, turned the current up too high, and left the room for 20 minutes. Waldemar in contrast, NEVER takes his eyes off you during a treatment- I’m not even sure he blinks.

The ART model allows you to treat quite a few patients in the space of a single hour at upwards of $80 a piece, greatly multiplying the income potential for the therapist. My issues with this style of treatment are as follows;

  1. The therapist tends not to know the idiosyncrasies of the athlete’s body because of the very short treatment time.

  2. Since the ART practitioner is usually a chiropractor, they don’t have the breadth of experience with different massage techniques that someone like Waldemar has- it’s either ART movements (which are very aggressive) or nothing. There isn’t a huge toolkit of strokes they can use, because let’s be honest, chiropractors often seem to see tissue work as “beneath them”, and when you’re spending 8 minutes with someone, you aren’t going to be doing time-consuming Swedish massage to work an area, even if it’s the least invasive and most appropriate modality.

  3. Since the actual treatment time is very short, the approach is necessarily extremely aggressive in comparison with Waldemar’s approach- this begs the question of what is the recovery time from such an aggressive approach? (My athlete reports his tissue “feeling funny” after ART work) I know what the recovery time is for Waldemar’s work- near instant, because when you have a large variety of tools, the work done can always be appropriate to where the athlete is at in their preparation. Caution is thus required with ART.

  4. The therapist may work on athletes regularly, but in comparison with Waldemar, they have an abject lack of context for the type of daily training being done, and therefore what is an appropriate intervention at the time. His years of working on-site DAILY with athletes gives him an ability to figure out what’s the most effective yet least invasive treatment method.

I didn’t personally know, and for the above reasons didn’t trust the therapists that were at nationals even though my athlete was more familiar with, and also had been worked on before by a couple of them. Perhaps I should have gone with his instincts and allowed him to get worked on. If it was going to help his confidence, maybe I should have allowed it, but at the time I didn’t like the idea of adding another massive variable, so we just did a good quality pre-warmup early in the day so he would have an easier time warming up before the competition.

As stated, he felt amazing and was very confident other than with the groin / psoas. The race time came, and the gun went off. I watched from the water jump at the 250 mark. All I reminded him was that the race starts at the 250 point, so remember to run smooth down the back stretch and into the final bend.

I could see he got out well- perhaps too well! He looked to be really moving down the back stretch, even running up on the eventual winner by about the 170m point. Then- it happened. The psoas / groin cramped. He pulled up at the 190m mark. I ran over to see if any major damage had been done- he said “I cramped- I don’t know, should I have kept going?” I assured him that he did the right thing by pulling up and living to fight another day. We had already accomplished our improbable goal of making the final, so anything he accomplished in the final was going to be gravy anyway. We headed to the first aid tent, and I got a Sharpie, circled the cramped area, and took a few pictures to document its positioning.

I was really proud of the way he handled himself- he had run a brilliant race the day before on very low muscle tone to make the final. He is very mentally strong and with proper physical preparation has all the tools to succeed at the distance. Due to our rushed preparation schedule he couldn’t finish the final. The most important thing was that I think he started to see what his potential was if he trained regularly and truly started to take athletics seriously. He could potentially be a player at the national level within the next year.

After nationals, we shut down our 400m preparation for the rest of the summer. He did not run the event again for the rest of our outdoor competitive phase. The rationale was to concentrate on gaining more 200m speed so he could build a greater speed reserve for the following season. Also, the 400 is rather stressful. Running the 200 is fun!

After a week of active rest and some massage work, the groin calmed down enough to get back on track. His opening 200 was to be at the provincial championships. There would be heats and finals. I was predicting based on his 150 times that he should be able to run in the 21.35 range. His heat came, and he blew everyone out with a 21.42, which easily advanced him to the final. His previous PB was 21.62, so this was not a bad opener at all.

Here’s where things get annoying, and this is also a good illustration of why you should always show up to meets with your athlete if you can. Some coach that he knew approached him between his heat and the final and told him to change the way he started! What the hell?? I was away on vacation at the time, but when he told me this, I was absolutely furious. This is an egregious breach of coaching etiquette, and I think I got more upset because other people knew I was coaching him, and the attitude seemed to be, “Jeez look how well he’s doing with that idiot- if I had him he’d be international class by now!” Just annoying- but I realized this was only a problem because we were experiencing moderate success and it was attracting a bit of attention; really a positive when you think about it!

Even with the annoying intervention, he was able to run 21.37 in the final. He admitted that he ran a sloppy race because he was trying to chase a guy who is a consistent 20.7 or better performer. I reminded him that he needed to focus on his own execution and forget about what everyone else was doing, but that would surely come with time and additional races. He is a fast learner.

About ten days later (we had good success with leaving 10 days between races) he ran in another 200m race. He was in there with two consistent 21.5 performers, so it would be a good battle. Honestly, before the race even started he had already won it. The two athletes he was set to battle were laughing at his jokes and basically following his lead. I almost wanted to tell their coach (who is a good guy and a very hard worker) to keep his athletes away from him.

Conditions were mediocre- the wind was swirling, and it was cooling off. He ran 21.21, which was another solid PB and is a very good result on that track. He beat the consistent 21.5 guys (one of whom had run 21.26 a few weeks prior) by about four metres. He is still learning to relax. We planned another race on an inferior track 10 days later, and planned to go down south to Texas to run in a meet in San Antonio. Unfortunately, the meet was canceled at the last moment by the meet director which was extremely irritating. We decided to shut down the season and give him a chance to rest.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable ride. Coaching is not for the faint-hearted; it takes up an astounding amount of time, but the rewards in my opinion are worth it. I guess it’s time to start updating the next season’s journal!

Your entire post was interesting, but I’m picking this to chime in for commiseration.

That’s happened to me twice (for good athletes, anyway):

  1. A few years back I talked a 17yr girl I’d coached in volleyball to come out for track - I didn’t even care what events she wanted to do. She was 5’11, could touch the rim, and spiked as hard as most grade 11-12 boys who played. Javelin ended up being her best event. Going into the highschool provincials, she had the 3rd longest throw in the province that year (9 weeks after touching a javelin for the first time). Our goal was get into the top 8, then really attack. Her warm-up was beautiful. She’d never been to a big competition, but her throws looked amazing. She looked ready to medal on her first throw (using a 4-step approach). 10 minutes before the event, some coach I didn’t know went up to her and told her she was throwing illegally and that her throws would not count. He told her she was throwing around the side, not over the shoulder. This was so ludicrously false as for the last couple months, I’d been taking videos of her and later going through them frame-by-frame. She was very rattled, and I tried to calm her but she’s not the personality who can shrug that off. Her first throw was horrid - a good 10m less than expected and the shortest throw of ALL her competition throws that season. Her next 2 landed flat (something she had been struggled with occasionally but we’d fixed it). She ended up 9th and didn’t get any more attempts. The previous 4 meets she improved every time. Had she thrown a PB, she’d have been at least 2nd.

  2. How can I coach race awareness/intuition?!? I have an athlete who was ranked top 30 on the IAAF top list at a certain middle distance in the last couple years. If I am not at a meet, this athlete has a good chance of losing to slower runners…

So much great experience…even for the little bad…great job and it’s so great to hear how great things are going now… this will be a huge year, I know it!


That is incredibly annoying to have some jerk walk up to your athlete prior to an event and talk to her.

Ever since the incident with the coach talking to him between his heat and final, I have never missed a meet. I want to be able to control as many variables as possible so the athletes feel comfortable at the event. Often my annoying presence has got them better lanes, or placement in a more competitive heat. It also keeps away the big mouths and negative talkers because I will call them on their behaviour without any hesitation.

Rich has told me about numerous incidents he has dealt with from other coaches at the high school level, and the behaviour is embarrassing. Competition is a real problem- it brings out the worst in people, and often at a totally inappropriate time. Why would someone try to rattle a high school aged developing athlete? It’s ridiculous.

T, you call your coaching quite conservative yet I call it wise, you have really learned a lot from all the CF study you have done. Good work and thanks for sharing.

Looking forward to it! :slight_smile: