one way road to Speed?

I think it was Charlie who said that it was a one-way road to Speed. Meaning that you could only do Speed work to develop speed and not speed endurance work.

I am wondering if this applies to all athletes or only elite level athletes who already have the correct somatype for speed and only need to enhance their CNS to improve their speed.

I tend to think that this would only apply to elite athletes cuz from my experience, 100% speed endurance runs (150m to 300m) is far better at developing strength levels in developing sprinters.

What I mean is that 100% speed endurance runs helps develop an athletes strength towards optimal running strength far more than 100% speed runs which mainly stimulates the CNS.

Am i wrong? If so, please explain why

Your confusing the definition of ‘speed’.

When Charlie says that developing speed is a one-way road - he means that developing the maximum velocity of an athlete can only be done through high quality, maximum velocity runs.

You are refering to speed as performance over a given distance. As Charlie points out, the 100m is a vastly different race to a begginer than it is to a highly trained athlete. As the novice athlete is unable to accelerate for a significant amount of time, he/she decellerates for longer from a lower top speed, as apposed to a highly trained athlete who may accelerate to 50-60m, reducing the proportion of the speed maintenace phase of the race.

Hence, a beginners race performance improves most rapidly by working on speed endurnace. That said, it is imporant not only to look for places where most rapid improvement can be found; improving acceleration and top speed is in fact the key to the long term development of the novice sprinter.

what i meant was that since speed endurance work develops the requisite strength for speed better than speed does, shouldnt speed endurance work improve TOP speed of developing athletes.


-SE causes athlete’s strength to increase
-strength causes athletes mechanics to improve
-improved mechanics + strength = higher top speed

Thats why i think speed endurance develops speed in developing athletes who do not already have the ideal somatype for running.

You’ve lost me on this one! You preface your argument on the “given” that SE improves the requisites for speed better than speed. You need to explain your reasoning for that statement first.
There is a difference between what might be a more logical training progression to yield the most performance advancement through a career and what affects pure speed. You can see this covered in the Vancouver DVDSs and read it in the forum reviews (graph called Right to Left lays this all out).
Basically, you pick up the whole seconds available via fitness/SE before worrying about the tenths or hundredths available through top speed etc.
From that point up the performance ladder, there is a relentless march towards the left of the performance curve (str/power on the left to end on the right).
The “one way street” arguement is also covered in the first Forum Review.
It states that higher top speed capacity lowers the percentage of effort required for the execution of a given SE pace but that all the endurance in the world at 10mps has no effect on your ability to ever achieve 12mps, even for 10 meters. Hence, why Marlies Gohr could pass Marita Koch at the end of the 100m and even Michael Johnson could not hit 12mps.

The problem with this logic is that those improved mechanics and higher strength levels may not manifest themselves in the higher speeds you are referring to -or at least not the top speeds an individual can potentially reach.
However small it is, there is always a speed reserve well worth maintaining!

Charlie, what i’m trying to say is this:

say you are working with an athlete who’s body is not strong enough yet to run FAST.

Shouldn’t 100% speed endurance runs develop running STRENGTH better than speed?

So the improved strength and mechanics from speed endurance runs will translate directly into the athlete’s speed workouts to develop more speed.

I’m not saying speed should be ignored, but i just think that doing speed without speed endurance runs in an developing athlete will not yield great results.

The speed endurance is key to developing glute and ham strength (i know most of you have felt “butt-lock”). And this glute and ham strength translates into better hip and knee extension and thus better running form and better speed.

I think there’s still some confusion about the one way street arguement and the order of introduction of training componants in a career.
From the point of view of career development, you are right but from the perspective of the improvement of max velocity when there are no more gains possible by any further reduction of deceleration and speed has “topped out”, you need to address training issues that are specific to a new higher speed, most likely to come from specific reps over very short distances, vertical plyos, etc, all under alactic conditions.
At that point, the new higher speed will provide the perhaps unexpected benefit of improving SE results that had otherwise “topped out” as well.

You really need to look over the “From Right to Left” arguement in the VAN’02 DVD.

Developement of a sprinter starts with general fitness and moves towards pure speed work (almost) over a 10-12 year period.

Yes if you only did Speed Endurance work you would get faster (top end speed) because if you run far enough (past 30-60m depending on the ability of the athlete) you will come close to hitting top speed so in a fashion you are doing top speed work indirectly.

The problem with doing only SE is that it will be difficult for your athlete to hold the sprint positition (good form) at these distances. Therefore, you need speed work to focus on this very important aspect of sprinting. If you teach them to “muscle” the runs from the beginning you will find it hard to change this habit later on, in my opinion.

Personally top speed work helps SE and vice versa… as Charlie has described above.

In this case almost any work done -within limits- will have some positives, I suppose…

However, as Tom said above, if they are not strong enough, you have to wonder what you are really trying to achieve with those longer runs; if you accept this and keep it in your mind, then fine!

It’s not a problem that the undeveloped athlete is incapable off attaining correct form in speed endurance runs.

I think it is better to let them run full speed in speed endurance runs and the muscle and strength for attaining correct form will develop naturally as a result of running.

Trying to get the athlete to achieve correct form in speed would require asking the athlete to force his body into a position it is incapable of running in.

So what i’m saying is that for a developing athlete who cannot run with proper form yet. Speed endurance is a better way to develop the strength required for top speed running form. Only after this is achieved will short speed work be a “one way road to speed”.

My theory is that the “one way road to speed” is really only for elite athletes. Developing athletes can increase TOP SPEED by doing speed endurance work as it will improve mechanics of running.

OK, I can now see your point. I just think of the strength as coming more from the med ball, tempo and strength endurance than the SE - but obviously there is some overlap. And i guess it doesn’t really matter so long as they can run relaxed at whatever speed they are able to achieve from as early as possible.

In a previous post of yours…

And in the last one…

Why going indirectly into top speed?

Therefore, if they are able to maintain good form, they are strong enough in the first place…

They can’t maintain proper position because of lack of strength…
If this is the case, you should facilitate such positions (e.g., hill work) and tranfer them into Speed End., not the other way round…

Although at the highest level Speed End. work can be reduced, if a developing athlete develops any kind of strength the wrong way in the wrong places (e.g., hams before glutes), whatever strength developed won’t be transferred to top speed. When you reach this point, you’ve got double the trouble IMO.

Speed Endurance work will improve (top) speed maintenance; top speed work will improve top speed itself. Only when the latter is achieved proper mechanics will be transferred to Speed Endurance work. This is “my” theory.
Note: I am not talking here where most of the improvement can come for a given training phase. Also, I assume by Speed End you don’t mean Special End.
Not trying to convince you of anything, just keeping up the discussion…

This has worked for us as well. Six out of the seven sprinters that we have worked with, over the past decade, made significant improvements in all areas using alactic models. These same athletes started out as “undeveloped” as one can imagine.

Subsequently, the speed and special endurance work matured from those models, as even speed reserve components matched that of previous top speed measures.

With prior athletes, developing through sessions of 8-20 sec. duration, proved difficult for us. Particularly where motion correction and optimal improvement factors needed to be made. Of course, this is a small sample and I wouldn’t expect this to be the norm.

Of note is an athlete we are presently working with who continues to demonstrate SE and SpecEnd numerical improvements with a predominant alactic base. There is very little resemblance of his sprint mechanics from a year ago!

do you guys think 3 SE days + 2 speed days in a 2 week period would be too much?

Also with 5 weight room sessions in that period with two of the sessions falling on the speed days.

Close to what we did 2 weeks ago prior to a transition period. The strength work was essentially maximal weights. Speed ranged from 10-40m accelerations. SpecEnd work was 25-44 sec. duration.
Before that period, this athlete had completed 9 weeks of long-to-short SPP. His competition begins in 3 weeks.