Short to Long and General Conditioning

Charlie and others,

I have a buddy from football who has expressed some interest in taking up track (100/200)

In the eBook, you have a chart with comparative times between world record and typical beginner performances. You state:

“Why fight for tenths or hundreths at the start, when you can gain seconds in the later stages of the race through general conditioning”

My question: What is general conditioning in a short to long program? Is this simply the stuff covered in the GPP DVD? Can we expect that lots of tempo work and med ball work will be sufficient to get an extra 2 - 3 seconds at the end of a 200m as illustrated in the graph?

Most traditional track coaches I talk with recommend lots of ‘base’ work which is stuff like 400m repeats, etc and seems more like a long-to-short philosophy.

Note that this guy is already in pretty good condition – for football! Good numbers in the weight room and can play hard for a full game so conditioning per se isn’t an issue it seems to be more one of specific conditioning.


I think I can answere that one.

With a general workout phase consisting of 400,300 and even 200meter repeats with fairly little recovery what you are in a sense gaining is an aerobic base in which you can do you workouts later in the year. However, this does not mean long to short. What it entails instead is the ability to actually do the workouts. It is still possible to start with shorter distances and work your way up the ladder, but with a low intensity aerobic work base a runner would have the ability to do anearobic work at a high intensity without worrying about taxing his aerobic energy. A 5k runner could do 5x1000 at a brisk pace with a little bit of recovery without working very hard, while a 60 meter runner would probably blow his beefy little hart to pieces attempting a long workout like that.
Longer aerobic workouts in a sense also aid your lactic tolerance. Running just inside or outside your lactic capacity increases your ability to run at a faster pace for longer periods of time without building up as much lactic acid. For a 400m runner it is imperative that in the early stages of development you develop lactic tolerance through a gradual method, while as the runner gets closer to competition they bathe themselves in lactic acid. While for a 100/200 meter runner it might not be as important that a low intensity base be established. The kind of lactic resistence that is so vital to a 400 and an 800 just isn’t present in the shorter sprints. The 60-200 is just too short for serious pools of lactic acid to build up. Speed endurance, should however be a primary target of a 200 runner because that is where they live and breathe is in the last 199 meters of the race. A good start can mean didly if you don’t have the endurance to hold near top speed for 150 meters.

So, are you saying that even in a short to long program for a short (100/200) sprinter, that there should a phase that preceeds GPP where a runner does 200/300/400 repeats? This is what all the ‘old school’ coaches I have talked to are advising, but I’m having a hard time reconciling this with the ‘Charlie Principles.’

For example, 200 repeats with ‘fairly little recovery’ would necessarily involve work in the 80 - 90% range which is not included in any of Charlie’s programs because it is too slow to be specific and too fast to easily recover from.

Ideas about how to make this work?

If it is done for several weeks I wouldnt think there would be a great loss in speed if other elements were present.

You could also sub in pool work etc on the tempo days if the longer stuff gets a little hard on the lower legs.

I find triples (circuits) very good and ladders are very good as well.

Here is a sample micro:

1 short hills or short accels (with Lower body weights)
2 Pool
3 triples circuits (plyo component in here as well)
4 Pool
5 Ladder (100, 200, 300, 150, 100) (Increasing intensity and volume every week)
6 Pool

That’ll build a good base up very quickly and lead well into GPP :slight_smile:


Not necessarily. I meant low intensity work like 6x800’s or 8x400’s or hill circuts were important for the more lactically reliant events, the 400 and the 800. However, the 200m and the 100m are too short to have a significant amount of lactic acid build up in the runner’s body. Such acid would impare the performance of the runner. A 100/200 runner does not necessarily need the kind of pure endurance that a 400 or 800 runner needs.

The kind of work week chris is recomending is perfectly fine. I myself, however, would not like to get quite as wet as he is suggesting.

To keep generally fit a 100/200 runner would probably want to follow something with more of a “shock therapy” lactic/speed endurance program. Instead of the gradual system that a longer distance runner would take.

Just to clarify I was suggesting pool work if the longer elements were causing lower leg problems. Otherwise Ext Tempo.


So we need to do a general preparation phase to lead into our general preparation phase? I kind of thought that the GPP was supposed to take care of this all on it’s own? My question is simply “would a GPP program as outlined on Charlie’s DVD be sufficient to establish the base necessary for sprint training with a generally well-conditioned athlete?”

I think the answer is Yes, but I hear so much talk about building a base through the use of longer repeats that I want to make sure that I am not missing something for athletes who have not done any track previously.

I have some experience with this, being a fit, lean guy who had never sprinted in his life until 5 months ago. My hamstrings and groins are very strong and reasonably flexible, but even with caution and a GPP it still hasn’t been enough to prevent the strains and pulls. Max velocity is a whole different animal, and may require longer for the body to get used to then some may think based on the general condition of the athlete.

Yes, that is my concern…I have often seen guys get injured by trying to do too much, too fast (or too fast, too much :slight_smile: But how does one know when they are ready and have enough ‘base’? I’m talking about athletes that are already strong and conditioned, just not track-hardened.

I think if the athlete has no previous track experience you would treat his/her training age as zero and plan appropiately. There would likely be no real distinct phases for at least a year. Emphasis on conditioning and technique would be a priority I would think. Sort of an extended GPP/SPP. Lots of circuits, hills, weights, repeats/intervals, short accels (probably without blocks) etc etc

Despite being able to move quickly in all directions on a field or basketball court with no injuries, all-out sprints quickly took their toll for me. The best signs if your athlete is not ready as far as I am concerned? Hamstrings and groin, hamstrings and groin. With short sprints and accels, do they feel worse than their chosen sport? Plus football guys [and guys like me] tend to do heavy legs in the weight room and then think they can push those things at the track before they are really recovered-leading again to hamstring and groin problems. Chris’ cautious approach would have been a better approach for me than what I did, which seemed very gradual at the time but clearly wasn’t.

Johnny I am actually planning to drop backsquats almost entirely (About 3 sets once a week) and alternating doing hangcleans and jumpsquats with fairly light weight after speed. (With a few sets of assistance exercises)

There will be much less soreness etc through the glutes, hips and hams and I feel WAY more explosive.

I can probably full squat about 335 right now without belts or wraps and hang clean about 225. That is plenty strong for now :slight_smile:

I think doing this I can focus more on the running side of things while still maintaining good power and maintaining strength levels. My problem is definitely not on the strength side of the curve but recovery is such a bitch with backsquats in the program several times a week.

Yeah, I don’t know how you did it before with so much leg work! You will be happy with 3 good sets of squats a week along with your running. I do the same thing and have kept 100% of my strength while running better, and in much less pain.