Tony Sharpe, 500m SE & the return of Height Vs Breadth

I read somewhere (I think Training for Speed) that Charlie gave Tony Sharpe 500’s because his CNS could not handle the 60’s. I assume that like everyone else on the long-to-short programme improvements in max velocity do occur even at distances beyond what we would normally designate to improve top speed (i.e. 60’s, flying 20/30’s, FEF, etc). I have also known of 400m runners who have been able to run some handy 100m times training mainly SE2 and some SE1. Clearly these over-distances are having a carry-over to maxvelocity and not just to their ability to endure their current speed. Last season Gay claimed that his opening 19.58 run for 200m was off mainly 400’s and very very little speed work stating “I haven’t really touched it yet. I may have done a couple 60ms in practice, and some starts, that’s considered speed-work, but I haven’t really turned my body on. I’ve been doing 400m and longer distances”. Yet we all know here on the forum that 19.58 does not come about without some serious maxvelocity (and of course the ability to hold that speed). Anyway, are these improvements in maxvelocity and overall 100m times possible because of:

  1. The breadth (distance) of the exposure of stimulus (velocity) at a sufficient speed to effect maxvelocity. Similar to what Charlie speaks about in weights for speed, that improvements on the right of the force time curve can impact qualities on the left.

  2. By being in a posture that works the muscles which get emphasised more when at top speed, it creates a conditioning effect from their breadth of exposure to the stimulus (e.g. a good national level sprinter running 300m is fully upright for approximately 260m whereas when running 60m this is only for approximately 20m). Thus these muscles get approximately 13 times the exposure at the ‘top speed’ position, allbeit at a relatively lower intensity.

  3. A combination of the two.

Maybe coaches who have trained 400m runners or athletes that have trained for 400m on the forum may have noticed the impact that low rep SE1 and SE2 training with long recoveries seems to have had on theirs or their athletes top speed.


Great thread and although I think we may have had this discussion somewhere on here before here are my thoughts…

These types of workouts may cause structural adaptations in the lower limbs given the nature of the runs. General/Semi specific endurance of the “body” primarily the legs over longer distances would be the adaptation. At the same time energy system adaptation would occur since when we are working the energy systems it is a partial muscle group(s) being worked which control which energy system we are using. At the same time research shows us there is a crossover/bleeding of one energy system to the next which means when we are working the oxidative/gylcolytic system(s) we are also including the ATP-CP System which would explain how it may have a positive effect on short sprint times more specifically the 100 meters.

It could help. I’m not sure I would do fast single rep 500s to get the effect though. Most of the programs that do stuff like that tend to do intensive tempo or similar sorts of workouts with distances of 150-300m. Tyson Gay’s coach Lance Brauman (or at least one of his coaches and the guy who took him from a 10.5 guy to a 9.8 guy on his own) does a good amount of volume in the 100-300m distance range in a form many people would call intensive tempo or is also known as controlled speed work. There are a number of people who feel there are improvements in top speed through workouts like this. I’d be careful though because as many that find improvement, you can find twofold more that were High School All-Stars that went to college, did those programs, and were never heard from again.

Although I don’t know much on the topic, it is an interesting one. I have heard somewhere that the basis for intensive tempo are the adaptations to enzymatic processes which are responsible for converting PCr-ATP. I’ve also read that sprint training increases the speed of usage of ATP. So it would be conceivable that this would be beneficial to the end stages of a 100m race.

Re Gay: He already had plenty of speed background to run 19.58 from previous years, so this was not a development, but, rather, a stimulus to the execution most likely chosen because of a serious quad injury that kept him at Dr Wolfhart’s clinic in Germany for two months last winter.
Point 1: As in weights to an extent, this can be true but not in isolation and sufficient speed must be in pace to run high enough quality SE.
Higher speed capacity will allow for higher SE results but higher SE results may not necessarily lead to higher speeds over 100m- the key to higher performance in top 100s now that improvements in endurance capacity over the final 20m have been used up and higher speeds are the key (.81 segments now!)
Including a standing start, a 31 sec 300m is terrific be still averages 10mps, and does not guarantee ever reaching above 12mps.

Point2: Possible but does it need to be continuous to be effective? Ben was doing 24 x 60 in early 1985 (similar to Mennea). By your math, 2 x 300 = 26 x the upright volume of one 60 at a lower speed, while 24 x 60 = 24 x the vol at a higher rate, yielding more extension etc.

Point 3: This is certainly possible and is likely the most tolerable route for a majority of developing athletes.

24 x 60m for one workout? what types of times was he doing then, what type of work/rest ratios?

Starting with 2 to 2 1/2min between reps and 5 min between sets at a pace that could be completed without a drop-off (as much as 8 tenths off pb time at first) The sets started with reps of 6, then moved to reps of 4 with same recoveries, then to sets of 4 x (4 x 60) spreading out the recoveries. Not unlike the workouts Mennea did.

This is similar to the workouts we do with Youngy during our prep phase and during weeks where we might need to top up a bit.

We will do 2(6 x 60) from blocks, with a walk back recovery and about 8-12mins between sets :cool:

Such as this week Hicksy. :stuck_out_tongue: (For some anyway!)