Training The Master Sprinter 35+

I was reviewing old training notes and templates and one template I really enjoyed and had success with was back in the fall of 2010.

Monday/Thursday: Speed, Mb, Jumps
Tuesday/Friday: Total body weights
Wednesday/Saturday: Tempo, Mb, Abs, Circuits

Allows the athlete to focus on one thing daily while eliminating all the fat. Most of the training sessions are fairly short. I think this template could work well for most master sprinters.

Speed volume was mod to high.
Weights low-mod volume and mod to high intensity.
Tempo mod volume (1000-1500). Long warmups…

Would love to see other templates from other master sprinters…

/Here’s the template I keep returning to after deviating from time to time. I started this around age 29, and I am currently 33. I hit all of my PRs at 30 (10.81, 21.69), was injured at 31 and 32, and am finally back running decent times this year (10.97 last weekend).

Non-Competitive Season
Monday - Speed (accel and maxV), Lifting
Tuesday - Jump Rope and Medball Tempo
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - Controlled Speed / Special Endurance (e.g., 4x150m, 2x4x60m, etc.)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Plyometrics, Bounding, Lifting
Sunday - Rest

Competitive Season
Monday - Plyometrics, Bounding, Lifting
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Speed (accel and maxV), Lifting
Thursday - Jump Rope and Medball Tempo
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Meet (100, 100, 200)
Sunday - Rest

I used to throw rowing in the mix as another conditioning workout, but my proximal hamstring issues always return when I do. It hasn’t been worth the risk, so I’ve completely dropped it now. I do tempo running occasionally just because I really enjoy it. However, it feels more like a workout these days than truly recovery work. I aim to make all foot contacts meaningful these days. Perhaps conditioning should become more general as you get older (similar to weights). There are many ways to train aerobically, increase capillary density, etc. I like the idea of doing so in a manner that stresses the body in a different way than sprinting.

While people may roll their eyes at my lifting scheme, I use the bearpowered approach. I simply deadlift and bench 1-2x per week. I never go higher than 5 reps in a set and never more than 12 reps in a day. I will sneak some body weight work in there (pull-ups, dips, muscle-ups, etc.), but I don’t go nuts with weights. Other things I’ve liked include reverse leg presses and the hip extension machine. But I never squat nor do I do any olympic lifting. I’ll throw a medball if I want to move more towards the “v” on the f-v curve. But, truthfully, I haven’t found medball throws elicit much adaption. Rather, I look at them more as an expression of what I have (i.e., a measurement tool). I prefer training on the ends of the continuum (i.e., top speed and max lifting). Everything in between seems to rise as the ends improve. While I did write special endurance up above, I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time doing that kind of work. It’s really just less intense speed work usually (similar to the speed day, but with more volume at a lower intensity). The year I hit my 200m PR, I didn’t run farther than 60m in practice for half a year.

Could you list a typical week in the Non-Competitive Season?

2x20m 3-point; 2-3 min rest
3x30m blocks; 4-5 min rest
4x(20E/30F); 6 min rest

Bench (3x3x90%)
Deadlift (3x3x90%)

Acceleration Bounds (2x8) – before speed work

Jump Rope
5-Minute Warm-Up at 160 rpm (800 total reps)
Intermediate Sprint Workout from Buddy Lee at 200-240 rpm (3x100; 4x75; 2x50)

Medball Tempo
2 sets of 5 throws of 30 reps each (approximate 5.5 minutes of work)


2x20m from ground; 2 min rest
2x(20E/20F); 3 min rest
4x150m; 4 min rest (10m rolling start; aiming for 400m rhythm on backstretch)


Skips for Distance (2x8)
Skips for Height (2x8)
Hurdle Hops (5x4)

Bench (2x4x85-90%)
Deadlift (2x4x85-90%)
Pull-Ups (2x12)
Dips (2x15)


Highlights of my training and racing over the past 6 years can be found here:

I actually did some work with Barry when I was preparing for my CFL tryout - probably back in 2005 - 2007 if I remember correctly. Good guy…

Solid training plan - hopefully Chris is taking notes… I also like a lot of the stuff Josh H did with his training on elitetrack…

It’s a pretty simple setup, but I have found that works best for me. I try to hit the most important elements with the highest of quality, and then fit the rest in where it can, without getting in the way of speed work.

I assume you mean Josh Hurlebaus. If so, I know him well as we are from the same area (Southeast Wisconsin). We discuss training ideas on a weekly basis. He has definitely given me good advice over the years. My 100m PR actually came when racing him. I just tried by best to hold on (he went 10.61 to my 10.81 that day).

Just for a change, you might want to do running in place at varying intensities as a substitute for jump rope sometimes. I’ve been doing these recently & have found them really good when the weather is too bad to run outside & they made me realize how deconditioned both my aerobic system and hip flexors had become!

How is your proximal hamstring feeling now? Do you do any special remedial exercises to prevent future recurrences such as single leg bridges (both isometric & isotonic), single leg planks, hamstring razor curls, slow eccentric glute ham raises, eccentric supine hamstring curls (hamstring slides), eccentric reverse treadmill etc.? I have kept all these exercises in because I believe they help a lot in reducing the chance of future proximal hamstring injury. I must admit that it is annoying to have to keep up these exercises because they take up a lot of time. I still have discomfort with some of these exercises, so therefore don’t think it’s a good idea to sprint at top speed since sprinting puts the hamstrings under much greater stress than any of these exercises do.
Are you able to perform all the above exercises with no discomfort (not necessarily pain) now?

Do you older guys find tempo work much more challenging than you did when you were younger compared with high intensity work? As I’ve got older, I’ve really struggled with workouts such as 6 x 200m @ 70-75% with short recovery. A workout like that will make me feel completely wrecked & drained of energy for at least the next 2 days, whereas accelerations & max speed work and low volume heavy weights are very easy for me to recover from.

Good stuff.

I’m coming from a different background (mostly American football) ext tempo was much harder for me in my younger years because I didn’t appreciate the benefits of the runs. Once I started to value the general cardiovascular benefits of the runs etc I started to handle them better and my outdoor performance improved. 6x200 with short rest sounds more like int tempo or 200/400 workouts. I usually like to run 10x200 with a 200 walk back for 100/200 athletes. Its hard to say if it’s the tempo work OR something else making you feel wrecked…

If I’m doing long runs 300-400 they will wrecked my body and make me feel stiff if the other components aren’t in line.

No I mean extensive tempo - runs of around 70% intensity. I used to do 6 x 200m with a slow jog for 100m and walk 100m for recovery before doing the next 200m rep. It really gets the heart rate up and made my legs feel fresh the next few days. The problem I have now is this workout totally wrecks me. Normally I can only complete 4 or 5 x 200m and then for the next couple of days my body (and mind) just feels exhausted e.g. difficulty concentrating and even lack of libido!

Are you referring to Running A’s / high knees for time? I’ve done these in the past, and they definitely kill. I think of them less as extensive tempo and more as strength endurance, though.

How is your proximal hamstring feeling now? Do you do any special remedial exercises to prevent future recurrences such as single leg bridges (both isometric & isotonic), single leg planks, hamstring razor curls, slow eccentric glute ham raises, eccentric supine hamstring curls (hamstring slides), eccentric reverse treadmill etc.?

The proximal hamstring issue is generally good. I found that it was more about what not to do than what to do. I wrote about this in a different thread on here not too long ago. Contracting while the hip was in flexion caused the most irritation. I also stayed away from anything too specific to the hamstring. Rather, I trained around the injury in a general fashion. This is what allowed me to get back to speed after a “smart” 9-10 months of re-training the body and mind after last season. I did feel some soreness after my last meet, but I didn’t give it much weight in my mind. Rather, I just downplayed its significance and took training easy in the few days that followed. The soreness disappeared at the end of those few days.

I’ve concluded that the injury came about from over-training. I became a dad at the end of 2014, but didn’t reduce my training load at all. The lack of sleep and new stresses in life caught up to me after the second month. I finally have a handle on the dad-athlete balance, which requires a lower volume of training than pre-fatherhood.

I have found this in the last couple years. I keep it on grass, too, and rarely go over 100m per rep.

Like I’ve said before, I really enjoy tempo work. And I believe in damn near 100% of everything Charlie said. But in my personal experience, I just haven’t seen much of a difference between periods when tempo has been high versus when it’s been non-existent. My findings have been very simple: short dictates long. I run the best from 100-400m when my maxV is on point.

If you kept the tempo under 1500 twice a week OR one big tempo working up to 2000m and one bike or pool tempo you wouldn’t have those issues.

May just be age related decline in aerobic capability. And/or maybe you have been doing less fitness work in recent years and are just less able to complete the bigger tempo sessions.
From your comments about difficulties with extensive tempo when younger you may not have as much endurance natural ability as with speed work anyway.

From discussions/published training logs with Masters sprinters (who are a lot better than me) is a total focus on speed work relevant to their events. Frequently with little or no tempo/weights/circuits. Those that do low intensity work often use non-running work to relieve stress on legs to avoid injury.
These are typically in the age range 45+.
It is of course possible that Charlie`s principles re tempo are more relevant at the elite levels.

Is this basically the Barry Ross model of speed and weight training. Did you notice a performance increase and areduction in injury. i am looking at the Barry Ross model as I have been injured regularly each season. Others thoughts on teh BR modelfor amasters would be good to hear. Cheers

I returned to track at age 25 after a 7 year break. After training with a tempo-based club for the first year, I was introduced to Barry’s site. I initially followed his protocol of deadlifting and flys. I did alright using that, but I really didn’t understand the entire picture. Ken Jakalski constantly referenced Charlie on bearpowered, which led me to discover this site. After a year of devouring all of Charlie’s products, I began to understand the importance of vertical integration, recovery, and the high/low setup. My times dropped a bunch over the next two seasons using Charlie’s principles in combination with Barry’s simplistic approach to lifting. Basically, my overall program balance and progression of speed work is driven by CF’s guiding principles (vertical integration, intensity limits, etc.) whereas my lifting is just deadlift and bench for the most part. General use of weights has kept me fresh for work on the track. I used to also have two days per week dedicated to extensive tempo, but reduced that due to an injury that always flared up with fatiguing work. Returning to extensive tempo running has been challenging after the break. Others noted in this thread that my tightness and soreness may simply be a function of not being in shape to do this anymore. I might experiment bringing it back during the offseason, but I won’t reintroduce it during the current competitive period.

Now to your specific question: what I posted above is where I currently am at. I’d say it’s still a CF-based program. I just work on the aerobic side of things using a different set of tools than previously (e.g., jump rope, medball, rowing). I never have two high days in a row; I still work from short-to-long in practice; I still place intensity limits on runs depending on where I am in a progression; I still consider overall stress on the organism when balaning different training modalities (and life!).

Of the various successful Masters athletes we have worked with over time ranging from 40 year olds to 70 year olds I will share a few details.

Therapy is a big asset for this age class. As we age we simply do not have the buffer of age on our site.

Tempo is in effect a way of prepping muscles for what is to come. It flushes the lactates out if done properly, vascularizes the muscle laying a foundation for great muscle development when stressed and it builds that cardio vascular base required to sustain the volume speed work needed to move ahead and deal with Vertical integration.

I will echo what some of you are saying in that yes it’s difficult to sustain tempo over time. But don’t forget about the pool and bike and other methods of attaining the same goals you benefit and gain from recovery running or tempo. Ie the medicine ball workout would be one of the single best ways to replace tempo if you do not like the pool or bike or don’t have access to it. The med ball mistakes I see almost always are the ball is too heavy. When ever I see the med ball used on You tube almost without exception you see straining and tightness and stress on the face of who ever is performing. I alway tell people to make sure you are weighing the cost / benefit of what you are doing. If an exercise creates more stress than benefit why not just pick something better?