volume adjustment needed?

Using infrared speed gates in my training on a regular basis, I have noticed that my times for block starts and flying sprints start to deteriorate after about 200 and 250m of total volume per session respectively.

On Monday, for example, I did (a lower-than-usual-volume session of) block starts over 1x20, 1x30, 3x60 and 1x30m, which were timed using a touchpad at the start and infrared speedgates at 30 and 60m. My times were 3.96 for the 30m and then 7.01, 7.03 (with a 3.97 split at 30m), 7.10 (4.04 split) and 4.04.

My usual volume for acceleration and speed sessions is 300-400m. Do the esteemed forum members feel that it would be advisable to reduce the total volume of these session to 200-250m in order to avoid this performance drop-off or would this leave me with too little overall volume of sprint work?

BTW: I don’t think this drop-off is caused by a lack of fitness: I can do 2500m tempo sessions without problems and can perform over 60 consecutive push-ups with my chest touching the floor.

As background: I’m a 28-year-old 11.01s sprinter who has been competing since the age of 14 (with a break between the ages 19 and 25). I use a short-to-long approach with three high and two low intensity sessions per week. You can find links to video footage of my running on this forum.

I would not worry about the lack of volume in speed training, because if you are performing sub maximally, you are no longer really speed training anyway in my opinion and you are perhaps teaching your body to move more slowly. Don’t know how esteemed I am, but that’s my two cents!!

2500m of tempo may be too excessive, try cutting it back to around 1800-2000m.
as for the speed, its great that you can time your run with that accuracy. i would recommend going out each session with a planned amount of volume. if you can do all the speed runs with much deterioration then stop when you have reached your target volume, if your runs get slower then stop.
also, how much rest do you take between runs on speed days, you may want to just lengthen your rest time.
do you lift weights? Body weight exercises are good but you can never get strong doing them.

those splits tell me you have a power issue…
you are slowing down at 4o metres…

you have trouble staying up, means you sit…


I found in my athletes when we reached a certain volume amount in the workout, performance dropped in a hurry. It seemed to be a consistent amount of the groups I speak of, so I had to replan it to work around that amount.

dear esti… ease on the vulome tempo stuff, tempo is a recptie fro disaster… speed kills, but speed works… ciao

Thanks for your response.

2500m of tempo is only done during GPP. During SPP, it’s 2000m and during comp phase 1500-2000m.

I don’t time every session, as you need an empty track and some time to set up the equipment. The performance drop-off seen after 200-250m is fairly consistent, though.

Rest periods are about 1.5 min for every 10m covered in the run (e.g. 8-10 minutes for a 60m sprint)

Yes, I do lift weights (PBs are 127.5kg bench, 195kg deadlift and probably around 160kg parallel squat at 72-74kg bodyweight). the push-ups are part of bodyweight circuits I do during GPP and at a much lower volume throughout the season.

As a follow-up question: How important do people think it is to be at your absolute best during SE training? At the moment, I’m doing one session of block starts, one session of flying sprints and one session of SE per week (this is talking about SPP and comp phases). Instead of doing acceleration/speed sessions of only 200-250m plus an SE session of about 350-450m (e.g. 2x200m), could it be a better solution to do one SE run (e.g. 1x200m) at the end of two of my acceleration/speed sessions (e.g. 200m of speed work plus one 200m run)? This would allow me to do the same total volume of speed work I’m doing now, but at higher quality (i.e. 3x200-250m instead of 2x300-400m plus one separate SE session). I know that Charlie says speed is specific to itself, but I would only expect a performance drop-off of 2-4% for SE runs, if they are performed after about 200m of acceleration/speed work. I’m not sure whether finishing off speed sessions with an SE run may have any negative impact on my adaption to the speed work, though.

Several things here:

(1) In planning acceleration workouts, you are better off thinking in terms of the number of (100%) accelerations from blocks rather than total volume. I find that I need 2-3 hard accelerations before getting best results in a workout or race over 50-100m, and that’s true despite the volume (unless all the accels are real short). It’s not necessarily the same thing as counting SE/SE1 numbers in meters.

(2) As you build yourself up in strength and in SE volume, you will be able to handle more volume, and you will NEED more volume to get results out. As you gain the power to stress your CNS more, you will need more rest between reps to reach peak performance, and also between maximum intensity workouts, and some of your workouts will have to be sub-max because you need more time to recover between peak performance workouts as Charlie has said in the past. As you go from the ~11.0 level to the sub-10.5/10.2 level, the rest time needed for 60m best performance numbers will go from the 10 minute level to around the 20 minute level. Be patient, stick with it, and the volume and performance numbers will come.

(3) See what Charlie said in the Asafa threads about doing repetitions of short sprints to help handle rounds. What I got from this was a workout like 6X60 with 20 minute rest. These are probably not the numbers for you at your volume level, but if you do this type of workout in the volume and recovery time that you can handle with maximum performance numbers, your ability to handle rounds in races and volume in workouts will improve.

(4) John Smith actually does some compound workouts like you are asking about, e.g., 5X60 + 3X200. Charlie seems opposed, and if you think about it, the 60’s would be the highest intensity you do with the biggest CNS drain, and if you follow these with a bunch of SE/SE1 volume when you are worn down from the S part, the risk of injury probably goes up. I’ve had good results doing these in reverse order: 3X100+2X50 or 2X200+2X60.

Could you elaborate on this a little? At what stage did the drop-off occur, how did you adjust the training to address this and what where the results?


if you cannot see ther carborator together, do not take it apart…or there will be many pieces
left over…


Thanks for your response. You may be onto something there in regards to counting block starts rather than metres. The performance drop-off in the example I posted above was almost completely caused by a slower first 30m, so it seems like acceleration deteriorates first.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever approach 10.5 level, as I seem to be nearing my biomechanical and genetic limits after 8 years of sprint training. All I’m trying to do is break 11s by the end of the current season, after which family committments will probably prevent me from seriously pursuing athletics any further.

Handling rounds is thus also not a major concern for me, as I’m unlikely to reach the final in any three-round championship (The one time I did, however, I actually ran my best race in the final and came fifth after having qualified with the eighth fastest time.).

From camparing two extreme approaches to training I tried over the last couple of years, I can handle daily speed sessions of 200-300m better than three weekly sessions of 400-550m, so I think CNS fatigue is either not a major factor for me or doesn’t last for too long. Maybe I’m just not fast enough to really drain my CNS.

From what I have read and seen, it appears to me that John Smith keeps most of his speed work at or below 95%, which allows his guys to increase their overall volume (e.g. 5X60 + 3X200, which is 900m in total).


If you’re already in good shape and fitness, you should avoid the performance drop-off! It will only make you slower! (and add endurance that you currently do not need).

I would say add more rest or cut the volume.

May I ask where you got the speed gates and for how much?