What kind of training environment do people have?

I wonder what kind of training environment people of all levels around the world have (elementary school kids, middle and high school student athletes, college athletes, recreational track club athletes, amatuar compeitive athletes, elite and world class athletes, master athletes). Obviously, depending on what area you’re in, level of performance, financial support, etc, there would be a large variance in what people have.

I just want to know some examples.

To do legit speed training, a real track is necessary. Most people can use weightrooms and pools if they are willing to commit that money. Most people have access to grass, although nice ones are hard to find. Nice grass hills are hard to find in most places, as most people don’t understand the importance of runnning on grass to prevent injury, and some places are just flat. Biggest environmental challenge in my opinion for most people around the world is bad weather. Good track and grass surfaces are not that useful anymore with bad weather, such as monsoon and winter cold.

I wonder how members and people they know get around this problem (other than just quitting); Do most athletics clubs/school teams use indoor track? indoor turf? or rollout runway indoors? I know most places in the U.S. don’t have indoor tracks within an hour drive, and most of them belong to rich universities with higher end, successful athletics program.

Typically, the best kids come out of the places where the facilities are the poorest.
Track is not a money sport what so ever.
Unlike hockey, skiing, tennis, golf , skating etc.
Early on in the development stage you do not need much at all to acquire the needed skills.
I grew up with very few facilities.
Charlie grew up with very few facilities.
The boy I coached at my son’s grade school had a cement track and a small patch of grass. We did short accelerations , races, drills and jumps. We did clap drills over less than 50 meters. Charlie went to the same grade school growing up. He got fast racing everyone.
This same young boy I spent time developing is now running track in his first year university in the US. They have every imaginable piece of equipement. But he had to get there first. He never attended a high school that had a track or backyard.
What you do need is




These 3 things need to come from someone who knows what they are speaking about, someone who has been there and done enough to see and understand. Then we need to encourage people to listen.
TAKE AWAY ALL THE CHATTER FROM some of the alleged experts in speed and look for yourself to see what has actually been going on in the places that have produced the finest track and field athletes in the world.

It sounds to me that you have not yet read Speed Trap or the training manual? Both books will enlighten you to the questions you are asking.

I think this is a great insight that is so obvious most people overlook it. I think the training world is way too gadget-centric.

This reminds me of Charlie’s story about when they didn’t have any medicine balls, so they went to a construction site and threw cinder blocks.

Then there’s Charlie’s description of how Gerard trained his sprinters in Poland in winter with no indoor facilities. They did tons of running A’s to develop special endurance. Once the weather warmed up and they could actually run, a 300m SE sprint is down right easy compared to 300m running A’s. As Charlie always said, there are many ways to skin a cat.

You have been here and you know and understand that there was not a lot of high tech anything going on.
I’ve told this story before but we had a few of the talented US sprinters show up post 1988 and turn around and leave as the bells and whistles did not exist to their liking.
This is one of the reasons I love track and field as much as I do. It’s virtually free.
When I met and subsequently married Charlie he went from having the best of everything available in terms of what he had built up ( Dr’s , therapist, training facilities and training camps) and then over night we had nothing in terms of the things he had earned to run his business at the track. We started all over again and I might not have been first across the line at the Olympics but I was pretty happy to wear my national team uniform more than once.
There is a lot of work to be done and a long time that needs to pass before a person needs to concern themselves with the facilities I used when training in Chicago at the Bulls Center. Now that was amazing! IT was cool to training in a place like that but I was used to crappy weights, not custom platforms with leather everything and Eleiko bars and the best of the very best.

In the end, what did the bells and whistles get them?

To this day people are still thinking and operating as though there is some magic bullet to succeed. Charlie used to talk about this all the time. I think the bells and whistles act as some sort of validation for people. When you have the fancy equipment and training camps all the time it’s more likely to mean you are on your way to success. Hunkering down and carefully using resources is a skill to be developed for success. Unless you have unlimited resources but this is usually a drive killer imo. The work ethic and understanding of how things are and what is needed to move ahead needs to precede rewards.
Now when I speak of those male sprinters who came over here I do think they were hard workers and were very talented people without question. I also think they lacked a strong developmental system or base to grow from. The talent was there and the results had been there but it was difficult to sustain, repeat and then understand why the success was there in the first place.

I would like to know how you got around stress imposed on the shin and achilles of your athlete with running on cement track and the increased risk of pulling hamstrings when the weather is cold outside. Would you please enlighten me so I understand how you’d deal with individuals that tend to get injured easily? Injury often occurs more easily when one’s performance level goes up, but then there are those that get injured easily even at lower, developmental stage of training.

Thank you.

I haven’t read speed trap in a long time and was forgetting about the story you mentioned. I know that doing running A’s for special endurance in the cold can work, but how do you maintain relaxation in the cold? Drill can be done, but practice makes permanent, and practicing wrong habit would likely offset the benefit of increased special endurance. Having said that, I tend to rely on pool training more with bad weather, but I don’t feel like it is any use other than maintenance of general fitness.

Thank you.

I did read speed trap, key concept, and Charlie Francis Training System, and watched some of the videos. It’s been a while and I do need to read over again, focusing more specifically on such topic. I do remember the Polish sprinters running A training as well; I’d like to know more specifics if possible though.

How they dealt with difficulty in relaxation with cold; how they dealt with rate of force development component (the backside mechanics and force behind the propulsion, as opposed to running A working the frontside primarily), and overall sprinting movement as a whole, with proper rhythm that is required for ideally expressed speed.

I would think some bounds and box jumps can partially train the rate of force development aspect; how would you replace the coordination and rhythm aspect of an actual sprint as you would on drills like speed change drills and flying sprints?

Thank you.

Im curious to know if anyone has any video to the strength endurance running a’s? I would love to try them but would hate to do them wrong and not receive full benefit.

I remember watching the Movie Rocky IV in 1985 thinking the Russians had it all.
Then I watched the Goodwill Games on TV in 1986 and saw how messed up the facilities were…especially the beat up Track.

They invested where it made HUGE impact…Coaching and research, etc.

We Westerners are shallow. We want everything to look pretty, but we miss what counts. Application, smarts, and the will seem to be missing.

I will post some photos of my various training locations

So many of such great books take on a different meaning once time has passed, experienced gained. I personally find this to be true when re-reading great works like Speed Trap, CFTS, etc. a few years later that certain concepts really jump off of the page that maybe did not to the same degree in the past.

I think a great weakness that comes from being obsessed with ideal facilities, equipment, conditions, etc., is that subconsciously you fall into the all-or-nothing trap. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good or the “that will have to do for now.” Also, the “ideal” more often than not is more propaganda or sales pitch than reality, like the Rocky IV reference by Balance.

The 49ers had it all last year-Facilities. However, it was “all bad” with the Team Chemistry from the Very Top to the bottom.
Looks Like the Raiders are the first in the NFL to go with more S&C assistants this year- 2015. Very interesting. Let’s see how it plays out.

Classic example of this was a few years ago we had a soccer team forfeit the game against my son’s team due to the field not being very even. This was at age 12 or something ridiculous like that. I grew up playing baseball in our back field and taking what ever you could get to make an ice rink. It’s kinda funny how people think sometimes about need vs want.
IF you talk to many athletes I bet they all have their stories and my guess is the facilities were likely non existent.
I remember feeling quite a bit of privilege when we got to train in Chicago in that facility. I had never used weights like that or platforms or seen change rooms like that in a facility. They did not start out like that either. The former Bulls center was a shared health club with the players walking around among wealthy health club members. This is where I met Phil Jackson just walking around the place like a normal guy.


I’d refer you to my training journals. I’m in Detroit. Track season starts the first week of March, and ends Mid May. The weather sucks. Most of March is either 30F or indoors in an 80m long hall way, where only 2 kids can run at a time.



I coached a national champ in hurdles in this hall way. I’ve had no injuries related to the hallway, or the cold weather.


You bring up good concerns, but few are in ideal environments. My distance girls don’t have a track in the winter. We run laps around the school in the parking lot and sidewalks. It’s the best I can do with the 12+ girls who show up those days. My hurdler and other were the same way. We did tempo by running on ab mats, and using the 5 bikes in our school weight room. We did extended med ball circuits after to get as much fitness as we could.

We run outside as long as the track isn’t icy. I don’t like it, but we often race several meets in under 40F weather. If I waited for good training conditions, then it would have to be May as the weather warms, but then the season is over for us.

Experience can help create your training plans over time. I learned really quick in my early years coaching there is no ideal. Not to mention training facilities, but I have to deal with kids who take several advanced classes, stay up late studying, often going to bed at 2 or 3am, to wake up at 630. Some have food allergies, others are vegetarian and eat animal crackers all day. These are not ideal circumstances, obviously. These are the situations I have to deal with daily. Do I help give them better food choices, yes. Do I help them understand what lack of sleep does, yes. But I’m not the one putting them to bed, or cooking them food or making their lunches. When they show up to practice tired, I know the workout will not be great. I have to modify the best I can for them.

I say this as an example of someone who has not had ideal situations and has found success at the level I coach. Hope this helps!

Esti is an excellent example of taking in all the information and applying it. He also works very hard. Excellent coaching is hard work. Succeeding in amateur athletics is also hard work.
I was thinking about your post today and trying to summarize what is needed is not always going to be a quick answer. I was watching a woman exercise this morning at a condo I was working at. She was following a workout online and doing some great exercises. The problem was she was poorly executing everything she was doing and it was WAY too much for her to handle. I appreciated her need to get some information online and but what was lost for her was the execution of " how to put it all together".
A lot of the information on this site is buried inside many posts and products. Some of the technical information is hard to understand unless you study it.
It’s useful for you to read posts from people like Esti who have been with Charlie in the past but he has also studied a great deal on his own and gone out and tried things.

i dont know how you can get good in cold weather without an indoor track…that’s the one thing i think you really need… outdoor there are plenty of tracks in plenty of places…

other than that i agree with everything Angie says