When to Stop a Speed Session

How do you know when to stop a speed session?

It’s been stated throughout Charlie’s material that once form starts breaking down it would be wise to move on to another training element, but why at this point? Does this mean that if you train every speed session until your form breaks down that you are training at the appropriate weekly/monthly volume of speed work?!?.. surely not! Then how can we use this as a guideline as to when to stop a workout? I would guess that the appropriate volume of speed work would lie 2-3 reps before any noticable breakdowns in form. Thoughts?

You establish a plan which you think can reasonably be accomplished and you stop if you reach that volume, BUT, at times, you may deteriorate before you get to that point. Then, you must stop the session regardless and wait for the next scheduled opportunity.

i read in an article somewhere that you use the sound of an athletes footstrikes to determine when to end a session. is this true or another “squatting before the world record” rumour

Yes, it’s true. you can hear the footsteps getting heavier before you can see the hips dropping. you can read it in Speed Trap and CFTS

So, if we perform every speed workout til form breaks down, that is the best situation in terms of speed improvements and recovery? Are those last few reps before form breaks down very “valuable” in terms of speed improvements? I would think that stopping a workout before this point would lead to better recovery and possibly a more consistent workload. But, then again the more quality reps that one can get in per workout could possibly outweigh any improvements in recovery.

No, you’re missing the point(s).
1: It’s always better to undertrain than overtrain. If you undertrain you will still improve but if you overtrain, you won’t.
2: Your plan, if it is just right and you are healthy throughout, will deliver a level of work from which you should never break down.
Regardless of how good your plan is, there will occasionally be times when the session can’t be completed as planned.
Reasons might include: a super and unexpectedly great session the time before, a cold, exams, lack of sleep (party next door- or party that ISN’T next door!), etc.

Now I have a better understanding. Gratitude due! So basically you have to tinker with the volume til you understand what your body can handle. Then after you set a specific volume of work you have to constantly listen to your body for any signs of overtraining.

I remember reading from Charlie’s book that once you form begins to break down in a speed session, you then move to the next COMPONENT of the workout. I supposed that this means that once your form deteriorates during you sprints you would then move on to weights, or ab work, or med-balls, etc…You definitely don’t want to do to much speed work on the track…but once your form is gone i would imagine that you could move on to some other component of training. Thoughts?

I’d agree. Your co-ordination may be shot in terms of expressing power but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something like medball, abs, stretching, or whatever. Also remember if you are undertrained you can always add a session here and there to reach “optimal” readyness but if you are overtrained it is going to take more than 1 session to recover.

Yes, that’s right.

I was thinking about this again. As CF has hinted at before (Van’02,04), it’s the total volume of high quality speed work over the entire year that is important. If as we already pretty much know the motor patterns change with tiredness then perfect high quality speed work is like putting money in the bank but every rep at less than perfect levels is like withdrawing it. You want to end up with a positive balance as big as you can get by the end of the year.

Also note as you get more skilled your ability to do a higher volume of speed work will probably rise throughout the year anyway so by the end (provided sufficient unloading) you will have an envelope for speed work that is now bigger. In this respect holding back (stopping when form breaks down) helps you in the long term. Think how this would add up year on year!

That’s very well put.

Can you please explain what you mean by sufficient unloading? Does this refer to reducing the volume of other types of training?

Periodically reducing volume, intensity or loading on a specific body part to permit adaptation to a certain system(s). Generally this is done every 4th week if you are performing high intensity work 3 days a week. Its all over Tudor’s books and CF talks about it on the Vancouver downloads.

Tudor as in Tudor Bompa is it???

Yes sorry about not being specific.

That’s cool. I was just confirming.

Charlie, does the same principle for speed work apply at the lower speeds? I don’t mean recovery tempo, but like SEI or SEII or even around 800m pace workouts. If the times of the repetitions can be kept within a reasonable window of the goal. Lets say you wanted to go 39-40 in a few 300’s, and the last few form went to hell, but were still hitting 40-41?

Or even in a different sense if you’re training for an 800m doing rapid rep’s 6-10x200’s with short recovery, should the emphasis be on hitting each 200 at the desired time with the pre-determined recovery and cut the workout short, if times or form go to hell? Or increase recovery and try to hit the desired times and # of reps?

This is a problem I’ve faced while panting on the side of the track wondering why my watch always seems to run slowly during running and way too fast during recovery. :stuck_out_tongue:

If your objective is a session of 6 x 200 as SE for the 800m, then you should work at a pace where the last rep matches the first- if not the pace was wrong and the correction should be with the pace for the next session, not the number of reps.