Zhanna Block - Training and Technique

My point is to train smarter, not harder. If you want to improve the 200, then Sp End 1 and 2 must be at a very high performance level- volume doesn’t matter ( this is not a best of ten contest). For example, she runs up to 8 x 100m under 11sec ht with 5 to 7 min breaks in practise. Adjusting to electric on times without a gun, you’re looking at perfomances of around 11.30 to 11.40e. Although impressive as a proof of work capacity, this does nothing to impact max speed or specific speed end at her level. (One assumes that races themselves under conditions of recovery or the vertical componant of her plyo program are, in large measure responsible for her high top speed.) I might have a series of suggestions, however Zhanna and Mark chose not to try to elevate her own program, but, rather, chose to disrupt the program of her rival.

Originally posted by Charlie Francis
(One assumes that races themselves under conditions of recovery or the vertical componant of her plyo program are, in large measure responsible for her high top speed.)

Charlie, can a resonable amount of plyos of the vertical nature compensate for poorly carried out speed work on the track?

When i was talking about endurance for her 200m race, it was about 200m specific endurance, not her ‘global’ endurance she probably works with fartlek training.

From the race we have seen until now at 100m and 200m, impossible to know what his her level at this ‘global’ endurance, only her coaches are aware, on the other hand, it’s obvious that her specific 200m endurance, from her last 50m data, is poor compared to other top-class 200m specialists. That’s the case for Muriel Hurtis for example, poor finisher at 200m as opposed to Ferguson or Collins.

I asked Jacques Piasenta about this topic. He coach Christine Arron from 1993 to 2000 and led her to 10.73 in 1998. He also led Pérec to 400m Olympic and World titles in 1991-92.

He says that from what Block is able to do at training, she should be able to run under 22sec. The fact that she didn’t ran it shows that ones shall emphasis on specific work. He said that many throwers or distance runners are disappointed because their performances at lifting or effort series are not connected with their competition results. That’s because the training test isn’t good and they should modify it.

Worth to note that Pérec or Arron were unable to have Standing Jump close to 3m or bench 90kg like Block, or make 8x100m training sessions in sub11h seconds with such low rests…
However they had a better technique and maybe a more appropriate training program in the specific area of sprinting.


Cahrlie, I know this topic is about Zhanna, but I’m really keen to hear your opinion of Heike Drechsler, and what you think/thought of her sprinting.

She had awful arm technique but good stride length and maximum speed. If she’d have worked on her dreadful start would she have done low 10.8’s? And do you think she’d have done ‘better’ had she maybe tackled the 400m? I know her training was based on longjumping and maximum speed in a short space of time, but with her 21.71 she showed good endurance.

Any comments?

There is a clear connection between 200m and long jump among top athletes. The only mechanics question that stood out was her start position, where her wide hand spacing caused her center of gravity to be held too low for her build. Arms straight down from the shoulders would have been better.

200meters of bounds seems simple but so much. Even though I’m into science a bit, I love anything simple that just requires good ol’ hard work. I don’t know how my legs would feel after even a 100meters of bounds but I’d dffinately give it a shot if I was convinced enough of it’s possible benefits. Personally I’m not interested in to much “general preperation”/ conditioning for the sake of it/ or huge amounts of base work. If that many bounds could directly improve my running speed I would do it. Anybody give a few more ideas on 100m and 200m bounds? Also, I take it, that’s double leg bounds and not hops? Plus, why does no other sprinter I’ve heard of do very high rep bounds? I’ve done low rep plyometrics for shere explosiveness, but I’d love to think that higher reps would be better for 100 & 200meters

Anybody care to respond to the questions raised about high volume of bounds.

I would be very concerned about the potentially terrible stress to the legs, espcially the lower legs and the knees. Certainly, bounding on grass would appear to be better than on the track/runway but high volumes of bounding could be very risky under the best of conditions. If a guy whose event IS BOUNDING(Edwards-tj) does not do high volumes of bounding and derives his success from other training sources(short sprints, oly. lifts, box jumping, and altitude jumps) then you would not think that a sprinter would not either. I know we all respond to various training stimuli in different ways but her training seems to me to be very excessive. She is obviously very successful but it does make me wonder how.

it always amazes me how some of the great ones become great in spite of their training methods.

can you detail any of the work that Aaron and PErec performed under that particular coach?

The weekly schedule for Piasenta’s group was like this:

Monday - muscles-development exercises
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - technical work
Thursday - muscles-development exercises
Friday - rest
Saturday - technical work
Sunday - “organic” resistance

Only 5 sessions a week, and never 2 sessions the same day. The content of the sessions varies through the season and with athlete’s abilities, so it’s imposible to give more details.
The program was built to allow athletes to study or go to job. Having a profesional aim was one of the criterias to enter in Piasneta’s group, as well as beeing punctual and train without drugs (even electro-stimulation was considered as a drug).
About lifting, Pérec and Arron never benched because Piasenta considered it’s not a specific work for sprinting or hurdling. About squats, the bar was always ahead the neck and not on shoulders to prevent spine injuries, with only 10-15 centimeters between each feet to work mainly the inner thigh. Never stretching after lifting. Christine Arron never lift to work her back because she was always injured, so Piasenta had to imagine other ways to develop her force.
Force was worked with lifting and also bound exercises or with patented machines Piasenta created.
About races at practice, sprinters ran all sort of distances from 20 to 800m, and never gave twice the same training cession. Lots of racing tests too.
About technique, he used his machines, filmed a lot his athletes and their oponents…
He coached Guy Drut before Montreal’76, Michelle Chardonnet (his wife), Anne Piquereau, Monique Éwange-Épée, Cécile Cinélu, Stéphane Caristan, Phillipe Tourret, Dan Philibert (all World-Class hurdlers), Marie-Jo Pérec, Christine Arron, Frédérique Bangué, Muriel Hurtis…

If you want more details about Pérec or Arron, i’ll try to give you what i have.

The program was built to allow athletes to study or go to job. Having a profesional aim was one of the criterias to enter in Piasneta’s group, as well as beeing punctual and train without drugs (even electro-stimulation was considered as a drug).

Elecro - Stimulation was considered as a drug? Seems quite unbelievable.

Who is he coaching now? Is he still working with Arron? It would be very interesting if you could set up a separate thread on his training methods, with details of the track work- under the heading of French training methods.

I agree with Charlie that Marion will be out to regain her dominance and that she will. Many women come back stronger after a child. Whether it is the mental toughness after gong through childbirth, or the hormonal changes of the pregancy and lactating, or the break from training, I don´t know - what experiences have other coaches had? Any endocrinologists (or those who have read up on it) out there?

Wow…some deep stuff. I need Coffee to get into that one again…still much can be expanded.

Hey! You found the thread! (And please feel free to bring up any of the others that you found challenging- in fact I’d be grateful, as I’m clueless when it comes to finding stuff in the archives)
How about this for an expansion of the topic. In terms of breadth of CNS demand, how do plyos fit in with the demand of varying speed work, since time can’t really be used as a guideline (or can it??)

I found in my archives an interview of zhanna Block, after her World Title in 2001, talking about her life and training.
Her schedule goes like this:
10.00 AM wake-up
11.00 AM training in the stadium during 3 hours
back home, shower, lunch and a short snooze.
5.00 PM general physical preparation, muscles development, during 2 hours
back home, shower, diner, go to bed…
She doesn’t train on Sunday.

This rythm endures 3 weeks, and the 4th week, the training is lighter, with 1 cession a day.
It’s in accordance with her results, as i said earlier, with a peak form each 3 week, actually it’s each 4 week.
So her results are easely predictable!
Check her results over the past 3 years, it’s funny how the comet Pintusevich-Block cruises the sky each 4 weeks.
This winter, she was in form during the week 3-9 February, posting 7.09 twice, then, the three following weeks, she ran 4 times in the 7.12-7.18 range, and the 4th week, in Birmingham, she was back with 7.04 and 7.08.
An advice: if you don’t want Block to beat you, watch the calendar and avoid her each 4 week! :sing:

That’s a good idea on the circuit but you can’t avoid her at the championships.

Nothing to add, just want to say this a great thread, thanks to all for their great conributions.:clap: