T Nation

Olympic Track & Field Inspiration

Hi friends,

Who here have been watching the track and field? The 100m and the 400m are my favorites.

A bunch of great athletic physiques on show, it has got me inspired to get my conditioning levels back up to scratch with some sprinting. Previously I have done 2 days a week of track work, one session was shorter 60 meter sprints, and the other day was longer 400m repeats. Only issue I have with sprinting is I often go a little too hard and it leads to injuries.

Who here sprints for conditioning? What are some tips to prevent injuries? What do you do in the weight room to prevent injuries and enhance your track work? Any suggestions on how to program sprint work?

Uncle Bird.


Sprint training or any training for that matter is not about going hard all the time. You save that shit for the race. Focus on technique and running in a relaxed, fluid motion, shoulders down.
You’d be better of joining an athletic group, getting some coaching on your technique. Most of the athletes cycle their training intensity to peak for a meet.
Gotta remember nearly all these guys and girls who are serious runners take PED’s too.
There was a book about Ben Johnson I think it was called Speed Trap. I haven’t read it but I’ve heard its pretty interesting.

  1. Injury prevention: Warm up, roll out, build up, manage volume and intensity appropriately, cool down, rest, and recover. I have two recovery days per week where I don’t train, just play or walk.

  2. Weight training: I lift twice a week. Basic lifts: squat, deadlift, presses, chin-ups, rows, and core exercises. I lift after sprinting or the day after sprinting. I jump and throw 5 days a week before training.

  3. Programming: I’ll just provide a general overview of what I do personally and what my athletes do.

One day is dedicated to longer sprints, slightly longer than race distance. Relatively low intensity with 2-3 sets of 3-4 reps. I usually increase the distance of each set. Rest periods are moderate (2-3 minutes). Sometimes we use a 1:1 recovery for conditioning work. 100 runners might top at 200/300, 200 runners at 400/500, and 400 runners might run 800s.

One day focuses on race distance and 85-95% intensity. 3-4 sets, 2-3 reps. If my 200 goal is 25 seconds, I would run 2-3 hundreds at 13.5-15, 2-3 150s at 20-22.5, and then run 2-3 200s at 27-30. Close to full recovery. Good technique day.

One day focuses on building top speed. Short distances, (30m-60m), 90-95% intensity. Full recovery. I work on starts here also, 5m-20m max with short rest (don’t need much).

I rest between each of those days. The fourth day, done the day after top speed day, is a recovery run day. 2-3 800s up to 2-3 1600s (rarely, but for some athletes). Very low intensity.

I work in 3-4 week blocks. Building intensity up throughout. Rest weeks are scheduled so I don’t need them or based on the competition schedule.

This all varies based on several factors. Personally, while my goals are almost completely speed based, I enjoy weight training so much that I schedule my training with that in mind. My athletes will have different plans than me but they follow the same general ideas.

I used do sprints draging a light sled 5or 6 sets of 30 to 50 yds after leg day , not much but go heart rate up worked legs awesome.

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D’oh! I forgot to add that part. On top speed days we will break out sleds or some kind of resistance quite often.

I wrote that down and everything, then deleted it on accident because I’m a stinkin’ moron.

No not a moron, when I post am usally doing something like have 5min break at work or at night when i am groggy, i mispell all the time my punctuation sucks, i have talked to guys from the gym who both have competed elite mma ufc who swear by hill runs . As long as your joints are fine why not ,plus burn calories fast, sled sprints, after squats, leg presses, and deadlift variations is a very complete leg and pch workout.

Some great advice here! Thanks

Tapford: when you say 2-3 sets of 3-4 reps, what do you mean? How large is the rest between “reps” and “sets”?

Do you have any particular drills that you like to improve sprinting form/technique?

Do you follow a particular program in the gym? What type of rep range do you do?

Thanks again.


Reps are generally the same distance and are bunched together with shorter recovery periods. :30-4 minutes depending on the workout. Endurance work has shorter recovery times. Sets have a longer recovery in between. Usually to or close to full recovery.

For technique: Regular skips, power skips, side skips, A-skips, B-skips. Fast feet, butt kicks, high knees, grapevines, etc… Most of what you’d do in a warmup. 6"-18" hurdles work well for strides and bounds. My son just sets out little mini cones like you can find at a sporting goods store and strides over those. A Google search will give you loads of those.

When I’m coaching, we use the recovery period between reps to go over form in addition to the warmup.

I personally follow the 531 program (2 days a week, 6-week cycles) because I like it. My athletes lift 2-3 days a week, mostly full body and lower rep ranges. We’re trying to explode through each lift. It depends on where we are in the season.

I personally have not noticed any speed drop off doing 531 though.

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Hey Tepford,

Thanks for the great information.

Just wondering do you do the full body version of 531 or do you have separate lower and upper days. I think the latter would be better for those that do track work as it allows more recovery time for the legs?

Also just wondering your thoughts on the importance of longer distance runs for sprinters? Would you ever advocate a sprinter warming up with a 3-5 km run for example?


Their is a espn 60 of him on Netflix, he admits he was using peds like everbody else, knew had beaten test several times, apparently somebody drop stanozol in his beer, Carl Lewis test positive for pseudo ephedrine let it slide.

You’re right about my lifting. I have one lower day and one upper day for 6-week cycles, alternating the lifts I push each week. I end up with two days between lower day and my first sprint day of the week. I lift on weekends. With a wife, kids, and practices, trying to fit them in during the week left me about as effective at parenting/husbanding/coaching as a cranky zombie.

We don’t usually program miles or higher for sprinters, but I think they have their place in training. I’m not as militant as some on the topic. It depends on the athlete. We have 800s-1600s for general fitness, often with the younger runners. (I don’t like kids specializing at the freshman/JV levels) and mostly early in the season.

I wouldn’t use them as a warmup. We use them mostly as recovery runs.

Thanks again.

What lifts do you alternate with?

Did you read todays article regarding using quarter squats to improve speed and vertical jump? I found this interesting and Im thinking of using it. My lower back struggles with parallel squats, but I think I should be able to deal with quarter squats.


Let me know how that goes. It is interesting. It makes sense that it would improve the vertical leap.

Weeks 1, 3, and 5: 531 sets for squat on one day and bench the other.
Weeks 2, 4, and 6: 531 sets for deadlift and OHP.

Assistance work is light. Rows and chins on upper day and core and single leg variations on lower day.