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Speed Development Part 4- Programming Basics

After performing power training and executing proper sprinting posture, the next important staple in speed development is organizing a training program. Since there is never one ideal program that can meet everyone's needs, we will discuss several sprint program design philosophies and come up with a sensible framework that makes the most sense for the most folks.

Speed coaches tend to fall into one of two camps. There are coaches who follow a long to short philosophy, which progresses training from general endurance - speed endurance - speed. On the flipside, there are coaches who follow a short to long philosophy, which progresses training from acceleration - speed - speed endurance. The short to long approach is currently in favor, however it is worth mentioning that neither approach is new and historically each camp has produced successful athletes from the 400m distance and below. There are theoretical pros and cons to both approaches, and a practical solution can be found when combining the benefits of each approach. A hybrid of the two competing philosophies, sometimes referred to as a funnel approach, progresses long and short training concurrently. A tenet within this approach is that anything worth the effort to include in your training, is probably also worth maintaining. This means if you believe some very shorts sprints or very long sprints are important for your sprinting performance going into race season, then you should make the effort to keep those workouts programmed in your training at least as frequently as every few weeks. If it does not seem logical to maintain sprints of certain distances into your program at certain times of the year, then it raises the question of if they should be in your program at all. Most individuals can find some value in following the funnel approach, especially team and multi-sport athletes that require an array of running abilities. Now we'll take a look at a mock framework of what a month of training may look like on paper.


Each sprint training session has its own area of emphasis such as acceleration, speed, or speed endurance, which I've just called short, medium, and long for simplicity. The training sessions need to have built in progressions from week-to-week to effectively drive positive performance adaptations. In our example a very basic volume progression is being utilized to provide the overload over the first three weeks of training. No differently than with strength and power training, weeks of low stress must be periodically planned to reduce fatigue and encourage adaptation. Here in our example week four serves as the planned week of rest as evidenced by the reduction in daily sprint volume.

The demands of your sport will dictate the dose and distances that will maximize your sports speed. For instance there are sports that do not require speed endurance, so it would be appropriate in that instance to omit the long sprint day in our sample program in favor of performing another acceleration or speed session.

Train to build power, understand and execute sprint posture, and follow a progressive training program. That is the formula to FAST.

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