Every coach looks for the panacea of workouts to make athletes faster. The Holy Grail of workouts. I am not talking about a program that works for the first couple years of training. Fly 10’s can help that athlete. I am talking about a program that works when the basics no longer do. I know the perfect plan does not exist. There are too many factors in play when creating a workout. Designing a program for an advanced athlete is especially difficult.
There is the art of coaching. What is the coach’s feel for what’s going on with their athlete? Where does the flow of the moment lead? There is raw data from a myriad of tests available, ranging from Omegawave to a quick vertical jump or even the basic tap test on an iPhone. There are external factors, like the weather.
Last summer in Chicago, it rained most days, and the temperatures were cool. On top of that, the street where I live, which serves as my 70m training track, was filled with heavy machinery as a builder tore down and rebuilt three houses. My house was in the middle of the construction. For four weeks, there was dirt, mud, and pebbles everywhere. The surface was not prime for sprinting, to say the least.
I experienced a perfect storm that summer with the construction plus five veteran athletes who trained as a group. By veteran, I mean more than three years of training experience with me. They are very accomplished athletes in their sport. Most of them worked with Dr. Kerry Heitkotter due to her ability to design programs for their cellular health and to oversee how they dealt with the stresses of training. Also, Dr. Kerry Egan was playing with light, color, and sound to make sure the systems were optimal.
I stayed on top of the athletes physically with Douglas Heel’s Be Activated work. And I had the newest and coolest of the latest and greatest toys. I had two Exxentric kBoxes and a 1080 Sprint. They have elaborate monitoring systems, and the 1080 Sprint tracks every step in a run.
My ankle rocker circuit was a constant in all the workouts. We started with various ankle jumps cycled with velocity based training on my Hammer Strength Deadlift machine. We used the GymAware to monitor the speed of the lift. We added weight as long as an athlete could keep the bar speed over 1.5 m/s. The bar speed limited the number of reps. We also performed single leg jumps on the Shuttle MVP, focusing on ankle rocker from the jump. The last part of this French Contrast (thanks to Cal Dietz at XLAthlete.com) were rubber band supported jumps (to do this, hang the bands from the ceiling to assist the jump). We performed two sets of half squats on the kBox before we left my basement and went out.
Once outside, I rotated three blocks. Block 1 was our acceleration block. This consisted of 40m runs with the 1080 Sprint which waved between variable resistance runs and regular pulls, the heaviest being 12 kg of resistance. The athletes next performed a single leg squat on the kBox. Again, we waved the sets; one on their own and one where I pulled up, and they had to catch and go up on their own. They usually made it through four sets before they experienced a substantial drop in output on the kBox and 1080 Sprint.
Block 2 was an overspeed session. We started with mini-hurdle work. With the more advanced athlete, I normally use longer distances. This summer, however, I felt like keeping the hurdles short at 1.5m. I found that, by keeping the hurdles short and having the athletes run at a higher speed, they trained to get their feet off the ground faster. Two of them experienced a dramatic improvement in form.To train the feet to get off the ground faster, keep hurdles short and run at higher speed. Click To Tweet
I measured their max velocity on their first free run and added 3% to that speed. This became the speed at which the 1080 Spring towed them for whatever distance I set. In this case 30m. They worked in a 30m fly before the 1080 Sprint started to tow. After three reps, they were toast. Following these workouts, everyone’s numbers in the basement work, power output, and jump heights had big increases. Three guys vertically jumped 37 inches. I want to look into this more in the future.
Block 3 was our fly day. We ran fly 10’s on the slick dirty street, pairing them with kBox assisted RDL’s. I pulled up with them, and they would stop it and bring it back up. We usually stayed on both legs, although I do like the single leg version.
In the end, all the guys broke 1.0 in the fly 10. I had a girl go 1.07. I had three guys run .96 and one ran .98. For three of the athletes, this was a .05 improvement in four weeks. The day they ran, Peter Holmertz at Motion 1080 filmed one of the .96’s. The all-time best on the street is .947.
The surface, however, does change over time. Eight years ago, the village had just repaved the street, and it had good traction. Now the street is slick. I try to run fly on days when the temp is over 85 degrees so the records will not be temperature dependent. That made it hard last summer in Chicago. We had two days over that temperature in July. And we ran our fly 10’s on both of those days.
Can I replicate this? I don’t know. I have to wait until July. The equipment will be there. Hopefully, the docs will be there as well. But weather changes quickly here. It will be in the 40-70 degree range in September, and it is difficult to run fast when it’s cool. When it’s cold outside, the track I use is not as long as the one in my yard, and I’ll need to be creative to do overspeed. Even in April and May it stays cool, and I don’t know the impact cold has on overspeed training, or spikes for that matter.
Like everything else in life, I savor the moment. It will probably never happen the same way again. Galahad only saw the Holy Grail. He never touched it. Also, I don’t know if I want to find the Holy Grail of sprint workouts. Galahad died after finding his.
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