4: Breaking Down a College-Level Sprint Program

4: Breaking Down a College-Level Sprint Program

4: Breaking Down a College-Level Sprint Program

00:00 / 00:30:38

Thomas interviews Eric about his experience racing and competing in the sprints during his 4 years at Cornerstone University. Eric competed in the short sprints from the 60m up to the 400m and was part of an Indoor All-American 4x400m team. Learn not only what it takes to train and compete at that level, but also what mistakes were made in programming. Also, learn how the OPTC approach to sprint development differs from your typical college program.

Start of sprint race
Athletes coming out of blocks.


What’s up podcast? Welcome to another episode of the OPP? Optimal performance podcast, yes, this is Eric Schroder and Thomas Bose how’s it going guys and today’s gonna be a little bit different we’re gonna break down my collegiate track and field training look at what was done correctly if anything and then what was done incorrectly kind of break it down yeah this should be fun. 

I’m excited we. I’ve been looking to do something more like this kind of more X’s and O’s especially when I’m like, It’s just track and field um I like using that they’re kind of style for speed training obviously it’s not kind of like go one size fits all but I think this is gonna be good to kind of really narrow the focus and just kind of deep dive on this one thing of speed and weights and how they all kind of work together and we talked about jumps a little bit too before we opt down here, but I think yeah, it’s gonna be good so how should we start so I was thinking initially let’s just let’s start with the whole whole thing in mind so I’m thinking like maybe whatever year you want to pick. 

I mean, What it what was it was the breakdown of your year. I mean, you obviously have the the indoor and the outdoor season always mm-hmm, yes. College is a little bit different yeah. So I’ll just start with freshman year because it’s you know, they’re they’re bringing me on as a new athlete and I don’t have the past year’s experience to know what to go in on so they sent me like programming to do in the summer beforehand classic yeah it’s pretty standard yeah which included like three workouts on the track a week and then two. 

Or we’re called jump circuit workouts, so you end up doing five days of work and if you could lift they sent you a program to do lifting as well, which is very lower body based as a track athlete, okay, so we did that that was from. June until August and then our season started when school started so when we went to college yeah, which what is it? 

September. I mean, yeah you typically like most schools are open on end of August. I think cornerstone was always kind of like that first week of September like Labor Day yeah, yeah, so. I remember we came on the first very first day, they took us to the bleachers and it was kind of like. 

It was a workout to design to show like who did the work over the summer who did oh yeah separating like for sure experience athletes who were like yeah, I’m gonna be ready yeah it’s not easy and I I hung tough on that but you know, it was it’s kind of like you didn’t know yet what was gonna happen for day and day out and then from that point on the workouts themselves were we’d go to the field we would do. 

X by 100 meters, which would they would measure out 100 meters and we would I think we started with eight the first day. And then working up throughout the season to like 12 14 16, we did more than 16 that’s an example of one workout and how they kind of scaled it up as a season went on but our indoor track season didn’t start until January. 

So we went from so we had three months of like general preparation yeah, okay well I can see that I could be pretty beneficial honestly. I mean in turn like when they when you’re doing those like you said you call them X by 100s are you doing like where you you said you started with say like eight would you go maybe like eight nine ten and then like back down to nine and like wave it like that or was it a constant progression and you guys never really went backwards or you never constant progression yeah, okay, yeah and each each time was recorded and You were kind of graded based on did you improve did you get also faster okay yeah not only which is good because otherwise you can just yeah I did more I did more reps this week but you might be slower right exactly there’s a lot. 

I mean, there’s a lot of attention paid to the details which was good but as we’ll get into like the capacity the volume that we didn’t so that was one example of a workout and then lifting. Typically there’s a power lift like a clean or a jerk there was a compound movement like a squat bench shoulder press and then accessory work which is usually very leg development hamstring quad, mm-hmm sometimes calves I can like body armor almost yeah yeah resiliency piece okay and you were doing that what like three to four days a week, you said three days a week, okay, if you were a multi athlete look at the Catholic you’re doing four, oh wow, okay. 

Now what like a decathlay like now go deep down on that just first quick second like I’m not super familiar with it yeah, so I have to athlete is indoor that’s seven events in one meet and then a decathlete is 10 events, okay since and the decathlons over two days but it’s from the 60 meter hurdles up to the 1500 meter run whoa and six five or six field events, so it’s very to be very diverse and a very gifted athlete yeah, it’s got to be someone special. 

I’m trying to think I don’t know anything but anyways about the Catholic the Cornerstone. At one Spencer Perry, of course, yeah that makes sense he’s pretty good but it’s you you can see it firsthand like how. I mean we’re going to work two hours a day every day two and a half hours a day sometimes but they’re there they’re doing morning practices they’re lifting before they run it’s just a whole nother level now would you guys run and then go lived or would you lived and then you go wrong you would always yeah run first and then lift okay just I think good from injury perspective yeah. 

I mean, I think it’s like what what is what is the the running faster is the goal and yeah, you probably want to run first and especially I mean, you look at even what it’s done, right, you look in terms of energy system use and how that gets replenished now it gets unlocked. 

As like if you’re doing. Doing high intensity spring training like that’s going to fall when that category was weight lifting is going to be a little more kind of anaerobic not so much CP based but not should be good yeah, so how the week would break down with Monday was high intensity. 

Tuesday, low intensity Wednesday. High intensity. Thursday would be low or medium intensity on Friday would be medium to high intensity yeah so it was kind of waved through the week, but it was you typically doing three really difficult workouts. Gotcha. Huh yeah I mean that’s not that’s a two bed you guys just did the five days you didn’t understand you know like a Saturday like recovery run you guys what was your recovery looking like oh, you know, what now I think about we would Saturday we would typically lift oh would you yeah, okay yeah, it’s just like kind of whatever you were feeling or was it a prescribed it was prescribed so that we’d have three lifting days. 

I think Tuesday Thursday gotcha, now that I yep as a long time ago, so yeah, no worries, no yeah, that’s all that’s not a terrible explain. I mean, you wrote down here. I got like we got some. Nose in front of us today for once, um, Looking at like how it’s broken up, um. 

Honestly the first thing that jumps out of me is just the volume for developing speed now. I know like you you’re 400 meters. Hey, I mean, you could say that was my best event but really it was the the relay okay so we had a good team for it and I was kind of like the second or third guy depending okay, yeah so. 

I think between the training based on the volume that we had and what the team needed I ended up being 400 meter guy but my bread and my bread and butter the thing I enjoyed the most and I thought I was meant for her was short distant yeah 60 meter 100 meter 200 meter okay and you’d be never gonna chance to do that or did you I did yeah and I ended up doing well my senior year. 

But as we’ll talk about I kind of took my own approach to training yeah, okay, so that was the but I mean, so you guys would run like you said general. General kind of prep work up until January once you’re in season, what’s your in season program look like? 

So January would start considered. It’s considered like a new phase so okay, we’re not quite tapering down and getting speed and our workouts we’re actually increasing the volume so early January we have a J term yes and we would do two days okay six am and four four PM and. 

Similar stuff, maybe a little more technique because there’s more time to work on it, but it was tough. I mean, you’re doing I think we did core every. Morning some kind of core workout and a lift in the morning and then the sprint workout and the evenings. And then from there once we were going to meet on Saturdays. 

So typically a meat day was considered like a hard workout day, so they would. Pull off the Friday workout. Once we were doing meats. So whereas before we’d have like a long-ish workout like a 300 meter 400 meter sprint. Yeah, we would pull that off so that we were fresh for Saturday. 

So you’re looking at like a day off prior to we’d still do. Whatever it was something tempo tempoed out where you’re doing like 60 70%, okay? And so that was probably early February where we started to do that. But then our coach would put us in. It’s like say like for me. 

I’m like, hey, I’m just gonna run since it’s indoor or the 60 meter and the 200 and then long jump. But my coach would say, do you want to run the 400 and the 4 by 4 since we need to work on your conditioning? So it was kind of like the more events you could do the better and the eyes of the coach Yeah that’s what sounds like I mean, are you with a using this season to like was like the money all for the outdoor and it’s like hey, we’re gonna We’re gonna use this indoor like we don’t really care how you guys do necessarily be more of let’s use this to get ready. 

I think it’s like getting in the track world and that’s how it goes. Yeah, that’s not that’s pretty common. Yeah, two degree. I don’t I think one example might be a little intense, but ended up occurring was we actually had a lot more All-Americans indoor. And I think my theory was because we started in August a lot of teams when I talked to them like at Nationals and stuff they didn’t start until. 

November the earliest maybe December. Oh wow, okay. So because we’re starting in August we had been running for six months by the time I get to indoor conference. By the time we get to outdoor conference, we’ve we’ve basically been running for ten eight to ten months, you know majority of the year a lot of us are injured broken down. 

And so where we’re supposed to be peaking in May we’re kind of peeking in like March. Yeah, no kidding, yeah. Well, I mean, that’s great for indoors and I mean, yeah, I think it’s like you said like. I don’t think you didn’t necessarily made the wrong decision. I feel like maybe the intensity was probably just way too high from way too early on. 

Yeah, so I mean, I think maybe those other schools should have kind of followed your skies a step but I mean, it should have been so low intensity that everything you could have gone probably six days in a row with no really like serious like accumulate it cumulative fatigue. 

But that’s interesting that you guys. I mean, there was in terms of like tapering like prior to a meat. I mean, I guess if indoors wasn’t really the focus. Like I know some people take like ten days out and they’ll start to like tape or down. So if you’re on the nationals team that that was. 

Kind of the approach so two weeks out from nationals, we would back off quite a bit okay, but that was just for nationals that didn’t really apply to indoor season at all no unless it was I guess it was indoor nationals do they have internationals which which is a week after conference meet so oh wow, so you’re stuck. 

I mean, you’d probably would they just give you the whole week off if you’re doing the next week, we would still we would so, for example like a Wednesday would be like a 200-meter day. Maybe six 200 meters per month for tapering if you’re going to Nationals in a week, we would do two 200 meters sprints, but instead of trying to hit like 20 seconds you’re hitting 24 seconds. 

Okay. Make sense. 

I mean that’s not a bad plan so like I mean what like what’s your do you have an off season like it doesn’t really sound like you guys really have time because I mean nationals would be in the summer correct yeah late late may middle may yeah okay we have that point you been on campus it’s August yeah do you get what’s the downtime look like in terms of like recovery or generation June you’re just offered you then you guys get your summer workout plan back yeah like that really July yeah, yeah, wow, yeah, so it’s 11 months you guys are just having my yeah. 

Sounds like a lot it’s a lot probably not how I would do things then again. I’m not a track coach. I’ve never coached track before but I do have some ideas on how I think I would coach track a little differently at least a short distance. I wouldn’t want I wouldn’t know really not to get into I’d like kind of dabbled and just like special endurance training like I think we’ve talked about before we hopped on like kind of those longer duration runs like up to 400 meters ish but I mean anything, I’m gotten comfortable with the like the 200 down but not so much like the like the four would be kind of dicey for me. 

I think I can get it by yeah just based off what I’ve read but. It’d be tough. I would I wouldn’t know from experience that’s for sure because I mean, I prefer hundred down but that’s about it. I think you do better job than my coaches because here’s the thing my I mean, so my junior year. 

I was running 51 in the 400. Okay in the 60 I was running like seven three seven four consistently my senior year. I really focused on the sixty getting fast getting powerful getting quick, okay? I brought my 60-meter down to seven. Right around seven flats 706 tents and yeah, that’s pretty good three by doing a by yourself yes like senior college and that subsequently brought down my 200 meter time and my four and a year time so then I was running. 

49 49 one was like for some reason. I was like curse. I could never like every single me is like 49 one the coach would call it out. But that’s two seconds faster and it wasn’t because I was training for the 400 like I literally and we talked about this like my baseline so much quicker yeah and that’s what allowed me to run a quicker 400 yeah. 

I mean that’s a yeah that’s commonly known as the speed reserve and the strength world where it’s if you get someone’s max speed or max velocity faster right, they’re operational output anything that’s kind of so anything sub maximum 100% it by by nature’s it’s gonna go up with that so say you like you said you were running. 

The seven three you dropped down to a seven that’s seven three probably equated to your 51 and then you’re seven flat according to your 49 one or whatever so I mean, it’s like yeah like you get faster over shorter distances that’s going to get you have like a trickle up effect where all your longer distances are actually gonna get slower as well. 

Yeah absolutely and I mean you can see that in some of the best athletes right like like I talk about Usain Bolt he can he can run a 44 400 yeah and he’s he doesn’t train for it yeah just has that speed reserve yeah and we were talking about like marathon runners how like they had broken down the math from this recent guy who just broke the record and he basically over the course of his whole marathon he ran 422 17 second hundred meters, which I mean 17 second hundred meters, like that’s, That’s still decently like I mean that’s that’s a you’re not I mean that’s a run like I would say like that’s a really good like tempo speed for like me yeah, which I mean, like I don’t know what my hundred time is, but like I’ll run a hundred meter tempos at like 15 to 17 seconds and I’m like out of breath like I’m like, I’m not like dying right he means but it’ll get you up there and like that to repeat that for two hours. 

I mean, you have to be fast shortened and explosive. I mean, like maximally fast to be fascinating else, there’s no question in that. So I don’t know through reading books or just being involved in it. I just kind of came across the idea that we were doing too much yeah like I need to be faster and I’m training more of a endurance capacity right so I don’t even ask like my coach trust me enough. 

I would say hey coach can I take the short sprinters which is like three of us and we’re gonna do like something else and he’s like, what are you gonna do and you’d ask me and I’m like, You know, like 30 meter flies or 40 meter flush yeah and it’s less probably still more than what you even needed but it was in the right direction. 

I think it helped tremendously that year yeah yeah. I think I mean, it’s tough. Especially in a more of like a sport coach attracts tricky because I mean they’re really doing it all yeah unless like you have like a straight coach oriented or someone with at least some sort of knowledge or background and like just like yeah, we’re like the sprint coach yeah. 

I like the shortest front coach it should be like it’s it’s tough to know no like you want to make sure you’re people are doing enough work so like it needs to feel like almost like a punch of them mouth like if it’s not hard and it’s not hard to them where yes like yeah, you’re you’re sacrificing quality for quantity and that’s Usually. 

Our goal is I mean like we like you’ll see that if you listen any podcast or talk to anyone any like kind of like collegiate strength coach like they’re always trying to get the coach to dial back yeah. I’ll back down back there you can’t you’re exceeding their capacity that’s where an injury started stuff like that and even like I remember being an athletic quarter so myself just watching the track team and they ran the athletic training room you guys were in there all the time yeah just because I think yeah, like you said the volume was a major issue where constantly doing too much under recover you’re fast was too slow and you’re in your slow stuff was too fast. 

A little zone where you like you weren’t developing work capacity as efficiently as you could and you weren’t developing speed nearly at all so you guys got really good at being tired and like I’m during which and obviously we’re competing against other teams but for the most part you don’t see you don’t see those guys until March, you know, yeah so so what ends up happening I think and you can see in the coaches is there’s a lot of cross sport competitiveness a lot of like ego mm-hmm like oh my guys are doing yeah seriously yeah those conference meetings like picking like, Players and stuff it’s like it is it’s like you want to make sure like your team can do the most and be the best but it’s I mean at the end of the day like you’re gonna you’re gonna find out at the meat anyway, so it’s like who cares what you did like they wanted they want to know the results. 

I mean, it’s a it doesn’t really get more objective especially in the sport of like track where it’s like okay, like everyone sees the time everyone saw yours like yeah, like everyone knows there’s no secrets it’s you’d either got faster you didn’t and so that’s where it needs to come in like hey, like it needs to be like a some sort of kind of like process or procedure where you’re thinking, hey, how can I? 

Just like wait, I mean, how could I build this out progressively over time without doing too much how do I incorporate small breaks so that when I do come back like my baseline level of preparedness is already higher just from taking that rest, um, It really I mean it really is that simple and then like like it’ll be to talk about balancing low intensity and high intensity work and how really the the brunt especially I would say the younger you get the higher the low intensity work becomes like because then that allows you to have this robust base to build off all other qualities, so it’s like let’s get a base of strength and like work capacity and then build up from there where we can develop more power elasticity stuff like that that’s going to transfer to speed. 

But that base component definitely needs to be there and then when you do do your high intensity stuff I mean, it’s got to be high intensity. I mean, there’s maximal effort and maximum rest yeah and maximum rest that’s 100% that’s probably the biggest mistake yeah that we had at Cornstone, oh yeah I’m looking at this like zero rest this workout here we’re doing Hill sprints for 30 seconds and you like just 30 seconds straight you said it was about a 200 meter ish hill maybe like in between 150 and 200 so we had a target which was a mailbox and I think when they measured it’s 180 meters, okay, everyone. 

Was hitting it. Yeah, so it’s good logo. I’ll try to get here at 30 seconds and then you said boys were recovery hit a minute half before the next rep and. You can’t walk down yeah you have to jog down you can run down to try to get more time at the bottom, but basically you’re jogging down turning around going hmm yeah I mean. 

That just doesn’t give a I mean that’s about a 90 second recovery that doesn’t even give you enough time to replenish like any energy system let alone the two that take the longest so I mean, I like that’s and that’s it for just standing still we’re running right downhill yeah and like you’re still operating it probably like 50% on the way back at least. 

I mean, you’re I mean, every step you’re like catching on a 15% decline, yeah your shins are just blown up your quads feel like jello. I mean, like, That’s I mean, that’s great for getting tired. I mean, that’s what we have. I think we have talked about like if I were to do anything of like 30 seconds in duration, so if you’re doing a 200 meter sprint, I mean, You’re looking at at least. 

At least probably 15 minutes per rep which would be kind of a good starting point because we had tagged about this I have it like the quality over quantity it’s like I would rather have someone do for really fast 180 meters that have them do nine really terrible ones yeah we’re like your first one is gonna be like maybe you hit that 30 second mark but like my number nine, there’s you’re not getting anywhere near that mailbox in 30 seconds because you’re so tired so you accumulate all this fatigue. 

Then your posture and your mechanics get kind of taken down because you’re so worried about trying to get to that mailbox and like you know you can’t get there and then all this lactic accumulation. I mean, that’s just that’s that’s basically all the things you want to do if you don’t want to get faster yeah kind of blocking yourself from doing so so that’s I mean that’s always kind of something we talk about is knowing when to kind of throttle down or yeah like throttle down like kind of pull back a little bit and it’s like there is definitely a logical way or kind of like a smarter way to go about training and programming and I even just incorporating like, Your lifts and stuff like that. 

I mean, it really doesn’t have to be it doesn’t have to be hard but it’s that doesn’t mean to say like hey like a sprint workout is gonna be easy but like it does it shouldn’t feel like you’re dying every time to feel like you’re actually accomplishing something. I think one contributing factor is the coaches went through the program right I remember you said that before it came out the other side and that that’s the culture right yeah like this is tough no one wants to really be here yeah this sucks who can survive and it’s more about that grit and that grind yeah yeah, I’m sure as a great carry over to life down the road yeah. 

I mean, I’ve had countless examples of like this is tough grind it out yeah in childhood and you know, that’s course. I think that kind of that plays into are you good athlete because a lot of it athletics is just like, Bearing. Out and putting the work in. One thing I think of over and over again is. 

First out of nowhere Indiana. Tech they got a new coach and they got fast and they had some different recruiting where they were recruiting, you know more. I don’t sound wrong but like inner city schools where yeah yeah and we saw them at nationals and you’re there for like a week so you obviously you’re gonna go practice yeah and we’re there we’re doing like three two, hundreds all out with like five minutes rest we look over at Indian tech who is like one through six and the sixty one through six and the one hundred meter yeah, okay. 

And over there they did like. Three 30 meter flies and they’re done oh yeah nationals yeah and I’m processing it. I’m like, okay, they got the max speed. They had great form they and they weren’t like straining at any point it wasn’t there were maximally recovered. I’m like, this is so different right now. 

I mean, that’s I remember watching my friend meet prep even let last summer and he would like I mean, I think the closest he ever touched was like three days out. I think he did. Three or four thirty meter just starts yeah like but like ninety percent like I can’t remember was in blocks are out of blocks or if he just did it for like a fall but like his workout was warm up for like 20 minutes like do is like typical sprint warm up with all those little just drills and then 4:30’s off until race day, mm-hmm. 

And like I mean I think yeah consistently for about a month and a month straight I mean he did for meats once a week and he would do that and he purred every single beat right and his body prime yeah. I mean it you set up for it because I mean it takes if you’re because if you are training like those guys that you need an attack. 

I mean, it’s that’s that’s gonna take 48 to 72 hours recover from just that. I mean like three flying 30s like that. I mean hmm, that’s that’s exhausting and it’s not right it’s not exhausting from a volume standpoint you’re not tired because like you’re sore you’re tired because You just ask your body to go as fast as it could for 30 meters three times so it’s like there’s this difference between neurological and like what you call like peripheral like soreness stiffness fatigue like we’re like you all my legs are burning or like I’m really sore versus like being like mentally or like physically drained yeah that’s kind of how people differentiate between this the CNS fatigue in this this like soreness and stiffness fatigue or like just like accumulation of just like a lot of volume you’re no reason to just get you really tired yeah. 

And I mean, you look at the way the same bowl safa powell, mm-hmm. Justin gallon, look at how they run they run relax, they run smooth. Calm and we never were able to do that because by rep 3, you’re just gas yeah. I mean you are in and honestly even to come back to that. 

I mean running fast is so brain involved that we’re like you can’t you can’t allow your body to run fast if you’re thinking about. Try not to die at the same time right I mean like because like the more fatigue you accumulate the more you’re kind of distracted and the word like your mind starts to wander you’re like even like I mean even like those workouts. 

I’ve been there like like your questioning why am I doing this like this size like you’re thinking about like ones was my next rest where it’s like you don’t even have you can’t even concentrate on your technique you can’t concentrate on whatever you need to work on because you’re just trying to get through something rather than do it, well, you know, yeah, I’m excited. 

I don’t know if we’re gonna do this but I’m excited for the potential. To kind of go under your coaching and see what can come out of it the other side yeah I think it would especially with you with your background in it. I think we should do kind of like an n equals one over the summer and be like, hey like yeah run a 60 let’s see let’s see where we’re at and then kind of build that out it’s definitely as the weather gets nicer here, there’s some days where I’m like, yeah, I think we’d be sweet to get out and I’ve never really timed anything and I’ve never really ran like over like a six year and a hundred. 

I believe like as an actual like training in training like for for like for legitimate. Purposes but we can do that 30 yeah absolutely and like and I think that would be just easy to track even like comparing to like you with yourself in high school. I mean what you’re 29 years old now. 

I think you mean I don’t think it would be outrageous to say that you could be faster than high school no then the only college yeah. I mean, I’m thinking about it. I mean, A lot of the great sprinters peak late 20s some oh yeah hold it, you know. 

Tyson gay was really good yeah 33 years old yeah it’s very interesting there’s so much to talk about and we’ll we’ll probably like return to this topic in different ways yeah throughout should throughout the podcast but no yeah, I mean we didn’t even get into like weights and stuff like that. 

I mean, we had all sorts of notes down here, but because it’s got lost on that we might have to do like a, Pick a day that we can make this a series and then. It can be like every other podcast we kind of talk about that that speed training and how to approach it yeah 100% yeah as we should have time for today it looks like um, just going to talk about Eric’s collegiate career and how. 

He would have definitely changed things how I probably would have changed things. I want the circle back and kind of give you our full kind of overview on how we kind of heard how he did it now maybe next time we’ll kind of go over how we’re gonna do it in the future there. 

I’ll try to talk left yeah that was good, thanks for listening guys see the next one but,

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