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A Week of Self-coached Sprint Training

I’ve been self-coached for a few years now; a couple spent just weight lifting, and the last two seriously competing in open & masters track meets. I’ve learned a lot, and continue to tweak my program based on how my body feels and my reading. A couple points about my training history and goals before digging in:

  • I’ve been sprinting competitively for over 15 years now, with a couple 1-2 year breaks along the way. There’s a lot of miles on these legs!
  • I have a long history of hamstring issues. The worst of them left me with permanent scar tissue, so I’m always careful to warm up and cool down appropriately. I’ll also shut down workouts early if I’m not feeling right.
  • I primarily compete in the 100m and 200m, though I’ll run 60s indoor and the occasional 400 if somebody dares me.
  • I’m no speed demon: my personal best, set this year, is 10.73. Last time I checked, that might just barely squeak in at the bottom of the top 1000 Americans.

With that, here’s a look at my training log from a recent week:

Monday

5:45am: Track

Special endurance: 3x200m, 95%, 8m recovery.

  • 23.5
  • 23.0
  • 24.1

The last rep feels like fire. It’s early in the season; this is one of my first special endurance workouts of the year. Through the offseason and into January and February, I had two max-speed and one acceleration day a week. Now, in April, I run two special endurance, one max speed, and one acceleration day. Meets and time trials count as special endurance.

5:30pm: Weights

  • Trap bar deadlifts 4x7x470 (70%)
  • OHP 4x4x135
  • Face pulls 4x15
  • Core

This is week one of my 4-week cycle. Every week I increase the weight and decrease the rep count, then deload in week 4. Trap bar deadlifts are the bread and butter of my weight room workouts—I’ve seen pretty amazing carryover to the track as I push my maxes higher. Plus, unlike heavy squatting, it doesn’t aggravate my patellar tendinitis.

Tuesday

6:00am: Weights

  • 7 way hips
  • Wall slides 4x6
  • Bench press 4x4x245 (80%), 5x10x152.5 (50%)
  • Pullups 4x15

I’ve found it takes me two full nights of sleep to recover from the double whammy of a track workout and heavy legs. Therefore, Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to upper-body lifts, which are less taxing on the CNS.

Wednesday

5:45am: Track

Max speed today: 7x30m flies, with a generous (~30m) acceleration zone and 4-7m recovery. I time these with a Freelap, which is by far the best purchase I’ve made as a solo athlete. Since I get instant feedback on each rep, it’s easier for me to see which form cues are working.

  • 3.07
  • 2.98
  • 2.92
  • 3.04
  • 3.00
  • 3.00
  • 3.04

Today, I’m focused on staying relaxed as I hit and maintain top speed. It sounds contradictory, but watch elite sprinters: the winners run effortlessly, while the others grit their teeth.

2.92 is a lifetime best, and it’s still quite cold (46F) out. It signals good things to come with warmer weather fast approaching.

5:00pm: Weights

  • Trap bar deadlifts 4x4x540 (80%)
  • OHP 4x8x140
  • Face pulls 4x15
  • Core

Face pulls and wall slides are a concession to my desk job; without them my shoulders slope and my head hangs forward.

Thursday

6:00am: Weights

  • 7 way hips
  • Bench 4x7x215 (70%)
  • Chin-ups 4x13

7 way hips are something I picked up from Ryan Flaherty (video). Without a real gym, I don’t do much else for my hip abductors and adductors.

Friday

5:45am: Track

Acceleration day. Block starts, timed at 10 and 30 meters, 3-5m recovery. The timings below are for 0-10m, 10-30m, and 0-30m.

  • 1.75/2.21/3.96
  • 1.72/2.29/4.01
  • ?/?/4.09
  • 1.81/2.28/4.08
  • 1.77/2.31/4.08
  • 1.81/2.32/4.13
  • 1.83/2.28/4.10

Today wasn’t a particularly good showing. I’m still feeling a bit beat up from Wednesday, and I’m running into a fairly strong headwind.

5:00pm: Weights

  • Reverse lunges 5x5x262.5 (75%)
  • OHP 4x4x170 (80%), 5x10x107.5 (50%)
  • Face pulls 4x15
  • Core

Reverse lunges are my favorite “unilateral” exercise. Obviously they work legs (quads and glutes mostly), but they require a surprising amount of core strength to keep the bar stable.

Saturday

8:00am: Track

I train Saturdays with a group in Palo Alto. The coach there lives and breathes speed & special endurance, so today’s workout is 200/155/120/120, with ample recovery.

  • 23.7
  • 18.1
  • 14.2
  • 14.2

Running with teammates always feels great. We all have a competitive streak, so each rep feels like a barely-constrained race.

3:00pm: Weights

  • Jump squats 5x5x115
  • Dead hang pullups 5x10
  • Hip thrusts 4x6x375 (75%)
  • Core

I’m still relatively new to hip thrusts—I don’t feel anywhere close to my max, but I’m moving up conservatively.

Sunday

Sunday’s a rest day!

Conclusion

I started running a program similar to this (3-4x/week on the track, 6x/week in the gym) early into the pandemic. Since then, I’ve pushed my personal bests from 10.96→10.73 and 22.10→21.85, and I’m hopeful that I can squeeze another tenth or two out of both by the end of the year. Most importantly, my training volume is low enough on my legs that I’ve completely avoided any injury-related setbacks.

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