Monthly Archives: July 2011

And Everyone Ran Faster!

We were running races at track practice last night. I paired up kids so I’d have 2 kids of similar speed running together. The race was a slight downhill on grass of about 60M. I was at the bottom with my watch giving the starter’s commands. The kids know to stand tall, step up for “On your Mark!” crouch down for “Set!” and then start on “Go!”. With kids running from age 4 to 12, we had quite a range of times and skill levels.

After three rounds, I ran up to the start and gave two bits of coaching:

  1. Run through the finish. Pretend the real finish line is 10 steps past where I’m standing.
  2. Keep your knees high- just like we do in the High Knees drill.

I ran back down and began calling them up to the line again. Here’s the best part- Every kid ran a little faster than they did on the previous three rounds!

Now to hurdles. Same race course but with three hay bales turned on their side making hurdles that were knee high for me. I gave some brief instructions and this time we went one at a time since we only had one “lane” to run.

After three rounds, I gave one bit of coaching:

  • Remember your arms? How do you use your arms for sprints? It’s the same for hurdles. Practice your arm swing. We all stood there and practiced arm swing.

Back to the races! As each kid came to the line I’d yell, “Remember your arms! To your Mark!….” Again every kid ran faster.

So the lesson the kids taught me is that the little things really do matter. Of course, I’ve heard that many times from teachers, coaches, and other wise people over the years. But nothing proves it as clearly at the numbers on a watch and a smile on a runner’s face.

Maybe Al Oerter summed it up best:

I’ve thrown for forty-five years on an average of 10,000 throws a year. That’s 450,000 throws and not one of those throws has ever been perfect. There was always something else I could have done to make the prior throw just a little bit better. I think if we attack life in that same manner we can do some wonderful things on this earth.

-Al Oerter Four time Olympic Gold Medalist


Speed Drill Sets and Sprint Sets

Speed Workouts

S1       Straights and Curves: Sprint / stride the straightaway on the track and jog / walk the curves. 2-4 laps

S2       Ladder: 100M (100M), 200M (200M), 300M (100M), 200M (200M), 100M.  Do the ladder X2 for a more challenging workout.

S3       Progression Run: Run one lap on the track, start at an easy jog pace, and gradually speed up throughout the lap until you finish the last 50M at a sprint / very fast pace. Use this to feel your form shift as you accelerate and maintain control of your form. Do 3 or 4 reps with full rest in between.

S4       200M Reps: 200M (200M). Do as many as fit your plan. Typically 5-12.


Drill Sets

D1       High Knees 25M, Butt Kicks 25M, High Knee Skip 25M, Lunge Short Step X10, Lunge Long StepX10

D2       High Knees 25M, High Knee Strides 50M, Butt Kicks 25M, Butt Kick Strides 50M, High Knee Skip 25M, Lunge Short step X10, Lunge Long StepX10

D3       High Knees Alt Speed 50M, Butt Kicks Alt Speed 50M, High Knee Skip 25M

D4       Karaoke 50M, Zombie Strides 50M, High Knee Strides 100M, Butt Kick Strides 100M. Do each one at least X2. Great advanced form and coordination set!

D5       High Knees 25M, Butt Kicks 25M, High Knee Skip 25M, Lunge Short Step X10, Lunge Long StepX10, One foot hops 25M, Bounding 50M, Two foot Hops 25M

Depending on your goals or experience level, what you select will be different. It is not a bad thing to have consecutive days of speed, just don’t do consecutive hard days. Depending on your training phase, work some speed in at least once a week and up to three times a week. These are just some examples. Make your own sets of drills and speed based on your training and your schedule.


Monday: D1, Tuesday: D3 + S2, Friday: D4

Tuesday: D1 + S4, Thursday: D4


Speed Workshop Notes

Here are the hand out sheets from the Speed Workshop:

Top Secret Speed


Coach Dan’s story:

First race in 1979. Many Coaches, hundreds of races, read dozens of books, talked to lot’s of runners, and I’m still learning.


What I mean by coaching yourself:

Gather advice from various sources and apply them to YOUR life and goals. Recruit friends to hold you accountable and encourage you. My coach is Joe Burgasser. I also have a group of running friends who periodically review my training and offer advice. Ultimately, I pull the advice from all sources and make it work for me.


Why Speed is important:

  • Form- Improves running form
  • Frame of Mind- If your top speed is faster, your 5K pace feels easier
  • Fun! We all know it’s more fun to run fast
  • Physics and Physiology-
    • Principal of specificity- range of motion: bicep curl example
    • Fast twitch / slow twitch muscle fibers
    • Aerobic / Anaerobic : Working on Anaerobic today

When to work speed into your schedule: (Can’t cover phases of training in full but come  Aug 27th for the full plan)

  • Base Phase- Full sets of drills and strides 2-3 time per week
  • Preseason / in Season- Smaller sets of drills 2 time per week
  • Race Phase-  Smaller sets of drills 1 or 2 times per week

How much?

  • Less than 5% of your total mileage should be drills and strides. Start at 2% and build up.
  • For example, a runner doing 40 miles per week and adding 3 times a week of drills and strides:
    • High Knees (100 M) + Butt Kicks (100 M) + High Knee Skips (100 M) + HK Strides (100 M) + BK Strides (100M) = 500 M
    • 500M X 3 days= 1500 M or almost one mile = 2.3% of total mileage
    • This is just a basic guideline to get you started. You might want to do a bit over or under the 5% mark depending on your other training. The idea is that the Speed Drill portion of your weekly running is rather small.

Form Notes

  • 180 steps per minute- A guideline, not an exact #.
  • Heel Float, knee drive- Why?
  • Center of gravity
  • Test your range of motion- prevent injury, help when returning from an injury


What to do- Always use forward motion!

  • High Knees
  • Butt Kicks
  • High Knee Skips
  • Hops / jumps
  • Lunges – short and long
  • HK Strides / BK Strides
  • Sprints, 100s, 200s, 300s


Captain Foamy Pants and the 21 Mile Run

It could have been a really bad run today. My favorite place to do long runs is infested with deer flies. Last week if felt like Nolan Ryan was hiding in the forest and periodically jumping out to nail me in the back with pine cones. So San Felasco was not a good option. I failed in my attempt to gather anyone to run hills in Micanopy. Today would be a solo run on blacktop. With 5 water bottles, 3 Power Gels and some Chia Gel (experimental stuff) placed outside the gate in the driveway, I could do several short out and back trips around the neighborhood and have all I needed to sustain me through the run.

Out the door at 6:35 and rolling. Five miles in I noticed a problem. White foamy bubbles were sliding down my thighs. My black running shorts were foaming at the crotch and the bubbles flowed down my legs with the sweat. Apparently a well-meaning person added extra soap to my load of running clothes in an attempt make them smell better. I can only imagine what it looked like to the young lady I ran past at about 6 miles. She didn’t just give a polite wave and a “good morning.” She clearly giggled as she waved good morning.

Back at the driveway for a drink and some Power Gel at 8 miles, I was still Captain Foamy Pants and it showed no signs of stopping. Oh well. As a stood there drinking some water, I felt stings on my ankles. I was standing in an ant pile. Slapping ants and squirting my foamy squishy shoes with my water bottle I fought off the attackers. With a foaming crotch and burning ankles, I set off in less than a good mood to do another 12 miles all by myself. Nobody would know if I bagged it. Sounds like a good idea.

A few miles later I was just on cruise control. Not caring about the run or much of anything; just trying to slog through and get it over with. Then a very cheerful voice cut through my fog of grumpiness. My neighbor, Mrs. Gillespie, was out working in her yard.  “Good Morning, Dan!” she called out. Isn’t it odd how cheerfulness is annoying when you are really grumpy? I managed a fairly nice, “Good Morning!”

“How are you doing today?” she politely asked.

It would be rude to give an honest answer so I said, “Oh, OK. Ask me again in about an hour.”

Mrs. Gillespie smiled back and as I ran by she hollered after me, “Have fun out there!”

Have FUN? What the heck was she thinking? Fun? Hmmm. Why would I step out the door to run 20 miles on a Saturday morning if it wasn’t going to be fun? It should be fun! She was absolutely right. I should have fun.

Being Captain Foamy Pants changed into a funny thing and not an annoying thing. Little ants suddenly seemed about as important as ants. Is it fun to crank out 21 miles on a Saturday morning? Is it more fun when you hammer the last 3 miles just because it’s fun to go fast? Is it fun to tack on an extra mile to the end and do it in 5:45, with the last half mile in 2:40? I suppose that all depends on if you have a neighbor like Mrs. Gillespie.