As I discussed in Pursuing Difficult if not Impossible Goals, I would like to run a sub-60 second 400m dash sometime before the end of 2012. While it would be great if I could achieve my goal sooner, I don’t think it is realistic to expect to do so as 1) my current best time is 75 seconds and 2) my overall level of fitness/strength is still pretty poor.
For those of you that know me well, you will not be surprised to learn that I have read a tremendous amount about sprinting over the past few months. I guess it is part of how I get comfortable in doing something new (I try to gain knowledge and insight from others). Specific to my training plan, the most valuable article I have read is called Masters Track is like a Car: It’s Mileage, not Age that Matters. Here are the seven recommendations the author makes for someone a bit past their prime entering the world of track and field:
1) Get fit first: I believe CrossFit is providing a great help in meeting this goal. My guess is this part of my training will take at least 6 more months (before I have a solid base).
2) Lose weight and regain flexibility & range of motion: I definitely don’t need to lose any weight as I am 6’1” and 165 lbs; however it clearly wouldn’t hurt for a few of those pounds to be additional muscle (and less fat). As to range of motion, I will continue to improve on that with specific shoulder and hip mobility work as well as a lot of dynamic stretching drills.
3) Strength, speed, and explosive power are synonymous: Out of all of the areas, I believe this one represents the largest area of upside for me. Honestly I am surprised that my current 400m time is 75 seconds given how weak I am on squats, deadlifts, cleans, presses, etc. As weight training is a big component of CrossFit, I don’t anticipate doing a lot of additional strength work outside of the gym with just one exception. I plan to make core work part of my daily plan independent of my gym workouts.
4) Recovery is king: Check – I think I am getting very good sleep (about 8 hours per night), and making sure that I am not trying to train too much (my current CrossFit schedule is M, W, F).
5) Nutrition is queen: Check – see My So-Called Healthy Diet for more information on what I eat and why.
6) Train on grass…. Surfaces, that is: I am not sure it is realistic for me to try and do my entire sprint training on grass; however the principal of minimizing the impact from running on hard surfaces is a huge priority.
7) Growth hormone and testosterone, naturally: Focusing on #1, #3, #4, and #5 will encourage my body to produce these substances in abundance without resulting to supplementation.
As you read the list above, you may be wondering about the specifics of my sprint training. Honestly, without a lot of improvement in areas 1-3 above, sprinting at a fast pace is good way for me to injure myself. What I will do specific to my 400m goal is to focus on sprint speed drills (A skips, B skips, hurdle mobility, etc) as well as sprint technique work (learning proper mechanics to be more efficient and not waste energy). If you think about speed as a learned skill, as opposed to a purely innate ability, performing LOTS of drills that retrain your brain about how to coordinate the complex movements of sprinting should be hugely beneficial.
As the title of this post suggests, this is simply meant to be an overview of how I am approaching my training. Additional details about specific track workouts, including different types of speed and tempo runs, will follow shortly.
photo credit: tableatny