Sprint/Running Workout Syntax Examples

In my last post, I ranted about posted/printed workouts missing key information (usually intensity and often rest) and the need for a  standard for describing sprint training (and proposed one).  I have since learned there is already an IAAF standard syntax that covers 90% of what I was looking for.  Since I’m someone who learns best by examples, I thought I’d print a handful of common workouts to get your juices flowing.

Here’s the IAAF format with two additions: “Classification” at the beginning to include any general information the athlete may require and “Modifier” for clarifying any additional information about the distance, e.g. “b” for blocks, “f” for flying, “c” for crouching…  Here’s a link to the IAAF standard.

Classification – Sets x repetitions x distance<modifier> (intensity/pace) [recovery between reps, recovery between sets]  

In general, I don’t like using time for my intensity — the first example in the IAAF document does exactly this: 10 x 400 (72”) [2’].  I think this is a mistake.  It’s fine if you’re writing a workout for a specific athlete or group, in which you know 72 seconds is XX% intensity.  But if you’re posting this online or in a book, you should strive to normalize it using percentages or pace.  A lesser alternative is you could specify the target athlete (e.g. my 47.0 400m runners do this workout…) and let the read extrapolate.

One more thing, the IAAF “standard” is really more of a “guideline”, which means you have some license to adjust for clarity.  In fact, one of the examples in the IAAF document includes curly braces, which are not part of the standard/guideline.

Finally, some sample workouts:

Clyde Hart SpeedMakers: 2 x 4 x 100 (60/95%, 40/60%) [50 walk + 50 jog, 3′]
This is Hart’s famous SpeedMaker workout.  In the presentation I saw, he didn’t say 95%, he said “not a build up…it’s boom”.  He also didn’t say 60%, but said “swing down”.

Bud Winter Step Down 200s: 3 x 200 (400+2″, 400+1″,400) [walk/jog 200]
Winter’s said “Each successive 200 meters is one second faster. Walk or jog between. When you can do 25-24-23, you can run a 47 second 400 meters.”  I actually prefer to write this 3 x 200 (90% 1/2 400, 95% 1/2 400, 100% 1/2 400) [walk 200].  “1/2 400” means first half 400m pace.  So, for a 23/25 splits 48.0 runner, 23′ is 1/2 400.

Continuous 200m Relays: 8 x 200 (2/2 400) [4×200 teammates]
Five person relay of 200m each. Speed is second half of 400m speed. Rest is variable based on 4 teammates.

400m Split Run: 3 x {300 (85% 400)  [1′] + 100f (4/4 400)}  [10′]
Sprint 300m at 85% of 400m race pace, rest one minute, then run 100m more at your 400m home stretch race pace. Do this three times, resting 10 minutes between each split run.  I’ve heard this drill a few places, one being Clyde Hart using it with Michael Johnson.  His typically times would be 37-38′ for the 300m and 11.2 for the 100m.  His rest between sets was only 5 mins though.

Test Day: 2 x 30f (100%) [6′] 1x320c (100%)
Do two flying 30m tests at 100%. Rest 6 minutes between each. Then test 320m from a crouch at 100%.

1500 Race Modelling for Decathlete: 8 x 200 (1500) [walk 100]
Eight 200m runs at 1500m pace. Walk 100m as rest.

Khmel Max Velocity Build Up: 1 x 50 (40 acc, 10/100%) [6′] + 1 x 50m (30 acc, 20/100%)[6′] + 3 x 3 x 40m (20 acc, 20/100%) [4′, 8′]
One 50m where athlete accelerate for the frist 40m, then holds 100% for 10m. Rest 6 minutes. Another 50m where athlete accelerates for 30m then holds top speed for 20m. Rest 6 minutes. Followed by 3 sets of 3 reps of 40m where the athlete accelerates for 20m and holds top speed for 20m. Rest 4 minutes between reps and 8 minutes between sets.

Khmel Intensive Tempo: IT – 2 x 4 x 200m (80%) [2′, 6′]
Four 200m at 80%, rest 2 mins between each. Then rest six minutes and do it again.  IT is short for Intensive Tempos.  IT is not necessary in this case, but just an example of how a coach may want to add a Classification for clarity.

Sleds: Sled 15lb – 3 x 3 x 20 (max) [3′, 6′]
Sled pulls of 15lbs. 3 reps of 20m at 100% intensity with 3 minutes rest. Do three sets, with 6 mins between sets.

I’ll occassionally add to this page.  If you have anything interesting, let me know.

Categories: Coaching, Sprinting | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Sprint/Running Workout Syntax Examples

  1. Peter Michaelson

    Hi Sprint42:

    A few questions/observations/proofreadings:

    1) On the Bud Winter step downs, “job” should be “jog” and the minus signs should be plus signs (as in 400 + 2″)
    2) In the British Sprint Classification (looking at the Khmel Intensive Tempo) does Intensive Tempo begin at 75% and faster, or is it 70% and faster as you have written?

    Otherwise, just great stuff!


    • @Peter,

      You are correct, both of those were mistakes. I’ll fix.

      Khmel uses 76%-94% as intensive tempos. I believe I meant to write 80% and typo-ed it. This just goes to show you how easy it is to mess up. His work out as printed was “2 x (4x220m) at 27-28s pace; 2 min rest between reps; 6 min rest between sets”. From this workout, I’m not sure if he really means 220m (potential typo) or 200m — and he doesn’t specify the athlete’s 100% times, so I’m guess on intensity. We do know it’s Intensive Tempo, so it must be between 76% and 95% — and in an interview on http://www.athleticscoaching.ca, he mentions 80% as target for his GGP 10 x 200m workouts.

      Tx for the corrections.

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