Long Lost Dan Pfaff workouts — FOUND!!!

I thought that title might lure you in. Yes, they are long lost workouts, but only to me. I’m sure there are lots of other copies out there ūüôā

But still, very cool. I found the a folder that Dan gave me back in ’95 when I briefly trained under him.

It’s interesting to see the similarities between these workouts and Trey Hardee’s workouts¬†done under Mario Sategna (one of Dan’s former athletes). Not sure if the similarities are due to¬†Dan’s influence or University of Texas protocols…but interesting non-the-less.

Looking at these now makes me wonder what he would change…given that these workouts are almost 20 years old. ¬† Here’s a few questions that come to my mind:

1) Would he still prescribe 15 minute Fartlek’s to his decathletes? ¬†He has spoken about alternate cardio training (like circuits).

2) Would he really only do one Special Endurance workout a week? ¬†Especially for a Decathlete…where competing a near 100% over 8-12 hours is commonplace.

3) How does he progress is lifting maxes?


And finally, here’s the file:¬†dan_pfaff_95_workouts(15Mb)

Categories: Coaching, Dan Pfaff, Decathlon, Sprinting | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Long Lost Dan Pfaff workouts — FOUND!!!

  1. Fabien

    Really nice, thanks. Here are my thoughts on the second question. I don’t say I know the answer but I don’t see why he would add a speed endurance session. A decathletes need to be able to produce high poweroutput for short period of time and then recover during 2 days. If you look at friday saturday, you may have something like 15 accel with incomplete recoveries between sets (3X4X20m with 1′-4′ rest) then you have the multpiple throws+olympic lift+squat at high intensity. The next day you have the speed endurance. So you have 2 days were you have a succession of high power output effort then rest. The only thing I see he could had on saturday is leg circuits to deplete glycogen or something like this. Moreover if you look at some of the wednesday speed session sometimes it’s done with incomplete rest wich means it’s more a special endurance work out than a speed work out. Example you can do 3X2X90 SFS with 2′-8′. It’s a speed work out but because of incomplete rest the last set I guess you’ll be high on lactate. I don’t think you can do more than 4 high neural days a week. Adding a speed endurance day would lead to a totally different program, from what I know I don’t think it’s the case.

  2. Dr. Dave,

    I really enjoy the content you post. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do so.

    I am a 23 year old engineer who has the goal of competing/completing a decathlon. My only background is high school track and a hobby of physical fitness. I have had a tough time balancing learning the events, progressing strength and speed, and working.

    What does your current training schedule look like? How do you adjust when other life circumstances intervene (poor sleep, busy day at work, weather etc)?


    • First decathlon…how many events are you already skilled at? It’s awesome that you are trying to pick it up, but some of the events are very technical and take a long time — PV, jav, disc, hurdles. Of course, if you did those (well) in high school, you might be fine.

      For running, my current workout schedule looks a lot like my first Mesocycle post (https://sprint42.com/2012/12/11/a-sample-mesocycle/). However, I don’t vary the volume that much on a weekly basis (week 1 was 2600m, week 2 was 1540…I don’t do that any longer). Now my volume is changing when I feel I need it…longer cycles of change. If I’m approaching an important meet, then my volume drops. Which in turn means I’m running shorter distances…and thus my absolute intensity is a higher. That’s kind of confusing, I know. I consider “absolute intensity” to mean more work at near absolute maximum velocity. So, while one week I might do 3×300(95%)[15′] and another I might do 6×60(95%)[9′], I consider the 60m workout to be much higher in “absolute intensity” then the 300m workout…even though both are at 95% (so, the 95% would mean relative intensity…95% of your maximum speed for that distance).

      Also, look at my comment on the Meso post. For a while, I lowered my intensity a lot. My body just wasn’t recovering and I was injured. Now that I’m healed (mostly…not sure a decathlete is ever fully healed), I’m somewhere between the two meso-cycles.

      Life absolutely gets in the way. I use iThlete to track my HRV. This helps me know when my body is really out of sorts…like when I’m getting sick or stress is really baring on me. I’ll lower my intensity on those days…or skip the workout altogether. But that’s pretty rare. When my HRV is especially high, I feel confident to do a really speedy day. But mostly, HRV is just a blunt tool for me…just a warning system when it’s really far off. I also try to get a feel of how much bounce is in my step during my warm-up. At my age, it’s rare to feel really bouncy/powerful. If that happens, I’ll adjust my workout to be more intense…shorten the distance and ramp up the intensity (6×60(95%)[9′]). When I have a speed day scheduled and I don’t feel good or life has kicked me in the butt (bad sleep, stressful at work…), then I’ll change my workout and put in more volume and a lower intensity (6×200(90%)[walk200] or 10×100(400m)[60″]). The last thing I need to do is get injured…so varying the workout based on HRV and daily feel is paramount.

      All those recommendations are just about my running workouts, though I take the exact approach with my lifting. As for technique work…well, honestly, I don’t do a lot any longer. I still throw shot or disc one day a week maybe, but since I don’t have a coach watching, I don’t get any feedback (camera on tripod would work, but have only done that a little so far). I’ll PV maybe once a month with a coach. But I competed for years and years…and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I still do technically sound. Like riding a bike, I guess. The motor programs are set and it didn’t take much to get back to my technique from 20 years ago. I especially spend very little time on LJ or HJ, the impact is just too great on the body to risk an injury. Hurdles, however, I do fairly regularly. That was one of my best events and I feel as though I can bring my current marks down substantially with just a little focus.

      Not sure that helps much. Hopefully!

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