I was a collegiate coach for only 3 years, so take my suggestions with that in mind. I trained all the athletes except the ones threw the shot, discus, and hammer.You have to admit when someone else is better at something and let them do their job!
Anyway, our 100-400m runner were atheltes from the football team who went out for track because the head track coach was their head football coach: a matter of association. The sprinters were not rookies at the sport: they averaged 6-8 years of prior experience in track & field.
The first year I coached sprinters I got them started on conditioning as soon as their football season ended in November, about the same time as the cross-country runners were finishing their season. Much to the amazment of the sprinters, I gave them distance running on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I gave them one day of 100 or 150s on grass at 70% speed with 40 seconds of shuffling between for recovery, one day of 300s on an indoor track at 75% speed with 300m of shuffling for recovery, and one day of pool running in which they did a 15-second pickup of effort to 75%, once evey minute, starting after 7 minutes of warming up. They ended the pickups at 21 minutes and did a 4 minute cool down of continue 50% effort "running."
The above was done all the way until to school resumed in January. They really were doing aerobic work, about 25 minutes per day, 6 days per week. They did medium intensity weight training 3 x wk too.
In early December, just before they left, I administered a performance test on them: 2 x 200m, rest 1 minute, at best effort. The average total time for the 9 sprinters in the group was 56 seconds and change. The best of the lot was 53 high. In the middle of January, after continuing the program I had started, they averaged nearly 2 seconds of improvement on nothing but endurance work and nothing over 75% effort (about the same as 75% speed). In mid-April, they average just a tad under 51 seconds for the 2 x 200m, rest 1 minute test.
The training changed in January once school resumed.
I then gave them the same training, over and over until the end of April. It was simple to administer and it seemed to work quite well. The progress was steady and the results were good. Every Monday, they ran short reps (100s) at 80% effort/speed, jog 100m, walk 100m between each rep. The volume started at 800m and by the end of March it was 1200m and stayed there. In April, the latter half of reps were run at 85% effort/speed. Stille the jog was 100m and the walk was nearly 100m, too, with the last few meters of recovery as jogging again.
Every Wednesday they did longer reps (300s to 600s) at 80% effort/speed. They jogged 1/2 the distance and walked 1/2 the distance of the rep. So, if they ran a 300m at 80% effort, they immediately jogged 150m, then walked 150m. In reality, I always wanted them to jog the last 30m as they approached the starting point of the next rep- a running start of sorts. The volume of longer reps in January was 1000m and by the end of March it was 1600m and stayed there. Many times the reps length was 500-600m, just 3 reps at 80%. In April, they increased the effort for the latter part of the workout to 85%.
Every Friday was either a track meet or warm up, strarts, hand-offs, and cool down; always 25 minutes of total running. W-up was 800m of running and striders and so was cool down.
Every Tuesday was a 3 mile slow run. Every Thursday was a 25 minute endurance run in the pool. Every Saturday was either a track meet or a series of 100s on grass at 75% effort-speed (an aerobic capacity workout). Total running time was 25 minutes.
Weight training continued on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sundays were rest.
Results? Most of the sprinters thought I was crazy for making them do 25 minutes of continuous running 6 days per week. They couldn't believe, at first how running just 70-75% effort could possibly help them in sprint races. They did start to get onboard with the training in February when we went to our first indoor meet at the Univ. of Chicago and they all ran about 1 second or less away from their lifetime personal best times in the 400m and about 4 tenths off their 200m time.
By the middle of April, all runners were setting personal best times by a couple of seconds in the 400m and about half of them were setting personal best times in the 200m or 100m. By the end of April, that group set 7 school records in sprints or sprint relays and they won two medium sized invitational meets, though we had the second smallest or smallest team at those meets.
By the beginning of May, our 4 x 400m team ran 3:22 and one sprinter ran 21.9 for the 200m, despite weighing 225 lbs. He, by the way, also ran 49.4 for the 400m despite that weight. Two and half weeks later, after our official track season ended, he ran 47.6 seconds on the Wheaton College track, paced by two other runners from our team ( I timed him on a beautiful Wendesday evening). Had we gone to a track meet a half week later, he would have qualified for D3 nationals, I am fairly sure.
The top 4 sprinters on my team ranged from 49.4 to 50.8 seconds, all personal bests by 3-5 seconds. The next 5 guys average just under 52 seconds - and most of them had never run faster than 56 seconds, even when they were far lighter as younger athletes (remember, these guys were all heavily muscled football players by time I had the chance to coach them). The average body weight for my top 4 guys was 202 lbs. The average body weight for the next 5 was 211 lbs. The lightest man was 178 lbs - a free safety.
The point is, 25 minutes of runing, most of it aerobic or easy to medium speed reps with no heavy lactic acid build up, worked quite well for that group of sprinters. They never ran two interval days in a row. They never ran close to full-out in practice. The speed and intensity that they used was very modest, yet they improved a lot.
My questions are these: Has anyone else witnessed similar performance improvements in sprinters when very modest but continuous running is used? Will such a modest approach be useful in other arenas besides sprinting? Tinman