When it comes to high school sprinting, few can match the credentials of Brian FitzGerald. The 2016 USA Today national track coach of the year has led athletes to California state titles in each of the past four decades, including athletes named Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News. Behind the high level results are some basic training principles. He joins this week’s GAINcast to lay out his eight basic principles of speed training.
Notes and quotes
FitzGerald recently retired after 37 years teach and coaching at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California. During that time his teams he led the boys’ and girls’ teams to 55 league titles, 5 Southern Section Championships, and the girls’ State Championship in 1988. His sprinters achieved the most accolades, including multiple state relay titles and some of the following highlights:
- Angela Burnham ran 11.28 in the 1980s, winning 5 state titles and was twice Track and Field News Athlete of the Year;
- Marion Jones began her high school career at Rio Mesa, where she ran 11.17 and 22.76 as a 15 year old, and was named the 1991 Track and Field News Athlete of the Year;
- Zaria Francis clocked 11.26 and 23.09 in 2015 and is currently running at USC.
On the episode he shared some of his thoughts on sprint training and putting together a weekly plan for sprinting.
- 4:30 – Simplifying sprint training.
- 6:30 – In sprinting, less is usually more: “Big volume can be good for distance runners, but rarely for sprinters. Don’t feel guilty about doing too little or waiting until full recovery. “
- 11:30 – Intensity is far more important than volume: “There’s not a lot of time for wasted days in a high school season. “
- 14:30 – Greatest gains in speed come from max-effort (or near max) alactic anaerobic sprinting: “The whole point of sprinting is to get faster and to get faster you have to run fast. “
- 17:30 – There is a place for max speed work during every training cycle throughout the year.
- 21:00 – Develop speed, and then develop speed over progressively longer distances.
- 23:45 – Assisted sprint training works.
- 32:15 – Weight lifting strategies, planning, and sequencing for sprinters: “Strength development (including eccentric strength) is important as long as it relates to the ability to apply force quickly and doesn’t skew the strength to body weight ratio. “
- 36:30 – Competition is an intense and valuable training session and should be viewed as such: “Any high school coach has to look at competition as the best workout you are going to have in the week. “
- 45:45 – The role of teaching in coaching.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- Check out our latest book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches for more in-depth insights on training from some of the world’s top coaches and don’t forget to join HMMR Plus to get full access to our video, article, and podcast archive here on HMMR Media.
- FitzGerald was also a guest on HMMR Podcast Episode 153, where we focused on common myths about sprint technique.
- Several of the topics covered in this podcast have also been looked at in other episodes, such as understanding speed on GAINcast 16, best practices in training speed on GAINcast 115, and assisted sprinting on GAINcast 119.
- Additionally, in the HMMR Classroom you can learn some basic speed drills in Lesson 6. All of our resources on sprinting and speed are outlined here.