Can anyone train hard enough that they can eventually run an 11-second 100-meter dash?
First Published in 2018.
As a sprint coach, the answer to this is definitely no. Let me start by saying I mainly trained female sprinters. But for this answer I will focus on male sprinters But I did work at a sports academy and had to scout sprinters.
When I started at the academy there was only one guy there running around 12.2 for 100 meters. So the previous coaches had only been able to find a 12.2 guy in a population of let’s say 1 million in that particular province. I started at the end of 2015 and was there till mid-2017. I was able to train that 12.2 guys to 11.4 for 100 meters.
There was another guy there who hadn’t really run 100, he was a 53 sec 400 guy and I was able to get him to 11.6 in a short period of time and later 11.2. In contrast, there was another 53-sec guy who couldn’t go faster than 12.0. So that was the existing athletes at the school sports academy.
I’m talking High school kids here. Then I had to go out and recruit new athletes. At the tryouts, we had like 100 kids run the 100 meters. One Christian Senora ran 12.0 but he ran it in bare feet and didn’t know how to use his arms or run properly, he played a bit of neighborhood basketball but wasn’t from athletics, in 7 months I got him to 10.9 for 100 meters.
Then I had another guy who tried out and ran 12.4, in 11 months I got him to 11.3. There were quite a few guys who ran 12 sec, in the province who probably could have run under 12 seconds if they wanted to train. A lot of them didn’t want to train for athletics to be sprinters. But at the same time, there were a lot of kids who wanted to be in my team but they just didn’t have the genetics.
So if I had to estimate there wa probably about around 15, maybe max of 30 kids in the province who could run under 12 seconds, heck I had one who ran 10.9, but in the whole 5 years of the sports school, nobody had broken 11 sec, heck nobody since has come close to it from that province in the last 2 years.
Can anyone run under 11 sec for 100 meters here be some factors?
- Genetics (some very focused kids, but just didn’t have the genetics to go sub 12. End up not accepted into the sprint program)
- Attitude and if the athlete is willing to commit to the training and do the work (some very talented kids with good genetics, but just weren’t willing to commit to the training. End up going home)
- Skill Level of the Coach (depending on learning and experience, can get better improvements than other coaches)
So What do you think please leave an answer in the comments
Next, Write up on Athletes I sent to Manila and how they fared? or didn’t fare? under new coaches.
1: Train with other very fast people
Live with them. Make it your whole life. There aren’t many guys who train with no one their speed. Yohan Blake puts his speed down to constantly trying to beat Bolt in training, and I suspect a great deal of the speed of any sprinter is competition within the training group.
2: Don’t focus on weights to improve ground reaction force for maintenance phase speed.
During the tiny contraction times in the maintenance, phase sprinting there is no time to generate the forces gained in the gym, even from fast weighted movements.
Fast movements with low resistance such as jumps, speed bands, plyometrics, and shallow hill runs will stand you in much better stead, with the fastest resistance exercises (weighted jumps, heavy-ish tire pulls, Olympic lifts) used secondarily. The same largely stands for drive phase resistance training (see below).
I know a UK sprinter who was 11.2–11.4 seconds every season, and he got a new coach and just did loads of plyometrics and ran 10.4 next season and 10.2 the next.
He has since won national medals and been on the Olympic team, and I think his 100 meter PB is now 10.1. He moved up to 200m though so this is his better event now.
I don’t know many athletes who have had this improvement by doing weights training. Jumps and plyometrics are how to increase the force you put into the floor during top speed!
3: Don’t listen to the coaches trying to mould your technique into what they want just to fit into an average or a desired model.
I find almost invariably that athletes do best in their natural postures (assuming they are well trained in sprint technique already) except for cases of pelvic tilt (50:50 whether bringing the pelvis into neutral slows them or speeds them up) and neck posture (almost improves speed).
Minor corrections aren’t included in this, just major technique changes. In particular, in the drive phase be wary about changing technique particularly if your start is very good already. I see many great athletes go to big coaches. And the coaches force them into new techniques cos that’s what that coach does. And the athlete’s plummeting 100-meter times stop their freefall and the athlete stops improving.
4: PB as high as possible in the hang snatch or high hang clean
(catching the bar in the clean but without sinking), explosive hip thrust, and a weighted quarter squat jump. I’m talking 100 kg, 150 kg, 100 kg respectively for girls and another 50% on that for boys if you want to get sub-11.
This is for maximising power put into the floor during the early drive phase. At these force outputs, just tapping the floor will send you forward with immense impulse. Almost every race has the same positioning at 10 m as of 100 meters. If you win a race to 10 m you probably win to 40 m, so get a great first 10 m and people will have to be much faster than you to beat you to 100. Power cleans are also very good.
5: Do starts ALL THE TIME. Starts are improved a great deal just through repetition.
6: Train fast for 100 meter. Don’t do sessions working on speed endurance.
Speed endurance separates you from the people within 1 or 2 tenths in speed. However, speed endurance training makes you slower. Look at any time a sprinter stops doing 100 meters to ‘work on their 200m’ and notice that their 200m performance nosedives.
Then observe Bolt’s 2007 200m performance, then look at the year his coach worked on his explosive speed- 2008. This year he ran 9.69 and 19.28 seconds in the sprints.
SPEED training makes you faster. Minimize the speed endurance sessions- it’s like making your engine smaller to minimize fuel usage so you can win a car race. Not going to help compared to the loss in power. Any time you are training and you aren’t fresh, you are developing your endurance.
If you are training at a low intensity you are training your ability to perform at low intensity. If you are doing a run fresh and completely flat out, you are developing your ability at extremely high power outputs. This is when you develop your 100-meter speed and improve it.
7: Stop all the gimmicks like stretching too often and over-healthy eating.
Performance is different from general health, and because 99% of the world is interested in general health, general health advice has spilled into the world of performance.
As muscles gain power they become ball-shaped. They become less flexible. They also become more powerful.
Look at a gazelle’s hindquarters- glutes and thighs are basically jammed into a big ball with a super long tendon at the bottom that goes down to the hoof. This ball contracts and the gazelle explodes away.
Sprinters have ball-shaped muscles. Mike Tyson had shoulders like bowling balls. Deliberate lengthening of these muscles is done why? Likewise, over-healthy eating isn’t necessarily good for performance.
Usain Bolt’s training group includes the two fastest men in world history (Bolt 9.58 and Blake 9.69) and many other big names, and they eat jerk chicken and McDonald’s and curry all the time. When I have seen athletes do diets such as removing chocolate or giving up fast food, their times usually suffer!
Find the diet that your body needs for maximal sprint performance, not what the local bench press expert tells you from what he read online once by a guy who only does leg day once a year who heard it from his doctor who didn’t actually get any nutrition training during his education (UK doctors receive about 20 minutes in their entire education).
Don’t do anything if you don’t know the reason why! This includes obvious things such as stretching too much or eating too healthily. You do you.
8: Train with other very fast people. Can’t state this enough.
There are many things you will need to do to get sub-10 seconds. Chances are you still won’t. But I feel doing these 8 things will maximize your ability to get there. Do very fast sprint sessions with very fast people and do plenty of jumps sessions!
The Above athlete was an example of an athlete I was able to get from 12.0 to 10.9 in 7 Months from 2016 to 2017 from August to March. I have highlighted various fixes to his form and program that led to those markable improvements in time. I sent the athlete to a coach in Manila after this. Christian’s best time with me for 200m was 23.7. Under that coach he did improve to 22.69 at the Filipino Chinese National meet in 2019. But had the speed already to do it. We did not train for the 100m the short time I coached him. So that speed was in reserve for the 200m. The athlete followed up the 200m with 22.97 to take Bronze at the Weekly Relays Final.
He however did not really show significant improvement under his new coach in the 100m. However I can not be held responsible for his performances after I finished coaching him. So will give credit for the 200m improvements to the new coach but the 100m time remains fairly inconsistent with 11.30et at the weekly relays.
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