21 February 2018

On Sunday 28th January, Athletics NI held its second Event Group Squad for coach-athlete pairs focusing on Sprints. Ulster University (Jordantsown) hosted the day which saw 16 athletes attend.  Guest Coach for the day was Dr. Alan Kennedy (Coach to Commonwealth Games long jumper Adam McMullen and two of the athletes who formed the NI record breaking 4x100m men’s team). Alan was joined by Athletics NI coach Dean Adams to deliver specific speed sessions to the athletes, whilst coaches observed and analysed considering the rationale for different aspects of the session. Alan provided a brief introduction to the day and the theory and rationale behind what was to be covered in terms of the importance of accelerating effectively and positions involved when at maximum velocity. Alan highlighted “Sprinting 101” and what was required for an athlete to run faster:sprinting-101.jpg
Athletes completed a warm-up featuring drills to aid both acceleration and maximum velocity before separating into two breakout sessions, with Dean Adams talking to athletes and coaches about the importance of blocks set-up, and helping athletes manipulate their blocks to enable them to apply force effectively, and start their races off in the best possible way. Dean and Alan both stressed the importance of incorporating blocks work early in the year and making sure to include block starts on the warm-up track prior to competition. Alan Kennedy introduced the “Exer-Genie” device used for resisted accelerations and allowed each athlete 3-4 sprints over 30m, emphasising picking the knees up to apply force in a piston action to the track (negative foot speed). An interesting discussion also took place about the importance of the arm action in creating the necessary undulation of the hips.
The second part of the day gave athletes the opportunity to sprint 2x40m and achieve a flying 20m (20-40m) time using the Brower Timing system. Alan briefed the athletes on the importance of applying what they had learnt from their acceleration sessions to these runs.At the end of the Event Group Sprints Squad, Alan answered questions from coaches and athletes, covering key features of a “Speed Session”, including appropriate intensity (over 95% race pace) and recovery (1 min per 10m run) for speed sessions. He addressed his general approach to weekly planning and explained that he includes accelerations over 20-40m early in the week, resisted accelerations later in the week over 20-40m and each weekend alternates between maximum velocity and speed endurance sessions.

Alan’s sessions for sprinters in a typical week:

Start of the week e.g. Monday or Tuesday:

Acceleration (e.g. 5x20m, 4x30m, 3x40m)

(Higher intensity session while the athletes are generally more fresh after a Sunday off)


Midweek e.g. Wednesday or Thursday:

Resisted Accelerations (e.g. Exer-Genie Runs 4x20m, 3x30m, 2x40m)

(Resisted runs provide lower the intensity and allow work on technique during acceleration)


End of week e.g. Friday or Saturday:

Maximum Velocity (e.g. 2x4x50m) or Speed Endurance (2x3x80m)

(Alternate Each Week) *Full Recovery – minimum of 1 min per 10m run.

(Higher Intensity session with following day to recover)

We’d like to give a special thanks to Alan for his time and for sharing his knowledge on improving speed. We look forward to seeing athletes and their coaches at the next Event Group Sprints Squad day (TBD), which will focus on Speed Endurance training.