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ELITE SPRINTING

This article is a summary of the findings I have learned from my exchanges with Pierre-Jean Vazel. To the best of my abilities the information of what I have written is as accurate as I can recall.

The Pierre-Jean Vazel Notes
a lesson in the context of sprinting
By Carl Valle

Over the past seven years Pierre-Jean Vazel seems to be one of the major hidden gems in the world of athletics. His insight and statistical knowledge is unmatched in regards to the context of sprinting. During the summer of 2008, I had the honor of presenting some of my best regeneration findings in a small seminar in Sweden. I was able to learn and share some great information with the brilliant Hakan Anderson and various coaches in the Scandinavian countries. Honestly it was a true wake up call to mix with European coaches, as their balanced view on training in the

realm of strength and power. While the presentation was detailed, Pierre-Jean’s hour and a half presentation had some information needing some expansions as many coaches forget that those that are there to learn don’t have the inside information necessary to fully grasp the new material. In this article, I will share some of the most practical information I have seen in a long time. The purpose of this note collection is to preserve invaluable information that needs to be shared with coaches of all levels. Unfortunately much of the best

information is not available to the masses as some coaches don’t have the time, speaking, or writing ability to convey their knowledge. Lately, information is being presented and released to rapidly, a risk of spreading information that is not time tested or reliable with speed development. Athletics is a wonderful example of art and science being performed on the world’s biggest stage. While perhaps cliche, the true reality is that coaching athletics is pure with the honesty of the clock or measuring tape. I hope you will find this information enjoyable and practical with your athletes.

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PJ shared a lot of charts and graphs of changes to athletes over years in way they improve. Often a new modality will create false hope of what will lead to rapid evolution of abilities. it almost seemed like a golden ratio of sprinting that one would eventually break 1. Development of the stride cycle requires a complete grasp of understanding the development of an entire career.2 or more of their SL/BH. 2 . In fact. not a knee jerk reaction to exercises or drills. While some truth of absolute limits may have talent and strength interactions the reality is that both qualities are likely to be developed by good coaching. In the presentation. After PJ shared his annual plan as well as his career work with Fasuba. not a knee jerk reaction to exercises or drills. What I found to be useful is how elites improved with regards to their body type as well as their stride style in combination. the value in doing so is to see what type of sprinter the athlete is and where they need to be in order to fully maximize their potential. coaches must be aware of what is needed in order to achieve such standards. the breakdown of how sprinters get to their genetic potential. Often a new modality will create false hope of what will lead to rapid evolution of abilities” Olusoji Fasuba runs 9. After knowing the ratio with elites. numerous attempts of breaking the stride into simple groupings of stride length and frequency have created a lot of misinformation such as the myth that frequency is genetic and length is weight room specific. What PJ proposed was that the athletes had a relationship between stride length and body height.“ Development of the stride cycle requires a complete grasp of understanding the development of an entire career. While it’s artificial to break a sprint cycle into frequency and length. This is where things got interesting.85 in Doha Stride Development in Elite Sprinting Throughout history. and what trends and patterns occur because of their body types and stride characteristics. he started to get into some general discussions with sprinters overall. not just time slopes.

I am not sure why their popularity is not as high with all of the published work behind what they do and the results they got with their athletes. most successful coaches and scientists made a massive impact into the training world from a global perspective. it looks like both stride length and stride frequency will improve concurrently. or mobility of the stride. When he Dan’s information never seems to be consistent as his complex discussed the stiff legged prancing drill as being one that could training article includes such “wonderful” combinations of have an influence. Another question is whether improvement comes from just getting years of racing and general training versus efforts to directly improve on the weaker quality. meeting I popped the question if he thought drills worked and did activities that Dan John thought was superfluous. He was wrong twice. my final thoughts were drills were just good mornings and behind the neck presses? categories of locomotor phases that exposed sprinters to motions that were outside the comfort zone of running.From the graphs. since a he said nobody knows. and some of his training was combination methods. One example of poor reasoning was Dan John’s support for Mike Stulce’s training. but his international stable of athletes must be recognized. Gilles Cometti is strangely removed from the lead names in athletics. 3 . What is the real question is not why this happens. In addition to Piasenta. Ironically. but if specific efforts in training to balance the stride parameters for better performance. My not . yet the real improvement will go to the less developed quality. a russian box with sagittal emphasis. muscle recruitment. was one One response that PJ was vehement about was the fact that of the many devices Piasenta used to help with the lower limbs there was no such thing as “French Training Methods” as no so that they could transmit the forces properly. were that drills were specific actions that could bias the stiffness. Yet he was still forgetting that individuals such as their well. the Swiss three time WC in the shot. where he argued that When discussing stride mechanics PJ didn’t get much into his gold medal in 1992 in the shotput was evidence of just lift drills as he was very open on not knowing if they worked or and throw being an example of some wise KISS philosphy. Stiffness was another theme that was discussed in brief and the polish bench. confirming my suspicion he was building massive stiffness. Jacques Piasenta is not the voice for France. A lot of other organized structure of training or unified training philosophy exercises with weighted vests and they were multidirectional as existed. During a break between the seminar and the athletics video of Werner Gunthor. What I interpreted is that no clear simple program won in 1992. as Mike evidence pointed to what was going on and my conclusions never broke 22m and likely won because of a down olympics.

What could have been interpretation of fatigue World Champion Olusoji Fasuba The first world champion in the 60m from Africa. While PJ may be known for a statistician with times and splits.” no blood lactate. Everything should be placed into accounting. Often training is changed for the worse because the results are not indicative of good training. While indoors may appear more consistent because weather does not play a major role. The beauty of coaching is not the art and science. you are bound to have a performance that demonstrates that ability in time. I am just sure that this reality has helped me see the underlying variables and interactions of those elements much more clearly as less moving parts can allow coaches to extrapolate the primary mechanisms of improvement. My guess is that PJ uses his statistical background to safely load the athlete at the right times in the year to see annual progress for improving talent. This is vital period. Poisonous spider bites in Africa. I believe that athlete feedback to the day gives recorded training information better than any machine.Spanish Gold Fasuba wins the 60m in Valencia Pierre-Jean Vaszel spoke in fantastic detail in his work with developing the Nigerian sprinter and his training can’t be considered ordinary. confidence is galvanized because current numbers are nearly arbitrary. 4 . witch doctor tea drinks. parking lot workouts next to soccer stadiums. as his attention to the daily tasks of training was very precise. since we are not looking into the interaction of the body’s systems that have yet to be measured properly. to me they were vital documentation of painstaking recording of the context of training. While his stories of daily circumstances were at first met with perhaps apathetic response. How he does it is very thought provoking. The lesson learned was that he was capable of a 6.4 but mustered another 6. and cold indoor training centers were all reality. Nigerian Nightmare Staying cool under fire. What I thought was excuses was in reality just honesty that sometimes life gets in the way of good training. the reality is that many coaches will need the story behind the story to see what the fruits of their labor. the training seemed way to simple to work. One of the important lessons I learned was to ensure that detailed logs of the athletes are recorded to share the meta data of training and competing. I am not stating that this is specifically the style of training PJ has with his athletes. The lesson learned is that meets are all relative based on the context of the situations given. Many times athletes will have false peaks and poor performances that are actually indicators of early tapers or good training hit with poor circumstances. a harder achievement than just training alone. Often data or recorded numbers are dead and have no merit if details are not investigated and recorded. Often the story behind the story is the true indicator of what is going on. his relationship between his athletes is more than just numbers. I was pleasantly surprised at the elegance of a near purist program where no equipment was used. yet the application of training was often simple because the circumstances were always in turmoil. What was interesting is that he ran the exact same time in the previous heat (semi time of 6.51 with bad circumstances. When your training is going well and your training times are good. Midpoint during the 60m race Fasuba’s calves were cramping and he didn’t panic. or the numbers are meaningless. just a stopwatch and paper and pencil. When you are aware of your abilities because of context. No omegawave.51) but did it with slight cramping. but the human side of working with people that makes all difference. “The context of athletic performance is one of the most vital aspects of coaching. At first. So many times I have changed my training protocols because I thought I was not doing the right things but in reality sometimes life will be a stronger element influencing performances than a magical workout the week before. or going to fast in early rounds is just another case of conjecture.

The false experts will push for needed dorsiflexion in squat patterns but they forget that in sprinting dorsiflexion must be very passive. otherwise a major lack of stiffness will be present during foot strike. In reality. The current screen by Cook is overly simplified and after talking to some fantastic coaches and therapists my opinion is that the foot requires specific mobility ranges and joint positions to sustain health to the lower extremities. My honest belief is that sufficient loading and mechanics can create a massive recruitment of HTMUs The Hard work of the Daily Grind Fasuba.” -Paul Graham what could be considered very primitive in architecture. presentation PJ compiled his collection of data about the abilities of ultimate performance in the 100m dash and what was needed for a sub ten performance on average. While I can’t verify those numbers are 100% accurate. I am under the belief that sprinting may be a form of supra-maximal training that can elicit massive hormone and neurological improvements if properly timed. With ankle mobility being all the rage now I believe that a cause of loss of speed is not lack of anterior tibialis strength but a fluid ankle joint. you have to deliver substance. 5 . In the later part of his that will prevent ultimate performance. What I believe what was a weakness became actually a strength. I am on the record on believing those power and speed values are created by the work on the track. Foam rolling. I information was the absolute records and feel that this type of training will likely the clear characteristics of what his cause soft and connective tissue injuries athletes could do. A primary example of this was his weight training work with Fasuba. Simply measuring ROM with goniometer is not going to solve the specific metatarsal patterns as well as unbinding of fascia from motor programs from soft tissue problems of the lower limb musculature.Elegance in Design “When you can’t deliver ornament. I liked his reductionist approach to things but many times he would explain his rationale to what may be considered strange decision making. and create the abilities to express various forms of slower strength and power if properly trained. when the truth of the matter is that the information is just a representation of the primary decision making. as no intricate periodization was demonstrated. MFR and Graston are only poor solutions as the therapy I have seen is a combination of precise classic methods as well as a complete protocol of muscular balance in the lower limb training. Achilles Heel? Investigating Dorsiflexion Again On conjecture I looked at was when PJ explained to the seminar the ankle restriction of Fasuba and how this could be indirectly related to some factors in exercise selection with his squatting. I must apologize to Charlie during our discussions after dinner in Toronto. With research on depression and cytokines. Pognon. I am fearful that one would interpret the below summary as a simple formula to success. ART. The hardest lesson I have learned was that speed training is activation training at it’s fullest. a simple solution is often a concise decision from a complex scenario. Without What I like about the summary of sufficient rest and low intensity options. to say the least. as his numbers were not unimpressive or lacking. With research on NRF-1 being scant. During the presentation PJ shared his training outlines as well as other graphs that illustrated a nice summary of what he was trying accomplish with his athletes. and PJ Vazel training during one of their many training sessions all over the globe. My biggest concern about elegance in design is that the training will be misinterpreted as easy solutions to the challenges of developing speed and timely performance. specifically Fasuba.

regardless of race. It’s not an argument of race and potential. especially strength and conditioning professionals would find it hard to gather “stuff you can use monday” with PJ because he is not a classic guru with regards to weight training. but the real social injustice is not investigating questions that may seem at first sensitive to race. He is not only a great resource. My hope is that sports can be a more integrated gathering of nationalities as this world is full enough of conflict and relation issues. but a very caring person and his character is something the sport needs. While Hakan may Race and Sprinting White Sprinters and future sub 10 performances? With the performances of Usain Bolt it looks like conjectures of race and sprinting will be again raised as sub 9. My guess is that while many programs will differ. more of a reflexion of what could of been based on what we know with those with similar performances. creating a running program with some interesting composites. the true wisdom of what PJ observed was clever in that like all coaches he used his observation skills. One of Piasenta’s book on training is titled Aprender a ObservarAtletismo. I felt that those weeks in Europe two summers ago were a major impact of what beliefs I had with training. I would start with classic PE books on teaching. a hint to all of us that sometimes it’s better to look a little more han to talk. While his time was not earth shattering. another big influence in my coaching career. hands on education with videography. While top speed has improved slightly since Carl and Ben of the 1980s. but what can’t be denied is the fact PJ has done some impressive accomplishments with the circumstances he has been given to him. is 6 . not be a name that people think of when one brings up the elite coaches in the world. Those looking for quick and easy drills and workouts will again fail. I think many American coaches. but development is a long term process and his historical perspective must be respected. My interest in this line of questioning is not because of a belief what races can or can not do as I don’t want to get into debate of biological differences between races as this is very touchy subject and I wish to be free of controversy. I feel that the advances are better whole races being done instead of having the classic good accelerator or top speed sprinter. He shares so much in depth information to the internet communities without tire and all of my questions were answered fully. Even if tempo prescriptions are intensive. Closing Thoughts A Savant and Artist. and of course our poorest example Bolt. Gay. I have never seen him coach in person.8 may be the new sub 10. my interpretation of the gains in current performance is the string of consecutive splits of near top speed being done. Every athlete deserves to reach their potential. Even if extensive tempo is being utilized in a program. it seemed to me that the elite sprinter can make big improvements in the later zone of sprinting. In the original forum review. After each round Fasuba got up from a seated position from the ground easier and quicker. it was great to hear him converse with Hakan Anderson. While I don’t agree with everything PJ says theoretically. barely perceivable to the naked eye. and of course some sport science literature from Cometti. and the struggle of improving the best is will only be alleviated by working every day and observing the patterns before us. Much of the information I have learned was so in depth and unique I felt it was a true gift to be able to hear some of the inside information that may be never available anywhere else. I coined short to long and long to short when classifying the approach between Francis and Tellez with grave consequences. but one good story that I liked was the description of Fasuba’s 4th place performance in the 100m. I know many will start wondering where to go to get more information on training as the first question is likely to options for further investigation. I throughly enjoyed my visit to Sweden and learned a lot from PierreJean Vazel. making me wonder if those that are slaves to fancy gadgets are hopelessly lost in understanding sport performance. No program is pure. One question is why are caucasian sprinters no longer running near sub ten times like before? Where is the Pietro and Marian performances from decades before? Based on many 60m and 200m times it seems that many possible sub 10 opportunities could have been blown from athletes tightening up at the fabled top end mark near the transition of top speed when other’s are in visible. I don’t know what to use as an example of what humbles me more. as a long to short program will have episodes of start work that will have accompanying acceleration regardless of the intent of the phases.To the Future? How we can improve? During the second day of my questions with PJ. In addition to the discussions with PJ. plyometrics and weights may be more intensive. With the impressive performances of Powell. the similarities will be closer than we want to believe. a running speed at 75% is getting ground contact times with stiffness qualities that will have indirect maximal elements even if the loading is considered aerobic. nothing he has said has ever been proven to be false that I know of with my own personal exchanges. may it be a less expected in a certain gene pool.