Four Things Experts Know About Speed

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If you attend a workshop about sprinting someone will eventually say that there aren't any secrets in our sport.  That's only partly true because if you do not know the secrets then they are a mystery to you.  However the great ones are willing to share.  This article contains interviews from eight people, some of who have competed in multiple Olympic Games.  The four things these experts seemed to agree on is that relaxation, acceleration, classic form running, and caring about other people are extremely important keys to develop speed!

They all have shared other things but those four are the emphasis that we found very common when anyone wants to talk about developing someone for sprinting. 

There were other important statements made about progressive periodization, goal-setting, warm ups, cool downs, pushing out of the blocks, weight training, dynamic running drills, hill running, attitude, teaching the brain, avoiding over training, and also a special interview session with 2:04 marathoner Ryan Hall.  You might be surprised what some of these people have to say!

Lindsey Krueger Bergstrom, St. Cloud State University, MN

Lindsey Krueger Bergstrom was a Multi-Event performer, at St. Cloud State University where she was a 2007 graduate. She was Conference Champion in the Pentathlon was also a national qualifier in the High Jump.  Her best marks were 5'6" in the High Jump, 15.17 in the 100 m hurdles, 41'0" in the Shot Put.

I was always fast but if you work hard at it you can become a lot faster.  The most important thing is to develop technique at an early age because you may be fast, but you will plateau with out working at it.

One of the best things I did for my speed development is to play other sports.  It diversified my training and interests.  I also felt fresh and excited for a new season to begin.  I loved trying lots of different events instead of being limited to one or two.

I did sometimes spend too much time on events where I did not have the most potential.  This was a mistake because I should have sought help in the areas where I showed the most potential.

It is true that a lot of kids have no business using blocks in high school.  I used a 3 point start in college in the sprints and hurdle races.  If kids are not using blocks correctly they are probably only hindering their time rather than improving it.

Another thing I would suggest high school athletes do is to persevere with new techniques.  You may feel uncomfortable with the new style but eventually it will help you to break through your previous limits.  This is true for all events.

Coaches sometimes tell kids to 'run faster' when they have had zero training in the technical events of running.  They should send the athlete to a coach who specializes in that area.

For me the greatest lesson was that you must learn to not limit what you think you are capable of in your mind; I watched many athletes, including myself, achieve things I never thought possible earlier on.  The greatest lesson in terms of training and improvement is that you will often have to digress to learn the correct technique/form etc and make improvements so that you can eventually reach much greater achievements.

I wish I had paid more attention to nutrition in my career. We did not always eat the way we should have, and it would have been good to get some education in that area.  I think that eating right would have made a difference.

Larry Myricks, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS

Larry Myricks was a 4-time Olympian and Bronze medalist in the Long Jump.  Myricks has marks of 28'8 ¼" in 1988, and 20.03 in the 200 meter dash.  He is best known for pushing Carl Lewis and Mike Powell to a new world record.  His best year was 1979 when he won the NCAA, U.S. National, World Cup, and was ranked #1 in the world in the long jump.  He had at least one jump over 27 feet for 13 years straight!  He retired from major competitions at age 37!

Children should start out by doing basic strength and conditioning exercises.  You can only work with what they have.  Mistakes coaches sometimes make are to try to correct form.  Carl Lewis had great form, but Michael Johnson actually ran faster over 200 meters by running with less than perfect form.  Most of us have little quirks that should not be messed with.  We run the way we do for a reason.  If you try to change people too much you will just wind up hurting them.

You might be able to change some basic things, like if their arms are all over the place, that's pulling their whole body out of whack.  That you should change.  Don't paint them all with the same paint brush.  We are all different and have different gifts.

The best thing you can do is to get to know each kid and find out what motivates them.  Some kids will need to be yelled at and some kids can never be yelled at.  You have to take the time to find out.

Larry mentioned that there are many coaches that think they know what they are doing and can't be taught anything.  He said there are no secrets in track & field.  It's really about getting to know kids and helping them.  It's silly to think that you can hide some secrets from other coaches.  It's all out there anyway.

If you have a kid that talks negatively about track & field, you can find out where they see themselves going in the sport.  Then you can tell them where you can see their potential.  Perhaps you have to meet them in the middle, but it's better to talk to them about it than to let them bring themselves and teammates down.

I had only three coaches in my life for track & field and they were all charismatic guys that talked to me a lot.  They helped me work with my brain.  Whatever you achieve in your life, it's your brain that got you there.

Sprinting is a highly technical event and you have to continually think about what you are doing in practice so when you get to the meets, you can just perform without thinking.  We run hard in practice but we do not just go through the motions, we think about what we are doing all the time.  We try to make every move perfect so when we get to competition time, we do not have to worry.

As far as training going, I was basically training all year long.  My season went from spring to fall.  So I would start out in the fall with distance running or biking to recover from the season.  Eventually I would add hills, weight training, and plyometrics to my workouts to get ready for the season. 

Early season we would run 600-500-400-300-200 type of workouts to develop a base for more specific sprint running later on.  We generally practiced as a group Monday through Thursday early in the season and then I would do a 3-5 mile run on Friday or possibly a long bike ride for recovery.  Long distances were not run fast, they were for recovery.

As the season went on we would do slightly more high quality work such as 5 x 200 in descending order.  I might run those in 30-28-26-25-24; another guy would run them slower.  We might run them faster later on.  We always paid attention to our form.  Then soon before the big meets at the end of the season we might be doing 80s or 70s to improve our speed.

America tends to use athletes, not develop them.  By that I mean we send our best athletes to the world championships or Olympics but we do not really develop a young crop to replace them in the mean time with strong youth programs. 

Another thing that has been happening for a long time is that we only put about 1% of our top kids on college scholarship.  A kid could be great coming out of high school but if he cannot pass his SATs, he winds up in a community college somewhere.  The problem with that is he does not get the competition to improve like in a major college.  We have great kids.

Then after college only the top guys get funded by the shoe companies.  So you may be as good as anyone else but you have to work full-time plus find a coach and team.  It's tough to develop that way.  Some people miss out," Myricks postulated.


Ernie Gregoire, PHD, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA

Among college coaches Dr. G. needs no introduction.  Dr. G. has coached 5 Olympians including 4-time Olympian and Silver Medalist Larry Myricks who he coached for over 15 years.  He has made at least two Hall of Fames, including at Mt. San Antonio College where he worked from 1968 to 1996.  He is currently a consultant to sprinters Nakiya Johnson, USA; Ahmed Amaar, Lybia; and long jumper Pascale Delauney, Haiti. 

Dr. G. feels that young athletes should work on fundamentals and fitness.  They do not need to get serious right away but they can work on the basics.  High school sprinters should work at being a good athlete.  They should develop strength and agility.  He mentioned rope jumping as something that is often overlooked.  A good sprinter should be able to jump rope single legged with style.

Coaching is really about getting to know each kid and emphasizing the good qualities he or she has.  I have been coaching for 47 years and have benefited from working with many people.  The athletes have given back to me.  I have learned more than they have.

Dr. G had two national championship teams and also coached the Southern California Cheetahs for many years.  However he started out wanting to coach his daughter.  He was not concerned about "building his brand." This led to people asking him to help them.

He said that he gets a call from at least one of his former athletes every day.  Usually it's just to chat about life in general.

Larry Myricks and I still talk to each other about every 2 weeks.  He has helped me, and I have been able to help him.  It's also about helping people improve as a person.  The key to improvement is self-image.  If we can improve a person's self-image we can improve their skills. If they develop a good self image, they will be able to perform at a high level.

When Myricks came to me he was already a 27' 11" jumper and he only improved to 28'8" when he was with me.  However Myricks had broken his take off ankle at the 1976 Olympic Games.  He went to Dr. G because he was struggling.  Dr. G is very good at detecting flaws and improving little things.  He noticed that Myricks was favoring his takeoff leg and his arms were apart and not together like they should be. 

What this did for Myricks jumping was profound!  After working with Dr. G he went on to win Gold medals at the 1979 IAAF World Cup, and the 1980 Olympic Boycott Games.  Then in 1988 he jumped 28'8" in the USA Olympic Trials, which is still the fifth longest  long jump almost 30 years later!

There are still some committed athletes in our programs in America.  Some are willing to put a lot of time into track & field.  Some are not because we are an instant gratification society.  We want everything right now.  There are no shortcuts.  You have to put the time in and be patient.

Not only must you condition the body, you must condition the mind.  In practice you have time to think and correct things.  Get them right and then you are starting to build something.  When it comes to competition, it must be automatic.  What we do is train the front brain by consciously talking to it.  The coach can step in during practice and get the athlete on the right path with his form and mind. So athletes must always be thinking in practice and doing things correctly.  Then when they get into competition they can use their back brains to do things automatically.

Mistakes coaches sometimes make are not paying attention to the fundamentals.  We can analyze how people do things with their particular body types.  From there it's possible to make some changes and improve performance. It is important to note that we all run the way we do for a reason and those things we should not change.  We can still emphasize important points of the "classic form."

*Dr. G uses progressive periodization to develop sprinters.  This means that he lays down a base first with his runners.  They might do ladders, or repeats between 200 and 500 meters.  They are always working on "classic form."  You can work on running on the balls of the feet, forward lean, arms going in the right direction, and etc.  Do that every day.  Dynamic running drills are important.

*To improve acceleration you can use sprint-float-sprint 90 meter runs as follows:

30 meters @ 80% Vo2 Max, 30 meters @ 70%, 30 meters @ 80% Vo2 Max.

6-8 x 90 meters is enough with full recoveries at the end of the season.

*A big key to running faster is to learn how to run relaxed.  Say for example the runner is doing a set of 200s.  If they manage to run one a little faster than the rest, you can ask them if they tried a little harder on that one.  If they say that they did not try harder, then you can suggest that they ran faster because they were more relaxed.  Work on that concept all the time.  Too often we try so hard we forget that the body runs faster when it is relaxed.  Teach sprinters to relax!

*Dr. G will sometimes call out "Execute," to his runners from the stands.  This is a cue word that he uses every day in practice and is a reminder to concentrate on their form, relaxation, acceleration, and possibly the race plan.  Execute is about everything they worked on in practice.  If they do this they will run fast.  "If it is to be it is up to me."

Dr. G was an Assistant Coach for the USA track & field team at the 2000 Olympic Games.  We asked him about his role there and he said his main job is help keep the athletes lives at the games as normal as possible.  He has to help them get to church, the track, or get them something they need.  You are not going to change anything about how they train or perform their events.  It's too late to do that and there is not enough time.

Dr. G knows that a relaxed athlete will run fast!


Khadevis KD Robinson, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

2 X Olympian and 3 X National Champion in the 800 meter run, KD Robinson was on the world record setting 4 x 800 team that finished in 7:02.82 in 2006.  His trademark saying is "Teamwork makes the Dreamwork."  KD's parents encouraged him to play lots of different sports and he did.  He was quick but not the fastest kid.  He had to work at it.

Here is what he had to say about sprinting and his career:

I worked on getting faster. That has been my biggest attribute. I have always been willing to work hard and train.

Talent is given by God. Skill is developed. What this means is that you can develop or improve what you already have. Yet, you cannot get orange juice out of an apple. The potential must be there either way. If the potential is there, you can improve upon what tools God has given you.

At the Division I level, the people you work with are already fast!  What are the most crucial elements to get them faster?

1. Proper Coaching.  Weights, Core, training room.

2. Facilities.

3. Competitive competitions.

4. Nutrition.

5. Institutional Support.

6. Team Dynamics.

7. Team Culture.

You have to be a student of the sport. There is a lot of good information out there that you can draw from. Most of the great coaches are willing to help and give advice. I am a firm believer that Success leaves Clues. This means you should find a coach or program that has been successful and try to find out what they are doing that has worked over the years.

We can make track & field grow in this country if we make the meets fan friendly. If you look at other sports, most fans know what to expect. They know when the competitions will take place. They know when their favorite athletes will compete. They know what is considered good or bad.  They have a reason to cheer for a team or person.

We have to promote the sport better and educate the fans. We have to educate them in a way that they can relate.  For instance, instead of saying she just ran a fast 5k.   You can say try running the length of a football field x many times full speed and then running the last one just as fast as your first one!

You could say that these people run a lot more miles than 90% of the people on earth.

 David Neville, Taylor University, Upland, IN

David Neville won the Gold Medal in the 4 x 400 relay and the Bronze Medal in the 400 meter dash in the 2008 Olympic Games.  His personal best is 44.61 for 400 meters.  Currently he is in his second year as the Head Coach of Men's and Women's Track & Field at Taylor University in Upland, IN.

Here is his view of training high school sprinters on how to push out of the blocks:

This takes a lot of one on one work with small groups.  You have to make sure their feet and hands are in the right place.  They must be pushing out of the blocks, not just stepping.  We tend to do many "step-outs" where they only take 2 steps out of the block and they attempt to push as hard as they can.  It's almost a jumping motion except they also must come out low and not raise their head too soon.

Even in college we spend quite a bit of time a starts.  We have many drills including pulling sleds too force the sprinter to stay low.  We do much film work so they can see what mistakes they need to make and what they are doing correctly.  We also tend to be quite interactive and ask them how what they are doing feels.  We tell them how it should feel.

We do strength and power work in the weight room all year.  This may include power cleans, hang leg raises, roman chair, back rows, core, and we are starting to add more Olympic lifts which I did a lot as a runner.

In high school I did not eat right.  That is a big mistake because you have more energy for practice if you eat right and you feel better on race day.  Our team eats together on meet days and its good food.  We avoid junk food in particular.  No nachos and cheeze, cookies, and stuff like that.  Be dedicated to what you are doing.

One important thing I had to learn in high school is not to try to kill every workout.  If the coach says to do 5 x 200 in 28, 26, 25, 24, 23 I might run 24, 26, 25, 29, and 33.  That is not a good way to run smooth and get something out of the workout. 

The first thing we want them to do between seasons is to take a couple of weeks off.  They do that in the summer.  We want them to get their bodies back to normal.

During the off-season I have the sprinter work on imbalances.  For example if they had a hamstring problem, we have them work with a physical therapist to help them stretch where they are tight, and develop more strength where they need it.

Most will run over distance to recover from the season.  Then when the season is imminent, they begin doing more specific work.  They might do Broken 400s.  This is where the first 100 is at a certain time, the next one is a little faster, and so on.

Coaching is about working with people.  You attempt to know them as people and help them any way you can.  You do not worry so much about forcing them to work hard.  If they see that you care, they will do what you say.

A 400 meter runner must have controlled aggression for his race and it's good to prepare mentally far in advance for this.  Goal setting is important.  I told a newspaper reporter that I was going to run in the 2008 Olympic Games.  This was in 2002.  I did it!

God blessed me with a vision to run in Beijing, and I could see it.

David Neville brought 14 athletes to the NAIA indoor national championships.  These people had to qualify with a time or mark.  The events they contested were the 60, 200, mile, 5K, 4 x 800, Distance Medley Relay, 60 Hurdles, Triple Jump, and Long Jump.

We are building a program here.

Rafeal "Ray" Williams, Linoln University, Lincoln University, PA

Personal Records: High School 14.58 in the 110 meter High Hurdles (Quigley South, Chicago, IL) Collegiate 14.61 110 meter High Hurdles (North Central College, Naperville, IL) both School Records at the time.  Williams attained All-American status at North Central and also was a member of a national championship under the legendary Al Carius who has been at the school for over 50 years.

Williams has been coaching almost 20 years himself now, and has had gigs at Chicago, Western Michigan, Detroit Mercy, Marquette, Grand Valley State, Mississippi, and currently he is the Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach for men and women at Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania.

Sprinting can be very hard on the body and sometimes athletes can get ahead of themselves claimed Coach Williams.  You must make sure that the body is ready before practice and cool down properly afterwards.  Stretching is not enough.

At Lincoln they insist that the sprinters go to the training room and get warmed up well.  Then after practice they run in the pool or do a long cool down routine.  This is so important that some large colleges actually have machines where the athlete can "run on air," for recovery.

Sprinters are great athletes and will work as hard as they can to become great.  We have to be careful of how we do things though and it must be a daily thing.  This is another reason why you need a coach for the sprints in addition to the fact that it is a technical event.

You have to be very careful if you do not have a long hallway or indoor dome to workout in during the winter.  You might only have a 40 yard hallway to do strides on.  This is not adequate because it is very hard on the body.  It also does not allow a sprinter to do the acceleration type work necessary.  You must have a long hallway or track to do this.  A basketball court or a stairway does not work. 

(How many of you have gotten shin splints in March during the track season?  Warm ups, cool downs, and gradually getting the body to accept new loads is a big part of running your best!)

Off-season training consists mainly of weight training and long distance tempo running.  Usually tempo running in the Lincoln sprinting program consists of 2 to 4 mile runs with faster running interspersed with jogging.  Some days they might only do a 30 minute easy jog for recovery.  They might also do some X runs on the football field, which means running diagonally across the field, then walking back to the other end and running a diagonal the other way.  Weights and Abdominals follow the running.

Coach Williams uses a progressive periodization training program.  So the long distance running period is followed by a time when they run hills, stairs, 500s, and 300s to get ready for the faster paces they will be doing later in the season.  We continue the weight training but it becomes more explosive. 

Weight training in the early off-season is strength endurance that Williams calls "Body Building."  You might do 20 reps of everything you do.  Later we do Olympic Lifting.  Some of the exercises done are one-legged squats, power clean, snatch, push press, dips, lat pulldowns, toe raises, and pullups.

They will also do "Jump Run Circuits."  This may consist of a set of 20 burpees, a 200 meter run, jump rope, 100 meter run, pushups, 200 meter run, etc.  They also do lots of

balance exercises as balance is very important for the prevention of injuries and running fast.  They will do regular squats, for example, but one legged squats are necessary for balance.

These are three late season workouts Lincoln University might use to emphasize acceleration:

A) "Tempo Runs" 6-8 X 200m @ 85% 2-3 min Recovery

B) "Split Runs" 2-3 X 200m @ full speed with 90 seconds Recovery

C) "Event Runs" 2-4 X 300m @ 50m Hard / 150m Float / 100m Hard  Full Recovery

Some runs will be done indoors on the gymnasium track.  Williams has adapted it by adding "banks" on each end.  This a way that athletes can continue to accelerate hard for a longer period of time and also work on their turns for indoor track meets.

Coach Williams has had kids ask him after practice, "Is that all we are doing today?"  But a coach is necessary to make sure that the sprinter does not go too hard before his body is ready for it.  We have great athletes in track & field and they will run all out on every 100 or 200 you do.  But it only takes one sprint to hurt yourself, and then you might be done for the season.  We must work up to the full sprint and not do it too often.  We run different speeds to prepare ourselves for anything that might happen in a race.

Nobody runs a 400 meter dash all out all the way.  In addition it is the athlete who slows down the least at the end of the 100 meter dash that wins.  We must learn how to accelerate and hold it to the finish.  This takes practice and work!


John Beaudot, Mankato State University, Mankato, MN

At Pacelli High School, Austin, MN, Beaudot ran cross country and competed in track & field.  They had the typical universal weight machine, and did circuit training on it for conditioning purposes.  Beaudot made All-American in 1984 at MSU, then coached at East High School, Mankato, MN.  His best times were 21.1 for the 200 meter dash and 48.1 in the 400 meter dash.

Peter Schmidt, Beaudot's high school coach, emphasized getting on the balls of your feet for sprinting.  Beaudot feels that this is something he was able to do as he got stronger towards his senior year at that level.

Beaudot improved his times by almost two seconds in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes from high school to college.  There were several things that led to this.  As a junior in college he saw his bench press go from 180 lbs to 240 lbs and he enjoyed doing many other weight training exercises especially running dumbbells.  The other thing that helped him improve was his ability to run dynamic running drills fast.  The high knee drill seemed to help the most.

High school students should have captains' practices which concentrate on getting them ready to do faster than race pace work.  Early season work might include 8 x 200 @ 35 seconds w/30 seconds rest between each.  (Adjust this pace to your current ability.  You probably want to run them at 85% of your ability.)  Your goal should be to prepare your body to do many reps at 150 meters at faster than race pace. 

Then as the season approaches work time of each run down.  It's possible that you may not able to do so many 200s the first time out.  You might only do 4 or 5 the first captains practice and you only run them about 85% of your top speed.  It only takes one all out sprint to injury yourself for the season!

Warm up well before running and cool down after each workout. You also want to do dynamic running drills, stretching, and weight training during the captains practices.

Early season work outs might look like this:

Monday:  ¾ mile jog, running drills, 10 x 150 strides, weights

Tuesday:  ¾ mile jog, and 4 to 5 starts.  Expect the last start to be your best.

Wednesday:  ¾ mile jog, 10 x 150 strides, weights

Thursday:  Same as Tuesday

Friday:  Same as Wednesday

Other drills and exercise ideas which may help include:

*Doing As, Bs, and Cs dynamic running drills in the pool.  Swimming can create power in your running form.

*Chasing the Rabbit Game:  This involves dividing the team into small groups and having the fastest runner go last.  The idea is for the slower runners to avoid getting caught by the fastest runner.

*10 pushups, followed by 100 yards at 90%, stop, turn around and return all out for 50 meters.  This simulates what 200/400 runners will go through towards the end of their races.


Ryan Hall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Ryan Hall began ran the mile in 4:02 in high school and progressed to a 13:16 5000 meter run at Stanford University.  Eventually he found more success in even longer distances and currently has the fastest American marathon time of 2:04:58.  (This time was at the Boston Marathon and is not certified for records because it has too much downhill, but he also has the second fastest time at 2:06:17.  He was a two-time Olympian in the marathon in 2008 and 2012.

Even more noteworthy He and his wife Sara Bei Hall, also a world class runner, started Hall Steps Foundation which has built construction for hospitals and clinics in Kenya, Senegal, and Mozambique.  Ryan and Sara Hall have adopted four Ethiopian girls to live with them in Redding, California!  It would be neat to get some kind of background on your athletic career.  Did you start out in another sport?

Ryan Hall:  Yeah, I started out playing baseball, basketball and football.  I actually hated to run until one day God inspired a dream in me to run.

MS:  What led you to CC & Track and were you always a distance runner?  

RH:  I was on a trip down to a basketball game, I was 13 at the time, and remember looking out at the lake in my hometown and being overwhelmed with this strange desire to try and run around it.  So the next weekend, my Dad and I set off on a life-changing, exhausting, yet strangely satisfying and flame-igniting 15 mile run around the lake.

MS:  Were you always fast or did something make you fast? 

RH:  In eighth grade I broke the school record in my middle school for the mile run.  I ran 5:32 at 7,000ft altitude.  I thought that was amazing at the time.  I am just glad I didn't know that at that same time my bride-to-be was faster than I was.  If I knew a girl was better then me I may have never kept going.

MS: What led to your biggest break through(s)?

RH:  Failure, in a word.  You have to not only go through failure to be successful but you have to embrace it, knowing that each failure is a tremendous opportunity to grow, become tougher, stronger, and one step closer to the breakthrough you are going after. 

MS:  Did you work a lot on changing speeds and acceleration?

RH:  Sprinting has always been a regular part of my routine.  Throughout my career I would run 8-10 by 100 meter sprints at the end of all my easy days.  Speed is critical for the distance runner.  You can be strong as an ox but if you can't pedal the wheels fast enough it is not going to matter.

MS:  Some kids run relatively fast times but never learn to relax when they run.  Is this something your coaches stressed?

RH:  Yeah, my Dad, who coached me in high school always, used the mantra: "relaxed but fast."  Usually the first 2/3rds of every race I am trying to stay as relaxed as possible.  At Stanford we would talk to each other in the race to try and stay relaxed and loose.  

MS:  What did coaches say to you when you were doing those 10 x 400s or other hard intervals?  Did they stress running harder or running relaxed? 

RH:  Always running relaxed.  Never straining.  Even in races.  The best guys aren't the ones who tried the hardest but the ones who can exert the least amount of energy throughout the race while still running fast.  

MS:  Did you ever work on maximum speed (5 x 80 yards or less) in training?  

RH:  At least once a week.  Even when I was in the middle of very hard distance running I would still do 20-80 meter hill sprints one day a week.  As a distance runner the speed is the hardest component to maintain.  It takes constant work and implementation in training year round.

MS:  What did you do for weight training, hill running, dynamic running drills, etc.?

RH:  I did tons of hill running in high school.  I would run up double black diamond ski runs sometimes 5 times in a day.  At 7,000 ft that is like doing a thousand squats over and over again.  It definitely kept me strong.  Then, later in my career I did uphill runs of 5-9 miles once every two weeks.  I would run those at the same effort as a tempo but obviously they were much slower, which left my legs relatively fresh for the remainder of the week.

MS:  Did you ever work hard on balance?

RH:  Not in particular.  I do think that balance work on Bolso balls and things like that has their place in the training regiment but you have to make sure you pour most of your energy into running.  A lot of guys think that if they spend hours of auxiliary training in the gym they will become world betters but they are really just exhausting themselves with all the little details, leaving themselves fried when it comes time for hard workouts.  Always keep the main thing the main thing.  The Kenyans aren't going to win any squat competitions, box jump for height competitions, or pushup competitions but they are very good at what they do: running.