Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Training for Ultimate part 1 of 3: Track Workouts

There are many reason to train for any sport. You can increase your endurance, your speed, your jumping ability, etc. Training is also very important in reducing injuries. Over the next several weeks we will be bringing you a three part series on training for Ultimate. We will focus on a different aspect of your training in each part. Part one will focus on track workouts, part two will focus on adding plyometrics to your workouts, and part three will focus on weight training. We will outline a 3 month program that will help you run longer, faster, and with less injuries.

"We" are Michael Wood and Martin Aguilera. Martin is a Nationally Certified Track and Field coach. He is quick to point out that he is "NOT a certified personal trainer, but someone who has been curious and read a lot of books." Martin helped me develop this program for Rival this season. Martin would also like to remind everyone "Don't push too hard."

Disclaimer: You should consult a physician before beginning any workout program. If something hurts, you should stop doing it. We are assuming a base level of fitness and strength. These are the workouts we will be doing for the next few months. We are posting them as an example and they should be used for educational purposes.

The first part of the series focuses on our track workouts...

The following is a 3 month track workout program. We have 2 workouts a week. We suggest one on Sunday, one on Wednesday. We are only suggesting days so that you can fit in the rest of your workouts. We scheduled the workouts so that you have time to recover before doing a similar workout. Sunday workouts can obviously be tough on tournament weekends. My suggestion would be to either drop the workout altogether or you may be able to reschedule your week. Here in Atlanta we have 2 nights of league play during the summer. That factored into our scheduling somewhat.

We incorporate several themes into the workouts. First, we try and have a variety of different workouts so that no one will get bored. We also start out with longer distances in the beginning, to build a solid base, then do more short distances and speed work towards the end of the 3 months. This is a general track workout with a relatively low volume. The two weekly workouts are different in focus. In general, Wednesdays will focus on endurance, while Sundays focuses more on speed and quickness. This helps us in scheduling as Wednesday workouts are generally at the track, and Sunday workouts are generally a part of our practices. We do switch activities between the two days occasionally, again to add variety.

Note: It is common for people running track workouts to run as fast as they can the whole time. This can lead to muscle strains and tears. Also, at the end of your workout, you may feel good enough to add another rep, but resist the temptation as it can lead to injury or just stunt your development. Realize that perhaps this was meant to be an easy or recovery day. You can change the workouts if you don't feel they are pushing you enough, but make the changes in advance rather than during the workout.

Now to the Schedule

Week 1
Sun:- 1x800m slow, 2 shuttles*
Wed: 1-3 miles (dependent on current fitness level)

Week 2
Sun: 1x800m slow, 1x200m slow, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 1-3 miles

Week 3
Sun: 1x600m slow, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 2-4 miles

Week 4
Sun: 2-3 miles, rest, 1x800m slow
Wed: 1x800m slow, 1x400m slow, 2 shuttles*

Week 5
Sun: 1-2 miles, 1x800m slow, rest, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 2-5 miles

Week 6
Sun: 2x400m fast, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 1 mile, 2x400m medium, 1x800m slow

Week 7
Sun: 1x400m medium, 3x200m fast, 2 shuttles*(begin scheduling starts)
Wed: 2x800m medium-fast, 2x400m medium, 1x800m slow

Week 8
Sun: 3 shuttles*, 3x400m medium
Wed: 1x800m medium, 1x400m fast, 3x200m fast

Week 9
Sun: 2x800m medium, 3x400m medium, 2x100m medium
Wed: 3 shuttles*, 3x200m fast, 1x400m slow-medium, 2x200m fast

Week 10
Sun: 5 shuttles*, 3x100m fast, 1x200m fast, 3x50m fast
Wed: 2 fartleks**, 4x200m fast, 4x100m fast

Week 11
Sun: 5 shuttles*, 4x100m fast, 10x50m fast
Wed: 2x200m fast, 4 fartleks**

Week 12
Sun: 2 shuttles*, 10x50m fast, 3 shuttles*, 4x100m fast
Wed: 6 fartleks**

*We consider shuttles any of the following exercises. Mix them up however you choose to add variety. One shuttle on the schedule equals however many reps suggested in the shuttle description.

20 yard shuttle – 3 cones in a line, 10 yards apart. Start at the center cone, sprint to side cone, stop, cut back to other side cone, stop, cut back to center cone. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on quickness and cutting. Variations: Carioca, backpedal, shuffle.

Zig-zag – Set up cones for 90 degree cutting in a zigzag fashion. I'll generally set up two lines, about 5 yards apart, with cones every 5 yards for 25 yards. Do 3 reps with rest between reps. Works on cutting.

90 degree – Set up a running lane with cones ~1 yard wide for 10 yards, then have it turn right or left and continue for 10 yards. Goal is to build speed and work on cutting while staying within the cones. Do 3 reps on each side with rest between reps. Works on cutting.

Stop sign – Set up 2 cones at a start line and 15-20 yards away at the finish line. After the finish line, set up 2 more cones after 2 yards, 2 more cones 1 yards after that, and 2 more cones 1 yard after that. The goal is to build speed during the 15-20 yards, and work on stopping as soon as you cross the finish line. The cones after the finish line will help you measure your stopping speed. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on deceleration.

Box Runs – Set up a square of cones, with 10 yard sides. Start at one cone, sprint forward to the first cone, shuffle (or carioca) along the next side, backpedal down the third side, then turn and sprint out past the first cone. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, lateral movement, hip rotation, etc. Variations: Diagonal Box run.

40 yard suicides – Set up 4 cones in a line, 10 yards apart. Start at first cone, sprint to second cone, turn, sprint back to first cone, turn, sprint to 3rd cone, turn, etc. Do 2 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, quickness, endurance.

Scrambles – start in one of several different positions (sitting, lying on stomach, back, etc.) Have someone signal the start, get up rapidly and sprint forward 15 yards. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, body control.

Team Relays – Run 40 yards relay races. Do 3 races with rest between races. Fun way to add variety to workouts. Variations: Do a relay of any of the shuttles listed.

Starts – Set up a start line and a finish line 15-20 yards away. Start from a standstill (runner's position if you like) and accelerate full speed through the finish line, then run through (rather than stopping suddenly). Concentrate on the initial burst, maintaining good form, and accelerating straight ahead, don't waste momentum laterally. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration. Start these in week 7.

**We consider fartleks to be 100m walking, 100m jogging, 100m sprinting, and 100m jogging.


parinella said...

Can you give approximate times for slow/medium/fast for the 400? Say a guy can do 56s once going all out. What would a "fast" time be for him in a 400 workout?

Overall, I'm surprised at the low number of reps for the sprint distances, and how frequent the workout is just 1 mile or more.

Jeff said...

I ran track (200-400m) for four years in HS and sprint workouts are a different beast than distance workouts. You want to push the speed of your legs as much as possible. You don't want your legs to be exhausted at the end. If you are getting winded, take extra time between reps. Each run should be at top speed and not be limited by conditioning.

heacox said...

This is awesome (and strangely familiar)--I'm starting tomorrow.

Any suggestions for additional Sunday work if I don't have practice or pick-up that day?

Thanks guys.


Martin said...

o.k as part author of this program I can respond to a few things.

In response to Jeff's comments: no doubt this is a different beast than a HS track workout. This was designed for ultimate/soccer, not for track. As far as the level of exhaustion, the low numbers play into this a bit. I agree that you don't want your legs to be exhausted at the end, and for track every sprint should be at top speed. This is a variation of a workout that I ran which was based on lactate-threshold training and Rate of Percieved Exertion (RPE). It's a long story, but it results in not everything being full out.

To answer Jim's question: If I could run a 56s 400 full out, then I would put the following times as suggestions: <59s fast; <65s medium <70s slow. Those times are what I would run, but I'm not a 400 runner. The fast/medium/slow was also taken from an RPE workout which has the following guide: slow - 5k pace; medium - fast mile pace; fast - just under all out.

I hope that clears up a few things. Again, this is the compilation of years of practice and talking to people and is by no means definitive. The best thing anyone can do is develop a program for themselves and their own limitations.

wood said...

Hey Heacox,
I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you looking for something that doesn't require cutting or other participants or are you just looking for something tougher to make up for not practicing on Sunday?

gcooke said...


I typically run my intervals with a heart rate monitor, and they are heart rate based not time based. I did an anerobic threshold test and found that my threshold was about 168 beats/minute. This is in line with the ranges suggested by Rob Sleamaker in his "Serious training for Endurance Athletes". I personally find it very beneficial to structure my intervals based on heart rate. First, if I am having an off day, I know that I am getting my workout even if I am not running as fast as other days. Second, I can play around with the intervals, as Martin suggests, to keep from getting bored. I will sometimes run 6-7 minute intervals at roughly 165/minute, or, other times, 2-3 minute intervals at 168-170 bpm. Combine this with varying recover times, and it does keep things fresh.

I think the suggestions in this post are well founded and could be the basis for a good training program. I developed a similar program after discussing things with Rob Sleamaker. We tweaked his program to be better suited for Ultimate.

I do highly recommend getting a heart rate monitor.


wood said...

I've been working with a heart rate monitor as well. I got the Nike Triax Elite which also has the speed/distance monitor. I love it. Martin is so jealous. I haven't found it overly useful for short distances (<100m), but it's been great for my endurance work in the offseason. It's even helped me stay motivated. I plan on using it for the longer runs in the workout this season.

Jon said...


I've been training based on SERIOUS training for Endurance Athletes, but often lamented that it was more suited to track sports than field sports. I'd be interested to hear how you adapted it.

heacox said...

Michael Wood/Martin--I think I'm looking for "in addition too" rather then "tougher," if that makes sense. In your original post, you write that "Sunday workouts are generally a part of our practices." So if I'm not playing ultimate that day, should I just add two or three miles of distance or something?



wood said...

I'd be curious to hear as well George. I've also used "SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes" but found much of it unhelpful. Particularly the overdistance parts. There is a table in the book, Table 2.1 that lists the "Physiological Adaptaions to Various Training Intensities" that I copied and use when setting up my workouts. It lists the % of max heart rate and what kinds of things you're working on when training at that level. This way I can vary my workouts to sometimes be working on aerobic pathways one day, anearobic threshold the next, back to aerobic, then Fast-twitch FG fiber recruitment, etc. That's mainly what I got out of it, though I have used the 3 weeks on, 1 week low intensity schedule.

I've found a lack of quality HR-based workouts for anything other than endurance atheletes. I guess that's why I've only used the monitor for longer distance workouts (though I'm nowhere near approaching the long distances suggested in SERIOUS). It has been interesting to note my recovery rate when I run intervals, but aside from optimizing a workout to work on one particular thing, it's more a novelty than anything else.

wood said...

I don't know that it would be necessary to add anything to the workout. I merely mentioned it was a part of our practice because many of the activities are suited to a practice situation. Cutting drills, team relays, etc. We didn't particularly plan the workout thinking people would be running for a couple of hours afterwards or anything. Personally I'd probably see how the first workout or two go and how I feel afterwards. If I feel good, I'd add some more shuttles or some distance running to future workouts.

Martin may have a different take or a more straightforward suggestion though...

parinella said...

The "slow" times you suggest still seem fast, which I guess would explain the low number of reps. A typical DoG early-mid-season workout might be 2 or sets of 3x400, 90 seconds in between reps, 3-4 minutes in between sets, with a time of maybe 68-70 for a fast 400 runner (say, 55 s). I don't think I've ever run less than 66 in a 400 workout. (I've been doing them since 1992, when I was still 27 and could conceivably do a 50-52 s 400).

I guess I would label these workouts "speed endurance." On our other workout night, we do pure speed and agility work with exercises like you describe and some jumping plyos of increasing stress.

George said...

I wrote Sleamaker, and we tweaked the percentages allocated for the various activities.

Essentially, we upped the amount of INT time every month.

My plan, although I am not as strict with it as I was a few years ago, is a 12 month plan. I begin on Dec 1 (if I play at Nats), and I do exclusively OD and EN work until Feb. I augment this with a strength plan I was given by Bryan Doo (former dog, now the Celtics strength coach). I do 3-4 runs a week from Jan to Feb. Max for me is a 90 minute run once a week.

Rob had me add INT work starting in Feb, and I have slowly changed my interval work at this time from 90sec runs to 5-6 intervals at a lower heart rate. I begin speed work in early March, depending if I am going to Fools. By May, I am doing hills, an occasional EN workout, but no OD work. I have a peak in June, then some recovery at the beginning of July. July-Sept is more INT work with a shift to more speed work as Sept arrives.

I have found the most helpful part of Serious is the spreadsheet generation. This is a great motivational tool.

In terms of speed work and the heart rate monitor, I find that the monitor is most helpful for recovery times. For example, run a 100 then wait until you get under 120 bpm...then run the next one.

Sorry this is so long. If folks need more info, please feel free to write me a gcooke at gis dot net.


Jon said...

wood said...
I've also used "SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes" but found much of it unhelpful. Particularly the overdistance parts.

I'm curious as to what you found unhelpful about the overdistance stuff? I've found it markedly improves my ability to recover between points and I feel less tired than I used to after a day of playing.

wood said...

Hey Jon,
I had always been advised against running long distances. Something about losing my short distance speed. I figured the overdistance was more helpful for endurance running. Maybe not, could be useful in the off-season I guess.

Sean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ELK said...

Hey guys,

I just completed my first year playing College Ultimate. I want to improve over the summer and go through all of your programs. Do you have any suggestions for an "abbreviated" work out program, where I can do track workouts, plyos and strength training in 3 months?

Thank you very much! I really enjoy your website!


raj mangal said...

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