Lance Brauman’s clientele includes Olympic 4×400 Gold Medallist Derek Brew, Olympic 200-meter Silver Medallist Bernard Williams and Olympic 100-meter Bronze Medallist Veronica Campbell.
You want more? Brauman coached NCAA champions Wallace Spearmon (200m) and Tyson Gay (100m) as well as Green Bay Packers starting corner Ahmad Carroll, who had the best 40 time and vertical leap of anyone in the 2003 NFL Combine.
Currently, Brauman is the sprint and hurdles coach at the University of Arkansas. Since he joined the Razorbacks in August 2002, Brauman has flipped the Razorbacks track program on its head. He made a school once known mostly for its distance and jumping excellence into a sprinting powerhouse. Besides champions Spearmon and Gay, who followed Brauman from Barton County Community College to Arkansas, Razorback sprinters have earned 15 All-America accolades and 26 All-Southeastern Conference honors. In 2004 alone, the team collected 12 All-America honors, eight SEC championships and set four school records.
Although Brauman’s success does not entirely rely on one facet of training, speed drills work. After two weeks into practice, Brauman runs various speed drills three to four days a week. "I break them up and just do one drill a day, three to four days a week. And in between, we’re still doing some running activity or form runs or a nice tall run."
In the head-down acceleration phase, drive forward 15 meters. Follow this drive phase with 30 meters of an active zone, which is where you pull into a tall, upright position and pick up the speed. Close out the 30 meters with your fastest sprint. For the fly-in drill, make sure your foot is flexed upward and it contacts the ground directly under your hip. Perform two to three sets of three reps with three minutes between each one. For full recovery, take a five-minute rest between sets so each rep is at top speed.
The drill’s name—in-and-out—refers to moving in and out of top speed sprinting. The drill forces a constant shift in gears to help improve the ability to run a high sprint on command. The breakdown of the in-and-out drill is as follows:
– 15 meters of acceleration
– 10 meters of an aggressive turnover phase
– 20 meters of foating (don’t slow down or accelerate)
– 10 meters of an aggressive sprint – slow down out of the sprint
Perform two sets of three reps. Take a three-minute rest between reps and a five-minute rest between sets. To increase difficulty, increase the sprint distances.
Add a third set only as your condition improves. Brauman warns not to add it too quickly though. "The key is making sure the runner is keeping good form. Once he or she begins to bend or lose form, cut the drill off for the day."
The point of this drill is to increase stride length, which equals greater speed. According to Brauman, to get optimal results run at full speed through the drill, keep toes flexed upward, make sure the foot is striking directly below the hip and stay on the balls of the feet. Keeping toes flexed helps avoid kicking the hurdles.
Brauman uses 6 to 8-inch hurdles for wickets. To begin, set up the first hurdle 2.5 feet from the starting line. Place the second hurdle 3 feet away from the first hurdle, the third hurdle 3.5 feet away from the second hurdle and the fourth hurdle 4 feet away. Use this same formula (increasing each hurdle’s distance by a half foot) all the way up to 7 feet. At this point, place four or five hurdles at the seven-foot distance.
Run the length of the hurdles with only one step between each hurdle. Once over the last hurdle, sprint out for another 15 to 20 yards. The longer distances between hurdles helps develop a longer stride.
Perform six reps with three minutes rest between. Use a five-minute break after the first three repetitions if you don’t feel fully recovered after three minutes.
Brauman’s team generally does sled work on lifting days, which is one or two days a week. But if he does use this drill on a speed day, it is on the same day his team performs wickets. "If we did do a speed drill on the same day as the sled pull, we’d do the speed drill prior to the sled drills," says Brauman.
One way to run this drill is to place about 20 pounds on a sled and run six pulls for about 30 yards each. Another way is to start with 30 pounds on the sled and run four sets for 40 yards each, removing 10 pounds per set. The last set will entail pulling the sled with no weight. Take as much as three minutes rest between pulls to achieve full recovery.
"I never let them pull the sled any more than 50 yards at a time. And we fuctuate the weight depending on the workout day," adds Brauman.