Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Lessons from Fred Kerley’s trainer Ellen Francic

The coach of current world champion and Olympic runner-up in the 100-meter dash, Fred Kerley, was born on the Caribbean island of Grenada, with a population of about 124,000. This is Eleni Francic, double world champion in the 400m indoor track and fourth at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

It doesn’t matter that they are of different nationalities. In fact, Franck’s roots have helped him form strong bonds with many of his sprinters.

“I was the youngest coach and the only black coach on the coaching staff, so a lot of them came up to me. There was a trust factor that made them feel they could tell me anything,” Frankic said at a conference in Granada. Kerley explained to Olympic.com after the rally.

Prior to Kerley, Franck coached great promises of university athletics in the United States, such as Donovan Brazier, world champion in the 800m in 2019, or Samantha Wilson, world under-20 champion in 2016.

“I had the opportunity to go to the United States to study and compete, and I wanted to make the most of it. For both running and studying. What I learned during that time I try to teach today’s athletes,” he says.

Find out below how Kerli and Franck apply their middle distance experience to the 100 and 200 meters.

A typical training week from Fred Kerley

Frankic and Kerli usually spend two days a week on the track, two days on grass and one day in the pool. The training session lasts approximately one hour and 45 minutes. The most important track sessions take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  • Monday: tempo run on grass; 40 sec (26 sec 200m) or 30 sec
  • Tuesday: Fast work on the track
  • Wednesday: light training in the pool; exercise, swimming and cardio
  • Thursday: Track training alternate distance (100m and 200m)
  • Friday: 60m and 80m race, diagonal race depending on athlete’s fitness
  • Saturday: Racing
  • Sunday: Relax

How is Fred Kerley resting?

There aren’t many secrets to getting the best rest possible for a sprinter: A good night’s sleep.

“You need at least eight hours of sleep. Whatever it is, but you need them. The good thing is that Fred neither parties nor drinks. He prefers to spend his time on social networks “, says Francis.

What does Fred Kerley do at the gym?

According to Frankic, Kerley’s work in the gym focuses more on plyometrics. Use bars and ribbons for stretching, as well as high jumps and triple jumps.

“He’s huge, about 202 pounds (about 91.6 kg). If he weighed he would reach 260 (about 118 kg). You can’t carry that much on the track”, explains the coach.

How did Fred Kerley become a 100m sprinter?

Kerley was the reigning 400m world champion before Tokyo 2020, although he had already set good times over shorter distances. An ankle problem before the United States’ selection for those Games caused him to change his plans.

“There are two turns in the 400-meter event, and he didn’t think he could do them with that ankle,” Frankic recalls.

“We went to those selected thinking I would run the 400m. But then he told me that he wants to run 100m and 200m. I told him, ‘But there is no meeting now. Only selective!’. But he told me, ‘You trust me.’ I thought we were either going to look like geniuses, or like idiots.”

Kerley finished third in the qualifying for the 100 m with a personal best of 9.86 seconds and made the Olympic team. Two months later, he had an Olympic silver medal around his neck.

Fred Kerley of the United States reacts after winning the men’s final on May 21, 2023 in Yokohama, Japan. (Kenta Harda)

How to prepare for 100m race

Frankic was also a middle-distance runner, and was able to adapt Kerley’s training for shorter distances.

“100m races are more technical. You have to focus on the start, reacting after hearing the signal, acceleration and how you transition from the acceleration phase to your top speed”, says the trainer.

The fastest race in the world demands a strategy every second.

“Suppose at a distance of 5 meters you raise your head. Now you have to maintain the speed till 95 metres. And this is impossible. The longer you hold on to your acceleration phase, the better off you’ll end up. You have energy and reserves. You should try to accelerate till 25m and then start to rise. When you reach 40m, your head is held high and you carry on. And when you reach 70 meters, you’re at your top speed”, explains Franck.

According to his coach, running the 400 meters first allowed Kerley to have more stamina and endurance for the 100 meters.

“When others die, he continues,” he says. “You don’t have to beat them at the start, you have to keep going. When you reach your top speed at 70m, you should be there.”

Fred kerley and eleni francic talk during a training session.Fred Kerley and Eleni Francic talk during a training session. (Eileen Francis)

What are Kerley’s goals for 2023 and 2024?

Kerley won gold in the 100 m at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene and began the 2023 Diamond League season with a win in the 200 m (19.92 s).

According to Francique, her next goal is to defend her 100m title in Budapest next August and become Olympic champion in Paris 2024. But his goal is also to set a record.

“It is easy to train her to win a medal. But the time has come to think about records. Either break the USA record or try to attack the world record”, he assured.

The first step is qualifying for the Olympic Games, something that is never easy for athletes from the United States.

“The USA team is the hardest to get into, so that’s the first thing you have to do. Fred is in his best year so we want to get on the team, go to Paris and see if we can go from silver to gold.”

What separates the best athletes from the rest according to Ellen Francis?

Training can get you to the elite, but according to Franck, even champions need a special mindset.

“You have to respect everyone who is competing. It is about who has the mental strength, who is not influenced by outsiders or what is published on social networks. [Kerley] He is mentally strong, you cannot break him. He only cares about himself.”

Nation World News Desk
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