How they train – Mark Lewis-Francis

The former world junior champion is determined to fulfil his early career’s promise

Posted on April 14, 2011 by
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Mark Lewis-Francis (Mark Shearman)

Mark Lewis-Francis started training for athletics at the age of 13. He joined Birchfield Harriers and was coached by the late Steve Platt, under whose guidance he set British age-group records at 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. During this time he trained between two and four times each week and also enjoyed rugby and basketball. Platt recognised the talent he was privileged to work with and handled it carefully.

In 2005 Lewis-Francis moved to London to join Tony Lester’s squad. Unfortunately, his hopes of competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were shattered when he suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon that required an operation and meant that he missed the whole of that year.

The social side of the sport is important to him. He says: “I like training in a group, to have a laugh and a joke and not be too serious. It can be lonely training solo.” He is now working with Linford Christie, who says that the group enjoy the entertainment provided by MLF. “Mark is a joker and is the loudest person in the group. He is larger than life and loves competing,” says Christie.

One of the areas Christie would like to see an improvement in is his ability to train on his own and has marked it as an area to address.

This partnership appears to be working as he won silver at both the European and Commonwealth Games last year. There have been a few new ingredients into his training programme this winter. Christie adds: “I don’t want to change too much at once, we just need to make sure what he’s got is as efficient and relaxed as possible. At the moment we are working on his start and aiming to build confidence with that.”

Some of the training has been entirely new. Lewis-Francis says: “I didn’t start weights until I was 23. I did some technique work when I was 21 or 22 and then included weights into my training.”

Christie has also introduced him to more plyometric work and he is working on improving his rhythm in the bounding exercises.

His favourite session is 3x3x150m with five minutes recovery between reps and 10 minutes between sets. He says: “This session allows me to run fast, but I have to work hard to get through all of the reps and keep the quality high.”

His least favourite session is 4x400m with five minutes recovery and he adds: “I find this session tough, especially the last rep!”

This year he is looking for success at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in August. He also aims to make his performances more consistent. “By listening to my coach!” he jokes.

Training example

» Monday
Weights including squats, deep bench squats, plyometrics, tyre pulling, starts.

» Tuesday
Track work including 150m, 200m and 300m reps.

» Wednesday
Weights as per Monday.

» Thursday
Track work such as: 3x400m with 6 minutes recovery.

» Friday
Weights and circuits including press-ups, situps, core work, leg press, squats. Full block session.

» Saturday
Rest.

» Sunday
Hillwork: 8x120m up a steep incline in winter and 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m in summer.

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