Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
As I indicated in my previous post the indoor season is upon us. In this video I update on how we are preparing and getting ready to enter the indoors. We cover the type of training we do, how to maintain strength and power whilst competing and the need to still look ahead to the summer.
What training are you doing?
I was recently asked by Athletics Weekly to write an overview article on what makes for a good training regime. As the article is not out for a few weeks I can't say too much, however, I thought I would whet your appetite as to what's included with these two points.
A training regime is not just about the 'physical content' i.e. the sessions and the workout content, it's much more holistic and includes diet and nutrition, for example, as well.
Don't chop and change your regime
You need a training regime plan that’s suited to your age, level of ability and training maturity, for example. This may take some time to get right and this is where your experience, reflection and feedback and that of your coach comes into play. Once this programme is established and it’s getting results then unless there is very good reason (such as injury, change in the amount of time you have to train), then your training plan is best only tweaked, rather than revised wholescale.
Now, this does not mean that your training plan should not cycle through various phases (micro, meso and macro phases as they are called), your training has to evolve, and change to create long lasting adaptation. But that’s just it, if you are a ‘training programme butterfly’ then you’ll not derive the adaptation that adhering to a systematic, but cyclical regime will achieve.
Do plan your competitions and know your peaks
Competitions are what you train for, all those miles will be a bit of a waste, for example, if you don’t line up against your peers to test your mettle. However, competitions are stressful – they drain you not only physically but mentally. Do too many and you run the risk of burning yourself out. Conversely do too few and you may never reach peak and PB busting levels. So, plan the main competitions you will be focussing on for the winter (indoors, cross-country, for example) and then for the summer (road, track for example). It’s best to work back from the main comp and ‘fit’ your training plan into this, so that it leads and guides you to your goals. Having that focus back in January will enable you to motivate yourself to push toward that August target/target. And it will also make that target meaningful – so that when the days of the important competitions, you will be fired up and ready to put all that training into practice.
Training Group Update
It's coming into the competition period for the older athletes in my training group. Three-four at least will be aiming for good performances in the British trials which take place early Feb. There may be an outside chance of some making the team for the European Champs which are in Glasgow this year in March, So, do look out for updates on this blog and the youtube channel.
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As some of you will know part of my working life (perhaps I could say vocational life) involves writing. I'm the Performance section editor for Athletics Weekly, for example, This magazine has been in existence since the second world war! I remember reading it when I was at school!
A recent article I had to edit triggered some thoughts - these related to choosing a good coach. In the article the author pointed to a number of factors that an athlete should take into account when making their choice. One was avoiding coaches who don't listen and have a too big ego! Very fair points indeed. This then got me thinking about coaches and ego - so much so that I have penned a follow-on piece, where I address coach selection as it were from the position of the coach.
In pulling the article together it did seem to me that coaches need to have an ego, as athletes do. They need to be motivated and energised. They also need to believe in their coaching philosophy. And this is where some ego is important. However, they must not become intransigent and so ego led that, the coach's ears and mind are closed to new ideas and ways of training and athlete in-put.
I also reflected on my own coaching practise and realised that when I began coaching my ego was probably more over-sized that it is now. "I thought I knew everything there was to know about long jump!". However, I soon realised that I didn't and that I actually had to learn more and keep learning at that to be a better coach. I also had to be willing to ask for help and advice. I think many coaches are afraid to be found out. Found out that they don't know as much as their athletes and peers think they know. Nobody can know everything. Coaches need to be able to develop themselves and they need to be open and not so ego-led (or scared to ask) that they stunt their own development.
Here's a sign of a willingness to share the bad (well, not so good) as well as the good... last Sat I went along to the first meeting of the indoor season for the group, Jonathan was competing in the triple. It was a low key meet, but he was motivated to perform. He looked brilliant in warm-up, but on his second run through he struck the board really hard and tweaked a hamstring. It's not serious as he was able to run and do drills yesterday but nevertheless it's disappointing. Although this was probably one of those things, I have started to reflect as to whether there was anything that we did (or didn't do) in training that could have created this situation.
The first comp of the season all be filled by more adrenaline that usual - you'll move faster and may lose some technical focus. Make sure you are in control of what you are doing and focus on the process of your event (technique) rather than the outcome (distance). Get the process right and the distances will come.
Good luck this season and do let me know how you get on!
First off, Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have a great training, athletic and fitness year and that you achieve all your goals (and of course everything else goes well off the track, out of the gym and so forth!)
I'll still be coaching and am looking forward to seeing personal bests from the athletes at all stages of their development in their career. Regular readers of this blog and viewers of my Youtube channel will know that I try to post content regularly - around once a week. However, I'm only going to post what I consider is relevant content, I don't really fancy being a youtuber with the pressure of 'having' to post - although sometimes I have felt it. The channel has being steadily progressing. This time last year I had just over 1000 subs and now it's getting close to 6000, with a couple of thousand views a day! That's a coaching session and it obviously displays the need for similar content. Perhaps the IAAF or European Athletics should focus more on social media development of the sport otherwise they risk creating a too polished (albeit potentially great) version of the sport that is built on very shaky foundations. Athletes are the lifeblood of the sport, the hundreds of thousands I wager who run, jump and throw around the world. I know they exist as I get contacted from all over the world and my analytics shows countries that I have vaguely only heard of.
I'd like to conclude this post by thanking those who support this blog and the YT channel and to wish you a Happy New Year (again!)!
Oh, I met a young man from the UK who is an inspirational figure and I wanted to get him on the YT channel. Jordan Harry is his name, he teaches memory techniques and speed reading and how to create winning habits to young people all over the world. He's also a triple jumper. I asked Jordan to produce some video for me, and in his very eloquent way he did. He talks in detail about how you can improve your reading habits for example and why this can improve your event performance and learning in general. Do spend the time to checkout the video and his website..
Here's an article I wrote for Peak Performance a while back that may help endurance athletes that read this blog.
Basically it looks at whether sprint training methods, such as sprint intervals, and plyometrics can enhance the endurance principally of runners and cyclists, as measured by variables such as performance economy, maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), and ultimately event performance. (for more from peak performance click here)
Sprinting is obviously a very high-powered activity. During a 100m race around 45-47 strides will be taken by elite males to complete the distance, and the likes of Usain Bolt will be touching nearly 29mph at max speed. Foot contacts will take place in less than 0.09 of a second. It’s therefore not surprising that the fastest men and women spend a great deal of their training time, power training. They use heavy weights, sprint drills, plyometrics and short recovery intervals to improve their velocity and speed endurance. Contrast this with the likes of marathon runners, who even at elite level, will be completing miles in 4.58min, as calculated for 2.10hr marathon, and whose foot contacts will take around 300 milliseconds. With a predominantly aerobic requirement for long endurance events (as opposed to the anaerobic sprinter) it would seem that there would be little reason for employing a sprinter’s short-lived power training techniques. However, there’s a growing body of research that indicates that actually borrowing from the sprinter’s conditioning armoury can boost endurance.
Sprint Interval Training (SIT)
Sprint athletes will, for example, perform runs over 50-500m at intensities from 70-100%. Recoveries will vary in regard to the purpose of the training session. However, 400m sprinters, in particular will often use very short recoveries, running near flat out efforts for 30-45sec in particular, across a number of repetitions and sets. These sessions boost lactate/lactic acid tolerance. It’s this type of training (or more exactly the protocol) that could benefit endurance types.
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For a recent assignment for UK athletics magazine Athletics Weekly I was sent to find out how British Rowing uses data to develop its athletes and identify talent pathways. The sport works hand in hand with SAS (the sport's official analytics partner). To promote this partnership and showcase what British Rowing is doing (and do note it is one of Britain's most successful sports) a special talent ID was put on and Morgan Lake (second on the all-time high jump rankings and none other than Olympic long jump champ Greg Rutherford went along to put themselves to the test.
In the AW article I made a comment about learning from rowing:
Definitely yes, however, our sport is a much larger and diverse one, but I’ve often thought that searching even among our own ranks for a male and female triple jumper (one of the UK’s weakest events, for example, at present) could be an interesting project. There are so many talented sprinters who won’t unfortunately make it to the very top but who might, for example, do so in the triple (it’s not as hard as rowing!). Some basic speed, strength and power tests would be easy to pull together to determine potentiality.
World Class Start Programme
You can see how Lake and Rutherford managed in this short video from the day and in Athletics Weekly (article published 6th Dec 18) https://www.athleticsweekly.com
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As we actually nearly enter December it's time to change the blocks of training that we are doing.
With the undulating periodisation model that I'm using the emphases change slightly rather than wholesale. Unlike when I was an athlete the transition is not abrupt and we suddenly don't go straight from running 200's and 300's to sprinting and jumping - rather it's been a gradual progression of layering. Layering more speed work on speed work, more technical take-off work on more technical take-off work (so that we can transition to the pit and start jumping properly and with out cognitive confusion) ...
The triphasic training that I've been following in and out of the weights room seems to be going well with the group, it is a bit of an experiment this year. We've been following some of the protocols outlined by Cal Dietz in his book Triphasic Training. Individuals will respond differently to different training stimuli, so this has to be taken into account when new training methods are implemented. It's also not a wholesale change as I'd been incorporating elements into the group's training previously - isometric squats and presses and eccentric/isometric landing jumps.
I'll be able to comment more on this training-response outcome as the weeks pass and we do more speed testing and also more pit work. Incidentally, we did our first pit jump session recently and there did seem to be a good "jump response" - but this of course could be down to a number of other factors - for example, the general progression of training toward this and subsequent jump sessions i.e. that the jumpers were well-prepared to jump and confident physically and mentally (a response to the block periodisation approach most likely).
One last point which is slightly divergent from the above (but related) is the need to look at and try to train the feet and ankle flexors and extensors so that this crucial link in the kinetic chain applies force optimally and technically proficiently and with less injury risk up (and down) the body. Some of the group have flat feet and you can see how their feet roll in on foot contact whilst sprinting. Their feet don't return energy as quickly nor as sharply as other group members with higher arches and a more neutral foot plant. It stands to reason that if this can be corrected then greater contact response will result and therefore greater speed. To this end we have been doing some barefoot drills, and runs (over short distances) and other "foot work".
I'll be making a video on this subject and perhaps pulling together an article for Athletics Weekly on this in future. The feet are crucial for athletic performance but are often neglected from a training and conditioning point of view.
Latest Video (below)
The latest video I've uploaded contains answers to questions that I have been sent through the YT channel. These include:
How to establish a basic run-up length
How to beat a long jump distance plateau and what could be be the causal factors
And, how to pull together training session using a unit approach
YouTube Community Addition
My channel now has the community section added - where creators can be more in-touch with their followers ... it enables posts and "exclusive content" to be seen by subscribers. I can also post more specific comment and perhaps even article or at least snippets of where I want to expand on themes that I can't cover so easily in the videos, so do check that out.
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How well do you know your athletes if you are a coach? And athletes what do you think of your coach? Do you like them, respect them, appreciate their knowledge?
I've just been editing an article for Athletics Weekly sort of on this very subject by former athlete and now coach and doctorate in psychology Sara Almeida. She's produced some very interesting research on this subject which uses what's known as CARI - an on-ine questionnaire. This stands for Coach Athlete Relationship Inventory. As the article comes out next week in the Nov 8th issue of the magazine. I don't want to say too much yet, but I will whet your appetite with this little snippet:
In the coach athlete relationship, the athlete needs to know that the coach is keeping up to date with the latest conditioning and technical knowledge in order that they can feel secure that they are being coached by someone who is knowledgeable, who can be trusted and relied upon.
CARI enables coaches and athletes to better perceive their relationship - in particular to understand each other’s goals, values and opinions. I believe that the research sends out a powerful message to coaches to invest in a good coach athlete relationship, and to make sure the relationship is perceived in the same way by the athlete.
The coach athlete psychological dimension is actually one that I don't give too much thought too. I tend to "just coach". However, having been selected for the Into High Performance course I blogged about last week, this article has fallen on particularly receptive ears.
I've had a look at CARI and may try implementing it with my athletes. Together with the course it's making me think about my coaching practise in a little more details and peeling off another layer of that onion that when revealed and addressed could improve my coaching. I do however, want to be true to myself and to not work from a kind of pre-selected crib sheet/sales pitch. Just because you know the right thing to say does not make it necessarily the right thing to say!
I'll leave you with an example: an athlete I coach can dwell too much on the minutiae of technique and although this may initially seem like a great thing, it's not so great when the athlete begins to question whether their perfectly adequate technique is right. So, I've gone against an athlete centred approach and adopted a coach centred slightly authoritarian one. "We'll do it this way..." (!). Why do I know (hope) this will work because I know the athlete and I want to get the best out of him or her!
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I've just returned from a weekend in the Midlands... Birmingham & Nottingham. In the latter I visited a nature reserve and looked at the habitat of many migratory birds... and very relaxing it was especially if you know your Mallards from your er ducks. Nope this blog has not turned into an environmental, natural history one. I only start this post like this as for some reason I've always been an inquisitive type who likes to learn and discover, hence my sojourn to the nature reserve. The real reason I was in the Midlands (sorry wildlife) was to attend two courses relevant to my development as a coach.
First up I spent a day with one of the athletes I coach (16m plus triple jumper Jonathan Ilori) on the England Athletics Jumps weekend. These events bring together some of the top jumpers and coaches in the country to share knowledge and experiences. The athletes get to be watched by different coaches and there's a healthy interchange of ideas and "what if you did that/what about changing that movement". If, as a coach or an athlete you're not prepared to listen to new thoughts then you're not going to progress. Another coach may just see how to change that "fault" you've been working on. I hope I helped some of the other coaches and I definitely got some great pointers from UKA coach Aston Moore. I tend to emphasis the forward movement of my take-off drills, for example. However, for the triple jump in particular you also need range, and a skipping drill may have its range compromised by too great an emphasis on forward momentum. So, I'll now be adding some more range developing examples into our programme as a consequence of the Birmingham session.
The day also included a great talk by 17m60 man Nathan Douglas, who presented on the stress and recovery aspects of being an athlete. Great advice was given on how athletes, coaches and in fact everyone, should learn how to deal with stress and crucially take time to regenerate and recover. Some great anecdotes and visuals were used to get across the points Nathan was making. I'm sure the younger athletes in the room will have taken on board what was presented with Nathan's passion and humour. They'll definitely recall why he wanted to "Knock Walter Davies' lights out". (Walter if you're reading this, he doesn't really mean it...).
The day I attended also included a testing session where the long and triple jumpers performed various power tests - which included, for example, four hops and a jump and standing long jumps. It was good to see how well Jonathan did against norms that other UK jumpers have produced over the years of testing. Obviously you need to be mindful of the validity of the test and how it impacts on performance. I did ask how Jonathan stacked up against other jumpers - and based on his results was advised that he was capable of the distances we thought he was (everything else being equal). So, fingers-crossed, it'll be a great season for him next year.
After Birmingham I headed to Notts for a UK Coaching "Into High Performance" two-day event - where we were told we were not "lucky" but "exceptionally talented" to have been selected to attend. Us British people always tend to downplay our achievements for fear of being seen as big-headed - so I'll say it was great to be selected! The two days of seminars were all about developing as a coach and working on our own "training". We coaches spend so much time training others that we can neglect ourselves (there were parallels with Nathan's presentation). So, it was great to be involved with other coaches across a wide array of sports, such as football, to Paralympic sports, including, judo, shooting and partially sighted football. I'll say more on this experience in other future posts.
Learning has always been a part of me and it's great at the age I am that I still have the opportunities, desire and enjoyment of learning in great environments and with great people. Long may it continue.
Did you know certain N American birds can get blown so far off their migratory path that they end up in Nottingham....
See some of the action from the jumps weekend below....
The new season for preparation comes around all too quickly. Coaches need to have a rest as do athletes, but this year I don't seem to have had much of one!
This year I've introduced some new weight training ideas into our workouts as has been indicated in recent posts and on my associated Youtube channel There's been quite a lot of discussion on 'Triphasic training" - which involves specific eccentric, isometric and concentric weights workouts. It's something that in many ways I'd been using without having specifically programmed to do so, However, reading Cal Dietz's book Triphasic Training, contextualised and added more to what I'd planned.
In the video below you'll see what we've been up to in our first week or so of training. It sets the scene for what's to follow. I always try to pare down what we need to do to the key elements - speed, power, technique. Yes, some metabolic conditioning is required, but even with young athletes the former qualities trump these. A jumper needs to be able to run near to 40m flat out and be powerful enough and coordinated enough to take-off and execute a mid-air action. They don't need to be fit enough to run 6 200's in 23-sec.