Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
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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In a number of recent posts and videos on my youtube channel I have been mentioning the potential benefits of isometric (and eccentric and plyometric muscular actions - these two in particular). However, in the process of writing an article for Athletics Weekly on cross-country conditioning I found some interesting research on the role of isometric activity for these athletes.
The full article will be out Thursday 20th Sep, but here's a taste and some of the unused material. It will show that this often-negelacted aspect of sports conditioning - isometric training - can play an important role. As indicated I will be looking to introduce more isometric and eccentric weight training into my training group's activities this preparation period. It seems to be able to offer numerous benefits.
Sports scientists studied the incidence of injury in cross-county runners and have noted that performing specific strengthening exercises can reduce the on-set of injury across a season.
One survey looked at knee and shin muscle injury in high school athletes.
The team wanted to see specifically whether the cross-country runners’ hip and knee muscle strength influenced whether they sustained injury. They specifically measured isometric hip and knee power.
An isometric muscular action in a “non-movement” one - muscles work against each other, or a resistance, but with no actual movement takes place. Examples of isometric exercises that would strengthen the knee muscles would include 1: using a leg press machine to press the weight away and then bringing it back so that the knee angle is around 90 degrees, whilst then holding the weight in that position for a given time, for example 8 seconds and 2: a wall squat, held perhaps for 20 seconds.
Note: Isometric strength is very specific to the angle at which force is applied so in order to fully develop it different angles of application should be used.
Returning to the study sixty-eight cross-country runners (47 girls, 21 boys) were involved and they were monitored across the entire 2014 season.
It was discovered that:
During the season, three (4.4%) runners experienced knee pain and 13 (19.1%) shin injury. More specifically, it was discovered that hip strength was related to knee injury, with the isometrically weaker cross-country runners being significantly more predisposed to injury in this area.
However, when it came to shin injury the team noted that hip and knee muscle strength was not significantly associated with injury.
Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that shin injuries are less dependent on specific strength (although this can be of benefit) and are often likely the result of exposure to too high mileages or running on different surfaces too soon. Avoidance of these types of injuries is therefore very reflexive of training load, rest and recovery season demands and session planning. The requirements of a full-on cross-county programme may therefore have been the main reason for the runners sustaining shin pain.
Hopefully this info will show how training different muscular actions in this case isometric, can aid injury avoidance. Look out for more on this subject and eccentric activity in future posts and videos.
Yesterday was spent in the Surrey Hills with ultra runner Susie Chan. Susie is a bit of a celeb on the running circuit and has run the Marathon des Sables three times and numerous other marathons and ultras. I was interviewing her for a piece in Outdoor Fitness & Adventure and will also be making a video.
Susie only took up running six years ago and admits to doing her first trail race, slightly hungover! Since then the Surrey woman has gone onto complete hundreds or races and log up thousands of miles. She is a real example of "The Girl Can"!
.... I realised that it was a trail marathon. I didn't even know what that meant... (as the miles and hangover) slowly melted away by mile 9 I realised that I could finish..."
There have been races that I have struggled with for various reasons. The first was the Jungle Ultra... you start at 12,000 feet in the Andes and run down to the Amazon basin... I wondered if I was good enough for the race..."
Look out for the full interview in the June/July issue of Outdoor Fitness & Adventure