Developing each the different energy systems to perform efficiently is the key to building better athletes. In this post I discussed how to address the different energy systems in the weight room. What follows will will be a series of posts that address energy system training on the track for long sprinters, i.e. 400, 600, and even maybe some 800m runners.
All running workouts are not created equal. The demands of acceleration are different the demands of speed and are different than the demands of endurance. As a result, I think of these three general categories when designing a running workout.
Within these three general categories, each can be broken down further into subcategories. Conditioning long sprinters will the focus of this post.
I came across the below clip today and was dumbfounded. Come on, "How many hours a day do you workout?" This is a stupid question. Do you really think the answer to this question means anything? It's not about how much. More isn't better. Sure it takes a lot of time to get good at something, but for some reason we think that just because we've put in the time should be rewarded. Thankfully, Jason Khalipa (starting at 1:10) had an intelligent answer to such a stupid question.
Now that you have stopped working out, have a good understanding energy systems, and muscle types, it's time to train for your event.
While it is the case that your genetics predisposes you to a certain ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch, you can alter this ratio to maximize performance the performance of your muscles. The key is targeting the type IIa fibers.
Foam rolling is a great way to begin a training session, end a training session, or simply do while watching TV. In the clip below Mike Boyle of MBSC takes you through a great foam rolling sequence. For those of us that loose count of how many times we've gone over a particular area, I've included a timer from Intervaltimer.com.
One of the advantages that track and field has over other sports is that our events are standardized. As a result, you can reliably compare your times, distances, and heights to others (or your past self) in the same events at different times of the year or different places.
Often I get asked, How fast is fast? I have attempted to answer this question in terms of our league. While studying the last 10-15 years of Interschols results, trends started to emerge. Ranges for what times and distances made finals and what placed became clear. Here are the results of my research.
Everyone knows my feeling on working out. (Stop Working Out!) Now that we have that out of the way, it's time to start training. Much of the old mind set is wrapped around the idea that you have to build a base before training. Today's coaches, backed by science, are more specific. The idea of a base is too vague and doesn't address the that you are training, not working out. To be efficient, purposeful, direct, and serious about your training, you need to ask the question,
Build a base of what?
If you are "working out" you are wasting your time. Athletes don't "workout", they train. There is a difference. Learning a skill, getting stronger, and becoming a better athlete takes more than just going to the gym and "working out." This is what it takes to train.
We've been running since we were young children. Parents are constantly scrambling after their running toddlers. Running is something bipedal human beings do. It is a natural activity. So, why is it that as I see so many with terrible running mechanics?
At some point during our development, some of us forget how to run. Just like any skill, if you don't use it, you loose it. This is not a position paper on why we loose the skill of running. Instead, I'd like to exam what constitutes good running form...
Improvement comes from small gains over time. Putting in the work day after day, week after week, and year after year improves performance. The key is consistency.
Spurts of activity (the season) followed by periods of inactivity (summer break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, spring break) do not help you improve. This turns into a sinusoidal (wave) of strength and conditioning that doesn't improve over the long term, it simply oscillates throughout the year.
Athleticism can be constantly improved. Their might be highs and lows of intensity and volume to your training, but over the long term you can see linear improvement with consistent attention to strength and conditioning.
Milo of Croton is the oldest example of this type of development that I know. According to myth, he lifted a newborn calf everyday until it grew to full size (then he apparently ate it). Talk about simple training and progressive overload! It seemed to have worked because Milo subsequently won six Olympic medals.
It's not sexy, it doesn't show up on YouTube, and it is hard, put putting in the work day after day, week after week, and year after year improves performance. So, rise and grind.
Training the correct energy system can have a dramatic impact on athletic performance. The three basic energy systems are the anaerobic ATP-PC system, the anaerobic system, and the aerobic system. To get the most of out of your training this summer, concentrate on the particular energy system associated with your sport and position.
The anaerobic ATP-PC system is the most powerful system, but it's energy source is used up quickly. The energy used is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and your muscles can only store enough for about 4-8 seconds of activity. Resting 45- 120s will replenish this system so it can start again.
The anaerobic system produces less power but lasts longer than the anaerobic ATP-CP system. In fact, the anaerobic system sustain activity lasting almost 2 min. To get the energy to drive this system, the body breaks down carbohydrates to resynthesize ATP.
The aerobic system produces the least amount of power of all the systems, but it can provide energy for a long time. The aerobic system uses carbohydrates and fats to resynthesize ATP.
Which System to Train
To determine which system is associated with you sport and position, ask the following questions.
For example, a pole vault competition may last more than an hour, but one vault takes less than 10 seconds. Thus, what appears to be an aerobic event is really a collection of anaerobic ATP-PC bursts.
How to Train Each System
Training the anaerobic ATP-PC system in the weight room means your goal is high power output and strength. Therefore, both sets and reps should be in the 1-5 range. On the field or track, you'll want to do sprints or drills that demand shorter bursts of power, anywhere from 0-10 seconds, therefore the sets should be in the 3-5 range with 3-6 reps.
The result of training the anaerobic system in the weight room is more strength endurance. Therefore, sets should be in the 1-5 range with 6-12 reps. This translates to the field or track in the form of 3-5 reps of runs or drills lasting 10 seconds to 2 minutes and using 3-5 sets.
The aerobic system is trained in the weight room using 1-5 sets of 15-25 rep. On the field or track, focus on 3-5 runs and drills with nonstop movements longer than 2 minutes.
Training a specific energy system will improve your ability to produce energy and athletic performance.