Getting faster involves greater ground contact forces (GCF) over very short ground contact times (GCT). The greater the force, the faster you are. The shorter the ground contact time, the faster you are. Plyometrics, or jump training, is a great way to achieve greater forces and shorter contact times for track and field athletes.
The video below provides a fantastic explanation of how to produce more GCF and shorten GCT---in essence how to get faster. The inclusion of the optojump brings realtime data to this explanation. The data shows how GCF gets smaller and GCT gets longer (hence you are getting slower) during the exercise. This is why you train speed with full or near full recoveries.
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?
Now that you've stopped working out, it's time to create a training plan. A training plan should meet an athletes needs and situation. To design a good training plan you need to take into consideration the length and goals of the training season, the adaptation cycles, and the principles of overload, progression, and specificity.
Failure to plan is planning to fail.
This is what you need to consider when designing a training plan...
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.
What makes a natural jumper? Sprinter? How can you be good at both? Every track and field coach during the first week is surveying their team and asking these questions. A lot of times simply watching them walk onto the track can give you all the information you need. I'm going to attempt to explain how I answer these questions in my program.