Monday, 24 January 2011

A little pre-training visualisation.

Visualisation is a powerful tool and can be used to develop new skills or refine exsisting ones. Before this week's technique swim session on Sunday have a look at this video of Jono Van Hazel (Australian Olympic swimmer) on the Swim Types website. Watch it over and over! During the swim session when we ask you to swim 'steady and smooth' or 'hold excellent form' this is the image that should appear in your head. Say to yourself (or out loud if you prefer) 'Just like Jono' as you push off the wall. Go on try it out at least once!

For those of you that join me on Tuesday for the interval session or on Sunday for the long run this week is a 'recovery week'. That means we are dropping the training load down to allow the body to recover and adapt to the last three weeks of training. So our interval session will be 5km max and the long run no more than one lap of Victoria Park from London Fields and return (~8km). Remember the recovery week is as important as the last three weeks of training to improving your performances during the race season and preventing injury. Do not be tempted to do a little more just for good measure!

Most of the London League events are now open. Remember in order to get maximum points we must have five athletes in an event, one must be a female and one must be a vet (+40) or we could have a vet female. These will be great events to continue to build the team spirit within the club (something I think we have done well already) and these races can be a great way to develop race skills such as pacing and transitions etc. We need to enter at least four races including one triathlon. I am signed up for the Dragon Slayer Duathlon and Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon already.

Two of our club members last week asked me what determines someone's ability to run fast over a given distance. Given that we are triathletes and run anywhere from 5km up to 42km and beyond I will focus on determinants of long distance running performance. Now this is the kind of topic that entire books are written about. I will just scrape the surface here.

The neuromuscular system plays and important role. The recruitment and synchronisation of muscles during running affects both the ability to absorb impact forces and produce propulsive forces. This affects running efficiency and can be trained. This is one reason I insist that everyone performs running drills. It is also why later in the year, as we approach race season, we will intergrate more speed work into our sessions.

There are also physiological determinants of long distance running performance. VO2 max is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. VO2 max is actually a relatively poor predictor of endurance performance in athletes of similar ability. That is not to say that improving your VO2 max will not improve your running performance. VO2 max can be improved with specific training. This will come later in the year as it is very high intensity work.

'Lactate threshold' is the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood during sub-maximal exercise. Lactic acid has an inhibitory effect on a muscles ability to function during exercise resulting in decreased performance. Lactate threshold occurs at a higher % of VO2max in well trained individuals. Lactate threshold can be improved with specific training. The faster you can run at lactate threshold the faster your race pace will be in race distances from a 5K to the marathon. This is what our interval sessions are aimed at.

Running economy is the amount of energy needed to run at a given pace. If you have good running economy, you use less energy to run at a given pace than someone with poor running economy. Running economy can be improved with training. This improvement occurs primarily at your training pace(s). This is one reason it’s important to do some training at and faster than race pace. Over striding can cause poor running economy, but research shows that most runners naturally choose their most economical stride length. Explosive weight training or plyometrics have also been shown to improve running economy.

Psychology also plays a role. Some people can and do push themselves much harder than others in training and racing. Again this 'mental toughness' is something that can be trained using various methods.

Well I hope that was helpful. Rest assured that we are working towards improving your running performance this year. See you tonight and if not see you in two weeks! Don't forget to get a crew together for the London League events. Tim (LFTC coach)