Hopefully you enjoyed my previous blog reflecting on my personal experience with exercise and how I decided to make changes in my approach to exercise, focus on enjoyment to improve adherence. Here is a link to it if you haven’t seen it yet. Part 1
I am now six weeks into my training schedule. I am really enjoying my training and having a structure to follow. I have been filming most of my sessions, mostly so I can send these videos off to dad and he can give me some coaching feedback, but also for myself. I like to analyse the technical components of my running just as much as I do with my patients and implement strategies to improve efficiency and performance.
I haven’t completed any testing yet but will look to do so in the coming 2 weeks so stay tuned, I wanted to get 8 weeks of training completed before testing certain aspects. My sprint programming is focusing on a mix of acceleration, maximum speed and speed endurance, all while trying to improve on my technical ability. I will explain these aspects later in this blog. At different stages of my training I will put more focus into certain session types, but as I have just returned to sprinting, I wanted to establish a solid base to build from. Exploring how my technique is going during each phase & focus, assessing how I feel both physically and mentally throughout each type of training is important feedback. I can tell you now that speed endurance sessions are not my favourite and can’t imagine they ever will be.
Here is what my weekly structure looks like at the moment
When looking at speed training there are typically 3 main types of training sessions: acceleration, maximum speed and speed endurance. Acceleration refers to the beginning of the race (0-35 meters), maximum speed is when you are running at 100 percent and is typically reached at around 35-70 meters within a race and finally speed endurance which is aimed at holding maximum speed for as long as possible and decelerating as slowly as possible for the remainder of the race.
Acceleration Day (Session 1)
- Basically, we want to see that legs act in a piston like manner through the acceleration phase, to help with increase of horizontal force production and ability to generate speed. I will go through the technical components that make up acceleration in a later blog.
- At the start of each session I go through a warm-up and running related drills to get my body prepared for the task I am about to complete. On acceleration days I will focus more heavily on drills that relate to this aspect of speed. Following this warm up I would typically rest for 3-4 minutes to aim for full recovery before starting my session. Throughout the rest I am typically setting up components for my main focus of the session.
- My main working focus for this session is: 3 reps x 30m at 100% effort with slow walk between reps (roughly 30-45 seconds) x 5 sets with 3–4-minute rest between sets
- Each session I will have a certain focus and thought process, also known as cueing, that I will use to get the technical components I want to see, but also to improve my performance. More on the use of cueing in a later blog.
Maximum Speed/Velocity Day (session 2)
- For maximum speed we want to see the legs acting in more of a cyclical motion with the foot landing underneath center of mass
- Again, session begins with warm up & drills specific to the session ahead, followed by 4-5 minutes rest
- 80m, 60m, 60m, 60m, 80m, with 5-6-minute rest between at 100% effort, this is typically with a fly in start which is basically a standing start with a short run into the start of the distance.
Speed Endurance Day (session 3)
- For speed endurance we are looking to keep good technique into later stages of the race once the body is starting to fatigue.
- Warm up & drills followed by 3 minutes rest
- 30m, 40m, 60m at 90-100 percent effort with 2-minute rest between reps x 2 sets with 4 minutes rest between sets
- Followed by 3 x 120m with 2-3-minute rest between reps at 90-95% effort
The final component of my program is the work in which I do in the gym. Having access to one of the best facilities in Melbourne and some great knowledge and support from other staff members at Absolute it would be silly of me to have this apart of my program. The work is purely to build upon what I am doing in my sprinting. My main focus in the gym is to build capacity with pelvic stability, ankle/foot stiffness and trunk stability which are all important abilities seen while sprinting.
Below is an infographic from YLM Sports Science, it’s an overview of a 2019 research paper looking at best practice sprint training recommendations. I have discussed these above, but this provides a nice visual for different types of training. (Haugen et.al, 2019). In future blogs I will expand on the different components of a 100m sprint and how each type of training relates to it.
Rest & Recovery:
As you can see through my weekly structure and also throughout the session themselves there is a lot of rest and recovery. My goal is to run faster and to do that I need to make sure that I am adequately recovered to be running at 100 percent effort, otherwise repetition later in the session will be compromised in quality, and not yield the intended result of running with increased speed.
Speed is primarily dependent on the efficiency of the neuromuscular system. Basically, if you don’t rest sufficiently, then you don’t rest your neuromuscular system sufficiently. This then results in not running at high enough intensities to provide the type of stimulus that will produce adaptations in the nervous system. One of these nervous system adaptations is an increase in motoneuron excitability, which produces a more powerful muscular contraction; this maximizes motoneuron excitability and would be expected to benefit sprint performance (Ross, et.al, 2001).
When looking at research for rest periods they generally use a work:rest ratio, and has shown that when running short distances (15m) a work to rest ratio of 1:10 is adequate to fully recover, however this work:rest ratio is not enough for longer distances such as 30 and 50 meters (Abt, et.al, 2011). As most of my training is over 15m I aim to implement greater work:rest periods that are greater than 1:10.
The ability to recover from speed-training sessions varies among individuals, however it is typically advised that there should be 48 hours rest period between them. Fatigue is a psychophysical phenomenon which can originate from occupational and recreational activities and results in a decreased physical and/or cognitive performance (Romani, 2008). Neuromuscular fatigue is determined by a peripheral and a central component. Peripheral fatigue results from processes at or distal to the neuromuscular junction that lead to a reduction in force or power output in response to a given neural input. Central fatigue entails processes within the central nervous system (CNS) that reduce neural drive to the muscle and result in a decrease in voluntary muscle activation and therefore a decline in force or power and a compromised performance (Weavil & Amann, 2019). Recent research has shown that sprint training requiring repeated maximum efforts elicits fatigue that requires up to 72 h to fully resolve (Thomas et.al, 2018).
Sleep and nutritional factors seem to be the best recovery tools from training. I won’t go into too much detail here as these will be covered in another blog. Below are some of my previous blogs where I look into recovery methods and the implications of poor sleep as well as how to start improving your sleep. It is important to remember that this is not specific to sprinting but for a more general overview. Nutritional requirements post sprinting will be slightly different.
The above images show some of the drills discussed below, first is an A skip, second is wicket drill.
Warm Ups & Drills:
Nobody gets faster from just warming up or completing running drills, however I see them playing an important role in development of speed. However, this is most likely dependent on how they are used. I see a warm-up as important for getting your body prepared for the task it is about to complete. Therefore, it should be made of up of positions, postures, shapes and demands that are required in the tasks ahead. If an athlete is unable to perform a position in a drill, then they will potentially have greater issues when at greater demand and velocity during sprinting.
Examples of acceleration drills include:
- 45-degree angle wall drill
- 3-point start
- 2-point start
- Roll in start
- Roll in start with dowel on back, taking arms out of it
- Banded runs
Examples of maximum speed drills include:
- A walk, skip, jump
- B walk, skip
- Wicket drills
- Plyometric exercises focus on stiffness and landing underneath centre of mass
Potentially a warm-up that focuses on both stride length and stride frequency could be best for sprinting performance. A recent paper (Gil et.al, 2020) showed that warm-ups that focus on stride frequency improved outcomes in 0-15m and warms up focusing on stride length improved outcomes from 15-30m. This is interesting as this correlates with the changes in stride frequency and length in a sprint race, showing the importance of specificity in your warm-ups.
Hopefully this blog helps you understand the many thought processes that go into planning a speed program, from the type of session you can focus on to how much rest and recovery is required to make sure you are getting the most out of your training. Next up in my blogs I am going to explore the theories behind motor learning and skill acquisition in particular, looking at dynamical system theory and using a constraint led approach.
Written By Osteopath Ashley Gudgeon
Haugen, T., Seiler, S., Sandbakk, Ø., & Tønnessen, E. (2019). The training and development of elite sprint performance: an integration of scientific and best practice literature. Sports medicine-open, 5(1), 44.
Abt, G., Siegler, J. C., Akubat, I., & Castagna, C. (2011). The effects of a constant sprint-to-rest ratio and recovery mode on repeated sprint performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(6), 1695-1702.
Romani, A. (2008). The treatment of fatigue. Neurological Sciences, 29(2), 247-249.
Weavil, J. C., & Amann, M. (2019). Neuromuscular fatigue during whole body exercise. Current Opinion in Physiology, 10, 128-136.
Thomas, K., Brownstein, C., Dent, J., Parker, P., Goodall, S., & Howatson, G. (2018). Neuromuscular fatigue and recovery after heavy resistance, jump, and sprint training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 50(12), 2526-2535.
Gil, M. H., Neiva, H. P., Alves, A. R., Sousa, A. C., Ferraz, R., Marques, M. C., & Marinho, D. A. (2020). The Effect of Warm-up Running Technique on Sprint Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Ross, A., Leveritt, M., & Riek, S. (2001). Neural Influences on Sprint Running: Training Adaptations and Acute Responses (Vol. 31, pp. 409-409). New Zealand: Adis International.