Yesterday I posted the following on my twitter feed.
Mixed results for today’s workout. @DadVaughn did good work, but we need to be careful – metabolic fitness precedes structural readiness
I think this issue warrants more of an explanation than I can give in 140 characters on twitter.
Mike Smith of Kansas State University is the person who shared this concept with me when I was first starting my coaching career. The point is simply that the athlete gains aerobic fitness (or even anaerobic fitness/tolerance) quicker than their structure – their bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments – can handle that fitness. For this reason Mike believes in a lot of non-running work for middle and long distance runners. I’m a convert to this worldview, as evident in our Building a Better Runner series of DVDs. Simply put, I’m asking the athletes I coach to do a lot of non-running work so that they can tolerate more fast running.
So that’s the idea, metabolic changes occur faster than structural changes…and that’s usually why you get hurt. You’re fit and you can hammer 10 miles at 5:30 a mile, but your posterior tibialis can’t handle the stress and soon the inside of your “shin” is sore. Or your gluteal muscles are weak and your IT band tightens during the run and in the later days you can’t run because of your IT band. You get the picture. For some reason you can gain the fitness to run a solid 5 mile, 10 mile, 15 mile effort before your body is ready for it if all you do to train your body is run. Yes you can foam roll and yes you can get on a message table weekly, but I still think athletes need to do a lot of work to get strong (in all three planes of motion) to be able to withstand both the training paces and volumes and the race paces that athlete dreams of running.
Okay, so what does this look like? Well, my biggest concern with Tyler running the BAA Half Marathon last weekend was that we’ve done very few kilometers at the pace he was going to need to run in the race. It’s scary to think that his body might not be able to handle 21k under 5:00 when the most he’d done in practice was 10k of work in a day at that pace. Or we could look at Brent and the reason for that tweet. Brent did a 4.5 mile tempo, then 2x2k where he ran 68/90/68/90/68 for each 400m of the 2k, then we did a circuit with some 700′s. The circuit was killer and it’s a circuit that really challenges the gluteal and hip area. For his second run that day his hip was bothering him, so obviously we did something incorrect in the morning. We’re doing the circuit to see how fast they ran run on fatigued legs which is a great way to train specifically for longer races, but there is no way to quantify it. I know I did a good job paying attention to him during the circuit and changing the circuit as we went along (fairly easy as he was the only one working out at that point) but in the end it was still too much. And who is to say the pace of the tempo and the 2,400m at 68′s, on a cold wet day too, wasn’t the problem. Who knows, but the bottom line is that three part workout as a bit too much. The good news is (knock on wood) that we’ve done a lot of strengthening and when evaluated by Dr. Hansen he’s got good flexibility and strength. But a couple workouts in a row where we over reach and he could be hurt, just like he’s been in the past. You could argue that the more talented you are the more you have to worry about this – your engine is big to begin with, yet your chassis.
I hope this has made sense. Feel free to ask questions and I’ll be happy to answer them