This cycle was another learning experience. I started playing with some sprint drills and tried to organize the days a little differently, but I ended up feeling flat on the track. I noticed that I feel peppy the day after my primary lift as long I don’t overdo it (duh) and that the drills drained me the next day more than I expected.
I’ve been tinkering away in the log, adding in more of the technical stuff I’m doing. Just fyi if you feel like browsing through it.
Speed day was pouring rain and a little chilly. I’ve been trying to learn how to run bends better. A cue I picked up is instead of leaning into the turn (which I’ve always done), I try to keep my torso perpendicular to the ground. It helps my hips load better, and I end up getting more power from my right hip (instead of using the outer hamstring, which I pulled) and put less torque on my left (the problem hip for me). I’ve also been working on coordinating my hamstring action at high speed (and bends).
Reading up on this stuff made me see just how little I knew about how running actually happens. I knew what it felt like to go fast, and over the years I’ve seen how you can form bad habits and create change to your stride. But I’ve never been exposed to a complete breakdown of proper form, whether it be for top speed or anything slower. Things like:
- the right way to strike the ground and create force as quickly as possible during the support phase
- driving the trail leg quickly forward in a linear pattern (hip and knee angle closing simultaneously)
- coordinating torque in the upper body with the hips and doing it when the hands are aligned
- the reasons why the torso should be upright
- dorsi-flexing the ankles to create more tension in the joint for ground contact
- when, how and why the hips move in all 3 planes
- how different muscle groups function during running
Changing mechanics is a delicate thing. But this feels right. I feel more certain of how I’m moving even though its unfamiliar.
It makes me think that if you are going to be a runner, you should start with an education in sprinting first thing. Recently there has been a lot of talk about how the 800m is trending toward those with sprinting backgrounds. To me it seems that long sprinters are learning how to put in the work for the 800 better than classic middle distance runners have learned how to be efficient at top speeds. Over the last few years I’ve felt how important speed is in the event, because I started losing mine. In 2013 I was regularly going out in 50-51 seconds. Last year I struggled to go out under 53. And lets face it, its way harder to learn to coach the technical stuff than it is to write middle distance workouts. Sprint coaches watch every stride their athletes take, looking for the smallest details, integrating all that data into the plan. I’m certain I’ve only scratched the surface of that kind of detail, but with the 800 I think a little will go a long way, especially for somebody like me where this is a huge problem.
But I made mistakes this cycle, and the next two workouts were disappointing. I might try mixing up the paces a little for my next specific session. The idea behind using paces just over/under goal pace for an 800 targeted session makes sense to me and its something that I’ll be doing much more of during the summer, but for now I really am trying to use that day to build up a tolerance to 1:44 pace and was counting on the other 2 big sessions to have been enough variety to move things along. My gut tells me the last 2 cycles have been hindered by their schedules, so I’m going to take it day to day.
Something else I’ve been doing recently is watching 800m finals from the major championships. I didn’t know about Canadian Fred Williams. He was in 2nd with 50m to go in 1993!