Mistakes, Moving Forward and a Sales Pitch

I made some big mistakes this year, and I think everyone can agree it showed. I did some other things really well, all things considered.

Coaching myself this year was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I learned more about the sport in 6 months than I have in 13 years. For the most part I had a blast doing it and that gives me a lot of fire about pursuing a career in coaching. I’ve always been the kind of person that has to learn my lessons from direct experience. I have a tough time taking things at their word. So what did I learn this year?

1 – S&C is great for my physical health, extremely hard to program but ultimately totally essential for moving fast. I can’t say honestly that I didn’t mess this aspect of training up big time, but there were parts of it that worked. One thing is that I had almost no injuries this year, and I was able to “re learn” how to sprint after a bad hamstring strain (and years of hamstring/achilles problems). Maybe the older athletes will understand this better but to me this was big. I was able to step out onto the track and do quality sessions without questioning if my body was going to break. I’ve spent a lot of money and time on treatment tables in my career. I think there is a purpose to it, especially in certain circumstances. Manual therapist professionals are incredible resources for athletes and coaches. Also, many of them are excellent at using S&C as treatment, and even more important, combining all the different treatment tools into an individualized program. Pro tip: find a therapist that has a weight room in their clinic and will move from the table to the weights and back during the appointment. No not resistance bands and some dumbells, but those too. I’m talking squat rack, heavy weights and boxes. The last few years have taught me that the best way to prepare your body to train hard is to challenge it in the correct ways. S&C helped me increase tissue tolerance, joint ROM, coordination and mechanics much more effectively than getting treated on the table. Could a trained S&C coach working with me 1on1 in the gym every day have done a better job than I did on my own? ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION! Did I wish I had one every single day I was in there? YUP! But I didn’t have the money and I wasn’t in the right situation to acquire one, and I felt that reading and being consulted about this was better than giving someone remote the reigns entirely. As far as changes I would make moving forward with an S&C program,  I would

  • start the reactive lifts earlier in the year and therefore progress into plyos sooner
  • cut back on the heavy lifts earlier
  • less volume in the gym throughout general prep
  • I have a much better concept of what injury prevention looks like for me than I did a year ago. The exercises in that regard would be more streamlined
  • have a formal drill progression all year

2 – The 800 is ultimately an aerobic event that requires speed. As a stand alone statement that sounds pretty obvious. When you get down to the details, I messed this up big time. If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I wanted to come at the event this year more from a quality perspective than I had previously. I felt that I wasn’t going to run 1:44 without increasing the average pace of my sessions, including a more robust “bottom up” approach:  a season long  progression from max speed upward to 800 pace. I ended up increasing my rests to target faster paces in almost everything. As a rule, that was wrong. Early in the year there is a purpose to having long rests in between max speed intervals. There are also certain other sessions that need long rest. But I could have done a much better job progressing my bottom up sessions to be more aerobic, and do it earlier. I should not have put so much emphasis on pace in everything else. I should have accepted a certain range of pace and maintained a strict focus on the aerobic challenge. I over compensated based on things I think I should have done in previous years. The good news is I think I see how it all balances out now. Whenever I read over these blogs I’m dissatisfied with how they sound. Its difficult to express ideas about training without giving concrete examples. In my mind I have programming ideas swirling around like puzzle pieces and I’m arranging them to see how they fit, constantly readjusting and reassessing. I don’t think about training in the words you see here, but in how it would feel to go from one session to the next, or different ways to manipulate and progress a movement in the gym. But I can tell you that those pieces make more sense to me now. There is more physical context to them; I can feel the way they fit together. The patterns they create are much more satisfying. I know I will always have questions, the art of coaching is incredibly attractive to me in large part because I will never be able to master it. Right now it just feels good to see how far I’ve come in that understanding, even if the cost was pretty high.

Here is the link to my training log for the year

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jJEiJXfUlNo8M5xTNdVLA42TDZD6xwmH5td73c61JtI/edit?usp=sharing

I don’t entirely know what I’m going to do moving forward. I’m almost 28, living with my parents, out of money and coming off a terrible season. I’m taking my coaching certifications and looking at further schooling, and I plan on pursuing that to the fullest extent that I can. In that respect, I’m very excited to have finally decided a career path. With regards to Tokyo 2020, I have very little interest in working a traditional job while training at this level. That’s possibly because I’m a spoiled brat. I love the lifestyle of training. I don’t mind spending 6 months of the year away because my body can’t handle indoor tracks and I have to be all over for competitions. My social life is more or less non existent, but I get to do something that is important to me. I didn’t really mind training alone all year to do that. What I do mind is living that way and knowing I’m not putting all of myself into it. Some athletes thrive in a more balanced lifestyle. For various reasons, that’s just not me.

I have wanted to start taking on more athletes myself for a while. I coached a couple athletes last year. The enjoyment and passion I had for it is a big reason why I decided to dive head first into it now and pursue it as a career. So, as a terrible sales pitch, if after reading about how much I sucked at coaching myself this season you are thinking “Wow I really need what that guy has to offer!” then PLEASE shoot me an email or a text and we can talk about your delusions–I mean ambitions. No for serious though, I live and breath this stuff and will work extremely hard on your behalf. call me right now please

anthony.romaniw@gmail.com       226-821-0197

As always, thanks for reading friendo’s. If you are sick of following my career please subscribe to Olivia’s because she stole my powers and ran 2:01 this summer.

Anthony

 

 

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Spring 2019

LOG:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jJEiJXfUlNo8M5xTNdVLA42TDZD6xwmH5td73c61JtI/edit?usp=sharing

 

I got back to Hamilton last week after 4.5 months away. Haven’t posted because I didn’t have anything to say. Wanted to process the feedback from these races first.

My first 4 races :

May 2nd Payton Jordan – 1:52

May 11th Oxy Invite – 1:50.9

May 16th USATF HP – 1:50.4

May 31 MCDC – 1:49.6

Scratched from Inferno due hip flare up, which was a good idea and now its feeling better. Will be ready for Harry Jerome on the 20th.

So, not a great start to the season. In the first 3 I got tired really fast. In the 3rd one I closed better but slowed a lot from 4-600.

At MCDC I actually felt like myself again. I got stuck at the back after 200 and the pace slowed from 2 to 6 dramatically which tends to happen. I didn’t feel confident that I had the legs to make a move until the homestretch, so I closed okay but I left some time out on the track. But it was heartening to go through 500 and feel engaged as opposed to struggling to hang on.

As I’ve said before, this year I wanted to come at the 800 more bottom up than I have in the past. I’ve also been more aggressive with the paces in my aerobic support sessions, sacrificing immediate specificity for what I would call a neurological gain. However in hindsight I could have done a better job of balancing the neurological and aerobic progression this pre-season. My bad left hip and history of injury also meant that I introduced track work late (March) and its taken me a while to re introduce it in a sustainable way.  And with the flare up this week you can see how tricky its been. But now things are going to change. I’m starting to make the sessions more aerobically challenging, but hopefully at a higher training velocity than I’ve done in previous years.

As the sessions become more specific throughout the racing season, and are run close to key races, I’m going to be mixing different pace work together more.

Some uses for mixing paces:

  • use aerobic intervals to force subsequent faster running to be aerobically challenging without as much overall CNS fatigue.
  • tax my CNS with speed work before running goal pace to force mechanical efficiency
  • stimulate my CNS with speed to make goal pace feel easier
  • running fast at the very end of a workout is also targeting efficiency but skewed more to the mechanic over the aerobic component
  • put an aerobic set after anaerobic work to force me to clear/utilize metabolites better,
  • or in the middle of a session to actively recover between anaerobic sets while making sure that I’m not straying too far from the primary system for 800m running. By that I mean that 800m specific sets can demand really long set rests. In this way you are making sure that the session is still aerobically challenging while allowing you to recover sufficiently between primary sets
  • throw a bunch of different paces together in a set and pretty much do whatever I want to key in on different things, but the major theme here is doing more with less, which is important when every workout is targeted to specific 800m gains.

In the gym I’ve been doing a primary lift of hang cleans and plyos, with some max strength maintenance. I’ll have a secondary lift focused on hamstring tolerance and coordination, since I have a history of injury here. I have achilles tendon prehab scattered throughout the week as well. The 3rd lift includes core power/coordination, integrating skills, shoulder ROM and targeting assorted weaknesses . I’ve been using the bench press for shoulder ROM. This is so I can bring my elbow back more comfortably to get more out of the stretch-reflex. The gym work is much less overall taxing in the summer. This gives me more time/energy to devote to aerobic maintenance.

 

April 6-18

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!

Log:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jJEiJXfUlNo8M5xTNdVLA42TDZD6xwmH5td73c61JtI/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

 

(Mar 26- Apr 5)

Switched things up again this cycle. Something I thought I would have to do was throw in another day of recovery between main sessions.

I tried to hit close to max velocity on the speed session. The goal was 46.0 400m pace. Hit it on a few 80m reps and the last 100m rep. That is a solid step forward. Also, alternated running curves here. Not a big fan of turning but I guess its half the race so I’m trying not to avoid it as much.

I wanted to hit at least 2x 300m reps in my 800 session at pace, and I did. I didn’t feel super fresh during. It was supposed to be more of a concentrated dose, and I felt it. My legs were burning after the first set.  800m specialists can (typically) gas our nervous systems beyond what a more slow twitch runner can, and the volume demands for the event make doing this a double whammy for the less aerobically inclined. Building up a tolerance to this stuff is tedious and in my experience hazardous.

Threw in an  aerobic maintenance session. Kind of a feel good, medicinal dose. Like Gary the Goat’s trainer once said, it gets the blood running. 5′ + 5×1′ on 30″. Once every cycle will have something like this to stay fresh through the racing season.

The specific strength training is gradually getting lighter and faster, and eventually will consist of med ball throws, box jumps and form drills, all the good stuff. So I’ve started that process this week. I’m reading the textbook pictured below, which includes a ton of technical details and applications for exercises, which I don’t have much experience with.

running textbook

Made some adjustments on the fly to the last session. Probably a mix of tired legs and unrealistic goals.  I go into workouts with 5 basic parameters:

  1. Total perceived effort
  2. Total volume
  3. Pace goals
  4. Effort Structure
  5. Recovery Structure

If I end up adjusting it will usually be recovery/effort structure first, and then would go up the list from there. Every day is an experiment, but these decisions are never easily made. A part of me feels like a chicken when I have to scale back. Anyways, it ended up being sets of 6x200m at 29-30 on 45″ rest.

Log:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jJEiJXfUlNo8M5xTNdVLA42TDZD6xwmH5td73c61JtI/edit?usp=sharing

Potential Spring schedule:

Payton Jordan May 2nd

Oxy Invite May 11th

USATF HP Oxy May 16th

Music City Distance Carnival May 31

Until next time. Cool cool cool cool cool cool cool.

 

 

 

 

March 11-25 2019

After my “long run” a couple weeks ago I had a little heel pain that ended up sticking around for longer than expected. I’m not entirely surprised that something like that crept up considering I’m starting to introduce serious track work now. I took to the pool for a few days and have been seeing an Athletic therapist to continue straightening things out top to bottom (body structure, movement, programming)

Currently this should be the usual training micro cycle structure:

  1. Gym: (upper body + core + nervous sys. prep for speed) + Cross train (XT) if feeling good.
  2. Speed session + XT
  3. Gym: power lifts/plyo progression + XT
  4. (easy run or XT + easy strides) + Recovery session (roll out, mobility, prehab)
  5. Specific session + XT
  6. (Gym: movement quality progression/tissue health. non impact.) + XT
  7. (easy run or XT + easy strides) + Recovery session (roll out, mobility, prehab)
  8. High end aerobic session + XT
  9. LR progression
  10. off day

The nervous system prep stuff you’ll see written in the log as “chops” and “matrix” which is shorthand for low weight dumbbells in a flowing standing dynamic routine that hits a bit of everything. I use day-before easy strides to prep for the other 2 main sessions.

Speed session warm up will look pretty much like this:

  1. mobility/activation
  2. 5′ jog
  3. dynamic movements/drills
  4. 2-3x 30 step hill sprint. I use this in lieu of low hurdles dribbling. Its form work, with the added benefit of fast twitch fibre recruitment
  5. 2-3x progression sprint. You could call this a 30m fly.

The speed session I did this cycle was pretty tame. Coming back from the heel and still learning coordination at high speeds, I didn’t really push it. Trying to stretch out the distance I can move at below race pace but I can tell the process is going to be very touchy feely. Instead of setting time/distances/recoveries/total volume, I’ll have a loose idea of those factors and be very attentive to “form”. This time of year and especially with my history of injury and mechanics, its still about skill development. Sucks to say I’m still learning basic runner skills after 13+ years but its the truth.

Specific and high end aerobic session warm ups will differ from above with longer jog and some 1-3′ pickups. After an abbreviated sprint routine I’ll do 1-3 efforts at 6-15 race pace, depending on the day.

The specific session this week was designed to be a long grind without a complete break for the system to reboot. As its early days for this kind of work, the pieces are small so the pace can be accurate. The cycle before was very similar but I had long set breaks. That will be an alternating pattern I repeat often: flirting with my limit for a relatively long time or pushing just past that limit in concentrated doses. There has and will be flexibility in that pattern but its an accurate if simple summary.

I tried to do the H.E Aerobic session on the 23rd but the legs weren’t having it so I came back the next day. The goal was a good bunch of evenly paced 500m reps at ~80. I haven’t touched the track this year and so everything in this zone has been by feel. In fact I did this session backward in lane 4. Without overwhelming you with context, the pace of these sessions will continue to progress down. In the near future they will consist of roughly the same volume (~3-4km) at something near 1500m pace give or take.

Link below is training log:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jJEiJXfUlNo8M5xTNdVLA42TDZD6xwmH5td73c61JtI/edit?usp=sharing

 

Log

Decided to fire up this baby again.

A little update. I moved to Hamilton in late November and started coaching myself. The decision to move was financial (Ma! The meatloaf!!). The coaching change I made for a few reasons. I enjoy doing it. I think I do a good job. I want to coach one day, so it is good practice. I needed to shake things up and I felt ready to take on that challenge.

The reason for the blog revival is because I think people may find the process of coaching myself worth following and I’d like to create a space for discussion about the details of it all. I’ll post my log here regularly, with the link to the document so you can browse what I’ve been up to the whole season. It will look a bit messy.  I wouldn’t say I’m a fast learner. It would be more accurate to say I am very good at knowing when something is wrong, like a squirrel. SO, you’ll notice I tinker constantly. Feel free to ask what things mean if you are curious. Feel free to judge harshly and criticize. Feedback is good! I don’t get my workouts from heaven (unlike a certain self coached marathoner) but I do rely heavily on instinct (I’ve been studying up to fill the in the gaps though). I switched to longer micro cycles in January.  I wanted more recovery to accommodate a higher volume of intensity and resistance training. Put very simply, I think that the bigger, higher quality sessions are key to getting over this plateau. Basically all of the RT is associated with mechanics in some fashion, duh! I leak energy when I run (have you ever seen my last 100?) and I’m prone to tendon injuries that take FOREVER to heal. So, for the sake of running fast and hopefully preserving a much longer relationship in this sport, I needed to be in the gym more. So, more stuff means more recovery. Simple! Been dealing with a bad left hip (and knee and achilles) since forever so I’ve been careful about turning left. I’ve worked hard to get it ready for track work and so far so good but we’ll see. I used the curve treadmill to avoid turning left for a few months. Loved it!

People who know me know I can talk more about running than the kid in Jurassic Park talks about dinosaurs, but I’ll cut it off there for now.

See link below for the log. There are 3 tabs. One is the log. The 2nd (YTP) is where I sketch upcoming cycles out and the bulkier RT. The 3rd (Auxillary) is where I store a bunch of other stuff I use. Have fun!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRN6k_zzHFdjWq4cE8m2Xxrt8iOHBS0__bWqzhFJ2-M1SEqiKnUCgkv6hPl0uTUSgA6KxKrCD40IU1L/pubhtml

Also, maybe a lame and unnecessary addition but I like the idea of posting what I’m reading/listening/ watching currently:

Books: 

City of Golden Shadow- Tad Williams

Acceptance- Jeff VanderMeer

Becoming A Supple Leopard- Kelly Starrett

 Music:  Colossus- Walt Mink

Movie: Battle Angel Alita was good!!