Improving Running Economy

Improving running economy is a goal of every coach. There are two primary ways to achieve these gains. First, through bio-mechanical efficiency, and second via physiological improvements.

So, how does one begin to find these improvements? Video analysis of running mechanics is the first step. 

Using the video analysis program and tools of choice, you and your coach can look to ensure a number that a number of things are occuring:

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Performance Improvements and Success Stories

Recently I've written a couple of blog posts discussing the importance of improving athlete limiters and the proper development of energy systems. The goal being to ensure not only the improvement of said limiters of an athlete but to further develop their strengths as well. With that in mind I thought it was time that we highlighted a few of our athletes here at Podium Training Systems to show not only the scope of racing that happens amongst our athletes, but also the type of improvements and success they've had and how we achieved those gains.

I reached out to a small number of my athletes to see if they would be willing to share their experiences over the past season or two and provide me with what they felt were their biggest improvements.

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On Writing Workouts

During all of my various coaching certification clinics the discussion around the creation of workouts was covered in detail. The main points of interest?

  • Specificity
  • Energy systems
  • Athlete understanding of goals of workout

Of course the importance of a good warm up, cool down, and dynamic stretching, was covered as well.

Let me clarify: Did we cover 'everything' in granular detail? No. You can't cover everything in a weekend-long clinic. You need to continue your education beyond the initial course. But, all that said, the three points above have been resonating with me lately. Why?

I'm seeing too many triathlon coaches prescribe workouts that have no specifics around energy systems, and no way for the athlete to know what the goal of the workout is. In some cases guaranteeing that the athlete do nothing but train their body to run long and slow on race day. A couple of examples that I've seen (posted online) lately:

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Workout Wednesday - 09 April 2014

Yesterday - Tuesday - my swim club focused on threshold - but with a twist.  Maximum effort 25's with a work-rest ratio that kept things tough and in high Z4.

I can't take all the credit on this one.  I attended a lecture at the USA Swimming headquarters here in Colorado Springs a couple weeks ago.  There were a few national team athletes there, as well as coaches.  Great Q&A after the lecture, and the description of this set sounded awesome.

They called them "aerobic sprints".  You'll see what I mean.......

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Workout Wednesday - 26 February 2014

This is the workout that my swim club did yesterday morning.  I usually start the week out with speed, or speed endurance work, and move towards aerobic work come the end of the week or weekend.  I do this as, usually, triathletes have rest days early in the week.  Speed and speed endurance is best done when your athlete is as rested as possible.  High intensity, threshold, training is really tough for athletes to do when fatigued after a hard week of training.  Where aerobic work can be done whilst slightly fatigued.

Hence, todays workout.  More quality efforts.  The set is built around shorter, higher quality, efforts. It's built so that the athlete doesn't get too fatigued during the main set, and there's enough lower intensity efforts to allow for solid recovery.

This is SCY, and will take about 1:15.

Warm up:  
300 swim
200 kick
200 pull

24 x 25 on :10 rest 
Every 4th Dog Paddle
Moderate / Hard effort.

Main set: 
3 x (3 x 50 - 150), 
50's maximum effort on :20 rest.
150's at 200 practice pace on :30 rest.

4 x (3 x 25 - 125) 
25’s maximum effort on :15 rest
125's at 200 practice pace on :30 rest.

1:00 between sets.

200 cool down.

3200 yards

You can see that the 150's and 125's allow for the athletes to recover, where the 50's and 25's don't quite provide enough time for full lactic acid clearance.  The time goes quickly for the athlete in this workout.

As I always say:  Questions?  Contact me!