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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Does Being a Successful Athlete Make One A Good Coach?

Just because someone was a pro or elite athlete doesn’t mean they can turn that around and apply sound training philosophies to someone else.  I’m not saying it can’t happen. There are great coaches out there that used to perform at the top level that I completely respect.  But that shouldn’t be your single determining factor.

It's not hard to throw volume at someone and build the endurance to finish an Ironman. But, creating a plan that builds endurance while incorporating quality and intensity to reduce the effects of the physiological limiters of the athlete.  A plan that provides improvements in economy – all while ensuring that periodization is dialed in.  This is what you need to see.

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Workout Wednesday - 26 March 2014

As I've mentioned before, I usually prescribe speed sets early in the week with my swim club here in Colorado Springs. I do this, again, so that my athletes are still fresh from a recovery day on Monday and they're not fatigued by the cumulative effects of a week of training.  While you can do aerobic work when fatigued, doing speed and threshold work becomes quite challenging.

I changed up my usual speed prescription for the workout my athletes did yesterday.  I included some active recovery into the mix.  The high-quality portion of the workout still had a 1 : 3 work-rest ratio. But the addition of some active recovery allowed everyone to keep moving (and not tighten up) while still getting the recovery necessary to sustain high quality efforts.

This is a SCY set, and will take about 1:15 to complete.  Of course, you might need to adjust the send-offs on the warm-up set and the pull set (depending on base-100 times).  But the times for the primary main set should remain the same.


Warm up: 
250 swim
200 kick
250 pull

4 x (75 - 50)
75’s easy on 1:10
50’s on :55 - 1st length build up, 2nd length mod/hard effort

Main set:
8 x ( 4 x 25 - 50 )
25’s Max effort on 1:00.
50's Recovery on 1:30

4 x 100 pull on 1:35
.
Cool down:
200 easy.

Yes, this set only yields 2800 yards.  But it's a nice quality high intensity speed set that, if done properly at max effort, will yield some tired swimmers at the end.  And over time, some faster swimmers as well.

What is your best / favorite speed set?   Reach out to me and let me know.

Workout Wednesday - 19 February 2014

Since I threw a little endurance your way last week, we're going back to some threshold work this week.

This is a set that I gave my swim club just yesterday.  Short distances with high quality and intensity in the main set.  You'll most certainly want to take advantage of a white board for this session, as the main set is a little lengthy and is much easier to understand when written out.

This is SCY, and will push close to 90 minutes.  As always, adjust the send-off times depending on the base 100 times of your athletes.


Warm up:
200 swim
200 kick
200 pull

4 x (75 - 50)  
75’s easy on 1:15 
50’s hard on 1:00 

Main set:
2 x (100-75-3x25, 100-75-4x25, 100-75-5x25) 
100's descending on 1:40
75's easy on 1:10
25's MAX on :45

2 x (50-50-25, 50-50-2x25, 50-50-3x25)
1st 50's descending on :50
2nd 50 easy on 1:00
25's MAX on :45

Cool down:
200 easy

Total yards: 3850

As you can see, we push some threshold in the main set, but add in a 1 : 2 work-rest ratio for the 25's - focusing on speed.  It's a nice mix, in my opinion, that really provides a good quality session.

I'm a big fan of speed endurance / threshold sets.  Athletes tend to focus more on aerobic endurance and "LSD" sets.  (Long. Slow. Distance).  Not that aerobic endurance isn't important, but most often threshold and speed tends to be the limiter for a lot of athletes.  

Want to discuss this topic more?  Reach out to me!