Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Perspectives on Speed

Just thought I'd share some research/data I've been reading over the past few weeks. It's all around how to increase speed. There are several coaches and sports doctors that say, " . . . faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid legal movements." Others go on to say, "To run faster, you need to apply more force more quickly with each stride. This will increase your stride length while you maintain or increase your stride frequency. The goal is to spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. And the only way to do that is to apply more force with each footfall" This is very similar to the Force Hypothesis that many of you many be familiar with. Before I go further, I am NOT recommending this to anyone. I'm looking at it because I'm spending a lot of time on speed training, and I'm actually playing around with some of the methods even though they may be immediately challenged by other barefoot and minimalist runners . . . I want to see for myself how this plays out. For example, when I "float" I am in the air longer and I am bringing down more force and although I concentrate on lifting, I'm sure there are times when I'm going my fastest that I'm pushing off also.

Now I know there will be many opinions on this and it will probably open up a good dialog but I just wanted to share with you something I'm looking into that I think is interesting. Right now I'm pouring through actual medical studies. It brings up discussions like "lifting the foot" vs. "pushing off," and "short quick strides" vs. "longer strides and higher drive with the knees." I'm also looking at uphill bounding training results.

I'm not raising this to start a discussion on shod vs. unshod or even necessarily running injury free but instead bringing up the interesting discussion of "speed." I don't want to start a " . . . well, if they were barefoot it would be different discussion" but instead I think the discussion of speed is unique in its own right. I find speed as interesting as distance. When I first started running, and especially on rare occasions when I could run along side elite level runners, I noticed that they would cover as much ground in 2 steps as it took me to cover in 3 steps . . . as if they were flying. You can't necessarily see it on video or TV but you can see it in person quite easily. The amount of ground they cover "in the air" is pretty amazing.

Two different goals when comparing those who have a goal of running injury free vs. those who are running for speed/time/pace. Is one better than the other? Is one more prone to injury? These are just some of the questions I'm looking into as the obvious answer may not be the correct answer. Some times what appears to be a "no duh" turns out to be quite a complex issue.


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