The availability of a given substrate in the body largely determines our body’s fuel of choice at rest. Exercise increases the metabolic demand on the body several-fold upon beginning a training session from rest, after which the body strives to achieve a steady state of aerobic intensity where the proportion of carbohydrates and fats finds an equilibrium in relation to an individual’s preference of fuel source.
Endurance runners are pressed to sustain rigorous training programs and optimized nutritional strategies to achieve peak levels of performance. These competitive athletes are also at a greater risk for developing anemia, bone mineral density loss (osteopenia), and a weakened immunity due to the prolonged intensity of training loads.
Faster top-end speeds precede faster sub-maximal aerobic speed; developing a distance runner’s top end speed and anaerobic speed reserve helps to develop sub-maximal power simultaneously, which is counterintuitive to what many long-distance coaches still teach today.
Qualitative and quantitative feedback are two ways in which a coach can assess an athlete in both a learning and performance environment. Qualitative feedback is purely sensory and is often subjective in character. A coach observes his or her athlete for movement deviations, listens for inconsistent stride/stroke rhythms, etc. It can also come in the form of how the athlete “feels” during a movement. The information generated from this type of observation is qualitative because it focuses on and describes a particular quality of the task or the athlete. Quantitative feedback, on the contrary, is a numerical form of measurement that extrapolates specific quantifiable data such as speed, time, pace, jump height, force, etc. Quantitative data is inarguably a very objective form of feedback for the athlete, making it a reliable method for performance comparisons.
Shin splints are the dreaded injury for any high school coach or athlete. Most commonly, cross country runners and track and field athletes develop this injury as a result of the high-impact nature of their sport. Potentially debilitating effects of the syndrome’s painful associated symptoms can hamper a progressive season. The need for rest becomes a priority; the periodization of training halts in place and must be completely reworked to accommodate the athlete’s rehabilitation process. Coaches should be able to recognize the key warning signs of this overuse injury, and reduce training loads accordingly before the athlete suffers the full effect of the syndrome. Development of a smart training progression from day one and early recognition of overreaching are crucial for the athlete’s health and long-term success throughout the season and his or her career.
In the world of track and field, reaction time is known to be a pivotal aspect of a top-level athlete’s technical arsenal, separating the gifted from the elite. Gender, age, mental state, and learning experience also play a role in the athlete’s ability to react to a given stimulus. The slower the stimulus recognition information is passed to the brain, the slower the reaction movement. In professional track and field sprint events, a delay of even one-hundredth of a second can cost the athlete a podium position.
Most runners are creatures of habit by nature, running the same go-to routes, at the same pace, in the same shoes, at the same time of day. Running the trusty four-mile loop around town also means the surface never changes. The creatures of habit can tell you where every pothole, overgrown bush, dip in the road, and crack in the sidewalk lie, right down to the tenth of a mile. If this sounds familiar, then take this opportunity to learn how breaking new ground can be a beneficial tool in turning any runner into a biomechanically stronger one.