Having just re-read the excellent Men's Health article on connective tissue: http://www.menshealth.com/cda/article.do?site=MensHealth&channel=fitness&category=muscle.building&topic=total.body&conitem=6bde7ea369683210VgnVCM10000030281eac____ I am again confronted with the fascinating & somewhat mystifying process of "coaching" elastic return. Clearly functional mimicking is the way to go - but evaluation specifically (quantifying) becomes a bear. Understanding that good running implies a 5 to 1 ratio of elastic return to power & knowing that 50 plus % of elastic energy in running is stored, mid stance, in the achilles tendon & plantar fascia is eye-opening. It forces all run coaches to see whether plyometrics & other elastic encouragement drills have a dramatic effect on endurance running ability - especially when it comes to the risk reward issues of this "intense" joint/tendon/ligament training for the marathon & Ironman. I have of course had good results with milers & half milers (or 800m & 1500m runners for you more advanced folk!), but although my "slower" runners have had great improvement in their 5 & 10km times, I am still unsure whether the smaller range of motion, less intense drills I have done for the longer events, have produced worthwhile results. Certainly no one has been injured & I have not done an experiment where I nail down the other larger variables, like endurance training.
Strange this entry started off with a rather more esoteric coaching question - How does the athlete & coach blend & manage training that meets the demands of competition for each specific athlete when considering the mental, emotional & spiritual component on the one side & the central, peripheral, brain/spinal & endocrine component on the other? See diagram above