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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quantification Conundrum Part II

We know that effective training, graphically represented, is in effect, U-shaped, i.e. the very fast stuff, like MAV (maximum aerobic Velocity) & above, & the very slow stuff – hours & hours of easy running, are the most effective. It seems that the stuff in the middle, like tempo runs, while possibly neuro-muscularly valuable if the pace mimics what we wish to produce in races & teaches us to concentrate in order to hold this for race duration, has little physiological return. Add to this, that at the top end of endurance sports, speed or velocity is still the only benchmark, whether it is 60m or 100 miles, the “fastest” man wins, right?

Further to this it is really challenging to differentiate between what is bio-energetic (fuel burning & energy production), mechanical, (gravity & posture, elastic return, minimized friction) or neurological (potentiation, nerve action & kinesthetic action/reaction).

A true, multidimensional understanding of what is happening during the running gait is incomplete at this stage.

What is it that we can then do to improve performance in running?

1. Become specifically fitter – the stronger we make the engine within the existing framework, the more output we can reasonably expect. Of course there are obvious limitations to this: If the biomechanics are unsound this increased load could lead to breakdown & the inferior mechanics may not allow improved performance despite increased output

2. Improve(or return to best) running mechanics. As I’ve said, there is some good work being done about quantification of these various components. There are also studies that show deviations in what good runners do versus what poorer runners do. What is of more interest to the athlete & coach after this, is what can be done about this & if it can be changed will it lead to improved performance (& the changes are measured to have actually occurred)?

3. Improved neuro-muscular function. As with the above, naturally these 3 aspects are all interrelated & the scientific community is having a devil of a time separating these out. Of course the coach would ask, “Do we need to?” Thus there are scientists whom I greatly respect that believe the limits of endurance are not in the bio-chemistry, but in the neurology

Add to this that the sport scientists also feel that the current definition of efficiency: “The athlete who uses the least amount of O2 at the same speed is the most efficient”, does not suffice, & I agree – too many athletes with higher consumption numbers beating those with lower numbers! I am being a little simplistic of course, because there are a whole array of other factors, not least of which are the psycho-emotional factors of motivation that come into play, but you get my point.

Till Part III (the last in this series)

Bobby McGee

Monday, March 28, 2011

1st World Congress of Science in Triathlon

Just come back from Alicante Spain where I attended the 1st World Congress of Science in Triathlon. My run mechanics presentation was a little nerve wracking & increased my need to learn more Spanish! There has been some amazing research of late that can be of huge benefit to pros & age groupers alike. Dr. Randy Wilbur - head exercise physiologist of the USOC again showed why altitude training is a must for athletes who are looking for an edge in major competitions.Inigo Mujika was his usual inimitable self in presenting the current state of the science & art of tapering - it really is a key frontier in bringing hard training to bear on race day. His work is fascinating. His work with the great long course athlete Eneko Llanos is clearly as a result of intelligent thoughtful application of cutting edge science. The stuff about VO2 kinetics & training considerations for accurate exercise prescription from Gregoire Millet truly was amazing & it's not the 1st time I have heard about the uses of this cutting edge science, but it really points to a route that brings amazing performance gains to be had in an extremely economical training environment. Hats off to the ITU & the University of Alicante for putting on this event. Find references to the presentations & speakers - I highly recommend paying them close attention.
Bobby McGee

Friday, March 18, 2011

Critical Velocity Based 10km Training for 2011 Bolder Boulder 10km road race

Starting a 10 week build to 2011 Bolder Boulder 10km race for a few runners tomorrow. Have both a hands on group & an online group. Using my new specific velocity based training approach, with O2 kinetic work & K-Pump training. If you are interested give me a shout at tel number or email on my site:

The Big Race Smile

Dedicated to Kevin & Marci for upcoming races & all those out there who seek their own level of excellence.

Thanks to Lauren Fleshman for the YouTube inspiration

Have you had the knowing?

It’s that moment in the exquisitely strung time leading up to big races, when things have clicked in training & there’s harmony in your thinking, a balance & ease in your build up; a sense of power.

You feel you have full access to your ability & there is a deep calmness born of confidence in your execution skills.

The prospect of the process that automatically culminates in excellence is intoxicatingly inviting – a chance to dance unbridled to your favorite music.

You’d do it alone, unobserved, or in front of thousands, because it would not matter… It is all about being utterly inside your body, totally present to only that second of harmonized movement & being a complete expression of being human in its purest form. It is clearly about being your best because you can be, because it’s the greatest place to be; a symphony in honor of all that is best in all of human kind. This time is gratitude, this time is self-actualization, this time is highest, this time is without wanting, this time is pristine & for nothing more than itself.

This is when you smile; as that final week begins, as you visualize, as you go to bed that final evening, as you toe the start line.

You smile, because you know…

Bobby McGee

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quantification Conundrum Part I

Bio-mechanists have incredible tools & wonderful training that tells us what our limbs are doing when we run. They also have pretty amazing tools to measure how much our muscles are working & when. The concept of “rebound” or elastic return is harder to measure – only a few labs can do this & the results are hard to nail down – an essential, but pretty new field of research. Add to this that the picture of running effectively mechanically has no real set of baseline data that represent perfect form – there are so many idiosyncrasies in top runners. Some, like Haile Gebrselassie have tried to effect changes to no avail, but have made changes to other things, like foot strike, in his case & have gone on to succeed admirably after these changes. Generally change introduces other variables & often a whole new set of problems. This is why wise coaches sometimes leave well alone. “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” holds especially true when it comes to running mechanics. Most individuals I see come for 2 reasons:

1. They are broke or

2. They’re stuck & cannot go faster

Both good reasons if all the other factors have been considered; things like over-training, incorrect training & insufficient training. Nowadays, with the elites, I am finding that they cannot run fast enough with their current form to access the type of training response that will take them to the next level.


A car that has been designed to drive along at 100mph is likely to be much less stressed at 65mph than a car that can only manage 70mph.

If one accepts that we have a fixed rate of slowing with each doubling of distance, & I do believe this, then ultimately you have a finite speed at which you can run your preferred distance run, no matter how much fitter you get.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Here's to us swine racers

You can't make a racehorse out of a pig. But if you work hard enough at it you can make a mighty fast pig. - Bob Akin