1st outdoor meet, biomechanics revisited

1st outdoor meet- LSU 5k- 1st- 14:21.49 PR

It feels good to win a race and set a PR again. Going into the race I didn't know what to expect and I was not trying to hit a certain time or anything like that. I just wanted to get into a good rhythm, run right and relaxed, and compete. The race ended up going went very well.

From the get go, the LSU runners (Joseph Simuchimba and Drew Haro) took the pace from the get go and I just tucked in behind them. They surged/switched leads a couple of times and I just gradually moved with them. I finally moved around the half way point when I felt things slowing down a little bit. It wasn't really a big move or anything, I was just trying to maintain my rhythm. I really felt like I was jogging through about 2 miles and was barely breathing. After 2 miles, boredom kind of set in and I lost concentration for a couple of laps. This caused me to get a little sloppy running wise too, but not too bad. Since I haven't run many 5ks for time on the track, I know it will take a race or two before I get comfortable with running the whole race focused. Anyways, as I got to the last bit of the race and finally "woke up". I felt great finishing and closed the last 200 in 28sec.

Afterwords I recovered pretty dang quickly. I am really aerobically fit right now and it's good to know I have that extra gear there if I need it. It's been a couple years since I've felt like I could just burn the last part of the race if I wanted to. It DEFINATELY feels good to get back to that point in races and in workouts again. That extra gear has been missing for a while, and I'm glad to have it back.

Anyways, a 11sec PR in a less than ideal race at LSU, so I'm definately pumped about this one.

Also, it was good to take a track trip with the team. You never realize how much fun those can be until they are gone.

Biomechanics-
In my biomechanics class our professor showed us some pretty interesting/pertinent information that I thought I'd share. Of course, it's nothing new for those who have been coaching mechanics correctly for years, but the masses seem to miss the info.

Stretch Reflex mechanism:
If you put a stretch on the hip through extension, it automatically "makes" the hip return to it's initial position. It's kind of like a sling shot effect. You stretch the sling shot back and then let it go. Same sort of principle.

The key is that if you put the correct stretch on the hip, then the leg will pretty much cycle through the recovery phase automatically with very little muscle activation. Thus if you actively try and pull the leg through or you don't extend the hip, thus activating the stretch mechanism, then the leg cycles through the recovery phase slower and it takes more energy/muscle activation to do it. So it is both slower and less efficient.

This principle is missed by a LOT of so called experts on running mechanics out there. It's one of the reasons why methods such as Pose are not correct.

Anyways, our professor showed us the data but to demonstrate that it actually works in real life he showed us some data and then video of people with spinal chord injuries "walking" on a treadmill. Since they had spinal chord injuries they could not use their legs. They stood them up on a treadmill and then had two people actively push their legs so that they initiated the push off phase of the walking gait. They initiated extension and the stretch reflex. What then happened was the key. They basically took their hands off the persons legs during the recovery phase of the walking gait and the leg automatically cycled through that recovery phase with very little to no assistance. These were people who could not actively use their legs in any way.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Steve,
    Congrats on the PR, and interesting post. I'm curious about this "stretch reflex" mechanism. Any chance you could post some visual aids to display what you mean by "the correct stretch" on the hip?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I, too, would like some more discussion/visuals on this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Florian10:34 AM

    Hi Steve,

    the thing with the stretch reflex is a bit over-simplified here in my opinion. First of all, the stretch reflex is not for free. It is a muscle contraction and therefore costs ATP breakdown - from this point of view it does not matter really if the muscle action is initiated from a spinal or a higher level. In the end there are just two forces that can contribute to the swing leg: gravity in terms of a pendulum effect and muscle contraction. Where the efferent nerve signals originate from is a different question, but this does not change anything about the energy needs.

    Second it's quite difficult to tell from the outside at which amount of hip extension a stretch reflex occurs. This is because of the following reason: the stretch of the muscle - the tension on the muscle fibres - is a relative thing, dependend on the activation state of the muscle. So just because the range of motion in the hip joint seems to be smaller, it can't be concluded that there is no stretch-reflex happening.

    Of course strech reflexes are playing an important role in leg swing, although the mechanisms contributing to the swing at various speeds are not very well understood yet.

    I really enjoyed reading all the great material you collected on your website - Learning from the past especially! Extraordinary good information on this topic on the web, GREAT WORK!

    Bye, Florian.

    ReplyDelete

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