Do we need VO2max workouts?

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Things are going well and getting busy. I'm finally back into the swing of things running wise, been working a lot with the HS kids, and working with some post collegiate kids. I'm really enjoying the blend of running and coaching. It keeps me from thinking about my own running, which is a very good thing.

Today, a quick post on VO2max because that's what was the topic on the run with Andy. And anytime me and andy get talking training it sparks some good debate and gets the mind flowing. Coming up I'll finish off some stuff on warming up and drills and also have some stuff on strength endurance.

Do we need VO2max workouts?

If you’ve read anything I’ve wrote on this blog, you know I like evaluating accepted doctrine. Most of the time the tried and true accepted ideas turn out right, but every now and then you find something so ingrained in our sport that people just accept it without asking the question, does this really work and make sense?

While on a run with an athlete I help out the topic came up that college coaches would ask if he did traditional workouts like mile repeats or what have you, and the answer was no. Of course, as the person writing the training, I knew this, but it really made me think a bit. A little earlier I had done my review of the last season where I took a look at all the workouts, tried to figure out if they accomplished what I wanted or not, and tried to see where the next step was in progressing certain aspects. While doing this, it hit me. I never think of things as VO2 work anymore, but I know lots of good coaches do. So obviously running at paces around what people call VO2max does something good, but does it do what everyone claims and is it needed?

After mulling things over in my head for a while and looking back at the training. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is NO.

Now I know this may be semi blasphemous and once again you might dismiss this as some crazy theory that some crazy kid has, but hear me out first.

According to the experts, what is the purpose of VO2max workouts? Let’s turn to my lovely Jack Daniels book for his answer:
“The idea of an interval session is to accumulate a good bit of time working at 95 to 100 percent Vo2max…” He goes on to talk about how long it takes to reach VO2max and all that jazz. He then gives you this handy dandy chart that shows how the recovery time and the length of the interval can be modified to spend the most time at VO2max. Simplifying all of this, we can say the goal seems to be to spend the most time at VO2max according to JD. The question is, does that really matter at all?

My answer is No. Let’s leave out the science for a minute and look at some of the training done by some athletes I work with. Let’s look at some of the workouts that would seem to meet Daniels VO2max workout category. They have to be near VO2max, so typically they’d have to be at 3k pace or slightly faster but I’ll include some 5k pace workouts.

Workout 1-3 sets of 2x800 w/ 200m easy At 5k pace, 3-4min rest
VO2?- Nope, 800m is slow, you might reach near it for a bit, but then the stupid things are broken into sets with long rest between so you’d quickly return back to normal.

Workout 2
-3x (4x400) at 3200 pace 40sec rest between reps, 4min b/t sets
VO2- well the pace is fast enough, and the rest is short, but the total reps in one set is so low that by the time you start spending lots of time at VO2max, you’ve got that dang long rest of 4min.

Workout 3- 1200- 5k pace 400-mi pace 800-3200 pace 300-mi pace 600-32 pace 200-800 pace 3:30min rest
VO2- WHAT?!! This workout makes no sense in a VO2max program... sorry couldn’t resist. Physiologically, the rests are long, the paces are fast enough, you’d spend some time at VO2, but not as much as if you just did 5x800.

I could go on but that’s enough.

You’ll probably notice that none of these workouts would accomplish Daniels goal of staying at VO2max for a long time. Why? Because either they are too short, too long of a rest, or too slow. According to Daniels book it takes around 2min to reach VO2max. So during all of these workouts, the athletes aren’t spending that much time in the so called zone that gives the improvement…So the athletes shouldn’t have done that well at a race that is at around VO2max, like a 3200, right? Well, if you consider a 9:04 crappy, along with a 31 and 40 etc. crappy (all being large PR’s), then you are right and I’m an idiot.

If you look back at the same kids CC training. No VO2max workouts like you’d traditional see.

So why does it work without VO2max?

Because we aren’t concerned with VO2max. It’s not the limiter in what we do. Hell, you can’t even change it that much. Lastly, it seems like most of the new data is showing that it’s a consequence of something else, not a be all end all. For example, look at things on the muscular level. VO2max seems to be tied with amount of muscle motor units recruited. Increase motor unit recruitment, increase VO2max, without doing anything to the so called cardiovascular system…

If VO2max isn’t what we should be aiming for then what is the point of some of the intervals mentioned above? It depends on what you are training for. They could serve as direct support, or as specific endurance or even speed endurance. In the case mentioned above with athletes training for a 3200, so it served as specific endurance.

Instead of being concerned with how much time they were spending at VO2max, we are concerned with creating specific endurance. How do you do that, well go read I’ve written on it before, but for a brief refresher we are basically looking at doing two things.

1. Extending the ability of the athlete to last at the goal pace. Thus why we start with short intervals at race pace and try and extend the length of those intervals as the season goes. It’s also why we decrease the recovery or try and create specific endurance via having the athletes hold a steady clip in between running at race pace (i.e. alternation of 400 at 3200, 1200m at 5:40 pace).

2. Bringing together speed endurance and direct support/strength endurance. In this case we try and blend the over and under distance work. This is where you get workouts like some of the above where you switch long and short intervals with the longer starting out at 10k-5kish paces in the beginning and progressing towards 3k, while the shorter vary between 800-3k pace depending on the point.

You blend this together and all of the sudden an athlete can race at that goal speed. Why? It’s not because of VO2max. It’s because you gradually adapted the WHOLE body to be able to run at race pace for that race pace.

As a quick tip. These mixed workouts are a good way of creating specific strength endurance. Just think of what happens. The faster work injects a little lactate into the system, while the slower work (depending on the pace) either teaches the body how to use that as fuel at a quick pace, or teaches it how to deal with it near race paces. It’s an easy trick. Think about If you do 5x800 at 3200 pace. It’s not going to be until the 4th or 5th rep when you’ll have decently high lactate simulating a race. If you throw in a 400 at 1500m pace or a 300m at 800m pace and then do another rep at 3k pace, all of the sudden that faster rep threw a lot of lactate in there. Lastly, the switching of paces also helps with muscle fiber recruitment. The faster stuff “forces” recruitment. Which then is trained/used during the goal race part…

What should you get out of this? Rethink WHY you do VO2max workouts. Is there a better way? Is there a different reason why it works?

I think so. Scientific theory thinks so. But most importantly, practical experience proves the theory. For years now, I’ve gone further and further away from using anything that resembles 5x800 or something similar. And the results have gotten better and better.

TImeout for Bolt

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Timeout from our regularly scheduled programming to look at Usain Bolt's 9.58. I promise I'll get back to some of the questions on dynamic w/up, stretching, drills, etc. soon.

Looking at the Data:

10m splits:
Reaction- .146
start-10m- 1.74
10-20m- .99
20-30m- .90
30-40m- .86
40-50m-.83
50-60m- .82
60-70m- .81
70-80m-.82
80-90m-.83
90-100m-.83


Just some data to chew on. What is incredible is how fast his top end speed is and how long he holds it. His 10m splits show the typical sprint race. Accelerate up to max at about 70m, then minimize decelaration. What is amazing is how quickly he gets up to near max and how little he decelerates. He only slows down .02 to the finish, which is nuts.

If we compare it to past 10m splits. .81 is the fastest 10m split ever. Bolt split about .82 last year and before that the fastest split ever was .83 . Secondly, compared to Beijing Bolt's start was much better. So, Bolts top end is much better and he holds it much better. Previously Carl Lewis was thought to be one of the top closers or best at holding it together and even he faltered more than bolt. In his 9.92 WR he reached a max of .83 but fell off to .88 by the end, that's .05. Bolt only slowed .02.

Lastly, here's some pretty cool data to look at:
http://berlin.iaaf.org/mm/document/development/research/05/31/54/20090817073528_httppostedfile_analysis100mmenfinal_bolt_13666.pdf

The speed chart showing his speed at each time interval over the course of the race is rather interesting.
Now, I'm going to hold my views on the legitmacy of the run, just because you have to be skeptical all the time now unfortunately. But it's pretty amazing when you break it down.

Sprint Drills and Core work, Fads?

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quick update on my running:
After hammering out the rehab and massage on the hamstring, I'm getting back to normal. Which means the return to running has begun. The goal is to get everything completely healed for once and not keep pushing through it which pretty much destroyed my whole year last season...

Anyways, onto a nice little rant.


Drills and core work? A little goes a long way...
A little information can be very dangerous…

This is going to be one of my rants. Know that going in…You’ve been warned.

I’ve noticed a fairly recent trend in the distance coaching realm that has everything to do with everybody searching for that little extra thing that separates them from other coaches or helps push their athletes over the top. There is nothing wrong with the idea. In fact, it’s great that coaches are looking in other places besides traditional distance training methods. I love thinking outside of the box.

However, the problem arises when we put too much emphasis on something for the sole reason that it is something new and different. You spend a lot of time researching training methods and talking to others about training and then you come across something that makes sense and, most importantly, is new. At first it seems like this is what you were looking for. It’s the missing link. A brand new discovery that will take you or your athletes to the next level. It doesn’t matter what the new thing is. Usually it is something with some merit, but because of your blind excitement for this new personal discovery, you put way too much importance on it.

That is what is going on in distance running right now. Look around. There has been an explosion of resources and coaches emphasizing various aspects of sprint training. This, on the surface, is great, because distance runners need sprint training. Neuromuscular training is one of the most neglected aspects of most distance runners training regimens. But, the problem is that sprint training is complex, much more complex than distance runners and coaches give it credit for being.
So what inevitably happens is that distance people just take what they have seen various sprinters doing. They take bits and pieces and assume that it will translate over to distance runners. That isn’t always the case.
For instance, let’s take one of my favorite topics, sprint drills. This is one of the things that have proliferated in distance runners training in the past years. It’s not necessarily a bad thing , but many have taken it to the extreme and have no idea what the drills are doing and why they are doing them. Most distance coaches think of drills as a way to improve running mechanics, they are not. Mike Young has written about this on his site elitetrack.com if you want more info, or I believe I’ve covered the topic a couple times briefly on here.
What drills are good for is dynamically warming up, maybe some coordination training, and some are easy intros to plyometrics. But, the point is, because drills are relatively new for distance runners, they are taken to the extreme. Coaches are going crazy copying other coaches or coming up with their own routines. When if you just step back for a minute look at some of the drills that are being done and how they are being taught, you’d quickly realize that what you are doing makes no sense at all if it is for running mechanics. How anyone thinks the B skip drill (the way most people do it) simulates running mechanics or improves mechanics in anyway is beyond me.

I hate picking on certain people, so I apologize to whoever’s video this is, as the intentions were good. It just does a good job of showing the problem of knowledge being dangerous. I mean, most of these drills look like dance moves more than running specific drills.

http://www.runnerspace.com/video.php?do=view&video_id=15074

Sure, they might dynamically warm you up, but there are easier ways to do that for the most part (some are worthwhile in there). No way, no how are these going to make you run better mechanically, in fact some will probably hurt.

Another place this is showing up is with another favorite topic of mine, core work. Is core work important? Probably. Is it as important as many are making it out to be right now? Most definitely not.

Once again, core work is "new" (not really, but it seems like it). That means it is automatically going to be overemphasized because it is the new key ingredient. I should clarify that I’m not talking about certain circuits for warm ups, or cool downs, or even workouts. Not talking about overall body circuits or strength endurance work or anything like that. I’m talking about core only work. You know the ab work like crunches, sit ups, planks, etc. that you see everyone hammering out.

Do a search around and you’ll see all sorts of great and crazy stuff to do. I’m not claiming to hold all of the answers. I have no idea if some of it works or doesn’t. I’m pretty confident that stability ab work is not that worthwhile (because it does a crappy job of activating the core and causes co-contraction of the agonist and antagonist muscles, NOT something you want to train). My only suggestion is to step back, think about what you are doing, be rational about it, think objectively, and then you should come up with a good answer.
After all, you want the most activation of the core muscles (abs/back, hips, spine stabilizing muscles,etc.)? Guess what gives you the most activation. Nope, not crunches on a swiss ball, not the Ab rocker or 6 minute abs. Nope, not planks or bicycles. The answer is the squat. Yep, putting some weight on the back and doing a simple squat activates the core muscles much more than any ab work out there. Does that mean it’s better? Not necessarily. It’s just an interesting thing to note. Although, doing squats won’t always give you that six pack, so who cares about the underlying strength right?

I’ve been guilty of this in the past. It’s easy to get carried away when something seems so right and it clicks in your head. RESIST the temptation. It is NOT as important as you think it is. Let it marinate in your head for a while. Think about things, use that brain. Chances are you’ll realize that while it may help, it’s not as essential as it once appeared.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs. Generally something that is new will be overemphasized for a period of time before the next big thing comes along. At that point the old flavor of the month gets deemphasized. When this happens, it usually settles into about the proper amount that should be done.

Bottom line, am I against drills? Not necessarily. Am I against core work? Nope, not at all, think you need some. Am I against any other latest trend in training? Nope. I'm all for new stuff and innovation. The point is think about why you are doing something, how much it should be done and what in the heck the point of it is. It's easy to get carried away.

Stretching?? Is it useless?

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It's been a pretty busy first week back from Europe. I got pretty sick as soon as I got back here so that just compounded things. Even with that, it's been a productive week. I'm getting caught up with all the things I procrastinated on in Europe. This is the most training schedules I've written at once, so that was quiet the experience. When coming up with training schedules, I'm really unorganized with most of it coming from scribbling all over various pieces of paper and then somehow it all comes together in the end. To top it off, I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to that, so I'm always tinkering with stuff and reanalyzing why every workout is being done and if it makes sense. Normally that's no problem, but I'm working on a couple more schedules at once then I normally do. Plus, I'm giving my first go at guiding someone to a quick time in a half marathon so that presented a new problem. I'm excited though, it's going to be a fun year on many accounts. Also, more coaching means more analysis for whoever reads this.



Anyways, beyond training stuff, I'm working on my research review for my thesis and had to write up an article on stretching for a friend to us. Below is my rough "blog" copy of the article. Usually how I go about writing, is just write it very casually just making sure to get all the points I need in there, then I go back fix a lot of stuff, make it "scientific" (which I hate to do), and clean it up. So, hope you enjoy.



Lastly, I think the most emails I get from everything I've ever written is on Strength Endurance work. Well, I'm probably going to video some strength endurance hill circuits in the next couple weeks (normally I've been the only one to do them in the past, but now athletes are older/more developed so they get to join in on the fun too!). So, you can probably look forward to that in 2-3weeks.

That's a couple things to look for in the coming month before I head back to school. In addition, I'll try and post my retrospective analysis on ryan and the other kids training the past track season. I did an analysis while in Europe, so when I have time I'll transcribe all my rough notes written all over last years training and put it into something useful for this blog.


Static Stretching's role in running:
Why flexibility isn’t all it is cut out to be.

Stretch, stretch, stretch. We are inundated with this idea that stretching is almost a cure all for all of our woes. Are you sore? Stretch. Want to prevent injuries? Stretch. Want to increase your speed? Stretch to increase flexibility. Want to run more efficiently? Stretch. Need to warm up before a race? Stretch. We’ve heard it all of our lives, but does it make sense? Is stretching and flexibility the cure all that it purports to be? Let’s take a look.

First off, there are several different types of stretching and flexibility. We will focus on the traditional static stretching and static flexibility. Now that that is out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper and see what happens when you stretch.

Changes:
One of the major changes that occur when a muscle is stretched is a decrease in compliance and tension. A decrease in tension also means a decrease in stiffness. At this point, you may be thinking that that is a good thing. A looser muscle is better, right?

Not if you are running. Running relies heavily on what is called elastic storage and return of energy. It does so through many mechanisms. The key is that when your foot hits the ground, your bodies elastic parts (think mostly tendons) absorb some of the energy. Moments later that energy is then released and used to help propel you down the track or road. It’s almost like a shock absorber; the energy is initially stored and then released moments later.
It’s probably best to think of this as a spring. Take the Achilles tendon for instance. Upon hitting the ground, the spring compresses and is stored with energy. Once the spring is compressed, it then switches direction and starts to expand, releasing energy. That’s what happens in your bodies Achilles tendon, among other structures.
Similarly, elastic storage and return of energy plays a role in other joint structures. There is a stretch reflex phenomenon that occurs on certain parts of the body, one being the hip. When the hip is rapidly extended, the stretch reflex on the hip then causes the reverse to happen, shooting it back towards flexion. It’s like a rubber band effect. Stretch the rubber band rapidly, then let go, and it comes shooting back towards its original position.
What does this all have to do with stretching and flexibility? A stiffer spring stores and releases more energy. If you recall physics class, it’s simple physics. Hooke’s law clearly states that the force the spring will exert is dependent on the displacement of the spring, and the stiffness of the spring. The equation is F= -kx, where k is the stiffness constant and x is the displacement.

To simplify, a stiffer spring means more “free” energy, which means more efficiency. There is a reason that distance runners tend to get more inflexible the more they run. The body is amazing at adapting. If you start running 100 miles per week, it figures out how to make it easier on itself, so what does it do, try and become as efficient as possible by utilizing as much elastic return as possible.
Many of stretching’s effects are acute and transient, but its effect on the elastic storage mechanisms are both acute and long term. Stretching immediately before a run will decrease efficiency partly due to this, and long term increases in flexibility will also have the same result. Of course, it is important to remember that we are only looking at one variable. There are other benefits to stretching and there is a happy medium of how flexible you need to be. In general, the best advice I’ve heard on this subject for runners was from a Professor who had done numerous studies in this area, when he said long distance runners should probably never staticly stretch before runs, and only minimally after runs or workouts and even then not for an increase in flexibility.

But that isn’t the only change that occurs when you stretch. Another acute effect has been seen on motor unit recruitment. In several studies there has been a drop in motor unit activation by as much as 25%. Obviously with less muscle fibers recruited, less work can be done, which is not a good thing when you are trying for a maximal performance of any kind. Lastly, stretching also inhibits the stretch receptors (GTO’s and muscle spindles) which play a role in the stretch reflex mechanism, basically inhibiting and delaying that mechanism because the stretch receptor doesn’t kick in quiet as early to initiate that rubber band effect.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the claims on flexibility and see where we stand on each:

Decreases Soreness?
One of the major claims for stretching is that if you stretch after your workout, it will decrease muscle soreness from the workout in the following days. Sometimes you’ll even get the great line that it will help get rid of lactic acid. Well, it will, but not much faster than sitting there doing nothing, and not even as fast as if you got up and walked to your car. Clearing lactate isn’t a problem, if you just laid on the track following a workout; you’d be back to near normal levels in and hour or so. If you actually did a slow cool down, it’d be back to normal in as quick as 20 minutes.
As for muscle soreness, there have been many many studies measuring stretching’s effect on Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is essentially the soreness that happens in the days following a workout. In almost every single study, there was no benefit of stretching. It did not help DOMS. There are several good reviews on all of the studies. If you really want to dig into it, check out, a good article is
Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury in the BMJ by Herbert and Gabriel.

Makes you more economical?
Almost every single runner you talk to you will tell you that being more flexible will make you more efficient as a runner. This idea is VERY deeply ingrained into our sport. And on the surface it kind of makes sense, but if you really think about the mechanisms that impact running economy, then it makes absolutely no sense.
As I explained above, the body is incredibly reliant on the elastic properties for energy. Flexibility negatively impacts that. The theory is outlined above. But theory isn’t enough. We need some actual evidence. Is there any?
Of course there is! Have at it:

Sit-and-reach flexibility and running economy of men and women collegiate distance runners. Trehearn TL, Buresh RJ. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):158-62.
Conclusion: The significant relationship demonstrates that the less flexible distance runners tended to be more economical, possibly as a result of the energy-efficient function of the elastic components in the muscles and tendons during the stretch-shortening cycle.
Running economy is negatively related to sit-and-reach test performance in international-standard distance runners.
Jones AM. Int J Sports Med. 2002 Jan;23(1):40-3.
Conclusion: These results suggest that the least flexible runners are also the most economical. It is possible that stiffer musculotendinous structures reduce the aerobic demand of submaximal running by facilitating a greater elastic energy return during the shortening phase of the stretch-shortening cycle.
The association between flexibility and running economy in sub-elite male distance runners. Craib MW, Mitchell VA, Fields KB, Cooper TR, Hopewell R, Morgan DW. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Jun;28(6):737-43.
Conclusion: runners who were less flexible on these measures (dorsiflexion and hip rotation) were more economical.

I could go on, but that should be enough to get the point across. In general, the more flexible you are, the less economical.


Injury Prevention?
Does stretching prevent injuries? Doubtful. How about does stretching CAUSE injuries? Well, I know I like going against the grain, but I would not push the envelope that far. However, stretching CAN cause injuries. Before you write this off as some insane theory, take a look at the reasoning.
Stretching inhibits many of the feedback mechanisms that help prevent injuries. The receptors in our muscles that tell the brain that a muscle is stretching to far and to stop it are delayed. The receptors around joints and tendons have the same response. But, don’t just take my word. In a Journal article entitled The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performance in Sports Medicine, Rubiini et al. state

“there seems to be a reduction in sensibility of the muscle, tendon, joint receptors and muscle nociceptors, which are fundamental mechanisms for protection of structures involved in motion. In addition to these alterations, there is a period where neuromotor responses are delayed immediately following stretching exercises. These acute neural alterations may be related to the observed decrease in strength and may predispose to or increase the risks of injury, although this requires further investigation.”

Flexibility and injury prevention is a tricky thing to study. Most of the studies are comparative between groups that do stretching and those that don’t, and counting how many injuries occur. This comparison isn’t the best, but even those studies show that there is no correlation between stretching and injury prevention. Just to present the evidence, in a review by Schrier et al in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, they concluded that “The basic science literature supports the epidemiological evidence that stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of injury.” And finally, in a review by Herbert and Gabriel, they concluded that “stretching before activity does not present a practical useful reduction in the risk of injury.”
Obviously there is more work to be done, but the point is that stretching and flexibility isn’t an all good, cure all, like many claim it to be. Like everything else, it is best in moderation. In fact, a recent theory by Knudson suggests a Bell Curve hypothesis that injuries occur with those who are at the extremes in Range of Motion ability.

Use during a warm-up?
Everyone knows that stretching before any activity is a must. It enhances performance, right? Well, no, actually, it hinders performance. More than any other topic on stretching, this one has the most evidence.
Remember back to what changes happen following a bout of acute stretching, among them decreased motor unit recruitment and decrease in stiffness of the system. These changes adversely effect performance. If we look at the studies on the effects of an acute bout of stretching we can see that basically everything is affected.
In the simplest of tests, one rep maximum declines by about 6-8% in a variety of exercises from bench press to knee extension. Looking at a little more complex activities, vertical jump performance is consistently impaired by about 4-5%. In addition, ground contact time was lengthened in one of the jumping tests, which if you know anything about biomechanics, is something we don’t want in running either. But it’s not just one off activities of pure strength or explosion that are affected. Muscular endurance also declined by about 20% when doing a bunch of knee extension exercises.
However, that’s not running. It’s great that static stretching takes away from all of these gym type exercises but what about a wholly dynamic and complex activity like running. It turns out, not surprisingly, to follow the same trend. In testing a group of track athletes from LSU (so you know they are solid athletes…), sprint times over 40m were impaired by about .1 of a second. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it is over only 40m and at that distance, that’s a good deal of time. Think of it this way, .1sec at 40m is equal to about .25 sec at 100m if you get the same decay, which the 20m split times in the study project you would still have some progressive decay. So, it would be like someone going from 9.95 to 10.20. That’s a huge difference.
There have been a couple other studies done on sprints and stretching and they show the same results. If stretching does hurt performance, the question becomes how much is needed to hurt performance?
We don’t have all the answers to that question but it seems like just a little goes a long way. With just one stretch, strength levels drop dramatically. Similarly, when comparing holding a stretch for 30 seconds and 15 seconds, the strength drop was the same, meaning that only 15 seconds seems to be needed to show negative effects.

What does all this mean? Warm-up dynamically. Run, do strides, have fun.


Is there anything potentially good about stretching?

I don’t want to hate on stretching too much. There has to be something new that is positive about it right? Well, there actually is some potential. If we look at the hormonal response to stretching (because after all stretching is active, not passive, like many assume), there is some promising finds. With animal studies, chronic stretching has shown to increase Insulin Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) and Mechano Growth Factor (MGF) in mice and rabbits. If you pay attention to the performance enhancing drug news at all, you’ll know that IGF-1 is one of those en vogue drugs that athletes are taking. It serves as a mechanism to not only increase strength but also enhance recovery. So, if stretching increases the levels of IGF-1 and MGF then there is potential for stretching post workout to be very beneficial. Releasing these hormones after a workout or run would help initiate repair much faster, which would lead to increases in adaptation and performance. Some other evidence may help to support this theory, as stretching when combined with strength training has shown to potentially increase strength gains beyond that of just strength training by itself. The hormonal release theory might help explain this.


Does this mean I should stop static stretching?
Not necessarily. What it means is that it probably is not a good idea to do much stretching before workouts or races. This is one case where the theory and evidence agrees that it seems to take away from performance. Instead of static stretching, warming up dynamically with a good deal of running, strides, and some dynamic stretching seems to be the best approach.
However, static stretching is so ingrained in our sport that some runners would rather die then give up their static stretching routine before workouts or races. In those situations I’d suggest putting the stretching before any other part of the warm up. The running and then dynamic stretching could potentially cancel out the negative affects of stretching, but there haven’t been any studies on this, it’s just theory.
Post run or workout stretching could be beneficial, not for clearing lactate or muscle soreness, but in helping to get the body into an anabolic mode by the release of several growth factor hormones.
Unfortunately, we do not have an answer to how much you should static stretch as a runner. The evidence and theory tends to point towards the idea that less may be more, but how much is still at issue. In general, I’d advise to limit stretching to post run or workout. Even then, the goal shouldn’t be to try and increase static flexibility.

Interviews

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And so it begins...

Today I'm making the return to running, or at least going to test things out. It should be an interesting day. The HS kids also have their first supervised LT workout which is always fun. After 3 years of being in the system, the older athletes should have it down, but it's always interesting to see what the new kids do. We do things a little differently on LT runs. First, there are no splits. Second, they are undercontrol and run entirely by feel. Third, the athletes are given a total amount of time they need to hit. Lastly, for longer ones, they are split up wherever the athlete likes. That means they get a short break somewhere in the middle of it. I always give a no throwing up speach before the first LT and inevitably someone always goes too hard and pukes.

Interviews:
A couple interviews I thought I'd post.

Flotrack interview:
http://www.flotrack.org/videos/coverage/view_video/235412-get-to-know-the-euro-runners/196405-steve-magness
This was done in Europe (at like 1-2am) with "the media", David Williams.

Off the Track with John W. Davis interview:
http://preracejitters.com/off-the-track-with-john-w-davis-featuring-steve-magness-podcast-27/

This ones a little older (and longer) but I never posted it because I forgot too since I was racing and traveling a ton.

Enjoy.
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