Science Vs. Practice- Should our training be evidence based?

Science versus Practice: Evidence Based training

A consistent theme of this blog is the battle between the scientific side and the practical side training. As I tried to express in this article on my conflicting passions, the constant tug of war that goes on between the two conflicting sides is something I frequently deal with. If you are a long time reader of this blog you’ll find plenty of articles steeped in scientific research, while at the same time you’ll see articles blasting research for not understanding the way things work in the “real world” of training. In this post, I’d like to address the central question of what’s right, science or practice?

When Damage is a good thing AND High Speed NYC marathon video

As competitive runners we go to great lengths to minimize damage and enhance recovery. This is all well and good, but what if we impair the training adaptation?

That's the question I ask in a new article for Running Times that can be found here:

In the article I go over how ice baths, anti-inflamatory drugs, antioxidants, and carbohydrate supplementation during runs could potentially limit training adaptation.  Hopefully it makes you think a little bit about what you do.  I'm not saying get rid of the above things but that you have to use them at the right time.  In particular antioxidants is a particularly intriguing topic because it's a classic demonstration of the overemphasize new discovery/theory.

Understanding Stride Rate and Stride Length

Speed= Stride length X Stride frequency

This simple equation is a staple in sprinting and biomechanics material. It simply means that to see a change in speed you’ve either got to increase the ground you cover (stride length) or increase your turnover (stride frequency) or some combination of the two. The bottom line is that something has to change. But what is it that changes when we go faster?

If you are a Chi Running proponent, your answer will be stride length, as Danny Dreyer says to keep the frequency constant while only changing length. In the real world though, the answer is that it depends and that limiting yourself to only being able to change one or the other is a mistake. Let’s look at what the elites do.

One study looked at the stride length and frequency of the top 3 finishers in the 10k at the 2007 world championships. This included Bekele (1st) Sihine (2nd) and Mathathi (3rd). They calculated their individual speed, frequency, and length for every 400m lap of the 25 lap race.  The graph below depicts their speed, stride length, and stride frequency:

Predict finish based on running form

First off, I wrote an article for Running Times online that is now up on their site.  It's called: Avoiding the Hard/Easy Trap.  In it I discuss why moderate or easier workouts need to be included in your training plan.  So take a look and hopefully it helps you out:

Secondly, Niell Elvin, who is the professor at the City College of NY that provided the excellent 5th avenue mile video I posted earlier, captured some great high speed footage from one of the recent college conference cross country meets.  He suggested that we do a little experiment with the video and see how well everyone's assesment of their running form correlates with the runners finishing order.

Niell has posted the top 16 finishers in the girls race randomly on youtube.  I'll post these video's below.  What you need to do is rank these runners 1-16 in the order you think they finished based solely on their form.  Essentially, watch the videos and rank them based on their running form. Post your best guess in the comments section and then I'll post the results once we get a good response.

So, basically you'll post "Runner 5= 6th best form, Runner 9=1st" or whatever you think it is.  Also, this video is from 400m from the finish.  You can also look at the video from earlier in the race because some of these runners are obviously under some great fatigue at 400m to go and their mechanics are starting to fall apart.

The Video's are in the link below.  You'll see that on the right side bar, the video's are listed Runner 1 through Runner 16.
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