Top speed

Please read the disclaimer.

The ‘top speed’ sessions that we are doing in the spring of 2015 have two aims : improving technique / retaining good technique at higher speeds, and improving the firing of nerves and muscles so that higher speeds can be achieved.

They are a combination of two types of sessions :

  •  The ‘technical accelerations’ that we used to do a while back, a concept explained to me by Dave Kates who coached serial national 50k champion Scott Davis in the 2000’s. We performed drills, followed by a brief acceleration up to top speed – the idea is that the action of the drill gets fixed in your muscles and neurological system first and is then practised. If the technical improvement ‘sticks’ at high speed and is practised often enough, it will stick in racing and training at somewhat slower speeds.
  • the ‘speed development’ idea practised by both runners and walkers, where short, sharp bursts at high speed – too short for any lactate to build up or for you to get out of breath at all – encourage your nerves and muscles to work as fast as they possibly can. This will result in you ‘recruiting’ more nerve-muscle units in the sprints. At normal training and endurance racing speeds, only a proportion of your nerve-muscle units get used, particularly if you get used to training and racing at a particular speed. Forcing yourself to do bursts of top speed, without limitations of lactate or aerobic capacity (i.e. for very short distances), forces more of your nerve-muscle units to be used – once this is habitual, the increase in units used gets carried over to your normal training and racing and speeds improve. A more detailed explanation of this idea, for runners but the same applies to walkers, can be found here.

It may seem that there is no ‘hard work’ being done in these sessions, because for the bulk of them you never build up lactate or get aerobically stressed. There IS hard work done, however – it should be the hard work of concentrating on tip-top technique, both during the sprints AND during the recoveries between the sprints. Your warmup too, should be reasonably hard work – you need to be very well warmed up for this sort of session as pushing cold muscles to work at maximum speed is asking for injury. The danger of cooling down too much in the recoveries, means sessions like this really can only be performed either indoors or during reasonably warm weather. And after a bit of practise, you should find that the hard work you do later in tempo sessions and interval sessions, pays off in greater speed !

Have you read the disclaimer ?


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