Monday, April 25, 2011

Sprint Technique as Slow (or Fast) Active Recovery within a Run

Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS - happy feet.
So i was out for a longer run yesterday, it being Sunday and all, and some new shoes to test out (the ls version of the bikila - in a word, love any bikila any time; best runners ever) and at various points i was sucking a bit of air.

As i've written about before, i like to gait my regular run tempo for the most part by being able to breath in and o ut through my nose for the most part or in through nose, out by mouth if not. But what happens when hitting an "i'm breathing through my mouth" patch - and the only choice is seemingly to slow it down? How about change it up, instead?

What i did was work on sprint technique during a few of these jags: i don't mean SPRINTing; i mean sprint technique: getting the knees way up and heels in right under the butt, dorsiflexed way up, nice round turn over with some A/B/C march/skip work.

Nice wee sample of A, B and C skips for sprint practice.

That technique work is slower than my current (pretty slow already) pace, but it's a different set of muscles getting moved in different ways, and you try knees way up for 50m and see how you feel. The benefit i found was that i could keep moving, practice form, and recover. Which for me means getting my breathing back under control.

At another point, when i started breathing harder, i started running harder putting that form practice to the test. After all, wanted to do something to warrant that extra 02. I'm not sucking wind; i'm sprinting - i have a right to breath hard.

If i'd done this kind of switch around in the weight room, we would be talking about Active Recovery - where the benefit of the exercise is increased if - when not doing maximal work - one does another movement rather than nothing at all.

So that's a double kind of tempo shift in one long run - both for the sake of recovery from fatigue while getting some quality work thrown in: technique on the one hand and energy system work on the other.

When i was running cross country in uni, we'd go for fartlek runs, but the "ok run hard between these two points, then do recovery" or "run an 800 fast then do two 800s for recovery" always felt like work, and very arbitrary. I'm sure it's a great idea; lots of great results from switching stuff up. HIIT intervals on a specific schedule for instance also show results.

But heck, i was just going for a quality long run on a sunday. I felt happier and more successful in terms of finding these possibilities within a run - again, gaited around breathing quality - that i can only say, as with so much else in health and fitness practice - i'd had such insights (or the coaches had) when i was doing this "seriously."

If you'd like to check out more drills, check out the Complete Athlete DVD, vo1 1 (review here)

In the meanwhile, if you give this kind of breathing-oriented tempo/technique  shift up / shift down a go during a run, let me know, please what you think/find.



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