Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reducing ground contact time in runners

Coach Martin brought up a good topic; both for A.T.'s and coaches alike.  The longer the foot remains on the ground, the more things can go wrong.  I believe there are 2 components to getting off the ground faster.  The first is strength, the second is neuromuscular coordination.  Whenever I talk about strength training for runners, I always go back to an old NSCA article from August of '95 (can't seem to locate it through the NSCA article search, sorry):

The coach put his girl's cross country team through a dumbbell weight training routine. Nothing fancy,  Some of the exercises were specific to running, others were not.  They had maintanance workouts two days per week in season.  The results:  The times of every athlete on the team improved.  Of course a lot has changed in the past 15 years, but the point remains the same.  That is, the right kind of strength training helps bone density and resists gravity from smashing the body like an accordion with every step.  Every (high school) athlete should be able to do a single leg squat to at least 90 degrees without the torso leaning forward and hold it for at least 30 seconds without motion.  Every athlete should be able to give you at least 15 good pushups (girls included) without technique breaking down.  Every athlete should be able to jump out at least a meter and stick their landing without any wiggling.  Every athlete should be able to lunge 3/4 their height for 30s with the knee remaining over the ankle.

Frans Bosch turned me on the neuromuscular component of running.  At ground contact, the knee of the trail leg should be passing the weightbearing leg.  This is important in locking up the front side and propelling it off the ground; minimizing ground contact.  At GAIN this year we had the opportunity to have him put us though many of the drills in his book/DVD.  Running with a jump rope is one of the best drills you can do to help clear out mechanical issues that contribute to a long ground contact.  If you paw the ground, if your trail leg is lollygagging behind you; the rope will stop you.


activedc said...

As always Joe P. Great Job!

Jack Martin said...

Joe, Thanks for the post. We have basically been doing this type of routine and those runners who have been serious have improved significantly.
The jump rope idea is excellent- we will finish some of our training with jump rope strides.
I have been reading and watching the Frans Bosch book/dvd for the past several months. A lot of good stuff. I wish there was a way to select and save some segments from the dvd and a put them in folders to serve as a ready reference rather than going through the entire dvd. Any ideas on that?
Thanks agin for another great post. Jack Martin

Joe Przytula said...

Try the jumprope as a warmup instead. And, you can't really "stride" with a jumprope. The rope will stop you. You have to keep your mechanics tight. It definately has a carryover effect once you put the rope down and start running/sprinting. The trick is finding a good jumprope for use outside on a track. It's got to have some weight to it so the wind doesn't effect it. Also durable so the track doesn't destroy it. I prefer the old fashioned beaded kind. Do you have a preference?

As far as Bosch's DVD goes, I don't really have a solution. Some of the better pc video players allow you to bookmark and capture stills from a DVD. The one I used was called Intervideo Win DVD. Not sure if they still make it.

Jack Martin said...

People are reading your blog. My co-coach, Chris Tafelski, saw a reference to a calf muscle blog you did a while back on
I believe we have some of the type of jump rope you describe.
The Devils will be up at camp in Vermont next week and I'll try the jump rope drill as a breakout activity for the kids-giving you props, of course. Thanks for the tip on the video. Jack

jbeyle said...

Hey Joe,
Even though a lot of this flies over my head, I really enjoy your blog. I am a middle school PR teacher and a high school cross country/track and field coach.
I recently purchased the BK method and have really enjoyed it.
1 issue we have most every year is shin splints. I really try to be conservative in the beginning of the season, especially with the younger kids, but it never fails. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and more importantly, what is a good path to follow to get them back to work asap.
Thanks and keep up the great work.