Thursday, 15 December 2011

Snippets - Canadian Endurance Conference

A weekend learning from some of track and field’s greatest coaches was time well spent.  Saturday I sat with friends and colleagues and absorbed as much information as possible in regard to training, planning, athlete psychology, and coach-athlete relationships.  Here are only a few of the great parcels of info that were shared:
Margo Jennings (world renowned 800 and 1500m coach):
·         ¾ of what she presented dealt with the mental/psychological/emotional side
·         Four areas are vital to the making of a champion – Physical Preparation, mental strength, emotional control, attention to detail.
·          So given similar genetic abilities, it is the mental prep side that makes the difference between a champion and also-ran
·         Yoga utilized not only for physical purposes (control of tension – relaxation) but also for the breathing and mental aspects
·         Massive use of positive talk, affirmations, goal setting along with intentional disturbances of the athlete’s prep to prepare them for any eventuality come game day
·         4 to 5 positive words are needed to counteract 1 negative word

Wynn Gmitroski (coach of recently retired 800m Canadian superstar Gary Reed)
·         Almost purely physiological approach to 800m prep
·         Maximum speed moderately low on the priority for 800m running however must have 47 sec or faster 400m to make a good 800 a reality
·         Cycle through Intensity week, Volume week, Recovery week constantly through season.  Recovery week is typically 50-75% of the average volume of the Intensity and Volume weeks
·         Only 1 to 3 hard days per week through season, heavy emphasis on recovery modalities (hands on therapy as well as athlete self care)
·         3 to 6 weeks rest at the end of the season – athletes need 7 to 10 days off to feel how tired they actually are
·         It may take 6 to 8 races to actually achieve top performance capability (races are important training)

Darren Treasure (Nike Oregon Project sports psychologist)
·         90% of communication is non-verbal and non-verbal messages are up to 16x more powerful than verbal ones
·         Be conscious of how your energy as a coach affects the athletes – do you act tired, bored, angry, stressed – these will all be reflected by your runners
·         Involve athletes in their planning/goal setting
·         Provide a rationale for the type of work you are asking the athletes to complete

Alberto Salazar (Running Legend and coach – Nike Oregon Project)
·         All coaches have the same ingredients, it’s just the mix that changes
·         Aerobic, Long Runs, Tempo, Long intervals, Medium intervals, Short intervals – a program missing one of these components will not be optimal
·         ALWAYS keep “Goal Pace” – i.e. goal race pace – in throughout the season but in varying amounts … one short interval workout per week early in the season to more extensive later on.
·         Do as many aerobic miles per week as the athlete will tolerate – aerobic system needs sustained pressure to improve
·         One long run is better than splitting the distance in two (on the same day) – more adaptations through more fatigue in the system
·         Purpose of long intervals (efforts of 3 – 3:30) is to improve ability of body to tolerate threshold lactate
·         2x/year – 6 to 7 week blocks of very heavy training
·         Alternating weeks – week 1:  2 x hard workouts, week 2:  3x hard workouts

All in all a well-run conference with great speakers.  Strength and conditioning coaches are often weaker in the “conditioning” side so any opportunity to expand knowledge in this area should be taken.  The information I gathered has already started to be utilized in the prep of my athletes, so that is a good thing!

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