Monday, May 29, 2006

You know the drill(s)

Today was my first foray into a few alternative exercises that I've been meaning to incorporate into my training routine for some time now, namely form drills. I've never consistently used form drills in the past, although KcoachB made a few unsuccessful attempts to have us do them back in my Stonehill days. My own naiveness, not to mention laziness, led me to conclude that they were nothing but a waste of time, so I just didn't do them. Simple as that.

Since graduating waaaaaaaay back in '04, however, my own training observations and subsequent research have led me to the conclusion that there just might be something to be said about the effectiveness of devoting just a few minutes a week to improving running form, with the results being an increase in power, speed and overall biomechanical efficiency. Despite my revelations, however, I again fell victim to my own laziness and never actually attempted any of the drills that I spent more than a few hours, researching, analyzing and more than anything else, contemplating. Until today that is - thanks to Matty Mulv for the kick in the butt. Here's how the initial undertaking went down:

* 2 mile warmup, 3 circuits, 2 mile cooldown.
* 1 circuit = 100-meter stride/5 squat hops/100-meter stride/25-meter "A" skips into 25-meters bounding/100-meter stride.

Notes: Strides were run as buildups, ie. 25-meter acceleration/50-meter top-speed/25-meter deceleration. I like doing strides this way and believe they're good for practicing a relaxed running form while building speed. The plan is to eventually alternate the strides on an every-other-week basis with 60-meter hill sprints while I'm still in my buildup phase and not focusing on any specific races. About a month before Chicago I'll likely cut out the hill sprints and keep things on the flat side to let some life back in my legs. The squat hops were a failed experiment in themselves and did nothing but make my knees achy and sore, so I'll need to make an adjustment/replacement there. The skips and bounding addressed a knee-lift/power deficiency and with practice I'm confident that I can make great improvements in both these areas. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good first day. Eventually, I'll increase to 50-meters worth of skips and bounding and a complete drill session will total five total circuits. As with anything and everything else, it's subject to some tweaking, but overall key will be consistency. The idea is to do one drill session a week - no more, no less.

So where did I get these wacky ideas? Good question. The short answer is from a variety of coaches and athletes, including Arthur Lydiard, Renato Canova, Bob Sevene, Brad Hudson, Arturo Barrios, and Nate Jenkins. I've dissected logs, interviews, e-mails, books, message board postings and personally held discussions with some of the aformentioned coaches and athletes that have all contributed in come way, shape or form to the development of the above personal drill package that I hope will improve my running form, speed, strength and overall efficiency. I'll try to update any progress with my new endeavor on a quasi-regular basis. Any other additional insight, comments and/or questions by any informed minds are greatly appreciated.

And that's it for today. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend.

Quote of the day:

It's a mistake to only do distance, distance, distance. If you don't do things like stretching and bounding drills, eventually your style is going to change and that's going to lead to injury.
- Arturo Barrios


Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to incorporate drills into my "training" as well. Of course, I've been meaning to incoroporate training into my training, too. Could you send me your thoughts and exercises over im tonight? PS you free saturday night?


Kevin Tilton said...

Hey Mario,

This is Kevin Tilton. We raced at Mt. Wachusett last May. I'm friends w/ Katie G. and Mark. I stumbled across your blog from Kemibe's site this past winter and have been reading it ever since. Glad to see you've gotten over the achilles injury and that you got into Chicago. Keep it going and I hope to see you out there.


Mario said...


Working on Saturday but Friday I'm free. Maybe we can work something out. We'll talk soon.


Thanks for the note, glad you're enjoying reading my blog. Sorry to hear about the Wachusett fiasco this past weekend. Any other races coming up? Hope to see you on a starting line later this summer, perhaps up at Stowe. Take it easy man.