After Power Comes Acceleration

Remember that physics class you took in high school, college or maybe even in university? Understandably, this may have been a while ago for some of you. In my case, high school has now been over for just over 10 years. Nonetheless, it still applies to everyday life and it has made my biomechanics classes so much fun at university of Ottawa from which I graduated from, just over four years ago.

After discussing the topic of plyometrics last week, it is only logical to include acceleration in the process of training. What does acceleration really mean? When accelerating, you have the starting phase, the secondary acceleration phase and the absolute speed phase. This relates to the rate of the increase of speed over time.

How does it apply to endurance sports, really? All you want to do is to finish your race in a certain amount of time and be over with it. A couple of questions come to mind: What if you want to go up the hill in a running race? How about the time in cyclocross where you get off your bicycle to go over obstacles and get back on it to keep going throughout the race? How about the last 100m in the race where you are neck and neck with your opponent and really want to cross that line first? Do you have what it takes to just power through and get to that absolute speed zone first in order to finish that race before them?

As an endurance athlete, this may be one of my weaker links. From my point of view, I know I need to start including plyometrics in my training as well adding some sort of strength training because the engine is there.

Acceleration is way more than just plyometrics though. Plyometrics only gets you ready to accelerate. The goal of acceleration is to produce as much force horizontally in the least amount of time while minimizing vertical force that is needed to overcome gravity while maximizing your technique.

How do you maximize your technique?

The first thing that comes to mind is posture. Stay long and tall, head to heel strong as steel. Is your pillar (core) strong enough in order to get into an optimal position? Are you mobile enough?

Secondly, how do your legs act in relation to your body? When running, how is your knee drive? Does it go as if you could punch into a boxing mitt at 90 degrees without losing the integrity of your posture? Try doing it at home in a slow stable environment and see if you can keep your core stable as you lift your knees at 90 degrees. Do you have what it takes in terms of optimal range of motion? Start slow and build up on this.

The third and last thing that comes to mind is the arm action. Arm motion may not help you accelerate a whole lot but it can slow you down significantly if they are all over the place. What can be related to this? Have you thought of shoulder mobility and stability? How about your thoracic mobility? Poor shoulder mobility and thoracic mobility create a lot of energy leaks and slow you down significantly. If you do not believe me, look at those sprinters, do they have kyphosis? Do they seem limited in their upper body range of motion?

Can you do the wall sit bilateral reach easily? It is simple, all you need to do is keep your forearms in contact with the wall and press overhead 3 times 20 seconds with 5 seconds rest in between each repetition.

 

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