I don’t have my 1999 Saturn SL1 anymore.
When a friend drove my car, he noticed that at high speeds above 140 km/hr (85 mph), you can tell the engine was laboring. Even at slow speeds, in city traffic, it’s not the best sounding car in the world upon acceleration. (What do you expect for a MSRP of $17,000 CDN?)
But there was a magic spot at around 115 km/hr (70mph) where it just felt right. The engine was quite. Efficient in terms of motion (gas consumption is another story, and please don’t turn on the air conditioning!). Somehow, this car was trained to go at 115km/hr and anywhere 10% faster or slower, you could tell it had to work.
On the highway, you can just feel it wants to go at 115 km/hr.
One of the theories is I never drove past 120 km/hr on the highway because police rarely issued a speeding ticket under 120 even when the posted speed limit was 100km/hr (60 mph). (Heh heh, it pays to have inside information!) I have zoomed past a police car at 117 km/hr and never got a ticket (though zooming in a Saturn may sound like an oxymoron!)
Basically the car was trained to go at 115 km/hr and it had over 250,000 km (150,000 miles) and it’s still going. 115 was the sweet spot.
What am I leading up to?
The Tempo Runs
Sometimes slower tempo runs at 75% just don’t feel good. I am big and heavy sprinter (over 185lbs at 6 feet tall). My foot lands hard. My breathing is heavy. Ask any of my teammates.
But the minute the tempo speeds increase, all of a sudden, my body just clicks.
Cathy Freeman never ran slower than race pace in practice. With her 49 sec PR and splits of 23.5 and 25.5 for 200m, her 100m tempo speeds are rarely slower than 13 seconds (with a flying start).
The golden rule with tempo runs is let them find their optimal speed. Maybe start the first 100m run in a funeral 17 or 18 seconds, then slowly increase the speed?
As a coach, you have to rely on your eyes and ears to see flaws and correct them. Massage Therapists and ART experts also uses “touch” in their toolkit. There are some things that machines and computers cannot replace. And that’s the art of coaching.