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Here are 5 tips I can give to a Masters Coach or Athlete.
Don’t Show Up Broken
Any injuries you have prior to training must be addresses and fixed. If you want to PREVENT being broken, see my next point.
Remember John Smith’s 3 rules on why you get injured:
- when you are tired (i.e. over training, poor recovery, etc)
- when you have an imbalance (i.e. See Rick Kaselj’s muscle imbalance videos [full disclosure: it’s a commercial product])
- when your mind wants to do something your body does NOT want to do
Always remember the 4 S’s for training balance: Speed, Strength, Suppleness, and Skill (i.e. co-ordination, but that doesn’t start with an S)
And if you are overweight, getting lean and mean should be your first priority. It will make a huge difference later.
You Must be an Athlete first, then Sprinter
I truly believe general strength and conditioning is key. Don’t show up to my camp out of shape in September. There is no off season.
I truly believe foot contact and forces travel up the legs, through the kinetic chain, and to the core. This is why I co a lot of core work (plus the fact I look good in a European speedo!) A strong core means you can absorb these forces and maintain good posture. Good posture means maintaining the right shin angles and body angles at all times, including fatigue.
The core is just not abs! It is the ab muscles, the entire pelvic/hip area, and lower back. I’ll talk more about pelvic tilt at a later post (or I will have Adarian Barr do a video). The pelvic/hip girdle also means hip flexors. And we all know about Bret Contreras Glute emphasis. If you missed Joel’s excellent post on 3 Reasons the Squat is NOT the Cornerstone of Strength Training for Sprinters, it’s a good read.
As well, the core must be strengthened on all 3 planes: frontal, sagittal and transverse, hence 500 reps a session (2000 per week) is easy to attain.
I think my failed Masters goals from injuries were a result of me not doing enough conditioning work because I was too focused on getting the workouts in, and hitting the split times required in practice. I was trying to do a Porsche workout in a GM Saturn body.
If I have to limit strength work to a fixed time, I think 45 minutes to 1 hour (max) is all you need 3-4 days a week for a Masters athlete. If you have more time to spare, get a massage or take a contrast shower.
Recovery from Injuries
When I was in Primary school, I remember twisting my ankle where the swelling was the size of a grapefruit. With 3 days of rest and wood lock oil, I was up and running again as if nothing happened.
In High school, I remember straining my quads on a cold day in April. They said it was a Charley Horse. What the hell is a Charley Horse? I am not a horse, I am a human being! The coach said go home and come back in 2 weeks. Sure enough, in 2 weeks, I was back 100%.
In College, I remember pulling my hamstring 6 weeks before Nationals from a 100 meter time trial for determining the relay spots. I remember this trick from Duke’s Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski when they were down 20 points with 6 minutes to play. Coach K said, don’t worry, every 2 minutes, we’ll revaluate. Instead of focusing on 6 minutes, you focused on 2. Sure enough, they would cut the deficit by 8 points every 2 minutes, and with 2 minutes to go, they were down by 4 points.
So every 2 weeks, I reevaluated my hammy and did a time trial or competition. 2 weeks before Nationals, I PR’ed my 300m split in 34-mid en route to a 48.1 for 400m out of the blocks. I knew I was ready. And I was fit, so running back-to-back 400s in 2 days was not a problem.
But as a Master’s athlete, wow, it would take 2 months or more to recovery from an injury.. sometimes wiping out the entire season.
The morale of the story is Recovery from Injuries Take a Long Long Time to heal the older you get. The only two ways to get around this is the Tooth Fairy or illegal performance enhancing drugs. And we know the tooth fairy doesn’t exist.
If you have a mixed group of open and Masters, try a 6×300 for the open guys where the Master’s sprinter join them on a the last 200 (on the fly)?
If that is too fast, maybe alternate the rest interval so you only do 3x200m with full recovery? For example, the open guys can do 6×300 in 39 seconds and you do 3×200 full recovery in 25 seconds.
As for periodization, you’ll have to experiment with your cycles, as 3 days hard, 3 days easy, 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy may be too much. I suggest only 2 days hard per week. with active recovery or tempo 2 other days. Even 2 weeks hard followed by 1 week easy might be a solution, though progress may be slower than expected.
Read Harry Marra’s own comments in his Podcast here.
Relative to 400 M work, here is how I achieve 100 & max effort without actually giving 100%….controlled recovery time between bouts of running…example: 4 x 300 m for training today [for Ashton Eaton] maybe at 37 sec pace BUT only 2:30-3:00 min for recovery…this way acute fatigue is there probably after 3 efforts and the fourth effort, because of high lactic loads, is a max effort, but controlled by the fatigue …we never take long recovery on 400 train and we keep volume of work to minimum
Don’t go all out all the time. Train, don’t strain.
Just remember there is a correlation between high performance training & racing, and injuries.