Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting a jump on running.

Lately I've been reading over what Adam Myerson recommends and from what I know of 'cross I like what I see.  The more I read up on stuff though, there's still one unanswered question. I can see the benefits of practicing run-ups, find a good hill similar to what you'd see in a race, and do hill repeats up it. However, nobody really talks about the other style of running in cyclocross, the high speed barrier.

Run-ups require a ton of explosive power, but high speed barriers require a lot of leg speed. Typically you're coming into the barriers faster than you can run, so then what? Well, when I was first getting into 'cross, '98 or '99 maybe, I took a trip up to San Fran for the National Champs at the Presidio. While I was there I was chatting to Chris Kelly of the now defunct Kelly cycles. He mentioned to me that I should practice running by doing 100 yard sprints. What puzzles me is nobody else talks about anything like this.

Last night I was showing Anne my loop at Chili Greens and at the run-up I practically tripped over myself because my legs weren't turning over fast enough. The answer, sprints, 100 yard sprints to be exact. So tonight, after 3 weeks of run prep (10-20 minute runs) it was over to UNO's stadium for stair repeats and sprints. You get the explosive power of running stairs, plus the leg speed of sprinting 100 yard dashes.

In theory it sounds good, I just wonder why nobody talks about it.

So why focus on run-ups and sprinting? Let me put it in these terms, I read this last season, wish I could find the article. Cross is a race of seconds. There is typically at least two dismounts per lap. Say you can improve your dismounts and running by one or two seconds per section, 2 maybe 4 seconds a lap. A typical cross race could see you doing anywhere from 10-15 laps or 20-30 dismounts, that's up to a 1 minute improvement over the course of a race. But then if you think that later in the race, guys get tired, you may be able to double your gains through the later stages of the race. After you do the math you're getting pretty close to a two minute advantage. Two minutes is an eternity in 'cross, now think how many guys are in front of you within that two minutes.

Time to run...

11 comments:

brady said...

Plyometrics, like doing stair repeats and 100m sprints, are good ways to recruit fast-twitch muscles while overloading the nervous system that delivers the impulses to those muscles. I've also used speed rope, box jumps, and four-square pattern floor work to get the legs angry. Good stuff. Hard work, but it produces results.

vaughn said...

Box jumps and stair runs with a medicine ball. Can you say ouch? Good stuff though.

E.O'B. said...

My track and football coach would tie his sprinters and/or linebackers to the back of a lawn tractor using elastic surgical tubing and drag us along at speeds just faster than we could run by ourselves.

Heaven help you if you fell when he wasn't paying attention--but it made us faster.

Guys working in pairs could do the same thing with weight belts connected by long sections of elastic tubing. One runner could sprint against the resistance of the elastic, while the other would brace for five seconds and then release. The first runner would get the force benefit, while the second would get some speed work.

MOD 2.0 said...

Pulled by a tractor? YES! Imagine if you saw that today? Sweet.

mathguy said...

The leg speed question is a good one. For long run-up (Mt. Krumpet at Jingle Cross comes to mind) I think the exercises you're doing are pretty good. Barriers are a different kettle of fish, because there is really so little running involved. It's really about efficiency- getting on and off as quickly as possible, running hurdles, which requires a different approach than just sprinting. Watching the pros, you notice that they are not necessarily sprinting through them. You have to be really exact, like a hurdler would be, by counting exactly how many steps you need to take to get through them, and practice those steps over and over again. I need to work on that.

samsam said...

It's definitely a combination of everything. How fast and smooth is the dismount/can you run as fast as you rolled in to the transition/can you accelerate (on foot) out of the run/how fast can you find the pedals and apply power/how fast can you get up to speed again. As a top-level spectator of late I tend to see the gaps grow as guys/gals remount and look/find the pedals. Those first couple of pedal strokes really count.

MOD 2.0 said...

Well said Sam.

Aaron G said...

Whats a good set to start with? And how long rest between reps? For the 100 yd dashes.

MOD 2.0 said...

Aaron, I started four weeks ago. Seeing how I hadn't run since last cross season I started with about a 20 minute jog, running uphill and walking down the other side through our neighborhood (very hilly, 12% grades). The second week a ran the entire loop, uphill and downhill. The third week, a ran the entire loop but sprinted, if you could call it that, on the uphills. Then last week I took the workout to the track and stadium stairs.

The stairs aren't that big of deal, what gets you is the hundred yard sprints. Be cautious, it's REALLY easy to overcook it and pull something big time.

UNO's stadium isn't very big, 6 aisles I think, maybe 10 seconds to sprint to the top (wish it was longer). I run up one, jog across the top to the next aisle, and then down and across. So three sets. I then jog backwards around the track and walk the corner. I start jogging again after the turn to the end of the straight then I turnaround and sprint back across the 100 yard straight, walking the turn back to the base of the stairs.

I did this 3 times last Tuesday and my legs are just beginning to feel normal today. Most of the strain came from the hundred yard sprints. Some of those muscles you just don't use when doing normal cycling. You will want a little conditioning of these muscles for cross though.

I've done these the last couple years and I always feel pretty good when I need to get off the bike and go fast on foot.

Carp said...

That works if you have a lot of time. If your strapped for time then more intervals on the bike I've found to pay off more than running. If you've got the time to train like a PRO then peppering in some track or stairs would make sense. 2 mins over a course? no but saved energy as in not having to sprint back up to someone's wheel yes. Although if it kept me from blowing up then maybe I could save like 5 mins. haha

Carp said...

I remember when Savory once told me, "when you remount give 10 hard pedal strokes no matter how bad it hurts, that's the critical time". Good Advice.