With World Championships here we getour annual taste of ‘World’s Fastest Humans’. As an athletic development coach Track and Field provides the best views of optimizing sprinting jumping, throwing, and endurance running. This is what we strive for in the gym everyday with athletes of different sports: How do we take bits of each of these qualities to create dominant athletes in other sports?
With that in mind, I wanted to touch on what I call ‘The Speed Paradox’.
Whether we are talking about deliberate practice and the 10,000 hour rule or just anecdotal evidence, we know that the best athletes are typically the hardest working, with only a few rare exceptions. This is such a great quality to have when trying to improve, but tends to conflict DIRECTLY with improving speed. Let me elaborate.
There are two important aspects to getting faster that involve ‘doing less’, one is the ability to RELAX while running (and jumping!) in order to allow your body to move fastest. The other aspect of improving speed is the rest and recovery component. Knowing when to stop in a training session because fatigue has set in, or knowing how to schedule off days or at least mix loading for optimal recovery are two things the hardest working athletes are bad at!
First let’s talk about relaxation. If we are too relaxed we will never go fast or jump high because we won’t be able to create any force. Conversely, if we are too tense, we are likely contracting a lot of muscles that needn’t be and thus resisting our own movement, and being downright inefficient. So what is the secret? Trust. Once an athlete has started to learn key aspects of […]