Running against the clock

A few years ago during the GPP, I decided to change one of my testing protocols from ‘running for distance’ to ‘running for time’. We had been using standard track tests etc, testing over 150m and 300m but at the time i thought it was too predictable; athletes have too much of a confirmation bias for the result and i just wanted to shake things up a bit. I had tried this previously with a senior athlete but it was not perceived well; they wanted the confirmation of time over a known distance. I totally understand this but felt and still feel the rhythms and cadences over known distances seldom get challenged; especially at that time of the preparation. So I changed it. Run 40 seconds full tilt for TIME and see how much distance you cover. I know this is not revolutionary by any means, and more recently I’ve read/listened that Tony Holler uses something similar for his speed endurance efforts and as a 400m predictor (I think), but it definitely changes the dynamic of the test.

We started individually from the 400m start line, gave a count down, 3, 2, 1… Go! All athletes knew ‘roughly’ how much distance they would cover due to their existing/previous 300m performances, but it still plays with the mind of not knowing where the finish line is. There is something going on at the cognitive level to do with the central governor, pacing and/or teleoanticipation. I remember chatting to a former Australian 100m champion via DM on twitter and he said he used something to this effect to break a training plateau of a half-miler he was coaching, who couldn’t break a time barrier over a set distance. So he changed it to a timed run. The athlete broke through the barrier; almost like the governor had been switched off.

Watching athletes perform the 40 second run was interesting too. Some step up and really get after it. Some are stuck in the bias of doing the numbers in their head of where they think they should be on the track and how much time is left. In the end, I don’t think results differed too much from the rankings of the 300m time trial BUT I think the approach to the task did.

This GPP, why not try something new!

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