More is NOT Better - Intern Post by Josh

I've been going on and on about the quality of our interns and the SAPT internship experience, but it's true. We've got some crazy awesome interns this summer. Below is Josh's first post. Like Goose, Josh was also on the track team at Mason... as a pole vaulter *gasp!* That's my gut reaction, anyway... terror! Having my feet above my head has never been okay. I never learned to do a proper cartwheel because of that. I'll happily pile hundreds of pounds on my spine, but feet over my head? No thanks.I used to watch in amazement as Josh would perform handstand pushups outside of my office at Mason. Pretty cool to witness an athlete perfecting that variety of movement as a key skill to their sport. If you ever get the chance to meet Josh (which you might) he's this super relaxed, low-key kind of guy. He'll very quickly put you at ease and somehow seems to have an endless supply of energy. But, he's also always on top of his stuff and tends to always impress me. Everything from the best off-the-cuff dynamic warm-ups ever to thought provoking questions to coming up with the below killer blog about regulating intensity and volume when addressing your conditioning work.

He's one of the RunFAST coaches, btw. ENJOY:

The Issue    

I ask younger athletes a lot what they plan to do over the summer now that school is out and the season is over. Many of them say that they will probably run a couple of miles a day to stay in shape and get faster. This mindset causes these athletes go out for the cross-country team expecting to get faster and stronger for their primary sport: baseball, lacrosse, or even soccer. Don’t get me wrong cross-country is great if you are out of shape and just want to develop general conditioning. HOWEVER, for the athlete that needs to be reactive and explosive, running 40-50 miles a week will not only fail to accomplish this goal but it will shift the muscle composition to be more slow twitch dominant thus losing explosiveness and reactivity capabilities.

Well Actually...

You may be thinking, “Endurance actually sounds great! I want to last a whole basketball game without passing out at the end or be able to run up and down a soccer field without gasping for air. I just want to be more in shape then everyone else.” and you still can! You can accomplish these same goals by running way less. Your sport does not only require you to last but also be quick and explosively responsive to the dynamics of the game. So why would you jog around for hours on end when your sport has high demands of fast twitch moments.

To help you better understand this concept of less there is the 80-20 Rule (or “Pareto Principle), which states that 80% of the gains comes from 20% of exercises you do. For example, let’s say for your workout for the day you do 10 exercises, 2 of those exercises are going to be responsible for 80% of the performance results. This does not mean that the other 8 exercises are not important, they are! However, this should help you understand that it is not the “more” that produces better results.

What Should I Do Then?The way this can be accomplished is by working on is fast twitch (type 1) endurance. Yes, as odd as it sounds there is such things as fast twitch endurance. Look at track and field for example. Many people who do not know the sport consider the sprinting events to be anywhere from the 400 meters races and below. However, when you start looking at the college and professional times of the 1600 meters (1-mile) race these athletes/runners are looking at the event as more of a strategic sprint.

 Ok I Get It... Just Tell Me How To Train For It Already!

Sprint endurance can be trained by running slightly longer intervals such as 200-400 meter workouts with a set rest time in between. Even though these distances are longer than one would run in a game, this trains the athlete to maintain a top speed for much longer durations.

The rest time for these intervals should be anywhere from a 1:3 - 1:5 work to rest ratio. Huh, you ask? These means that if you run a 400 meter interval in 70 seconds then you would rest anywhere from 3X to 5X the amount ran. So in this case it would range from 3 1/2 - nearly 6 minutes rest. The reason for this ratio is because biologically your ATP-PC energy system takes about that time to recover. When you are training speed endurance, you are actually training the ATP-PC energy system to recover faster. It normally takes the ATP-PC system 6-8 minutes to replenish itself.

For more information on energy system, which is IMPORTANT to understand, check out Gustavo's Article from yesterday. Scroll down to Myth #2 and he breaks down the energy systems really well.

Judging the amount of rest you should take also depends on what your workout is for the day and how you are feeling. You want to make sure you can get through the workout but you also do not want to make it too easy either. Longer rest should be taken for those who are running longer distances such as 400-meter intervals vs. 200 meter interval. Also if your main focus is on speed then you want to be well rested so that each interval is quality and fast.

One More Thing!

We live in a day where overuse injuries are very common. A lot of this is due to the association of the great workout burn to getting stronger. This mentality is what causes people to get hurt. They workout to feel that pain to justify what they do is working however they actually put too much stress on the body and not give it enough time to rest and recovery. Sure in the beginning everything is fine. You are getting stronger and more in shape but as time progresses you get that nagging pain in your hamstring or your foot. This can be caused by improper form that you have been running on consistently for months or one muscle group is trying to compensate for the other. These injuries are very difficult to treat and for an athlete to go through because in many cases the treatment is to do nothing. Every competitive athlete I know hates the idea of doing nothing.


Be smart about your training. Run with quality not quantity. It will benefit a lot more in the long run. Pun intended.