TRAINING: Sprint Cannons

Come the Winter, come the speed, or so it seems. Crusaders have upped the antes with two track sessions per week now, Tuesday and Thursday, and I was making my "comeback" after holidays.

This time 'round I was joined by quite a few fellow carriers of the Y-chromosome, setting the prospect for a very different session. Old faces where there, of course, mountain runners Shane, Paul, and Sean, as well as several others, road and track runners I presumed.

Great turn-out on the ladies side as usual, with Aoife Joyce doing warm-ups and otherwise guiding sessions for the rest of the girls, in preparation for what could be one of her greatest challenges: This weekend's World Trophy in Mountain Running.

As always there's a good bit of chatting going around at the training ground, making it a welcome break from the loneliness of the long distance runner that characterises many a training run.

This time I overheard a lot of talk about resting periods, though. It was very disturbing, and all very confusing, and I'm doing my best to forget.

I did mention that I threw in four days of rest in my holidays, though, while the topic was being discussed. There was much head-shaking...

Welcome to the Big League
Today I joined up with Shane and the bunch of fast looking guys that I presumed are sprinters or road runners preparing for the marathon. The programme was quite awful: 12x400m with only a 30 second break in between each set.

The kicker was, that is thirty seconds after the first runner finishes, so every second you finish after him is one second less rest for you relative to him! Talk about vicious cycles (or positive feedback loops if you must remain optimistic).

The first 400m sprint went quite well, I was feeling good, and stayed on the front four. I felt so good, I felt like attacking, but thinking about the 11 laps to go, the thought struck me: "They must be holding back." Thus I followed in quietly in 4th position.

From the next one, the pressure was on, and the pain tangible, things were still under control, though, from the third and fourth, however, I was bombing completely and finished the 5th and 6th in what can hardly be called sprints.

I had noticed then that the three other runners running at around my speed, had started to throw in a lap of break as we had gone ahead. Feeling that I could no longer maintain proper form for the exercise, I sat out a lap, and went back reinvigorated for my 7th lap. On the 8th I was once again bombed, and sat out another one, before coming back and fighting through 9th and 10th.

Science Again
Sprinting gives some interesting insights into the varied strength of the three major energy systems in the human body. The Anaerobic energy system used for sprints depletes at alarming rates in myself, especially at the high end.

I've reached a level where work intensity in the AnT and AnT2 scales can be maintained for acceptable lengths of time, but the moment I switch into the "true sprint area", sometimes called MAC (Max Aerobic Capacity), I have little to give.

I've long supplemented with the modern type of Creatine (Kre-Alkalyn, carrying all the benefits of Creatine, but none of the side-effects). Creatine is a naturally occuring amino acid, and plays a key part in muscle contraction, but only the energy system used in sprints and weight lifting (very hard, very swift exertions).

I couldn't help have the feeling out there, that it was like having a set of booster rockets. I could use them once, to great effect, but once expended, they were gone and I was stuck with "reserve engines" for the remainder.

Now luckily being a sprinter is not among my targets, but the extra pressure on the tracks at Crusaders will, as Shane put it: "Have us flying". We'll see, but another enjoyable and educational session with Crusaders.