Episode 4 – Lee Taft – Teaching Speed For Runners & Triathletes

In this Episode:

  • Lee Taft
  • Speed and Agility
  • Importance of Foot and Ankle Joints
  • Exercises
  • Using Time vs. Distance
  • Priorities of a Triathlete
  • Proper Strength Training
    • Why are we posterior-chain focused?
  • The Need for Speed
  • Program Design for Runners
  • Strength Baselines
    • Expectations for arm carriage
  • Safe Drills for Cyclists and Triathletes
  • Ideal Session
  • Key Points for Listeners
  • Conclusion

 

 

 

Show Notes:

0:47 – 

Lee Taft

  • Nicknamed “The Speed Guy”
  • He has a certified speed and agility course on the NSPA, athletes’ acceleration sports performance training, and a CEU course on speed and agility coaching: Speed Insiders 6-month course

3:19 – 

Speed and Agility

  • A lot of the runners and triathletes that Menachem has worked with are surprised when they get speed and agility work
  • There is so much value in training the human system to have variability because it gives us greater potential
  • Lee always tries to do multi-planar movements with his linear athletes
    • Even in just one direction (not including change of direction yet), gives the system/structure more capacity to be able to joint load and handle force absorption and production
  • Feet are the critical component; they are what touch the ground and give us sensory feedback
    • If we can train movements to strengthen those patterns, in our feet, ankles, and lower leg, it makes us a more efficient mover in a linear pattern
    • Deceleration/agility training (change of direction) then adds element of strengthening tissues to be able to manage mass and momentum
    • The ability to change our pace or momentum gets built up through basic agility training
  • So much value that hasn’t been tapped into yet

6:46 –

Importance of Foot and Ankle Joints

  • Great impact of big toe
    • It is very important to be able to spread the toes and lift the big toe on its own
  • Subtalar and calcaneal joints make up the ankle and take on so much pressure and force when things are out of alignment
  • There is great support in making sure we have multi-planar movement
  • The more the feet are involved, the more efficient and economical you’ll be in running
  • “We have to always control the transverse plane” – Lee
  • Important for injury prevention

10:04 –

Exercises

  • Jumping rope
  • Low-box exercises or weight plate
    • Have them jump on and off and videotape from the back, front, and side to show how the body is managing this weight
    • The low box also provides a little bit of a projection forward, which running is
  • “The person that it capable of running the furthest does not win, necessarily. It’s the person who runs the fastest for the distance being set” – Lee
  • Lee wants to make sure that they have the endurance to maintain their speed
    • Then: 60s, 80s, and 100s, which gets speed at a much higher level
    • Then: repeat miles
    • Then: sequence again
    • The value of doing the repeats is that it allows runners to run the mile while still having energy reserves
  • “Always gave them that ability to feel speed, while they were still at their race distance” – Lee

15:00 –

Using Time vs. Distance

  • Lee uses time more than distance honestly
  • “I try to get them to have a watch” – Lee
    • So they can know where they’re at and be able to push if he’s not with them
  • To get them to buffer they have to hit certain time thresholds
  • Best way is to use both a time and a distance
  • But distances are most likely easier to understand for runners
  • IMG tennis court in Arizona without any lines
    • One of the top players in the world when she would practice, she wouldn’t continue if she estimated the ball would go out
    • They wanted her to continue for the speed and agility side of things, so they erased the lines

19:26 –

Priorities of a Triathlete

  • Strength: because of the rate of force development and being able to get off the ground quicker
  • But, if we weren’t going that route, then sprint training and pure plyometric training
    • The ability to develop the resiliency – that elastic and stiffness quality – to get off the ground
    • Having this tissue quality adds a bonus to triathletes’ event
  • Joint position dictates muscle function, so we need to get you in a better body position

22:31 –

Proper Strength Training

  • Strength training can really help with proprioception and provide understanding that force creates motion, but stiffness controls that motion – Menachem
  • If we properly strength train and create balance and symmetry within a joint, then athletes will have the ability to use that strength for force loading and producing, isometric movements, etc.
    • “The muscle being strong enough to hold its position gives the tendon the chance to have elastic quality vs. a weak muscle which won’t let that happen as much… good fundamental strength allows us to do so many more quality things with our movement” – Lee
  • Good balance with pushing and pulling pattern – both vertically and horizontally
    • Cyclists spend more time on pulling because they’re so used to falling forward in the pushing posture
      • It depends!
  • Make sure athletes squat with adequate dorsi-flexion 
    • Greater knee flexion (forward) and keep heel down
    • Power-lifters tend to be more posterior-dominant
  • Every time a runner puts their foot on the ground that’s a form of deceleration
    • Make sure they can do it with adequate range of motion from the ankle, knee, hip, cervical spine, and pelvis
  • General → specific type patterns
    • More sport-force specific
    • We want to eccentrically and concentrically produce force, while also having variability

29:55 –

Why are we posterior-chain focused?

  • Sedentary lifestyle leads to poor posture
  • You still need to focus on the explosive part – concentric speeds and rate of force development
  • The best programs have a mix and progression

31:30 –

The Need for Speed

  • Pace zone indexes
    • Aerobic, tempo, and threshold zones
      • 35-45 second gap between tempo and threshold
  • The best milers and 5k runners are highly inefficient at any speed other than their race speed
  • The ability to have capacity – to be able to push yourself – to get the tissues to be able to manage greater speeds and intensities is really important
    • When you learn to change gears/speed, everything from pelvic position to T-spine, ability to control rotation, arm action (will get bigger), foot action, where you land on your foot will change
      • Athletes must be exposed to this to help prevent injury

35:50 –

Program Design for Runners

  • First, work on biomechanical efficiencies, any changes that you might have to make, running technique, and sprint mechanical technique to improve tissue quality and joint loading mechanics
    • Try to buffer their ability to have greater speed and manage good plyometric and jump training
  • Then, less volume of pure distance, which will increase over time
    • “It is harder to gain speed, if you don’t have it, than it is to gain endurance capacity” – Lee
  • Quality warm-ups that give multi-directional movement
  • Lateral movement
    • Karaoke for joint loading in feet and hips
    • Resistant lateral stuff
    • Lateral bounding and skipping
  • Go into different forms of power and speed/plyometric concept, which leads into easier type movements, such as stride-outs
  • Typically, have the athlete moving more quickly toward the beginning of the week, when they tend to be more fresh mentally and physically, and toward the end, taper the intensity down
  • Lee: make sure they get between that range of 80-100 miles because that’s what they’re gonna have to do/manage (for iron man)
  • Menachem: max. 50-55 miles a week, but very high quality
    • Galloway method: doing their efforts and then walking and using HRV and teaching breathing and maintaining posture
      • “I would definitely defer to your expertise in that area; that’s without a doubt” – Lee
    • Progressive runs teach explosiveness, and as you’re getting tired you get tissue strain, a higher metabolic impact, and a greater hormonal response in recovery because you’re ramping up as you go through

47:43 –

Strength Baselines

  • Big on single-leg
    • Especially for runners
    • Box squat where they’re standing on box and lower down so free leg drops below the side of the box, and they’re getting to at least parallel, hopefully more
      • At least 5 times with 45-60 pounds
  • Hinge pattern
    • Somewhere between 65-75 pound (raw numbers) dumbbell single-leg RDL
      • Know they are developing really good stability in that posture
      • Hip flexion and extension control
        • It also depends!

52:22 –

Expectations for arm carriage

  • It’s really important that they have the ability to have really good scapular movement form various arm positions
    • Looking for really good scapular rhythm around the ribs and the ability to maintain positions functionally and easily
  • Ability to go unilateral, and have extension and rotation – or flexion and rotation – through the thoracic and have the arm move through its range of motion from an abduction position to adducted – internally and externally rotated position
    • Waiters’ carry or PNF pattern across the body
    • Wants to see good symmetry and range of motion and pain-free with various tasks of the shoulder
  • Rotary stability/transverse control
    • One-armed and one-legged exercises

55:28 –

Safe Drills for Cyclists and Triathletes

  • Jump rope builds foot quality and ankle stiffness and focuses on how our thorax and cervical spine manage quick loading
  • Transfer into a gait pattern of simple A-drills
  • Gradually starting to add a baseline plyometric and elastic type reflex activities
  • Sprinting teaches them to open up and the greater arm action creates rotary stability and elastic energy that is wanted

58:59 –

Ideal Session

  • Tissue quality work to get blood flow, heat, and extensibility within the tissue
    • Roller
  • Multiplanar movement
    • Lunge series or matrix
  • Medicine ball throws (still warm-up)
    • ~4-6 pound ball with different releases works on internal and external rotation from shoulder and joint, and thorax movement, and dorsi-flex → plantar-flex release pattern
  • Power
    • Upper body
      • Medicine ball throw or tubing, explosive movement
    • Lower body
      • Jump
  • Speed
  • Strength
  • Energy system training
    • Different from metabolic

1:02:41 –

Key Points for Listeners

  • Strength is SO important
    • Making athletes stronger is the foundation of movement
    • Also for injury prevention
  • Backpedal work from walking → squatting → running → skipping (all backwards) because it creates a natural subconscious to drive great dorsi-flexion through the great toe and the ankle and challenges the quadriceps to work with the lower part of the ankle
    • Do backpedalling when they’re extended and taller, which gets the front of the hip to communicate really well with gastrocnemius
    • Helps athletes feel really good in range of motion and control, as well as with injury prevention and overall performance

1:06:31 –

Conclusion

  • Where can listeners find you?
    • Speed Insiders: 6-month course
    • Leetaft.com (most recommended)
      • New video almost every day
    • Social media: @LeeTaft

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