Barry Ross revisited

In a previous post, I doubted that Barry Ross’ training methodology was adequate for the 400m runner.  My reasoning was that only training at distances of less than 70m did not tax the longer anaerobic metabolisms (Lactate/H+).  Since then, I’ve had an epiphany about why this training would work for the High School athlete and I’ve written about Weyand’s study on anaerobic metabolism and how terms like “Lactate Tolerance” may not be correct (thus I’ve begun to use the terms Anaerobic Speed training, Anaerobic Fatigue training, and Aerobic Fatigue training).  So a revisit was in order.

While I still believe that you couldn’t successfully train a world class or even collegiate athlete by only sprinting repeats of 70m or less, I do believe that it has a lot of merit at the high school level for athletes who only train during the track season(s).  What I realized is that because the high school season is so short, the athlete will get plenty of Anaerobic Fatigue training during meets (often twice a week).  So, even though that athlete’s regular workouts do not include anaerobic fatigue training, their meets absolutely do.  A coach MUST remember “MEETS ARE WORKOUTS”.  Consider the hypothetical athlete that runs the 400m, the 200m, and the 4x400m on Thursday and then runs an open 400m and 4x400m on Saturday.  That’s a ton of Anaerobic Fatigue training.  Yes, this might be an extreme case, but not unrealistic, especially for an elite high school athlete.

With a very limited high school training season and the belief that Anaerobic Speed takes a longer to improve than Anaerobic Fatigue, spending your limited practice time training under 70m is really quite valid…and perhaps near optimal (especially for those genetically predisposed to speed…those predisposed toward aerobic fatigue should look elsewhere, especially the high school female 400m/800m type).

For the college and professional athlete (and even the year round high school athlete), I still believe that longer anaerobic training is mandatory.  My personal out-of-season sprint training regiment looks something like this (as a Master’s decathlete):

M: Anaerobic Speed (e.g. 2 x 3 x 60m crouch starts with 6/10 min rest)

T: Anaerobic Fatigue (e.g. 5 x 200m with 12min rest)

W: Off

Th: Anaerobic Speed (e.g. 8 x 30m flying with 6 min rest)

F: Anaerobic Fatigue (e.g. 1 x 300m w/ 15mins, 3 x 200m with 12mins)

S/S: Off.

Total Volume: Speed=600m, Fatigue=1,900m

*I personally follow a Tommie Smith style training, which means on my long days, I keep everything under 320m.  

Now let’s consider a hypothetical high school athlete.  Ross said “our sprinters do an average of 5 50 meter runs, 3x per week and 3 strength workouts.”

One meet week Two meet week

M: Speed — 5 x 50m sprints w/5 min, weight

T: Off

W: Speed — 5 x 50m sprints w/5 min, weight

Th: Meet — 400m, 200m, 400m (part of relay)

F: Speed — 5 x 50m sprints w/5 min, weight

Sat: Off

Sun: Off

Total Volume: Speed=750m, Fatigue=1000m

M: Speed — 5 x 50m sprints w/5 min, weight

T: Off

W: Speed — 5 x 50m sprints w/5 min, weight

Th: Meet — 400m, 200m, 400m (part of relay)

F: Off

Sat: Meet — 400m, 400m (part of relay)

Sun: Off

Total Volume: Speed=500m, Fatigue=1,800m

Those don’t look too different to me.  The volumes of Anaerobic Speed and Anaerobic Fatigue are extremely similar.  And I would never classify myself as following a Barry Ross system.

Ross quoted Weyand in the comment section of the last post.  I believe the quote was supposed to suggest that science did not support the need to train Anaerobic Fatigue, but that’s not how I interpret Weyand words.  Weyand said,

“Regardless of the mechanism, the metabolic basis for muscle force impairment and compensatory neuromuscular activity that we report here for one- and two-legged sprint cycling seems likely to be general and to operate similarly in both more and less fit subjects. We expect that the individual force thresholds at which these phenomena are triggered will simply vary directly with the aerobic power of the individual.

Numerous investigators have suggested that there may be no single mechanism responsible for muscle fatigue. During complex tasks and longer-duration efforts the mechanisms inducing failure may differ from those we describe here. However, we believe the mechanism of muscle fatigue that we identify here explains why the duration-dependent decrements in force production that occur during sprint locomotion can be described so accurately in metabolic terms. During these and similar dynamic efforts, we suggest that common mechanisms of muscle fatigue are likely present at cellular, tissue, and systemic levels, although the specific mechanisms remain to be firmly established.

We conclude that impaired muscular force production and compensatory neuromuscular activity during sprint locomotion are triggered by a reliance on anaerobic metabolism for force production.”

My interpretation of the above quote does NOT exclude Anaerobic Fatigue training.  It does exclude all aerobic training, but Anaerobic Fatigue training is anaerobic, so “does” fit into this interpretation.

So, on this “very fine” point, I’m going to have do agree to disagree with Ross.  But overall, I find his training methodology to be interesting.  Another arrow in the quiver…a quiver that should additionally be filled to address things like general and specific strength, flexibility, nutrition, recovery, periodization…

Read more on Ross’ site

Categories: Coaching, Sprinting | Leave a comment

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