Great article from Alex Hutchinson, from sweatscience.com. The concept applies to much more than running …
Developing a feel for your speed is key to efficient running, Canadian athletes learn
From Thursday’s Globe and Mail
Should I be pacing myself or going all out when I’m training?
Last winter, gold medalist Simon Whitfield led a squad of triathletes from the Canadian national team on a trip to Nike headquarters in Portland, Ore., for a 10-day training camp. Their goal: to elevate their running game by learning from the elite crew of distance runners and highly sought after coaches based there.
One of the key lessons they picked up was the importance of finding the right pace – that, at least in training, going faster isn’t always better. It may sound obvious, but sports psychologists believe that learning to monitor and adjust to feedback during training is a powerful tool for developing expertise – even in apparently simple activities such as running and biking.
The group Mr. Whitfield trained with in Portland included Simon Bairu of Regina, who earlier this month smashed the Canadian record for 10,000 metres by 13 seconds at a race in Palo Alto, Calif., running 27:23.63. Chris Solinsky, another member of the group, broke the U.S. record in the same race, and a third member of the Portland group also dipped below the old U.S. record.
“They’re so precise about their pacing,” Mr. Whitfield says. “We came home with the message that when a tempo run is supposed to be, let’s say, 3:05 [per kilometre] pace, then 3:03 pace is not a success. That’s a fail.”
Such precision may be daunting, but it’s a hallmark of “deliberate practice,” a concept advanced by Florida State University cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson and popularized in recent books like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. The best way to master an activity is not simply to repeat it mindlessly over and over again, Dr. Ericsson argues, but to set specific goals and monitor how well you meet them.
The theory is most commonly applied to highly technical activities such as tennis or violin; for simpler activities such as running, “practice” usually involves simply heading out the door and doing it. But in a study of the training practices of elite runners by University of Ottawa researchers Bradley Young and John Salmela, what separated the highest-performing group from their less accomplished peers was how much they incorporated elements such as interval training, tempo runs and time trials, all of which require ongoing attention to pace and other feedback.
The Olympic season began in earnest for members of Canada’s alpine ski teams last week, with the men’s team training on the snow at Coronet Peak, near Queenstown, New Zealand.
Whistler’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who won the first World Cup downhill race of his career in Kvitfjell, Norway last season is one of the 16 ski racers at the high-intensity camp.
“Obviously everyone knows what’s at stake this year with the Olympics in Whistler. And this is the beginning of the process,” said the 24-year-old Osborne-Paradis, a 2006 Olympian who has six career World Cup podium results. “I have actually never been to New Zealand and so I am looking forward to getting there and getting back on the snow.”
The men’s team is highlighted by John Kucera who won the gold medal in the men’s downhill at the World Championships in Val D’Isere, France during the month of February. At the same competition, Jan Hudec fell and injured his knee. After surgery and recovery, Hudec, along with teammates Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay will all be training over the summer.
Techincal skier Michael Janyk will be attending the camp after winning a bronze medal, Canada’s first ever World Championship technical medal, also in Val D’Isere.
The ladies team will be headlined by Britt Janyk, Geneviève Simard, Emily Brydon and Kelly VanderBeek, all of whom have earned World Cup podium finishes.
The Aussies are playing hardball with the Canadian Freestyle team’s summer training grounds down under …
It’s become a mean old sporting world out there as countries scrap for every advantage heading towards the 2010 Winter Olympics.
There’s been plenty of griping from other nations as Canada has tried to protect its home-field advantage in Vancouver.
Some competitors are practicing a little payback. It turns out the Canadian moguls team has been denied the opportunity do on-snow training in Australia the past two summers.
Canada’s Alex Bilodeau will duke it out with Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The Aussies wanted unlimited access to the 2010 Olympic moguls site at Cypress Mountain, near Vancouver, in exchange for letting the Canadians continue to train at their site in Perisher.
Australia’s big hope for 2010 is B.C. native and defending Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith, an Aussie by convenience who lives 20 minutes from Cypress.
The Canadians weren’t about to cave in to those demands with the best men’s moguls team in the world, including reigning World Cup champion in Alex Bilodeau, who tore up the circuit with Begg-Smith on the sidelines after tearing up his knee.
This has potential to be a great duel at the 2010 Games.
Follow up to my earlier post and video feature on Gary Reed …
Reed feels both pain and gain on track
Reed, a Victoria native, will be on the track at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre this week, vying for his sixth 800-metre national championship in the lead-up to August’s world championships in Berlin. And while watching him run can be an inspiring vision, hearing him talk about running is, depending on your taste for matter-of-fact recounting of bodily distress, an even better trip.
He’s a relatively rare breed: A Canadian who excels in a truly global sport; an endurance-running contender who doesn’t hail from Africa; an opinionated purist who’s in it to win it, knowing full well the price of a podium perch.
“There’s this big thing happening in North America where people have already given up the fight before they’ve even started. They’re doing rankings like, `Oh, he was the first non-African.’ Well, first non-African? What if you’re in a race with 100 guys and you come 100th, but you were the first non-African? Is there some type of award?” Reed was saying the other day. “It doesn’t make sense. A race is a race. Whoever’s in the race, whether they’re from Mars or Jupiter, they’re all in the race.”
This is why it’s nice to see elite athletics making a return to our city this summer. For all its warts, and every game has them, it’s one of the scarce domains of athletes of Reed’s ilk: Men and women who’ll make a no-excuses dive into a snakepit, and tell you the venom’s not so bad.
He seems undeniably driven and refreshingly unentitled. (As he said the other day, “You hear a lot of athletes say, `I’m sacrificing this. I’m sacrificing that.’ … (But) nobody has a gun to my head saying, `Gary, you have to live like this.’ I choose to live the (Spartan) track-and-field lifestyle.”)
Mallorie has to be regarded as one of the world’s best female sprint canoeists. She is the Canadian champion at every distance she competes in, but has virtually no international circuit to test herself against. If she did compete internationally on a regular basis, we’d be looking at the career of a World Champion.
She won the Junior and Senior C1 (Canadian 1) titles at all distances — 200, 500 & 1,000m — at last summer’s Canadian championships in Dartmouth.
She helped us out in our CBC profile of the Burloak Canoe and Kayak Club for the Beijing Summer Olympics.