Sunday, 10 April 2011

10th April 2011

Less than 11 weeks.

                First, I'd just like to thank Murray for filming the talk from Roger Black on Thursday evening and posting it on, it gives those of us who couldn't make it to the evening a chance to hear what he said. The old Shakespeare quotation "methinks he doth protest too much" comes to mind when he keeps stating, with convincing exasperation, that he hasn't the fitness or mental ability to walk 85 miles, as the mental ability to push yourself onto an Olympic rostrum is beyond most peoples comprehension. So, when the bookies open, Mr Black to be the dark horse and one to look over your shoulder for...

      Secondly, Well done Hull City! 2-1 win away to Watford, possibly too little too late though. I did actually forego a ticket and ride to the match to go to a coaching session, typical really, one of their best performances! It seems that now they've reluctantly accepted missing out on the play offs, they relax and play like they should do all the time...

        It's been a hectic weekend for me, Dad's come over to Hull from the Island for his 80th birthday so lots of family gatherings, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be introduced, and countless family photos to be integrated into the growing family tree, my bag again, I started researching the tree a few years ago and now take place as the keeper of the family records with over 500 ancestors and counting (no-one famous...yet). My Father's line of the tree goes back to the late 1500's, Yorkshire farming stock from the Yorkshire Moors, just north of Pickering. As the agricultural and industrial revolutions took place, we gradually drifted into towns and then cities and ended up in Hull.  I remember after completing my first Parish that some family wag mentioned that I had walked further in one day than my family had travelled in 500 years.

       I digress.
      I did get a chance on saturday morning to get out with my coach for a very good and informative session.
We met up at Fulstow where he has a measured 5km circuit. After some warming up, some stretches.. he had a couple of good ones for my piriformis, the muscle in my hip/buttock that keeps pressing against my sciatic nerve, and going over the few recent races to try and see what can be learned. He also gave me a 50k training schedule to start working on, to try and improve speed and stamina for the longer distances. At the end I did a timed 10k, 2 circuits, and learned more.

       The intention was to do under an hour. He couldn't understand why I was 1h 59m for the 20k but over the hour for the 10k. I did struggle for the first 5k/3miles, with my shins, a stitch in my side, quads and groin etc, but as they eased off I picked up. Keeping to 10 minutes a mile for the first three miles just to ease in, and when the pain wore off, upping to 9m15s a mile to make the hour. Without race conditions, i.e, no-one to chase or push me, my concentration drifted but at some points I hit 8m 45s quite easily. Total 59m 8secs, quite comfortable in the end, and proof that I take approximately 3 miles to warm up! Lessons for us all there, whether 5k or Parish, warm up properly, start easily, don't push too hard at the beginning until the muscles are warmed up and ready for action.
       My coach wants me to do a 50k, he feels I'm more of a distance walker and would get well under 5 hours, some people are built for sprints some for marathons, which is why I struggle in 10k's. He did remark that in previous 10k and 20k races that where most walkers get over the line gasping for breath, I was just warmed up and wanting to go on. Probably the hundreds of years of Yorkshire farming stock coming through...
      Still, next sunday is my final 10k for a while, and if I get out and race walk for 3 miles first, warm up properly, then set off on the race, 57 or 58 minutes is possible. My coach has also got me some exercises for my fast twitch muscles.
      Skeletal muscle is made up of bundles of individual muscle fibres called myocytes. Each myocyte contains many myofibrils, which are strands of proteins (actin and myosin) that can grab on to each other and pull. This shortens the muscle and causes muscle contraction. Muscle fibre types can be broken down into two main types, slow twitch or type 1 muscle fibres and fast twitch or type 2 muscle fibres. Fast twitch fibres can be further categorized into type 2a and type 2b fibres. Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow and fast fibre types. On average, we have about 50 percent slow twitch and 50 percent fast twitch fibres in most of the muscles used for movement.

Slow twitch, type 1.
The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibres and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibres are great at helping athletes run marathons.

Fast twitch fibres.
Because fast twitch fibres use anaerobic metabolism (not using oxygen) to create fuel, they are much better at generating short bursts of strength or speed than slow muscles. However, they fatigue more quickly. Fast twitch fibres generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscles, but they get their name because they are able to fire more rapidly. Having more fast twitch fibres can be an asset to a sprinter since they need to quickly generate a lot of force.

Type 2a
These fast twitch muscle fibres are also known as intermediate fast-twitch fibres. They can use both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism almost equally to create energy. In this way, they are a combination of Type 1 and Type 2 muscle fibres.

Type 2b
These fast twitch fibres use anaerobic metabolism to create energy and are the "classic" fast twitch muscle fibres that excel at producing quick, powerful bursts of speed. This muscle fibre has the highest rate of contraction (rapid firing) of all the muscle fibre types, but it also has a much faster rate of fatigue and can't last as long before it needs rest.

Our muscle fibre type may influence what sports we are naturally good at or whether we are fast or strong. Olympic athletes tend to fall into sports that match their genetic makeup. Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibres, while those who excel in marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibres. For the purposes of the parish, slow twitch fibres are essentially predominant, but a combination of fast twitch fibres, especially the intermediate or type 2a in the slow twitch fibres can give speed and help keep form and walking style throughout the race. But, essentially, being able to walk 10k and 20k races at speeds of well over 6.5 to 7 mph can make averaging 5.5mph for 16 hours so much easier, given that the body works so much more efficiently when it has been trained to work at higher speeds, with better oxygen use and stronger heart rate. 

Exercises for fast twitch fibres.

   Sprints. It's as simple as that. Short bursts, as quickly as possible, on a flat surface (Douglas prom would be ideal.) 200 or 300 yards, or even a quarter mile as fast as you can walk at race walking speeds. If you can get on an athletics track, a lap as quickly as possible. Then, when the muscles are burning, and the heart rate is up, then slow walk and recover for 5 minutes or so, then sprint at high speed. And repeat, and again, and again. Ten to 15 times should do. Twice a week, but, essentially, rest afterwards, plenty of protein to aid muscle repair. A good guide from a nutritional expert is 4 grams of protein for every pound you weigh.

   So, an informative workout for me, fast race walking with mainly slow twitch muscles is why I struggle to keep up speed in slow races. With the training schedule I've been given, I'll mainly be building fast twitch muscles for a 50k walker instead of a 10k, but while I'm not going to be breaking any records for the 10k, my Parish training will come on, all being well.

    Now, I'm off to sprint up and down the main road.

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