Sunday, April 9, 2017


In a post by Josh, one of the women's football coaches in the WF private group last week, this question was was asked - super speed or endless endurance? 

I'm a speed man so I'll lean that way every day of the week but I just want to touch on what endurance actually is.

Endurance is usually referred to as being able to "run all day" or to be able to "run out the entire game."

My thoughts straight off the bat are "how fast do you want me to run all day or for the entire game" and 'is there a distance required for this too."

In my answer I went onto to say you need both types of runners which you do.

Josh then posed the question would you rather "win the ball for 2 and half quarters or run out a whole game".

My next though was is it simply assumed that just because you are fast then you can't have endurance? 

Then if you do have endurance, then can you not be fast?

Another WF coach John sort of came to my aid and put forward that repeat speed was most important, which it is, but the most important part of his comment was "repeat speed, then rotate with another runner while you recover".

I read a study done on AFL players about a month ago (I'll try and find it) that showed that:
- Midfielders cover more ground then key position and flank/pocket players
- Flanker/pocket players reach higher speeds

This backs up the argument that you need both types of runners.

Here is the exact way you build speed:
- Keep sets to 5 - 6secs max
- Ensure full recovery between each set which will generally be 2 - 5mins
- Each set must performed at 100% intensity which is why full rest is required (non fatigue)

So once you develop your speed to an adequate level, then you can work on repeating it as often as you can.

This is what I refer to running all day - it should be 'being fast all day".

How many times do you win a 1on1 contest when you jog? NEVER.

As mentioned, speed should be trained for 5 - 6secs max and actual top speed can only be held for 2 - 3sces for Olympic sprinters. We're much stuck in the 1 - 2sec zone unfortunately, with slower players not even being able to hold their top speed for even 1sec.

Speed can be trained though which is what my trial program focuses on that a few girls in the group are currently  doing.

So if you can only be fast-ish for 5 - 6secs an then you need to rest for 2 - 5mins, how does that work during a game?

The interchange bench.

After John's comment I mentioned that I don't think most coaches utilise, or know how to utilise, the interchange bench as optimally as they could, for their teams benefit.

Now obviously you as a coach, and you as a player, won't be going off the ground every time you perform a 6sec effort in a game, but players need to understand that coming off when you're fatigued, or prior to "blowing up", is the right thing to do.

As John said, players only need a 2min break or so to get their heart rate down, have a drink and a breather, and then they'll be ready to get back on and go again at the same or similar intensity/speed.

These players will run AND be fast all day.

These players WILL win the ball for 4 quarters.

If I was a coach I'd tell my players that once you reach a rate of perceived exertion of an 8 or 9 out of 10 then you must come off the ground. 

Staying out on the ground until you reach a 10 out of 10 means you'll enter the lactic zone and that means you're on borrowed time for the rest of the game, you'll have "run the speed out of you" and the fatigue will not subside.

Coaches need to explain this to their players and even use possible "punishments" (for a lack of better term) if it is not adhered to.

How do you ensure that speed is being replenished during interchange breaks? 

Great question!

Your aerobic system is essentially your recovery system, as it improves oxygen delivery to working muscles which is the number 1 thing.

To train your aerobic system you must use low intensity activity for prolonged periods of time. 

If running a 400 as hard as you can is 10/10 rpe then you're looking at a 4-5 out of 10 which is very, very easy - easier then you think it needs to be but it HAS to be that easy.

By going 'slow" you put the body in an environment where oxygen can continually be used for energy production.

By the way, when you do a 400 as hard as you can, all 3 energy systems are working the entire time, they just switch from each other for what is dominating at what specific time of the run.

So by training your aerobic/recovery system, you're improving your ability to recover "speed" between speed bouts, thus increasing repeat speed.

In between the aerobic(endurance) and alactic (speed/power) energy systems is the dreaded lactic zone, or what I call "the middle".

This is what frustrates me the most with local/amateur coaches and the way they train fitness with their players.

Not much good happens in the middle, let's get that out there right away - especially with players lacking speed and/or aerobic capacity.

If you are training the aerobic/recovery system then as above, it needs to be easy - 4 to 5/10 easy.

If you venture into rpe's of 7, 8 and 9/10's then you're "in the middle" and what happens here is that you STOP training the aerobic system. 

It's still working, but the dominant system will now be the lactic system which means you're going harder then you're aerobic energy system can handle, fatigue is being built up and performance will continue to drop dramatically unless you rest.

Training in this zone is the BIGGEST waste of time - a big call I know but here's why.

1 - You're training too hard, and your energy requirements are too immediate, for oxygen to be the primary fuel for energy, so you've stopped training the aerobic/recovery system, and if that was your aim, then you've lost sight of what you're doing and/or why you're doing it.

2 - Once you hit the lactic zone, and you'll certainty know when you do, you'll get tired very quickly. 
The brain now wants you slow down so it can try and get back to normal and it does this by decreasing your ability to contract your muscles (fatigue/the burn etc - nothing to do with lactic acid by the way). 

And we know that fatigue blunts speed.

3 - 100% effort and 100% intensity are 2 very different beasts. 

Effort is something that cannot really measured but is subjective to the player and coach - which may not even match up by the way. 

Intensity is the % of your max speed that you are actually travelling at. 

Covering 20 meters in 3.00secs gives you a meters per second reading of 6.66. 

At 80% speed you'd cover 20m in about 3.10secs. 

Getting back to our 400, it might look something like this:

* 0 - 30m in 5secs
* 30 - 100m in 12secs
* 100 - 200m in 15secs
* 200 - 300m in 18secs
* The last 100m in 22secs

As you can clearly see, the more fatigue you induce, the slower you get and if you were to do a bunch of these 400's then you would not be able to generate the same speed as this initial set..
Performing set after set will result in you running slower every set BUT you are also working too hard to get any aerobic/recovery system benefits so tell me - what are you training exactly?

You wanna know?

You're training fatigue - that is all - and you're putting your players at risk of injury.

So if you have been doing running with incomplete rest (lactic zone) but you HAVE NOT worked speed and/or aerobic capacity, then hopefully you're now aware that it's probably not doing much good.

Let me know your thoughts on this whether you're a player or a coach because the reason I exist is to get local/amateur football out of the shitty habits that I think are simply done out of the fact that they've always been done like that.

But this is 2017, training has changed immensely, and most of this stuff has been scientifically studied and most of the crap L/A coaches use these days is out-dated, ineffective and a lot times, detrimental.

I've blabbered on with this and probably gone around a few circles but hopefully it's initiated some new thoughts for you.

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