Is it realistic to think that an athlete can seek and attain continuous improvement throughout their athletic career? At first glance it sees like the answer would be no, but in my experience that is not the case. As an athlete starts their journey the trajectory of improvement is almost linear, virtually everything the athlete does in training results in improvement in performance. Then there com
Good post, Vern – obviously, at some point – age becomes a limiting factor, as do our genetic ceilings – but I do think we can continue to improve for a fairly indefinite period of time.
My point of view is that continuous improvement:
1. Can occur until your technical and physical abilities reach your genetic potential. Let’s take the 100m – let’s say at age 20, an atlete is physically capable of 11.00 – but technically only ready for 11.20 – that gives him .20 of opportunity for improvement in technique, race model, reaction time, etc. Let’s say 8 years later, this same athlete is 20% stronger, has better speed endurance, etc – and is now physically capable of 10.20 – but has a PB of 10.45. Then over the following 2 years, his capabilities improve another 2% to 10.00, and PB drops to 10.20… Then the following 5 years, his genetic limits decrease by .01 per year, but he can continue to drop PB until his technical and physical limits meet – let’s say that happens at age 35 with a PB of 10.10. I think Kim Collins is a perfect example of an athlete that limited the decline of his physical limits, while optimizing technical capabilities.
I have found myself continuing to improve even as my upper reaches of my abilities have begun to decline – IE between 2009 and 2011, went from 12.46 down to 11.6x in the 100m and from 5.25 up to 6.25 in the LJ – as two examples.
2. Can choose different elements to improve in – IE – If speed is not improving, you can emphasize strength, or power, or elasticity, etc.
3. Change your competitive set – maybe you can’t win in open races, move to Master’s and continue to improve relative to competition in age groups.
4. Change Sports – I’m thinking of competing in CrossFit begining this year, bc I think I can experience a newly steep improvement curve, mix things up – and maybe be reasonably competitive.
Keep the forum posted if you decide to go over to the other side and try “CrossFit”… Plenty of opinions regarding the training programs/workouts/competitions – and the safety and injury rates. Mostly from those on the “outside” looking “in”… Be interesting, based on your T&F background, knowledge and training experience (including concepts), to get an insiders look.
RC – I will – am still planning on competing in track – just thinking of adding a new competitive element and not worrying about my lifting set up as much. Will continue to do sprint and jump training as usual – just use crossfit as my lifting and ext tempo/GE replacement – my body has responded well to volume lately so might be a good change of pace – plus my current gym was an extra 50 mins on my commute to train at so was too much of a time commitment. Plus my guess is I’m closer to top 100 in crossfit than I am in deca.
More and more of the affiliates are being run by people who know what they’re doing and don’t kill their members. IE – gym I’m joining – today’s workout
– pull-ups – push-ups – handstands as warm up
– 6×4 pause front squat up to 80-85% max
– run 1 mile
– 50 light thrusters
– 30 pull-ups
Not atypical for a normal GE session I’d do in GPP.
Admittedly, I’m one of the outsiders…and know no more than what I’ve read on forums (including CrossFit’s). To me it appears to be a HIIT derivative.
We have a couple franchise’s in my area…and I’ve had parents of high school athletes ask if CrossFit would be suitable off season training for their kids (hurdlers/high jumpers) if they don’t do a Fall or Winter sports.
My typical response is that learning the Olympic lifts* would be a positive – but I was unsure of the rest of the program nor if they would tailor the programs to meet the event specific demands and the training age of this kids.
The Olympic lifts come with an “*” – as I think learning to do these lifts accurately and safely would be a big plus. I’m not excited about the concept of doing as many cleans or snatches in a given time period as a training method. I’d think the technical demands of these lifts would require them to be performed in a non-fatigued state – where bar speed and technical form is maintained. These lifts can be pretty ugly with unskilled athletes to begin with (often because of too much weight and poor technique/concepts). Quality vs. quantity…
Again, I’ll be interested in your thoughts and observations as you go forward…
I think being fresh is critical when dealing with heavy loads – but light (sub 50% loads) it is a conditioning exercise and greases technique. And unless someone is extremely strong (read over 300# pc) – not sure even high rep at 75% is much risk. I did 20 reps at 210ish yesterday and form did not break down – and I can’t clean more than 285 right now.
I’m all about high quality – see CrossFit as a means of getting some decent volume, technical and body-weight work – and stressing lactic tolerance. Try doing 100 burpees in a row – and that feels a lot like a max 800m but hits whole body and does not put as much stress on legs.
Mike owns a CrossFit affiliate – and programs a lot like many of the smarter gyms are doing – and works very well.
My ex has a gym in her area where there is a guy who does CrossFit who Clean and Jerks 375, snatches 255, runs a 50.x 400m, etc – at 180 lb – and does CrossFit for technique and volume and does a 5×5 type scheme for strength. I’d be pretty happy with that. XF winner did a 6:45 2,000m row and Clean and Jerked 335 while in a fatigued state. I’d take those numbers .
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