Uneven Ground, and More on Explosiveness and Elasticity

First off, let me bore you with today’s workout.  Again, we here in eastern NC were blessed with a beautiful spring day, and again I took advantage of it with a good bit of fixie huckin’ about town, and the following workout.  Come Monday, I’ll be back to being sequestered within my sunless, work-a-day “cave”.  Ugh…anyway, here we go:

7-second sprints for distance. Hit my predetermined drop-off (2 misses) on the 14th sprint (i.e., the 13th and 14th sprints were near-misses).  A little bit on drop-offs here.
Followed that up with some slosh tube lunges. About 30 total reps each leg, broken-up in sets of 6 or so.  Kinda hard to quantify these in a “sets” and “reps” way; I did 6 or so, short break, another 6, break, etc.  Kept the pauses to a minimum — just long enough to recoup to the point at which I thought I could get the next 6.  Remember, primal doesn’t ascribe to a fixed sets and reps schemes — be creative!

The field I’m sprinting on now is rather uneven — plenty of rises, falls and divots — and this adds a whole other element to the barefooted sprint; a whole other level of required proprioception.

Then, I went inside for some Creds and straight bar muscle-ups.  More muscle-ups?  Sure, exercise such as this (explosive, limited time-under-tension, low volume) can be done at a much greater frequency without fear over overtraing — either in that particular movement, or in a holistic sense.

3 Creds + 2 single-arm push-presses + 1 single-arm jerk (each arm): 70, 80, 85, 85, 85
straight bar muscle-ups: 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

Performed this workout at 15-hours fasted.  Post workout meal (about 2 hours later, i.e., 17-hours+ fasted) was a grilled rib-eye and some boiled, organic beets.  Poured some Tropical Traditions coconut vinegar over the beets after chilling them.  Fabulous!

More on Explosiveness and Elasticity
A quick dissection of Usain Bolt’s 100 meter gold medal performance reveals some interesting facts vis-a-vis explosiveness and elasticity.

First up, young Mr. Bolt was second to last out of the blocks.  Now this probably has some to do with the fact that he was (at that time) relatively inexperienced at the 100 meter (and shorter distance) start; longer distance starts being more forgiving — but, too, I think this is telling of just how much more explosive his competitors were.  Of course, we’re dealing with relatives here — a comparison of freaks to freaks — and I’m using this solely as a dramatic example, and am in no way implying that Bolt is not an explosive athlete as well.  He’s just not as explosive as those other 10 freaks-of-nature he’s running against.   It is interesting to note here that the first two sprinters out of the blocks — Richard Thomson (Trinidad and Tobago) and Walter Dix (USA) — came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in this race.   Also of note here is that on top of a “slow” burst from the blocks, Bolt also drags his trail-leg foot over the track in his initial stride recovery, and it so happens that that shoe is untied.  Could Bolt have done anything more wrong at the start of this race?  Probably not — but hell, it just didn’t matter in the end.

Now, at 2.4 seconds into the race — deep into the “drive” phase — Bolt is in 4th place.  At 4 seconds into the race — now into the “acceleration” phase — Bolt’s superior elasticity (and, to be sure, stride length) begins to showcase.  At 50 meters he has caught up with Thomson; at sixty meters he has clearly pulled away, and beyond that we enter the the realm of super-human.

I’m throwing out rough numbers here, but somewhere close to the 60 meter mark, most elite athletes have reached their full acceleration and top-end speed — the name of the game from here on out is who can decelerate the least.  I believe, though, that Bolt was still accelerating at this point and, having realized that he wasn’t going to be challenged by lane 7’s Asafa Powell (he’d tapped Powell earlier as his only true competition), never reached his full accelerative potential.  Scary.   This coupling of stride length with superior elasticity it truly an amazing thing to behold.

It is commonly known that Olympic-level Oly lifters are as explosive out of the blocks (if not more so) — and, in some cases, exhibit better vertical jumps — than elite sprinters.  What the Oly lifters lack, though, is the elasticity — the ability to absorb, store, and subsequently release energy.  Some discussion on that, here.

We know that explosiveness (instantaneous power production) is a highly neurological dependent function, having little to do with muscle mass.  This is why enlightened athletes don’t train like bodybuilders, but rather, train explosive attributes (speed-strength and strength-speed).

But what is elasticity, exactly?  Essentially (and in the context of sprinting), it’s the ability of the Achilles tendon complex to absorb, store and release energy.  No small thing, either, since any energy lost must be manufactured by the supporting musculature.  Not only that, but the elastic release of energy occurs much more quickly than the same amount of energy that must be produced, and then released. Check out this graphic representation of elasticity from Wired magazine.

Points to ponder: notice how elastic types posses higher/smaller calves (and, therefore, a longer Achilles tendon) than their more explosive, thick-calved brethren?  More later.

Observations
Fresh from the “what a friggin’ great idea” file — TTP reader Beck Anstee has started a Chicago-land sprinter’s meet-up group.  Sprinting is the most primal of fitness activities, and Beck has put social media to work in a way that will enable all you Chicago-land primals out there to get your “sprint on” in the company of like-minded paleo peeps.  Dang, makes me want to transfer to Chicago.  Is it really true that Chicago only has two seasons — winter, and 4th of July?  Hmmm, if only it were a bit warmer….  🙂

You’ll notice that I’ve added Diana Hsieh  Modern Paleo blog to the TTP blogroll.  Objectivist-leaning, Paleo lifestyle — Ayn Rand meets the hunter-gatherer.  Bring your A-intellect to this one, folks — Objectivists don’t suffer fools easily; I for one can appreciate that sentiment.  I’ll be spending quite a bit of time here, to be sure.

In health,
Keith

5 responses to “Uneven Ground, and More on Explosiveness and Elasticity

  1. I was a volleyball player and now an Oly lifter. I have large, steak-worthy calves. Not a great jumper but super scrappy. I’m working hard in the Oly lifting arena, mid aged.

    Humbled and smitten by the shout out! Hoping to see a lot by summer. Thanks Mr. TTP!

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