What should Runners and Coaches measure and assess?
The famous performance coach, Mike Boyle, once said: ‘If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing’.
What do you measure in your training and racing and how can you be sure you’re improving?
Many runners measure heart rate, how far they run and PB’s in events. Some use devices to measure ascent, descent, average pace etc.
But what does that actually tell you and what else could you do to get the most out of your training, so you perform better when you want?
This is how Optimize Fitness do it in a performance assessment (https://www.optimizefitness.co.uk/running-coaching ).....
The first thing is to work out your goals, what you do now, where you want to improve and the barriers you face.
Then we look at your sporting and injury history, working with your Physio if needed to understand the context and limitations of how you move and what you can do.
After this, we look at how you move using an enhanced functional movement screen which reveals how you move, movement skills and muscular imbalances, stability and control. This will involve static and moving tests and, crucially, it is measured so we know what your benchmark is.
Then technology is brought in. We use the latest kit and tests from science and professional sport to profile your strength and power qualities and this allows us to drill into the real detail of how you move and where your strengths and weaknesses are…
This can include jump testing using contact mats, Apps, video analysis of you running, speed gates to measure your speed, velocity-based training using a Push Band or force-velocity profiling on single or double legs. At times, we also use lactate testing and urine analysis if required. All of this produces data which includes a range of specific and sensitive parameters like RSI, Jump Height, Flight Time, Ground Contact Time, Stiffness, Drive Index, Step Index, stride cadence, time, stride distance and vertical height. Analysis then creates an individualised profile with strengths and weaknesses, which is used to give recommendations on what and how to improve.
If an athlete is needs specific on specific strength power qualities, force-velocity profiling is employed in vertical or horizontal planes depending upon the context. This needs different tests and identifies in what tasks an athlete is more force or velocity dependant, which then informs the training process.
We also can produce predicted training loads (sets, reps and weights used) for a wide range of exercises from sub maximal lifts meaning that athletes do not have to do the traditional time consuming method of testing for 1 RM (and it’s also safer!).
We also work out how reliable the data is. There is error in everything from how you perform a test to how it is measured, so it’s vital to quantify this and work out what is noise and what change is significant. If an athlete opts for a coaching package with Optimize Fitness (https://www.optimizefitness.co.uk/running-coaching or https://www.optimizefitness.co.uk/strength-conditioning ) this is done a standard as a monitoring tool from week to week. This enables an athlete to know the minimum change in performance that means something as everybody’s performance changes from day to day with fatigue etc.