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Two weeks ago one of our runners wrote me about taking the "Albert Haynesworth Fitness Test". 

For reference, Haynesworth is a star defensive lineman for the Washington Redskins.  He made headlines at the start of training camp when the 'skins now coach, Mike Shanahan, refused to let him practice until he passed a "standard fitness" test.  According to Shanahan this test was basic and had been completed by every other player.  The fact that one of his most important players couldn't complete the test irked the new coach and gave cannon fodder to the media around the beltway for two weeks. 

Here's the test:

  • Run a 300 yard shuttle run in under 70 seconds
    • Do this by running goal line to the 25 yd-line and back 6X
  • Take 3 minutes and 30 secsonds recovery
  • Repeat the 300 yeard shuttle run in under 73 seconds

Upon first glance this looks like a run of 300 yards (~275 metres) in 1 minutes and 10 seconds, a big recovery, and then the same thing in 1 minute and 13 seconds.

Oh, it isn't.  Foot in mouth

The exercise is an accute assessment of explosiveness, quickness and balance.  There are no less than twelve separate accelerations required along with ten 180 degree directional changes.

Our runner who ran the test told me "I felt like I was doing a strength test" and to an endurance runner this makes sense as we have developed our slow twitch, arobically funded systems in preparation for 3, 6, 13 and 26 Mile races.  Even though Haynesworth (listed at 6' 6" & 350 lbs) could never hang with any of us in a 5K, his ability and fitness is undeniable for his trade.  In fact my guess is that if we took a random sampling of Focus-N-Fly runners and had them race Albert Haynesworth this is the percentage of people who would beat him by distance:

  • 5K = 100%
  • 1K = 80%
  • 100m = 50%
  • 50m = 25%
  • 25m = 15%
  • 10m = 5%

In other words none of us big, slow distance runners would have any chance against a professional football palyer like Haynesworth in a short burst effort that falls right in his wheel house.

Hopefully this is thought provoking but I still haven't given you any practical advice so here it is.

We use running drills to help develop fast twitch muscles, anaerobic metabolism, and neurological response.  These drills makeup less than 1% of total weekly mileage and less than 5% of total time spent training. We also use fast interval training (<1500m pace) as an extension of this development for 5-10% of weekly mileage.   Both these exercises have specific objectives and can be beneficial.  In fact if you weren't doing these then you would have no chance against Albert Haynesworth in any race of 100m or less.  The bottom line is that we weigh this part of the regimen according to perceived value (it is valuable but not as valuable as all the aerobic work we do).

So you will continue to see the majority of your assignments focused on maintenance/easy and threshold/comfortably hard paces.  We know for certain the benefits of extended aerobic stress and they are well documented for endurance races but could they help a high-performance, short burst athlete in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL? 

My guess is they probably could and I often wonder why more professional ball players don't utilize distance running in the off season.  It has been documented that the aerobic contribution is dominant in all races from 400m up so there is a contribution at shorter distances as well.

As distance runners we need to focus on the aerobic stresses that will help us improve the most.  Just don't forget about those drills and faster intervals when they're assigned.

Oh and the next time you're watching football on the weekend and you see those big guys gasping for air - just think of the Albert Haynesworth fitness test and the fact that all those guys have passed the test. 

Pretty incredible!

 

**BTW I am posting my Albert Haynesworth fitness test results on the forum in hopes that we might get a few others to take the test and post accordingly.

 



After an easy jog (according to your schedule) and light stretch, these drills will help prevent injuries, improve your running form, and increase speed.  Please review the 7 videos below for descriptions of each.

Toe Walking

Heel Walking

Rhythm Skip

Bounding

High Knees

Butt Kicks

Quick Skip

After each drill you should run the remaining distance to cover 100 meters so that when the 7 drills are complete you will have run 7×100 meters (exercises included).  Then finish up your warmup with 3×100 meter strides.  The 100 meters should be at your 1500 meter pace.  Give yourself at least 30 seconds recovery (feel free to take up to 1 minute if desirable).  Please review the video below for a description of a stride.

Strides

We suggest you perform these drills and strides prior to all track workouts or tempo runs.



 

Many of you probably worry about having "love handles."  This exercise works your

lateral ab muscles (which includes your external and internal obliques) and

systematically eliminates "love handles."



Cobra

May 18, 2010

 

Don't neglect the stretching part of the routine!  You're going to be working your abs in later exercises.  It's important to loosen those muscles up before you start challenging them.



Regular push ups target your chest and shoulder muscles.  This version targets those

muscles too, but also works your triceps (back of upper arms).  The triceps muscles 

are easy to overlook because we don't see them when we look in the mirror, but

strengthening them will help you maintain an upright running posture. 



Glute Stretch

May 16, 2010

We rely on on our glutes constantly throughout the running motion!  Treat them right

and give them a good stretch.



Single Leg Squat

May 14, 2010

We cannot overemphasize the importance of this exercise.  It strengthens the

hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps.  Being on just one leg also challenges your

balance.  Maintain good posture and remain as steady as possible throughout the

motion. 



This exercise will strengthen your lower abdominals.  It's sometimes easy to forget how important the abdominals are to runners.  We just don't use our legs and arms when we run.  We also rely heavily on our abs.  Without them, we wouldn't be able to lift our knees high off the ground. 



Pointers

May 11, 2010

Also known as "bird dogs," this is a great overall core exercise.  It not only strengthens

the abs and back, but also involves the glutes and improves balance and stability.



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