The sun shone brightly in Limerick for the 70 people attending the Speed Development Day on Saturday, with coaches travelling from all over the country.
The morning (theory) session, delivered by Drew Harrison, demonstrated some of the current research on running technique. He used video footage and computer simulations to show what happens to the body as we run. Muscle activation at various stages of the running cycle was explained and some common drills were analysed. Coaches were challenged to look at their own practices and question whether the movement patterns in the drills & exercises they use truly reflect the technical models shown and described.
Some drills, specifically ‘heel flicks’, ‘straight leg running’ and ‘running backwards’ were shown to have little correlation to actual running technique as were some Olympic lifting techniques as they require the athlete to be in positions not akin to running, jumping or hurdling at optimal levels.
The afternoon session took place on the outdoor track in glorious sunshine. Four athletes were used to demonstrate a range of drills and practices that reflected the theory and science of the morning session (drills to accentuate ‘fast legs’, ‘lengthening of stride’, fast ‘ground contacts’, ‘knee lift’, ‘extension’ & ‘flight phases’ etc) with coaches encouraged to ask questions of Drew, myself and the athletes.
Hopefully the day has stimulated coaches into thinking about the practices they use. In many cases the research will back-up and confirm that what and how they are currently coaching is not only appropriate but reflective of current research and best practice. For others it may be the stimulus to re-think some of what they do and try something new, in line with what they saw and heard.
There were lots of questions asked and lots of drills and skills demonstrated – hopefully it will result in athletes running quicker, whatever the distance.
Thanks go to the Athletics Ireland and the University of Limerick for supporting the day with specific thanks to Drew Harrison and the 4 demonstrators (Denis Finnegan, Dave Killeen, Greg O’Shea & Róisín Harrison)