RUNNING LOADS IN DECATHLON TRAINING

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1 RUNNING LOADS IN DECATHLON TRAINING By S. Shelkov and N. Semikolenov The organization of running training in the decathlon appears to have a considerable influence on the total score. In the following text the authors, after classifying running training means, look at the dynamics of the running loads and suggest a scheme from general endurance to the complex speed and speed endurance development as the most eficient in the decathlon. The article is a slightly edited and abbreviated translation from Legkaya Atletika, Moscow, No. 3, March Re-printed with permission from Modern Athlete and Coach. In these days there is no need to convince anybody about the importance of a high level running training in the decathlon. This is not only determined to the total score in the decathlon, but also by the positive correlation of running with other decathlon events. We have today available well planned, scientifically substantiated and practically experimented decathlon training systems. However, the work is by no means complete and the following text should at least help to solve some problems for coaches who are working with decathlon specialists. CLASSIFICATION OF RUNNING TRAINING MEANS Optimal running training loads are based on the concrete aim of the exercises employed in training processes. All running training means can therefore be combined in six groups as follows: 1. Running distances up to 100m at speeds 96 to 100% from the maximal. 2. Running distances up to 300m at speeds 90 to 95% from the maximal. 3. Running distances up to 600m at speeds not less than 90% from the maximal. 4. Competition type hurdling where a three-stride rhythm is used. 5. Cross-country running. 6. Running distances up to 100m at speeds 90-95% from the maximal. The first group of exercises aims to develop the speed capacities of a decathlete, the second group specific endurance for the 400m, the third group has a complex influence to the development of aerobic and anaerobic energy production mechanisms, and the fourth group helps to improve speed for the running between the hurdles. These four groups belong among the developmental

2 training means because they secure improved performances in all running events. Cross-country running and running distances up to 100m at speed 90 to 95% from the maximal belong to part-development training means. Cross-country runs are used by the majority of decathletes to develop general endurance at the beginning of the preparation period. These runs are later employed for maintenance of the achieved endurance level and for rehabilitation after heavy training units. Running distances up to 100m at speed 90 to 95% from the maximal has a developmental function during the preparation period and a maintenance function at stages when maximal speed runs are not performed. For example, at the beginning of the preparation period when speed capacities have to be maintained during a large workload in the aerobic and mixed aerobic-anaerobic regimens. THE LOAD VOLUME The training volumes, based on the different demands on the energy systems, are responsible for changes in one or another morphological function. The volumes have to be optimal. Loads that are too small fail to secure the desired developmental changes, while loads that are too large can lead to undesired results. Sample training load volumes, based on information received from 41 qualified decathletes, are shown for the first four exercise groups in tables 1 to 4. The average cross-country running volume for the decathletes involved in the study was 453km a year and the acceleration runs for distances up to 100m was 40km a year. THE DYNAMICS OF THE RUNNING LOAD It might appear at the first glance that there could be a large number of possibilities to organize the running training load in a yearly cycle. However, practice has shown the following schemes used in the contemporary approach:

3 1. Decathletes develop first general endurance, followed by speed endurance and finally, prior to the competition, speed. 2. Speed and speed endurance development takes place simultaneously after the aerobic preparation phase. 3. Emphasis in the autumn preparation phase is placed on the development of aerobic capacities, followed by the development of speed and, in the spring, speed endurance. The development of speed capacities and speed endurance in the competition phase takes a complex approach. All the above listed variations appear to have positive, as well as negative, characteristics. Our experimental study was controlled by the third variation. It was assumed that the distribution of the running training loads according to the general endurance to speed and speed endurance, and finaly a complex speed and speed endurance development scheme could prove to be the most effective, not only to improve the total score, but also to secure the most positive changes in the 100m and 400m events. The year s training cycle was divided into four equaly long 12-week phases. The training processes were in the first three phases organized into four cycles of three week duration. The alternating cycles were made up from two weeks of heavy loads and one week of medium or light loads. The organization during the competition period was adjusted according to the competitive activities. The above presented average running training volumes provided the orientation values. Up to 50% of the total yearly volume in the aerobic (cross-country) running and the mixed aerobic-anaerobic (distances up to 600m) running was planned for the first phase. Virtually the same percentage of the running volume at maximal speed took place in the second phase, while the third phase was dominated by an anaerobic glycolytic (distances up to 300m) volume. The running training volume was reduced considerably in the competition period when priority was shifted to speed and seed endurance training means, which made up in each cycle 25% of the year s total.

4 Running loads influence more than other training means the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The use of testing procedures to determine the condition of decathletes is therefore justified during the training. The tests must evaluate general work capacities, the speed capacity, as well as the recovery speed of the organism. In conducting the initial tests we discovered that preparation indicators at the start of training were more or less below expectations. The reduced indicators were influenced by the transition period and decathletes, who used this period for a 3 to 4 week passive rest, have values below of those involved in medium, or even low, work volumes that did not necessarily include specific activities (swimming, games, etc.) THE FUNCTIONAL STATE The functional state of decathletes naturally improves by the time of the competition period, but the changes are not linear and have a wave-like

5 characteristic. The dynamics of the development are determined by the organization of training processes and the magnitude and the directions of the running training loads. The highest general work capacity is observed during the period when large volumes of mixed aerobic-anaerobic running is performed. Speed capacities, on the other hand, reach high levels when speed and speed endurance is stressed. These changes in the general and speed capacities are reduced when the general capacity reaches its maximum and vice versa. It appears that large aerobic and mixed aerobic-anaerobic running loads have a negative influence on speed capacities of the decathletes. It is therefore inadvisable during this training period to employ runs at maximal speed. Speed capacities at this stage are maintained by executing a considerable number of acceleration runs (90 to 95%). The recovery speed indicators show the decathlete s adaptation capacity to the running training loads. One-directional changes to the work capacity and the duration of the recovery prove thatthe load coresponds to the decathlete s functional ability. A lack of this linear correlation takes place when the load surpasses the decathlete s functional ability. This signals the need to reduce the load and change the training direction. In order to solve the running training problems efficiently it is absolutely essential to organise the decathlon preparations so that all functional capacity indicators have reached a compact level by the time of the first competition. An acceptable deviation from the linear development of the general work and speed capacities, as well as the rates of recovery, is around 10 to 15%. This means that, as some indicators reach close to maximal values, the other indicators should be around the 85% level. However, it is important for successful competition that that the relative values of anaerobic indicators surpass the values of aerobic indicators. This is achieved by using specific training means to develop anaerobic endurance (repetition and interval runs up to 300m with an intensity of 90 to 95%). It appears that the distribution of the running training load, based on the scheme of from general endurance to the complex speed and speed endurance that makes up 50% of the year s running volume, is suficiently efectiveto achieve a high level functional preparation. Naturally, a good functional preparation alone does not guarantee high decathlon scores. However, provided all other functions (technical stability and the developmental levels of strength and power) are equal, it nevertheless secures performance stability and avoids a drop in the work capacity during the two competition days. IN SUMMARY In summary, it can be said that an effectively organized training process leads to the desired results. Decathletes, who employ the above described variation of

6 loads in running training, can expect to improve their scores considerably. In our study decathletes who trained according to the scheme from general endurance to the complex speed and speed endurance had a considerableadvantage over the control groups. The advantage was reliable, reflected in the points collected in the running events, particularly in the progress made in the 100m and 400m.

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