16 March 2011

Nearing 75 Push-ups, Running Economy

4th DEP call on 16032011 at 0930. Still no new faces at the recruiting office (whew). The MEPS in San Jose did not process any new applicants for 2 straight months, and so I can understand why things are moving slowly up here.

Couple of interesting things in the office this morning. First, 2 former deppers who graduated from BMT and technical school (which follows after BMT) returned to participate in today's call and answer questions about tech school. Second, a girl in our DEP was TDQ'ed (temporarily disqualified) at MEPS for what the doctor believed to be cuts on her wrist, which warranted a psychological evaluation. The more I read and hear, the more I fear MEPS.

My push-ups continue to improve and I'm very happy with the results so far. Based on the consistent progression I've been seeing, I have no problem saying that Stew Smith's push-up program is very effective in pushing up one's repetition max. I'm shooting for at least 70 push-ups next time (currently at 66).

My push-ups progression:

Overall progression:

My mile time has also been improving:
Running Economy

Metabolic, anthropometric (body size and dimensions), and psychological factors as well as training style all affect running economy during endurance events.

1. Metabolic
Citrate synthase (CS) and 3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (HAD), which Martin Berkhan has discussed, are 2 major oxidative enzymes tied to endurance. Also, muscle fiber composition can affect long-duration running. In humans, there are 3 fiber types: type I fibers, also known as slow oxidative (SO) or "slow-twitch" fibers, the hybrid type II-a fibers, also known as fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG) fibers, and type II-x fibers, also known as fast glycolytic (FG) or "fast-twitch" explosive fibers. Among the 3, type I fibers have the highest expression of oxidative enzymes (such as succinate dehydrogenase, SDH).

2. Anthropometric
Although many other factors explain their dominance in marathon running, it's been reasoned that compared with runners of other ethnic backgrounds, Kenyan runners have the body type most conducive to running. Aside from a slender body and long limbs that afford a greater stride length, their small calf girth and high calf insertion allow for a low moment of inertia, which makes for easier leg swing. A study that I can't find right now calculated that due to their calf measurement, Kenyan runners enjoyed ~1% greater energetic efficiency for each swing of the leg, which I imagine would add up over the entire length of a race. To illustrate, it's easier to swing a baseball bat back and forth if you're holding it from the tapered, not blunted, end.

3. Psychological
Although it's harder to measure the contribution of the mental domain to performance, it's often talked about that the volitional capacity to exercise (having the "heart" and "will" to push on) is an athletic trait more preferable to any inborn genetic or biomechanical advantage that one may possess over others.

4. Training
I won't go into too much detail here. Lyle McDonald has written a very informative series of articles covering endurance training. In short, the majority of one's training should be comprised of tempo training, sweet spot training, and threshold training.

Also as Martin (apparently a former endurance athlete) has said in a blog post that fasted training has been found to improve long-term endurance more than training in the fed state. Also, because training while one's stores of glycogen are low nets greater endurance adaptations, researchers have recommended the "train low, compete high" (train while depleted and compete when carb-loaded) approach to running.

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