Are You Forgetting This Key Part Of Your Speed & Conditioning Training?

Think back to the last sporting event you watched. It could have been one of your kid's games, a college game, or even the pros.
What percentage of the time do you think any given player was moving at 100% speed?
What percent of the time did they stand still, walk or move at a jogging pace?
Unless you were watching baseball, softball, or a linemen in football, I'll bet the two numbers you picked weren't close to adding up to 100%.
In sports like ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer, just to name a few, there is a third category of movement that can best be described as 'cruising speed'.
Cruising speed is fast movement, but not all out effort. It's not sprinting, but it's not jogging either.
In the sports listed above, cruising speed is probably what you're doing for about 20-30% of a game.
Athletes train for aerobic conditioning, they train all out effort speed, and they train high intensity cardio, but rarely do they emphasize developing efficient cruising speed.
If you improve in this under appreciated skill, you won't just move better during these times. You'll see some key carryover effects to other parts of your game.
Here are three.
It will make you appear to be more conditioned. An inefficient runner requires more effort to execute every single stride, which burns up the limited amount of energy you have to expend far sooner than it should have.
So of course it stands to reason that a more efficient stride, much like a car that has better fuel efficiency, can go farther on the same amount of energy.
This will come from fixing your cruising technique so it more closely resembles proper sprint form rather than your jogging form.
Staying fresher will, in turn, lower your injury risk. We know that far more injuries happen to an athlete who is fatigued than those that are fresh. This is why more injuries happen at the end of games and practices than at the beginning.
By cruising more efficiently you'll be less tired in the last few minutes, and better positioned to come out of the game as healthy as you went into it.
Building better cruising technique also builds top-end speed. Since training cruising speed creates a more coordinated, efficient stride, it will carry over to maximize your top-end sprint ability too. The technical training is identical.
So how would an athlete train to get better at this?
Of course doing technical training to build efficiency is a part of this. We won't get into that side here.
But once you have the technique improvements, you'll want to increase your cruising endurance.
To do so, first measure out 100 yards somewhere where it's safe to run. Then, follow this workout:
100 yd runs @ 80% effort x 10 reps - rest 1 minute between reps
To determine your 80% zone, get your 100 yard all-out sprint time measured. Then, DIVIDE that number by 0.8 to get your 80% effort time.
Let's say, for example, your all out effort 100 yd dash time is 11.8 seconds. An 80% effort for you would be around 14.7 seconds. Your goal is to run all 10 sprints in this time or just slightly under with just the 1 minute rest in between.
If you're college age or older, take a 5 minute break and then do a 2nd set of 10 runs.
We've all seen matchups in sport where players and even full teams tend to play slower the longer a game goes on. Building up your speed endurance, or cruising speed, will keep you moving well right to the final buzzer.

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