Andy Eggerth, a 15-time Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year and two-time USTFCCCA South Region Coach of the Year, is the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Kennesaw State University. He was also the head men’s coach for Team USA in the IAAF Challenge Capital Cup Combined Event in the summer of 2017.
Freelap USA: What is the role of energy substrates in short-term power (under 10 seconds)? Is there anything metabolic (as opposed to neural) that coaches need to consider and train in a 100m dash setting?
Andy Eggerth: I think about this often enough and the conclusion that I usually come to is that the metabolic effects and energy substrate consideration is largely a by-product of proper neuromuscular training. We all know that stored ATP and creatine phosphate (CP) are the primary substrates for maximal efforts in the 10-second range. We don’t have much (if any) control over ATP stores, but can increase CP stores through creatine loading.There aren’t any specific #metabolic factors coaches need to think about when addressing the 100m, says @CoachEggerth. Click To Tweet
A lack of CP is not a cause of fatigue in a 100m dash though, so any benefits gained from loading would be primarily from slightly extended training sessions or better recovery between multiple runs. I do not believe there are any specific metabolic factors that coaches need to think about or target training toward when addressing the 100m.
Freelap USA: What are some things that can play into the “tapering” process for a speed and power athlete from a physiological perspective? From a nervous system perspective?
Andy Eggerth: Several years ago, I had a sprinter that the trainers wouldn’t allow to do track workouts for three weeks, but they would let her lift weights. I knew that I needed to keep the nervous system stimulated, so three days each week I had her doing probably 20-30 sets of Olympic lifts per day with probably somewhere around 60 reps per session. In her next race, she PR’d by two-tenths in the 100m.
Tapering can come in many forms. Coaches need to be aware of Acute Relieving Syndrome, where unloading too much, too fast can shut down the systems and then the athlete feels flat. This is the reason I loaded up on Olympic lifts so much—to be sure the CNS didn’t shut down, so to speak.
The nervous system is the primary consideration for the speed/power athlete, so we don’t want to be in a state of neural fatigue, but must be neutrally stimulated. This is the art of coaching, knowing where your training has come from and how the athlete responds, which can be a little different each season as the athlete is at a different point in their life and has varying outside influences.Often, a successful peak is more about successfully managing arousal levels than tapering training, says @CoachEggerth. Click To Tweet
Regarding tapering from a physiological perspective for a speed/power athlete, we’re considering enzymes, maintaining an anabolic state, and like the nervous system—eliminating fatigue, but remaining stimulated. Sometimes coaches back off too much…if it’s been working all season, you probably don’t need to make drastic changes.
I’m a firm believer that one of the biggest factors in peaking is very simply arousal levels. Athletes are able to perform at their physical highest at the championship because that’s what their mental focus has been on for however many months or years. Often, a successful peak is more about successfully managing arousal levels (to allow correct technical execution) than it is about tapering training.
Freelap USA: What are some procedures to determine if a power athlete (more of a 100-200m person or a jumper) may be more or less responsive to a regular dose of increased blood lactate in a workout than others?
Andy Eggerth: Talking with your athletes and asking the right questions, in alignment with what you as the coach are seeing, will reveal their needs. I have some athletes that love bodybuilding and feel much better from doing it, and others that feel it’s a waste of time and effort. Likewise, with some tempo running…some feel they really need it, while others feel better from 30m block starts.
I don’t just listen to what they want, however, especially with young athletes because they don’t know their body yet or what works or doesn’t work. With veterans, I give them a lot of control over the process. We’ve all had those young sprinters that lack a work ethic so all they want to do is block starts as though that’s the golden ticket.
Conversely, some coming from a high school background with big volumes of tempo running may feel they need it, but are often wrong. This is where it’s important to listen to them, consider what they’re saying, and maybe even move training in that direction to keep them happy and confident, but observe their adaptations to training to dial in what they respond best to.
A lot of times you’ll just see from the competition results how they are responding to the lactate boluses you have designed in your training. Maybe your whole group performs better than you expected at a particular meet and then, as you’re following traditional periodization, they don’t feel as good or perform as well as you’d expect at a later competition. You might go back to look at your training to see what the major differences are.
There’s probably more accurate scientific means to determine an athlete’s responsiveness to lactate than my guess and check, but this is what I work with on my budget.
Freelap USA: What should a coach be considering with athletes in light of dopamine and serotonin levels through the course of a training week?
Andy Eggerth: Serotonin levels spike in overtraining situations while dopamine levels crash. You’re likely to see moodiness, poor sleep patterns, lethargy, and so forth. If your training week is correctly designed, athletes should be in pretty good moods and hungry to train all week. If you’re starting to get laziness, moodiness, and this type of thing late in the week, then you may have dialed in the intensity/density/volumes incorrectly. Or, as is common in the college ranks, it’s due to a poor lifestyle, relationship issues, and/or academic stresses.If you correctly design your training week, athletes are in good moods and hungry to train all week, says @CoachEggerth. Click To Tweet
It might not be a matter of overtraining, but rather under recovering…sleeping five hours per night, eating garbage, consuming too much alcohol or other drugs. At the end of the day, the result is the same for the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of your training plan, so more recovery needs to be prescribed.
Freelap USA: What is an important aspect of coaching track athletes that you feel is underappreciated, or not often considered?
Andy Eggerth: I have an analytical mind, so I’d like to design training like programming a computer but that is completely ineffective when dealing with the human condition. What I continually learn more and more is that to be effective, we need to have a close relationship with our athletes, understanding what is going on in their lives, and meeting their emotional needs for love and acceptance. It’s like the old saying, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
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