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Speed Skating Forum Most of the discussions in this forum will be about inline speed skating but discussions about ice speed skating and quad roller speed skating are also welcome.

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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:01 AM   #1
desertkiwi
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Default Developing Leg Speed

Up until today, most of my skating has been technique-oriented-getting-to-know-my-new-Bonts sessions. However, one can only drive a Ferrari in first gear for so long before the urge to prod the zoom pedal tickles the foot, right? I decided to ramp it up for a short top speed run. It was a very enlightening experience.

I wanted only to go as fast as I could while maintaining good technique. As I accelerated, I could feel the resistance in each push resulting in increasing speed. As speed increased resistance decreased*, much like cycling. Thing is, I felt 'spun out' at a GPS-recorded 18-19 mph over a distance of about 600 feet. It would seem that the only way to continue to accelerate would be to increase my cadence.

My question is, how exactly is this accomplished? I was striving for maximum leg extension and as low a body position as I could muster. Should I shorten my push so that I can more quickly recover and begin the next push? Intuitively, this would more likely result in a higher cadence but not an increase in speed. Ideas?

Tawni

Note: I use only single (right) arm swing right now. Trying to use both arms at this point is destabilizing and results in poor technique and--more importantly--makes me look extremely dorky.

*That's how it felt, anyway. I assume momentum comes into play, somehow.
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Last edited by desertkiwi; January 20th, 2008 at 05:13 AM.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:07 AM   #2
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Intervals...lots of them...

Cross training with high cadence cycling helps as well.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:13 AM   #3
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Wow, mv, lightening response! I know intervals will help aerobically. But how exactly will it develop faster leg speed? I'm interested in the mechanics at this point. I'd like to know how and why it works. Thanks!

Tawni
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:17 AM   #4
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It may be time to start training with a group, if you aren't already.
Work on a double push.
Have somebody film you and pick your technique apart.
MV is right about intervals. But just like time in the saddle helps on the bike, any time rolling is going to help.
Put on some quads and get some real resistance training.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by desertkiwi View Post
Wow, mv, lightening response! I know intervals will help aerobically. But how exactly will it develop faster leg speed? I'm interested in the mechanics at this point. I'd like to know how and why it works. Thanks!

Tawni
For just leg speed, do plyometrics. Or any type of lateral ballistic training.
The explosive movements help to recruit fast twitch or type two muscle fibers, which produce fast, explosive strength.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:25 AM   #6
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Hi, Old'N~

Thanks for your reply! Any specific plyos you can recommend? (There seem to be a zillion)

Tawni
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Old January 20th, 2008, 02:58 AM   #7
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Plyo's can be a great training tool, but I always caution folks to be careful doing them. They should be used in a progressive program. Build a base strength level with standard resistance training. Then do six to eight sessions of light bounding (low to medium impact on a soft surface), with 3 - 4 days between sessions. Than six to eight sessions of high impact bounding, once a week. Than no bounding for six weeks and restart the cycle.
There are other speed drills that help train the mind/body connection as well.
Exercises;
Jump rope (light)
Bound side to side as if skating (light)
Dot drills (light)
Stand next to a string or other object and bound over it and back several times. (Height of object will determine intensity)
Bound up on to a elevated surface and then down. (Height of surface will determine intensity)
Bound up on to a elevated surface and then down and bound up again upon impact. (High intensity)

Some of these may be hard to picture. Maybe I can find some links to videos.

If you have ever had a stress fracture in your shin or a neck injury, I advise against plyometrics.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:06 AM   #8
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Tawni,
Are you doing any all out sprints in your training now?
If not, take time after each training session to do 5 - 10 sets of HARD SPRINTS.
Just kinda mark off 100 yards and sk8 it as hard as you can.
It helps if you try to mentally image a "perfect" run before each set.
You know what they say,,,,
The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

This is where you need to start. SPRINTS
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:23 AM   #9
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I agree intervals will help, but it's still really about more technique. It's always about technique. There's as much to going faster as there is learning proper basic form.

The things that make you go faster, in no particular order:

- Glide phase - fast skaters get a lot out of their glide, saving energy in order to go fast consistently for longer periods of time
- Recovery phase - just before glide. The recovery leg must come back properly (in that 'd' shape) and thrust forward properly. I've been told to "throw my foot forward" - this gives you a more powerful glide. It's tricky.
- Economy of movement. The best and fastest skaters on our team look like they are doing nothing. But they are flying. Every movement is near mastered. All phases are executed perfectly. There is no wasted motion. They aren't wasting energy and they are getting the most out of each push.

I haven't even mentioned DP yet. Not all fast skaters DP. It's easy to get sucked into that, but it's probably more important to get the above things done first. Later the underpush can come in and give you more, but it's a mistake to go after that first, I think.

The only time last year I was able to hang for awhile with the fast group was when I had the glide going, and when my recovery allowed for momentum. Even then, my form was still not nearly economic enough - and thus I eventually dropped because of tiredness.

I assume you are talking more about sprinting a few hundred meters, of course. Most skaters can get a decent burst of speed, even if they flail all over... but that isn't real speed. Speed over time and distance is speed, in my book.

Barry Publow's book has a very good breakdown of each phase including the DP, but it's really best to watch great skaters and apply their techniques. If you could skate with other good skaters it would be best, but I vaguely recall you saying you are on your own out there.

There are some good vids to watch on youtube, I've saved some here

http://youtube.com/my_playlists?p=BF8F7551003D7BC2

I watch them a lot. Also, the vids of Hedrick at the NSIM when he set the record are great to watch over and over - there's speed for you. There are links to that race at the bottom of this page:

http://www.inlineplanet.com/2007-08/bounty.html

Regarding arm swing - the fast skaters on our team don't use it, they're skating with arms behind or on legs. Only during a sprint do the arms come into play generally. Again, watch Hedrick in the vids, they don't use their arms except when sprinting or charging off.

Tom
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:23 AM   #10
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There's several ways to go about it, and i would advise doing all of them.
First, find someone you despise and skate with them. You will do everything in your power to not get beaten. this works like a charm, and is wonderful if you find yourself over-analyzing things.
As far as increasing cadence, this is always a last resort, and not a particularly good one becuase it leads to a lactic acid build up and depending on the amount, it will probably not be sustainable.
When most of us need a bit more power, we usually get a bit lower and dig a little deeper into the underpush.
But you need to experiment. Try different things and see how they work, and how long you can sustain them. Good thing is that skating involves thousand upon thousands of strides, so there's plenty of room for experimentation. Ramp up the speed and do it often, and give yourself a chance to try a few things.

In general, that's what i'd advise- getting lower and digging deeper on the underpush.
But also consider that there's different types of speed- are you looking for at increasing your cruise speed, or are you looking for a sprint? There's different ways to go about each. It sounds like you want the former. Intervals are not really geared to increasing your cruise speed. If you want to increase your marathon cruise speed, you might want to go out and do a 10 miler for speed, and so on.
Fastest route to increasing your speed and improving in general is to skate with experienced skaters. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a fast speedskater's butt in your face will give you good reason to keep your mouth shut.
I'll stop there.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:32 AM   #11
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Old'n~

I just switched to speed boots, so everything is new again. I was doing timed intervals before in my fitness boots, but not sprint intervals. Not sure I'm ready for all out sprint intervals yet, as my ankles probably (especially the left one) aren't up to it at the end of a skate. What was interesting to me was that I didn't feel 'gassed', I just couldn't seem to make my legs move any faster. Ottawa Speed has some plyo demos; I've been doing some of them but not consistently, and mostly the 'non-bounding' ones. Guess it may be time to get more serious about them.

Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to skate with where I live and it's not practical right now to make regular trips into LA or San Diego.

Tawni
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:39 AM   #12
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I wouldn't go overboard right now on cross-training or plyos. You need to skate a lot. I wouldn't rob any time from your skating at this point, especially since you are approaching this so methodically.

Having re-read your original post, it is clear that you are gliding through the underpush rather than using that phase to generate power. that's why you feel less resistance, and you correctly attribute that to momentum carrying you through the underpush. IT's a technique issue and you need more time on skates to progress.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:46 AM   #13
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Thanks, TD and OI~

This post relates specifically to my first attempt at a sprint since moving up to my Bonts. I was getting a nice, deep push with each stride, I just ran out of leg speed. I guess the point is this was just an experiment with no real training goal in mind. In my fitness skates I used to get gassed (aerobically maxed) which seemed to be the limit of how fast I could go. In my speed skates, I felt I had more to give, but my leg speed seemed maxed out, i.e., I couldn't get them to move any faster.*

Thanks for the input everybody!

Tawni

* OI, I'm still using classic push. Think it'll be a while before I try DP.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:52 AM   #14
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i know exactly what you are talking about but leg speed is not the answer. It's training your legs and core to be more efficient and powerful. This is done via technique, primarily, at this stage. Technique is the low hanging fruit.

While before you were doing a massive cardi-pulmonary surge to go fast, now you need to teach your muscle groups to work in unison and in a coordinated effort to convert energy into speed.

as for the double push - it's all double push. Time to get on it.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:59 AM   #15
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Hmm, interesting, OI. Well, I *will* be in LA next weekend as it turns out and I'll have a chance to skate with some experienced speed skaters there. Hopefully that will yield a ton of information and generate a thousand *new* questions!

Thanks, again.

Tawni
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Old January 20th, 2008, 04:34 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertkiwi View Post
In my fitness skates I used to get gassed (aerobically maxed) which seemed to be the limit of how fast I could go. In my speed skates, I felt I had more to give, but my leg speed seemed maxed out, i.e., I couldn't get them to move any faster.
Seems obvious once someone else says it, but yeah. I’d noticed that, too. Now that I’m on speed skates, I go until I don’t have time (I usually skate at night, and have to get up early in the morning) or until plain old muscle fatigue overwhelms me. But I’m not really able to get myself aerobically tired these days.

Also, have you gotten to that “light bulb moment” yet, when you figure out what everybody means when they say that to go fast you have to go slow? I’m guessing by the question you’re asking that you have. The fact that it has a zen koan built in is now my favorite aspect of skating. (Well, apart from having boots that are Rocky Horror Red.)
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Old January 20th, 2008, 05:31 AM   #17
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Bryan, regarding the light bulb moment: Yes, about the time I started using HR training about a year ago. I must say though, I really do love my speed skates. I'm really looking forward to this year's skating!

Tawni
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Old January 20th, 2008, 06:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Also, have you gotten to that “light bulb moment” yet, when you figure out what everybody means when they say that to go fast you have to go slow? I’m guessing by the question you’re asking that you have. The fact that it has a zen koan built in is now my favorite aspect of skating. (Well, apart from having boots that are Rocky Horror Red.)
really, it seems that skating is fraught with these zen like realizations. I'm not kidding. Like just when i thought i'd gven up on ever using a word like fraught in a sentence.... well, there you have it!

Hey, i share how excited you both are about your gear and skating. The feeling doesn't go away, even after the boots are old and worn in. I think it's becuase skating is so much about the technique, and about the doing, that it is always fresh and exciting and filled with discovery, even when the gear has become old. In that sense, the more we do it, the more we discover, and the newer and fresher it becomes.

Okay, add one to our list!

And one more thing - after a while, when you learn how to effectively execute efficient form, the aerobic ceiling re-emerges.
It's just that right now, you can't get to the level of utilizing your muscles to the extent where you are maxing out aerobically. You don't know how to use your large muscle groups effectively enough to to be burning enough energy to make it aerobically limiting, but it does come.

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertkiwi View Post
Hmm, interesting, OI. Well, I *will* be in LA next weekend as it turns out and I'll have a chance to skate with some experienced speed skaters there. Hopefully that will yield a ton of information and generate a thousand *new* questions!
Tawni, my advice would be to maximize the opportunity by lining up a (two hour minimum) skate lesson with a top-notch speed skater in the area who is known for their technique, and is known for being a good teacher. I did this a few times when learning to speed skate, and even a few concentrated doses of feedback like that can carry you for months and months of focused training.

have fun!
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Old January 20th, 2008, 12:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
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i know exactly what you are talking about but leg speed is not the answer. It's training your legs and core to be more efficient and powerful. This is done via technique, primarily, at this stage. Technique is the low hanging fruit....
....as for the double push - it's all double push. Time to get on it.
Technique and the DoublePush. Works for me. I started skating with some really good skaters and there was no way I was going to ever keep up. So I spent the long agonizing feat of learning the DP underpush (100 miles of nettracing step #1) I now blow them away and I am nowhere near in any physical condition to do that.

DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPDP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DP DPMust DP, its a beautiful thing, and very relaxing too.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 04:55 PM   #20
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... So I spent the long agonizing feat of learning the DP underpush (100 miles of nettracing step #1)...
Only 100 miles - you are a very quick learner!
Good deal.
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