Here is something I have been thinking about recently.
I’m sure that we’re all familiar with the concept of speed reserve. i.e. the ability to achieve a higher speed at a shorter distance than your event requires. For example, a 400m runner that is capable of running 200m in high 20s should be able to comfortably go through the first 200 of their 400 in high 21s. If their competition is a mid 21 200 runner then should the competition try to match this first 200 time, they will have pushed the envelope too far and emptied the tank for the remaining 200. Therefore, the higher the 200 speed developed, the more speed reserve is built and the more energy remains to run the remaining 200.
Very straightforward really.
I think this is a great concept that we can take much further. In fact, I reckon that it extends to every quality that we use for sprinting. For example, I think it also extends to such qualities as “flexibility reserve” and “strength reserve”. Furthermore, each of these qualities has component qualities. I think that strength reserve can be further broken down to concentric strength reserve, eccentric strength reserve, elastic strength reserve, reactive strength reserve and so on. This can be further broken down into lower leg eccentric strength reserve and so on and so on.
I have created and attached a diagram to illustrate what I mean.
The horizontal bar describes an arbitrary quality required for sprinting. Let’s say, in this example, it is eccentric lower leg strength.
The quality bar is broken into 11 equal steps. 1 is minimal, e.g. the amount of eccentric lower leg strength used in a slow walk. 11 is maximal, e.g. Trying to slowly lower a maximal load on a standing calf machine where the weight allows a maximum of 1 rep.
Why did I use 11? Because we need to develop to 11 not 10 of course. i.e. I’m using this to further the concept of developing more than we need. Ask Derek Smalls for more info.
The bright green step (or “sweet spot”) represents the level that this quality should be used when sprinting at our current maximum velocity. Any more and it becomes an inhibitory factor to limit our speed. Think of it like a volume knob on your stereo. If you turn it too loud, the sound will start to break up. Our bodies work in a similar way. As we approach the maximal limit of a quality, the body will try to protect itself by shutting that quality down, thus by default, bringing down the performance level of the entire organism.
If we are using the quality any less than the sweet spot during maximum velocity, then we have overdeveloped this quality, probably at the expense of other qualities. Going back to the stereo knob analogy, it’s like buying a stereo with more power than you would ever need. It’s nice, but you’ve probably spent more money on this that you could have spent elsewhere. Of course, you may have inherited the stereo, which is akin to being born with fantastic genetics in this area - probably a good example for eccentric lower leg strength.