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I consider the treadmill a valuable tool when coaching my runners during the season and in the off season.
In college one of my favorite workouts was the Envelope Fartlek, a workout of varying intervals intended as a race simulation. The second workout I like to prescribe on the treadmill is a hill tempo simulation workout. Overall I believe the treadmills are a training tool like any other that has its benefits, limitations and proper applications. The specific genes in question are responsible for the correct production of collagen, the body’s major structural protein. Genes that potentially have some performance advantage do exist and will continue to be found, but currently have limited utility.
By no means are the developments in genetic testing for athletic ability going to quickly replace more traditional tests. Originally, one of the two genes highlighted below was associated with endurance performance.
His team postulated that as this gene is expressed, the result is a reduced range of motion.
COL5A1 and COL1A1 have both shown significant correlation to soft-tissue injury and both have been implicated specifically in Achilles’ tendinopathies7,8. A different version of the gene is associated with a protective, higher bone mineral density as compared to athletes with cruciate ligament ruptures, shoulder dislocations, and Achilles’ tendon ruptures10.
One of the less common genotypes is both associated with improved endurance running (as reported by Posthumus), but is also associated with the less well-organized collagen fibers that may result in higher propensity for Achilles’ tendinopathies. While I fully contend that genetic factors are a small part of the whole picture, I find that at least some of these markers increase a coach’s understanding of an athlete, especially if they are actionable. In our lab, we still conduct practical, solidly researched tests such as VO2max, lactate threshold, and metabolic efficiency for determining athletic capacity.
Ultimately, an athlete’s abilities are not genetically determined in whole, but are a complex combination of innumerable factors.
Thank you to Meghan Lambert, current NTC intern from Purdue University, for her contributions to this article.
Karl Riecken is the Coordinator of Performance Testing and Exercise Physiologist at the USA Triathlon Performance Training Center-Certified National Training Center in Clermont, FL. If such a race was convenient to you, and you could gain entry, what multisport race brand or series would you most like to see in your area?
The attached two links contain an article on determining a target TSS for the bike on an IM and the associated table. I understand that bit, so 2 people ride 5.30, one does it on 100 watts and the other 200, one is riding at 67, the other 134 and both will have a TSS of 247, but its a pointless table, unless you know what your FTP is, and what your time for the bike is. Time will depend on course, weather conditions, your CdA, (how good is position on bike) AND not biking beyond your ability (FTP).
The only way this works is if you know that if you bike 67 watts (your example) for 112 miles it will take you 5:30.
All of the pros I've talked to, (3rd tier) say they normally come out closer to 250 than 280 to have a good run. I don't know about becoming the best Ultra - I sat next to Killian Jornet in Cham in August, and I think it would take some doing to give him a run for the money. Quote:So long story short the faster you are the higher IF you can hold because you spend less time on course accumulating TSS. The transition phase from base or preseason training is vital to preparing for competition and setting a positive tone for the entire season. During base or pre-season training, running form displays a decreased knee drive, your foot plant tends to drift forward in front of the hips, and your cadence is lower. The first stride component to emphasize is knee drive, which generates speed for racing paces and competitive situations such as surges and a finishing kick. A-Skips focus on knee drive and I ensure athletes are demonstrating proper arm swing in this drill, as bad upper body habits can frequently be acquired during skip drills.
B-Skips begin the same but differ from A-Skips through the addition of a kicking out motion following the knee drive phase. The final drill in the sequence is the C-Skip, which focuses less on single leg knee drive.
You should be adding form drills, executing repeats of 20 to 30 meters, to your training throughout the year to maintain form.
The application of these drills may appear to be more geared towards elite athletes or shorter distance athletes, but the increased knee drive will improve stride efficiency and speed at all levels.
Preparation for the racing season requires a training plan to adapt to higher intensity efforts through progressive training loads. A common interval set during this phase would be repeating one mile efforts with 30 percent active recovery time. These examples must be used in the context of seasonal training plan with base training and tempo intervals leading up to the preparation phase. Regardless of the competition level, you should include competition skills or simulate race conditions during training sessions to prepare for the racing season.
There is no recovery between the one minute intervals, however there is a 2 to 3 minute active recovery between sets to simulate the change in speeds associated with racing. A final method to practice race skills are group runs to become comfortable running in packs or on a competitor’s shoulder.
The treadmill is not just for the rainy days or for when your favorite team is playing during your training time slot.
To make the workout effective you need a large group of comparable athletes to initiate the intervals and simulate surges in a race.
Running on a treadmill does not replace or equate to running on terra firma because it lacks wind resistance and the less effort to propel the body forward. Essential for the health of all connective tissues, collagen is a long, thin fibrous protein that possesses remarkable ability to resist tensile stress.

Examples such as ACTN3 for power-related performance and the gene that codes for angiotensin converting enzyme [ACE] for endurance have both shown some promise as predictors of ability.
In fact, early adopters of this analysis will need to use the results with prudence and caution3. In fact, it was an SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) in that gene that actually coded for an imperfect collagen molecule thought to aid in elastic recoil of the soft tissue. So far it has been revealed that those with the TT genotype of the COL1A1 gene are unlikely to experience tendon or ligament injuries9. For COL5A1, the most common combination of alleles appears to confer resistance to soft-tissue injury through an increased age-related range of motion11. Once an athlete presents me with a genetic profile associated with altered collagen (or in the case of soft tissue injury and clearance from physical therapy), I will implement extra protocols to ensure proper, effective tissue loading.
The modalities associated would include slow eccentric loading of the gastrocnemius and soleus, including small bounces at end range of motion, myofascial release (either self or through manual techniques), and movements emphasizing fascial integrity and coordination14. As a physiologist, I am enticed by the possibility of seeing deeper into the underpinnings of these influences. There, he conducts analyses of athletes, from biomechanical and physiological perspectives, utilizing the data in custom-built training programs that he offers through TrainingPeaks. This transition traditionally includes a lower volume of aerobic training, an increase of higher intensity training, and race specific training.
Added to training sessions, form drills will increase knee drive, emphasize proper foot strike, and develop higher race tempo cadence. The A-Skip involves running while driving your knees upward, so that your hip joint is bent past 90 degrees.
This requires focus to execute proper landing placement of the mid-foot under the hip and initiates hamstring activation. The hip joint angle falls below 90 degrees, and more on drawing the heel from toe off directly to your butt with quick steps in between skips.
During pre-racing season preparation, I will add a 60 meter stride-out following the skip drills. The 30 percent active recovery time is calculated from the average goal time for the intervals and consists of jogging or walking. As the season progresses towards your goal race, intervals will rise in intensity and vary in recovery. It is important to consider all aspects of race day when planning race preparation training sessions. A workout may consist of 2 to 5 sets of fartlek intervals, and the intervals can vary from 30 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the racing distance or timing within the training plan. Running efficiently in a group or with a competitor is a great benefit due to shared pacing and conserving energy.
It is the time to capitalize on the hard work invested during off-season and pre-season training.
With a little research and creativity, the treadmill can be a way to add variety, provide a quality training session and test your fitness. I came up with a great method to reproduce the workout on the treadmill using a playlist, I call the Musical Fartlek. I found it challenging to create similar courses in the Northeast, even in hilly areas because the hills are shorter and steeper.
Different protocols can be found online and I recommend a heart rate monitor rather than using the grip style heart rate sensors most treadmills are equipped with. I use a reference chart that takes into account incline and speed to determine the simulated pace equal to the effort on the ground. Elite Team Coach in 2012 and is certified as both a USA Track & Field and USA Triathlon Coach.
Although still in its infancy, genetic testing can provide athletes and coaches with information to guide their training and nutrition.
This is especially important for tendons, ligaments, and articular surfaces (joints) that are often the site of injury in runners and triathletes1. While I see much well-founded resistance to the implementation of genetic testing for determining athletic capacity, I believe utility for practitioners exists for precautions related to injury. Even if an athlete’s genes do potentially promote less than optimal synthesis of the molecule, mechanical loading in the proper motions will promote release of metabolic and growth factors, tendon blood flow, collagen synthesis, and proteolytic enzyme activity12,13. On the other hand, I find that new modes of testing are gaining traction and are quite exciting.
More of these factors will also become actionable as the research improves, but interpretation and implementation will require objective guidance and reasonable perspective. Gene variants within the COL1A1 gene are associated with reduced anterior cruciate ligament injury in professional soccer players. Karl also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Central Florida's Sport and Exercise Science Department instructing courses on fitness assessment and evaluation.
I would guess that it must have actually been a little underestimated for the 342 TSS race, but not by less than 10 watts. These must be deliberately introduced to maximize adaptation and promote performance gains. I recommend form drills throughout training phases, but they become a focus during the preparation phase. Swing your arms so that your right arm is forward when your left knee is up, and vice versa. The stride-out, a 20 meter acceleration to speed and 40 meters of maintained speed, reinforces the skills being developed during the skip drills. When planning intervals for race season, sets of intervals should be developed involving progressively more volume with intensity at or just below race pace.
The pace and volume of the intervals would be based on the target race’s distance and time. Refining your racing skills following the off season or base building phase will have a positive impact on your races with little or no added training time.

The inclusion of form drills, progressive intervals, and racing skills in a training plan will ensure a successful first race and strong foundation for a successful season of racing. I make some workouts fun, others extremely challenging, but either way indoor training can be a valuable part of your training plan year round. I build the playlist with one artist being the intervals and any other song being tempo recovery. On the treadmill I could use elevation to simulate the long gradual uphills in the first half and incorporate the tempo workout during the second half.
There are many of these references online, effectiveness is best when applied consistently during training.
As a runner, Nick was a 2-time Foot Locker Cross Country Finalist and a member of the University of Notre Dame Cross Country and Track teams. In particular, the last several years have seen an increase in research regarding the rate of soft-tissue injury as related to genetics. Michael Posthumus and his team in Cape Town, South Africa published research in 2011 that significantly correlated endurance performance in Ironman triathlon with the expression of a particular SNP of the COL5A1 gene coding for type-V collagen4. Interestingly, while the mechanism of performance association has been called into question by more recent research, interest has increased from those dedicated to the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries5,6. Granted, no test is complete and each is wrought with its own set of limitations and imperfections.
Training principles for fascial connective tissues: scientific foundation and suggested practical applications.
Focusing on three areas will allow you to make a successful transition to your race season: race speed form training, progressively implemented speed training, and introduction of racing tactics or skills. Multiple quick steps are executed between skips to enable focused and quick single leg motions. Newer monitoring devices will track cadence, which can be viewed in TrainingPeaks, to track improvement during training runs following the drills. Intervals progress over the course of the three weeks from below race distance and speed, to finish week three above race distance and speed. Working with an experienced coach is most beneficial when implementing a training plan to make sure that each phase of training works to reach the season’s performance goals.
An example would be starting your training sessions with a dynamic warm up and drill sequence that you then repeat during warm up for a competition. This race preparation workout is typically a secondary workout during the week to complement interval training.
With my music player on shuffle, I increase to race or surge pace when interval music starts to play. The workout starts with a static pace at 0-2 degree elevation and following 10 minute warm-up, progresses through .5-2 degree elevation changes every 3-5 minutes.
When available I suggest the use of an impact reducing Alter G treadmill which reduces the impact via air pressure, they can be found at many training facilities or rehabilitation centers.
Adjustments can be made and should be considered due to differences in the instrumentation of brands and models of treadmill. After graduating, he competed as an Elite triathlete competing in six World Championships, two Goodwill Games and the 2000 Olympic Games, being named USA Triathlon and US Olympic Committee Triathlete of the Year in 1998.
In preparation for writing this article, I read several articles on the debate surrounding the utility of genetic testing as related to performance. Before that model was around, you would assume a power you should ride (based on FTP and IF) and then use some other model (several out there or poll people to see what power they used to ride a specific time, which isn't very precise) to see how fast you would ride the course based on that AVG power and then calculate TSS. Internally with our team we have a more nuanced discussion of this table and the stuff that lives around it.
The single leg focus and quick steps allow the athlete to experience quick firing strides and develop a higher run cadence.
Maintain warm up jogs of 10 to 20 minutes in length consistent between interval training sessions and race day warm ups. The race simulation occurs due to not knowing when the surge will occur or how long the surge will last; most songs are three to five minutes. At 35 minutes I begin to decrease the elevation and increase the speed 2-3 tenths of mile per hour. I also see benefit in using a regular treadmill on which an athlete can stop at any point there is discomfort without having to travel back to the starting location and footing remains consistent. I do not go to the extent of measuring the speed of the belt, but I do make note of what treadmill an athlete uses and consistently use that treadmill for workouts.
ACL Research Retreat VII: An Update on Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk Factor Identification, Screening, and Prevention. It is also good to include a variable fartlek run to your training plan to simulate racing scenarios during training a session. I have also used the treadmills to determine fitness levels when a time trial is not practical to do outside or to maintain consistent efforts or courses to compare training adaptation.
I have gained an appreciation for treadmills as a coach that I wish I had as an athlete, it would have made my training more effective and enjoyable.
Certainly maintaining perspective on genetic testing and its potential impacts is critical. Sometimes the surge will follow surge which brings a complaint from the athlete if they can muster the breath to get in out, but that is no different than a races.
However, this debate extends far beyond the individual as national sport governing bodies and professional sports teams are utilizing genetic testing for talent identification, injury prediction, and training prescription16,17. This is a great intensity workout for an athlete to do individually or at lower intensity a fun way to incorporate speed changes into an over-distance run.

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