Speed or distance?

Which should I focus on more right now?

  • Who needs cardio? Stick with the weights.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    20

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
I've been dieting and exercising recently, and I find that I'm torn between 2 things I need to improve, but I don't know which is more important to me at the moment. My distance running sucks these days because I go about half a mile before I gas out and my speed sucks too because I can't sprint nearly as fast as I used to sprint. I used to run a 6:15 mile and a 13 second 100 meters, but needless to say, I can do neither these days. What can I say? I'm a weightlifter, not a runner. Which aspect of my training should I focus on more? Should it be the distance running or the speed training?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I selected speed training but both goals should really be developed. Tennis require a good aerobic base even tho' we don't normally think of tennis as an aerobic activity. Studies have shown that the heart rate can stay in the aerobic zone for a good part of a singles match. This would indicate that a good portion of the energy needs for tennis are derived from the aerobic system.

However, the endurance needs for tennis are more complex than this since the aerobic system obviously does not provide all these energy needs. The other energy needs are provided by two anaerobic energy systems: An immediate energy (ATP-CP) system and a short-term energy system, Anaerobic glycolysis. Wind sprints and other interval training should help to develop these 2 anaerobic systems. For more about the 3 systems needed for tennis refer to the following:

tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=2185965
dps.USTA.com/usta_master/usta/doc/content/doc_437_23.pdf

Rickson, are you doing any rope skipping and other plyometric stuff for your speed training?
 

NotAtTheNet

Semi-Pro
I'm primarily a distance runner, but I do mix it up with a 2 mile sprint run. I basically Do 8 laps on the track. I sprint half a lap, walk/jog half a lap, sprint, jog/walk, etc...

or forget training for cardio and speed and try some ultimate frisbee, flag football or full court basketball. You'll probably get a better workout anyways and have some fun.
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
Rick why are you so anti balance :). You always seem to want to choose one or the other.

I am a triathlete , weightlifter, and a 4.5 tennis player. In the past I used to run only marathons and play soccer. I would still incorporate sprint training which greatly helps your cardio regardless of your goals. I would do a little bit of everything if you can . . .

If you run 3 times a week:

Day 1: sprint train
Day 2: longer / slower run
Day 3: faster / shorter run or interval run.
 

WildVolley

Legend
Go for speed training. You're a tennis player, so that's more important.

If you need to do endurance work, I'd focus on non-impact exercises rather than the jogging.
 

MomentumGT

Semi-Pro
Midfoot, check out the book chi-running. totally revolutionize how you run. the 1st 3 chapters are ZZZzzz... with alot of mumbo jumbo, but the actual mechanics start in ch 4.
My older brother is into chi-running. Seems to work for him. For me, I'm currently working on speed as I hate running long distances so I prefer the quickest way to jack up my heart rate as well as to increase my explosiveness on the court.

-Jon
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
For sprinting, it's obviously toe, but I know that with distance, the calves take too much stress with that technique. I heard it's something along the lines of toe for sprints, midfoot for middle distance, and heel toe for long distance. Would that be accurate or totally off?
 

NotAtTheNet

Semi-Pro
For sprinting, it's obviously toe, but I know that with distance, the calves take too much stress with that technique. I heard it's something along the lines of toe for sprints, midfoot for middle distance, and heel toe for long distance. Would that be accurate or totally off?
Almost, I'd use midfoot for long distance too. Think about it this way. When you land on your heel, you're sending a direct shock to your leg. Landing mid foot allows the arch of your foot to flex, acting like a trucks suspension, cushioning impact.
 
Speed or distance?
How about starting off with some distance work to build endurance and a better leg strength base, and converting over to mainly speed work over the course of the summer? Every spring I begin with a fair amount of sprinting the straightaways and jogging the turns on a track, knowing this is not the "best" for either, but it seems to get me going.
 

atatu

Legend
Go for the speed if you want to improve your tennis game...BUT if you want to drop some weight then distance is the best way to go...
 
I train both in one session. I use what I call the miracle mile (I run on a track where 4 laps= 1 mile), which is 1 1/2 lap of distance, 1/2 a lap of sprinting, half a lap of jogging and then alternate sprints and jogging every 1/4 of a lap. It's exhausting but it helps my max speed and I felt way less tired at the end of a match.
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
Do you run heel toe or midfoot on distance runs?
I have LOTS of running experience. Most people tend to advocate midfoot running nowadays. They say it is easier on the joints and its obviosly a more aggressive position which is why you can't run fast on your heels. 1-2 mile runners use this technique. Comes down really to what your definition of long distance is. Just a fact about the Beijjing olympic marathoners. They took pictures of almost every runner during the beggining and towards the end of the race. At the 3/4 mark about 70% of runners were heel-toe'ing. For most people this is the most natural instinct when it comes to slow running.

So which one is best?? There is no definite answer. It depends on you and your own anatomy. Running is very hard on the body and true long distance runners can tell you this. Part of what makes running marathons / long distance difficult is avoiding injury.

Running on your mid/forefoot puts less strain on your knees / joints because your not pounding quite as hard. You absorb this shock with your muscles and foot. People don't realize that you can injure your muscles / tendons just as bad as you can damage your bones.

Running on your heel is easier even if your a trained midfoot striker which is why many marathoners end up finishing with heel-toe running. Once your exhausted you can't help but utilize your natural technique. Your huge heel bone is meant to take punishment but at the same time all that pounding eventually takes a toll on your knees / joints. Running really is a lose lose situation.

I know your not going to be marathon training but I was just trying to illustrate my point: The method you should choose is the one that feels best for you. Each has advantage / disadvantage. Give each strike an adequate test. Forefoot running takes at least a 6-7 runs to really develop. I would try each for a month or so and see which feels best. Forefoot running is hard at first so keep that in mind.

I run on my forefoot but I run 7 min pace miles for my triathlons.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
I've heard that since the mile turned into something of a long sprint, elite milers land on their toes and don't even midfoot this race. I believe they midfoot and heel-toe 5000 meters and beyond.
 

snoopy

Professional
I prefer speed training but i find it harder to do in a city environment. It's hard to find a a smooth, empty stretch of space where you don't have to worry about getting hit by a car.
 

LuckyR

Legend
Speed training all the way. If you train slow for long distances you will be good at: running slow for long distances. Think of the dimensions of a half tennis court.
 
Bulldog, All I do is hit the weights. I thought everyone knew that about me.
Rickson,

I would like to offer a fairly detailed reply, as you have been quite helpful to others on this board (esp steering others away from Plasma's rantings).

This could be a way for you to approach your question:

First, assess yourself.

From what I know about you from your posts on this board, is that you've very much concentrated on lifting big weight (though I have not read evidence of a big squat or deadlift).

So you're strong (probably more strong that what is really necessary for tennis) - would you give yourself 9 out of 10?

Now, what would you give yourself for:

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance (The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.)

2. Stamina (The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.)

3. Strength (The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.) <= 9 out of 10 for you?

4. Flexibility (the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.)

5. Power (The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum
time.)

6. Speed (The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.)

7. Coordination (The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.)

8. Agility (The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.)

9. Balance (The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.)

10. Accuracy (The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.)

(I've taken these from the makers of Dynamax medicine balls, summarised in this copy of a CrossFit journal about fitness: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ-trial.pdf.)

Next, what do you want to become?

Do you want to be the best tennis player you can be? Or do you want to be a powerlifter who plays tennis? Or a competitive distance runner who plays tennis?

If you want to be the best tennis player you want to be, what sort of tennis player is that (counterpuncher? net rusher? different styles have different needs).

And what group of qualities does that "best possible Rickson tennis player" need?

Now you can answer whether you should go for speed or distance:

If you're going to rely on wearing the opponent down, you need high cardio endurance and stamina - say 9 out of 10 for each.

* If you're less than this, (ie assuming you're current cardio and energy systems abilities are low) you need more distance running and HIIT. You need to develop these qualities.

* you need to work on other qualities to maintain them (especially tennis specific skills).

* with your high strength, you can spend less time on strength development and more time on other qualities.

If you're going to rely on a more aggressive game, you're going to need more power, speed and agility - say 8 or 9 out of 10 for these:

* Assuming you are not at 8 or 9 for these qualities, you need to develop them - plyos, medicine ball throws, oly lifting and court movement drills.

* again, work to maintain other qualities.

* If you exceed what is needed (ie strength), as hard as it is to do this, you need to spend less time on it and more time on other qualities.

I hope that provided some food for thought.

Tennis is a multi-faceted game. Everyone has a different level of commitment, different playing style, different needs, and will (should?) therefore answer your question differently.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
I was able to squat and deadlift 405 back in the day, but you might want to shave off a plate these days so make it 315 now. I've always had a strong press, but I'm leaning more toward the pulling power these days. I've done barbell rows with 225, but I could have gone heavier. I didn't want to risk a low back injury. I'm definitely not the strongest guy in the gym as I've never juiced in my life, but I'd say I'm a pretty strong, natural weightlifter. As for my goals. I was so used to explosive movements, I found I could not last after a few good, quick starts in whatever I was doing. I could jump high, but I couldn't jump for a long period of time. I could press a lot of weight, but I couldn't do multiple sets. You get the picture. I suppose part of me wants that explosiveness I once possessed, but another part of me says I need to find a balance between explosiveness and endurance. I found myself being like a human video game with the power bar you see on the bottom. Once that power bar goes to zero, I'm wiped out.
 
I suppose part of me wants that explosiveness I once possessed, but another part of me says I need to find a balance between explosiveness and endurance. I found myself being like a human video game with the power bar you see on the bottom. Once that power bar goes to zero, I'm wiped out.
Do you think your answer is right there?

(As you're well aware, you can work explosiveness and endurance at the same time - eg. race to 100 burpees, 30 seconds on 30 seconds off w:r intervals. Can you do it in less than 10 intervals?).

I was able to squat and deadlift 405 back in the day, but you might want to shave off a plate these days so make it 315 now.
Is that a weak deadlift (and to a lesser extent, squat), especially compared to your bench? Perhaps you have some strength imbalances? (see http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm)

I've done barbell rows with 225, but I could have gone heavier. I didn't want to risk a low back injury.
I don't do barbell rows for the same reason.

Have you tried weighted pullups? Or tuck lever pullups (see bottom of this article: http://www.beastskills.com/FrontLever.htm)?

One thing you might like to try are swings. People often use a kettlebell, but I use (and prefer) the very cheap homemade device demonstrated in this article: http://rosstraining.com/blog/2008/12/31/homemade-t-handle-demonstration/.

Btw, the author, Ross Enamait (a combat sports S&C coach), is great example of how you can be strong, powerful, explosive and enduring at the same time.

Actually, there's a thought - could you, Rickson of the awesome rear naked choke, enter a BJJ/MMA/wrestling tourney and train for that? I'd imagine this would give you the incentive to get the right balance quickly.
 

Moz

Hall of Fame
I've heard that since the mile turned into something of a long sprint, elite milers land on their toes and don't even midfoot this race. I believe they midfoot and heel-toe 5000 meters and beyond.
No one really runs on their toes - they run on the balls of their foot. Typically people don't consciously adjust how they run on the basis of distance - and they shouldn't.

What you will find is that some events (shorter) / footwear will result in slightly more emphasis on your calf muscles (try heel striking in spikes - very painful!). It is more typical, for instance, to be slightly more up on your toes when wearing spikes - however that is not deliberate.

You would be mad to deliberately change to heel striking for longer distances. The stress on the muscles as a result of ball or mid foot striking is a good thing - muscles develop a lot more quickly than tendons and even more so than bones. If you are a natural mid foot or front of the foot striker stick with it and don't consciously adjust it, whatever the distance. If you heel strike you may want to gradually adjust to mid or front foot striking as I feel it's more efficient and reduces injury risk.

Regarding the question of endurance over explosiveness, just do both. It's not an either or proposition - ask any decent middle distance runner.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
We're not talking about ballet, moz. I'm fairly certain everyone knew they weren't actually running on their toes.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
I'll try your advice, moz. Midfoot seems safer than heel-toe and I don't think I cover enough distance for my calves to get sore anyway. Half a mile isn't exactly distance running.
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
I've heard that since the mile turned into something of a long sprint, elite milers land on their toes and don't even midfoot this race. I believe they midfoot and heel-toe 5000 meters and beyond.
Well toe / midfoot I consider the same thing (as per this discussion). Your landing on the ball of your foot. True toe running is the most rare of the 3 types of strikes. Sprinting you will be on your toes obviosly. Elite milers are on the balls of their foot (midfoot striking).
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
No one really runs on their toes - they run on the balls of their foot. Typically people don't consciously adjust how they run on the basis of distance - and they shouldn't.

What you will find is that some events (shorter) / footwear will result in slightly more emphasis on your calf muscles (try heel striking in spikes - very painful!). It is more typical, for instance, to be slightly more up on your toes when wearing spikes - however that is not deliberate.

You would be mad to deliberately change to heel striking for longer distances. The stress on the muscles as a result of ball or mid foot striking is a good thing - muscles develop a lot more quickly than tendons and even more so than bones. If you are a natural mid foot or front of the foot striker stick with it and don't consciously adjust it, whatever the distance. If you heel strike you may want to gradually adjust to mid or front foot striking as I feel it's more efficient and reduces injury risk.

Regarding the question of endurance over explosiveness, just do both. It's not an either or proposition - ask any decent middle distance runner.
No you would not be mad to change to heel striking for true long distance. A lot of top marathoners heel strike as per the beiijing olympics. It is most natural for most people and more efficient. Running is hard on the body regardless of how you run. Midfoot running puts more stress on the tendons / muscles which can develop into an injury just as bad or worse than a bone injury. Enourmous stress on the calf muslcle in fact. Doesn't matter how long or how well you train.

Heel striking has its own pro's and con's that I wen't over in my previous post.

You have to find what is most comfortable for you which is my point. Anyway at 1/2 a mile it doesn't even matter.
 

Moz

Hall of Fame
No you would not be mad to change to heel striking for true long distance. A lot of top marathoners heel strike as per the beiijing olympics. It is most natural for most people and more efficient. Running is hard on the body regardless of how you run. Midfoot running puts more stress on the tendons / muscles which can develop into an injury just as bad or worse than a bone injury. Enourmous stress on the calf muslcle in fact. Doesn't matter how long or how well you train.

Heel striking has its own pro's and con's that I wen't over in my previous post.

You have to find what is most comfortable for you which is my point. Anyway at 1/2 a mile it doesn't even matter.
If you naturally mid foot striked I think you would be mad to CHANGE to heel strike - irrespective of the distance you run. That's what I intended to say.

As you say - trying what is most comfortable is the best place to start, but I would see no reason to actually force a change TO heel striking.

When you say heel striking is more "natural" what you are really saying is that people when wearing normal running shoes are more likely to run heel first. I would argue that's a function of the shoe as much as anything.

As for more natural - everyone go and run barefoot - that is how the human body is designed. You will only try heel striking barefoot once!

You are right, for half a mile it just doesn't matter. These things can be over thought, although I got a shock this year for a few days after wearing my spikes for the first time in 8 years - very sore calves.

Interesting bit here, which seems to sum it up really:

"One researcher, William J. Kraemer of the University of Connecticut, recently videotaped 415 runners in a half-marathon, including elite distance runners and Olympians. Most ran heel to toe, but the faster the runners were, a greater proportion struck the ground with their midfoot, Kraemer reported. Among the top 50 runners midway through the race, 62 percent ran heel to toe, 36 percent were midfoot runners and 2 percent ran like Gebrselassie, striking the ground with their forefoot."
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
True, argueing over this is a bunch of semantics really. Both strikes have their pro's and con's and top runners utilize both. Ive researched this to death because I had a stress fracture that ended my D1 soccer scholarship.

People tend to advocate one or the other but the truth is it comes down to you. I wouldn't look at which runners are faster / slower / etc. Ive run marathons and now I do olympic distance triathlons and I can say when it comes to long distance running the biggest battle is staying healthy for most people. Training is the easy part.
 
Top