Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Speed, Strength & Power

Over the past couple of months I've talked to a couple of different people about speed and strength in training. We often say things like "I felt strong" or "He's real quick" and it's not uncommon to find that these terms don't mean the same thing to different people. For example speed work can mean strides, track workouts or just racing fast to different people.

I found a cycling article that discusses how speed, strength and power contribute to your overall fitness. You don't have to know too much about cycling to see how strides, long runs and track work for running could be substitute for the cycling training they discuss.

I think the article starts off on a good point - we misuse the words speed and strength frequently when talking about our training. More than just a semantic point I think being able to define these terms correctly informs our approach to training and helps answer the big question:

How can I get faster?

Runners never talk about power, which is a combination of speed and strength, since it's much harder to quantify than speed (a 30s 200) or strength (a 70 mile week) since we don't have cool toys like cyclists with their PowerTaps to measure our energy output. Hard to measure or not, power is important.

Take Arjun's PDAW-winning 4:32 mile in NYC. I've heard a lot of people say "Arjun ran a 4:32, he's really strong right now" or "Arjun ran a 4:32, he's really quick right now". Colloquially both are accurate but in terms of training he's BOTH strong (70+ mile weeks) AND fast (sub 30s 200's) which gives him the power to hold the pace needed to run so fast his hair falls out.

If you don't believe me you can look at Ryan with his huge Ironman training volume (very strong) and Barf with the natural leg speed to run a 56s 400m (very fast) - neither are close to Arjun in the mile. And while Arjun can out sprint Barf and puts in more miles than Ryan (though with bike time Ryan's ahead) it's more the combination than strength in either one area that puts him ahead.

Something to think about.

Lastly, just to go completely overboard with my dorkiness, power is quite literally speed x strength as the article suggests.

  • Strength = Force (Newtons)
  • Speed = velocity (m/s or mph) = distance/time
  • Energy = Force x distance (Jules, Ergs or calories)
  • Power = energy/time (Watts)
  • Strength x speed = force x velocity = (force x distance)/time = energy/time = Power


RM said...

This is an excellent and well written article, Alex, I'd actually suggest you send that into RW or something to get published.

These are the things that I'd like us to discuss more in our effort to become the best athletes we can. I wouldn't even mind having a weekly session on this, even if it was over dinner after TNT or something.

And don't forget, power also has to do with weight, so go home and weigh yourselves, then subtract 20, and be that number.

THE KRIS said...

man i love it when you guys dork out like this, it gives me something with which to fill a few moments of my otherwise meaningless life. good article, i'm not sure that i can get myself to the gym, but i'll think of something.

brennan said...

Strength, Speed, Energy, & Power...4 things the Orioles most likely will not have this season. However, if you're looking for tickets to Opening Day, let me know. I can get you some good seats at reduced prices; just shoot me an e-mail BFeldhausen@orioles.com or give me a call 410-547-6197 and I can arrange. Thanks!
I hope to be back out on the roads with you all soon.

Alex said...

Thanks for the feedback guys. Brennan, better than seats can you get me a parking pass so I can park in front of my house for the next 6 months?


Terence aka LT said...

Strength = Heart
Speed = T
Force = Mind(if you believe you can achieve)
Velocity = rest 4 days/week
Distance = 13 loops around park
Energy = Power bar
PNB = Power Now Baby!

Heart x T = Mind x Rest=(Mind x Distance)/time = Powerbar/time= PNB

RM said...

This is the awesomest post ever, we have 5 comments!! Also, Brennan is alive! And T, I think you just came up with our new slogan. PNB. I like it.

THE KRIS said...

what's awesome is all that science t's busy droppin'.

Alex said...

Yo people stopped saying t's when your boy Shakespeare died back in the day.

Back when you were in high school.

When rocks were young.


THE KRIS said...

i get it... 'cause i'm old.