Workout #4: AlterG Overspeed
- Weight-reduced repetitions to simulate overspeed
- Damon Martin, Head Cross Country Coach of NCAA Division II champion Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado.
More: How to Increase Your Speed Comfortably
With the unpredictable winters coaching at almost 8,000 feet above sea level brings, Martin has had to develop a flexible training plan to keep his harriers ready for whatever may come. "I think [the treadmill] is a big benefit when the weather is bad," he says. "You have either the choice of just going out and putting in any kind of run, or you can stick with what your original plan was."
For Martin that plan often involves fast intervals to keep his runners sharp for races ranging from 800m to 5,000m, no easy feat at that altitude in sub-arctic conditions. Martin is an innovator, however, and has discovered a unique way of achieving this turnover by utilizing the ultimate in running technology: the AlterG treadmill. "Sometimes it's hard to simulate sea level training and paces, so I'll have kids get on [an AlterG], reduce their bodyweight by 1 or 2 percent, and then have them do interval training," he says. "It's like doing sea level training. By reducing their bodyweight by 1 or 2 percent, I can simulate some of those same velocities."
More: What Is an Alter-G?
Your turn: Consider this workout extra credit. While the $75,000 price tag has made owning an AlterG cost prohibitive for most individual buyers, more and more health clubs and rehabilitation facilities are purchasing the machine. Additionally, many commercial or high-end home models can reach speeds between 12 and 15 mph (5:00 mile pace/4:00 mile pace) these days, which will keep the fast-twitch fibers happy for most of us.
More: Train for Your Muscle-Fiber Type
If you do gain access to a sturdy and speedy machine, treat it just like you would the track. Put on your flats, crank up the adrenaline, and prepare to bust out some 200s, 300s, or 400s at mile pace with equal rest. The virtual track that most treadmill displays now come standard with can help you feel your position out, while the precise pacing will allow you to hit paces better than you could have ever imagined outdoors. If you finagle a ride on an AlterG, go ahead and take 5 percent of your body weight off and see just how fast you can fly. It's like being wind-aided indoors; your muscles will appreciate the unique stimulus.
For extra, extra credit, download an old Olympic race off YouTube or dust off the VHS you have of the Atlanta Games and see how your sprint holds up against Coe, Walker, Morceli, or Bekele. The film may be a bit grainy, but I bet a 37.5 200m sprint never went by faster.
More: 3 Surprising Ways to Enjoy Treadmill Running
Sign up for your next race.