Track coaches use the disciplines of physiology and psychology to develop successful athletes. This can be difficult in part because coaches usually work with large groups of athletes in their training group. The application of unique training and psychological stimuli within the training group is called individualization of training. To do this effectively is critical for success.
The athlete profile is a tool that coaches can use to shape a macrocycle of training and development in a middle distance runner. Basically it is a well researched history of past occurrences in an athlete that is then used shape the direction of future training. All aspects of the athlete must be documented and considered.
The athlete profile should contain the following eight sections:
1. The Perspective
2. Athlete performance history and background
3. Statement of the problem
4. Identification of contributing factors
5. Description of assembled team
6. Addressing the course of action concerning the problem
7. Report if results
This is Part 2 of the actual Athlete Profile of high school runner and American 1600 freshman record holder Eli Krahn. In Part 1, (see: The Athlete Profile – Part 1), the first three considerations were described. Part 2 goes on to describe putting numbers 4 and 5 into the profile. These would be: Identification of contributing factors and a description of the assembled professional team.
Identification of Contributing Factors
The continued improvement of Eli Krahn in the middle-distance events in 2014 will be focused on the summative aspects of developing a more efficient aerobic energy system. Besides increasing aerobic training volume and quality, there are other factors to consider as well. These factors center on an ability to handle a greater aerobic training load. This can be summarized as his physiological and psychological ability to withstand the increased training demand (Figure 2).
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Strength improvement will be an important factor, as an increase in work time directly leads to holding proper body posture for a longer period of time. Then there is the body’s ability to handle the increase in load stimulus. These factors include the quantity of iron in the system, quantity and quality of the mitochondria present and their accompanying enzymes, adequate blood volume, left ventricular size, and peripheral factors such as quantity of myoglobin present in the myofibers (Vigil 1995). Eli’s age of 16 years old will be a factor in how these physiological factors can handle an increase in aerobic training volume.
The skeleton of Eli Krahn is that of a 16 year old male that has shown uninterrupted growth over the past five years. He has previously struggled through two stress reactions of the tibia, and growth plate issues of the hip. Both the tibia and hip problems led to significant periods of time in which he was unable to run properly without substantial pain. These issues led to 4-6 weeks away from training. Granted, Eli was 14 and 15 years old when these structural issues arose. He was physically immature and his running was not really organized training. Nonetheless, his history indicates a not so distant series of bone issues that could be related to the pounding of the foot that is sustained while running endurance volume.
Training Resource: The Training Model for High School Middle Distance
Eli Krahn would not be considered strong for his age. He is considered tall for his age. This combination has led to strength deficiency issues while running; manifesting itself as degradation of the posture and a decrease in stride length on continuous runs longer than six miles. At the start of 2014, Eli could mange to do only three fore-hand grip pull-ups of his body weight. He could do 45 full body curls in 60 seconds and 35 push-ups in 60 seconds. All three markers indicate average strength for a male his age. However, if we are to increase his training volume, he will have to improve his general body strength in order to withstand fatigue of the slow-twitch Type 1 muscle fibers whose chief role is maintaining human body posture (Wilmore and Costill 2004).
Eli will need to closely monitor his daily diet in a diary. Proper additional Calorie intake will be an issue as more aerobic work is being done. It is recommended he increase his intake by 500 Calories per day. Other nutritional issues center on the proper intake of both fat and water soluble vitamins and macro and micro nutrients. Iron intake will need to be monitored, as will all of the dietary items that contribute to a robust immune system. Research by Martin et al. (2009) suggested that increased training volume leads to a greater incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) that will inhibit training (Figure 3). He will not be able to handle physiologically or psychologically the increase in training volume if he has frequent URTI symptoms. Nine hours of sleep ever night has also been shown to lower the incidence of URTI in runners (Maughan 2009).
Description of Assembled Team Addressing the Problem
An athlete with outlier performances requires a team of experts to effectively move on to the next level of development (Maughan 2009). Once a training deficiency or problem is identified, a hypothesis of correction is made, and a replicable plan of experimentation is put into place that ideally will support the hypothesis with empirical data. In the case of Eli Krahn, a team of professionals will be used to clearly define the problem in an agreeable fashion, and then collaboratively design an experiment, or multi-faceted training program, that will eliminate the deficiency and lead to even better performances for the athlete (Table 3).
Scott Christensen and Ryan Miller have previously written training programs for Eli Krahn. Christensen has 34 years of endurance coaching experience and has coached numerous state champions in the 1600 meters.
Max Lipset was brought onto the team to provide strength expertise and a gym/weight room facility to do it in. Lipset is a former professional soccer player with 10 years experience as a private strength coach.
Katie Larson is a physical therapist with the elite medical facility in Stillwater known as the OSI Sports Medicine Clinic. They treat many of the professional athletes in Minnesota. Larsen provided the therapy for Eli during his 2013 stress reactions following his record breaking season. Now healthy, he visits Larson on a regular basis for follow up therapy and preventative procedures.
Heidi Knutson provides sport massages for most of the elite Stillwater distance runners from her private office. She has been providing this service for five years.
Dr. Kevin Bjork and Marcy Johnson provide the medical expertise on the team. Dr. Bjork performs a semi-annual blood profile on Eli and provides the results to the team. Marcy Johnson is the nutritional consultant for Eli.
All members of the professional team work through Scott Christensen who serves as the team leader for Eli. He will gather the pertinent information, and weighs the present and future microcycle training plans with the most current communication from the team.
References:Astrand, P. and K. Rodahl. 2003. Textbook of Work Physiology. Human Kinetics Publishing Inc., Champaign, Illinois, USA. Pp. 156-162 Bompa, T. 1983. Theory and Methodology of Training: The Key to Athletic Performance. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Inc, Dubuque, Iowa, USA. Pp. 131-179. Martin S, Pierce B and Woods J. Exercise and respiratory tract viral infections. Exer Spor Sci Rev. 2009;37(4):157-164. Maughan, R. 2009. The Olympic Textbook of Science in Sport. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Inc., West Sussex, UK. Pp 70-92. Vigil, J. 1995. Road to the Top. Creative Design Publishing Inc, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Pp. 45-75. Wilmore, J and D. Costill. 2004. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Human Kinetics Publishing Inc, Champaign, Illinois, USA. Pp. 142-168.