What is training load?

Using training load to plan and analyse your preparation is a powerful weapon. The risk of injuries can be significantly reduced and training efficiency increased.

But what is training load?

Long story short, training load is nothing more than this:
Using a logging software such as SportTracks, makes it very easy to implement the previous expression. The only important thing is to chose correctly the two parameters. In the following lines a synthetic explanation of their meanings.
Training volume is usually calculated as training duration. Another approach is to define it using mileage (for example 120 km/week for a runner). There are no major differences in choosing one or another.
Training intensity indicates how hard your workout is. A common way to quantify this parameter is by using the so-called Borg RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) Scale. Originally conceived with numbers from 6 to 20, nowadays it is commonly accepted tu use values from 0 to 10 to quantify the perceived exertion. The great advantage of this method lies in its simplicity: the athlete judges every workout’s intensity with a number according to his/her sensations. This is a good way for taking into account a wide pool of parameters that influence the workout like, for example, athlete’s motivationkind of shoes used or nutrition before and after the session.
Extremely light
Very light
Somewhat hard
Very hard
Extremely hard
Maximal exertion
The modified Borg RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) Scale.
It is quite a little effort to obtain such a powerful analysis tool. And it is funny indeed, playing with all those numbers. Give it a try!

Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run! 
Science and Training:

What are your chances of becoming an Olympic athlete?

This interesting picture (courtesy of eCollegeFinder.org) shows the chances of U.S. athletes making it to the Olympics, looking at the 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London) Olympic Games participation data.
High school aged boys have a 1 in 8778 chance of making the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Team. For girls, it’s a bit tougher (1 in 9079), even if the lower possibilities are for basketball players (this is not a surprise for U.S., is it?).
Click on the picture to see a larger version and to look at the odds for all Olympic sports.
What are your chances of becoming a summer Olympic athlete?
Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run! 
Science and Training:

Talkin’ blues: when XC meets life. Offene Berlin-Brandenburgische Crossmeisterschaften.

With its curious course through a small forest laying on a sandy soil, this XC race is one of the most interesting in the neighborhood of Berlin. The first date of the “Offene Berlin-Brandenburgische Crossmeisterschaften” (Open Berlin and Brandenburg’s Cross Country Championship) is held in Ludwigsfelde from many years and both the location and the organization fully deserve the title. Maybe with a longest single lap (around 1.1 km nowadays) the run would become a bit more interesting, since the long course needs 8 laps to be completed. The link to the results is at the end of the post.
Here is the GPS-track of the race:


The following two pictures are a kind of hilarious way to think about small problems of life. The biggest achievement is to be healthy and to be there playing like a kid, while you can’t wait to finish the race, just to tell your girlfriend how tired you are, how hard were the uphills and how strong were the opponents that you left behind.

Even if you train hard and you “eat your carbs two hours and a half before the effort”…

…and even if you have your brand new New Balance RX507CG at your feet, don’t forget that Shit Happens (see pic)!

A short photographic description of the race field:
Beautiful transition in the woods.

A small glade before the slopes.

Going up!

This downhill was very difficult to pass fast.

Picturesque start on a short Tartan straight.

The start.

Running around…

The finish.

For the record, the full results are shown HERE.

A pseudo-“Conconi test” to predict the anaerobic threshold.

The “Conconi test” is a noninvasive field test to determine the anaerobic threshold, based on an observed deviation from the linear heart rate (here FC) vs. running speed (RS) curve at high RS. The title of this article reports a “pseudo” before “Conconi test” because the protocol suggested by Conconi et al. (“The Conconi test: methodology after 12 years of application” – Centro Studi Biomedici Applicati allo Sport, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy – Oct. 1996) is slightly different, but the main attempt is just to describe a method that can be used by any runner that owns a Heart Rate Monitor, a Chrono and a measured stretch of road.
The simplified method used here has the following protocol:
  1. 20 minutes warm-up
  2. 5 minutes stretching
  3. using a 1000 m ring, the athlete increases his speed every 500 m
  4. when the athlete is unable to continue the session stops (the athlete should complete between 2.5 and 4 km before being unable to continue)
  5. 20 minutes cool-down (optional).
At the end of the test two types of graphs can be plotted: the first one represents the FC vs. time and the RS vs. time together, as shown below.
FC and speed vs. time.
The detail of the previous plot is shown in the next figure, where the distance references are highlighted.
FC and speed vs. time: detail.
Zooming on the top of the red curve (FC), the FCmax can be easily read.
FCmax: detail.
But the most important graph is the following. Plotting FC vs. RS the anaerobic threshold can be determined finding the deflection point, where there is a deviation from the linear FC vs. RS curve. The meaning of this knee is simple: when linearity stops, the accumulation of lacitc acid (LA) starts. The higher the threshold, the higher the RS without accumulation of LA. Thus you can find the anaerobic threshold for FC (AFC – Anaerobic Heart Rate) and for the speed (ARS – Anaerobic Running Speed).
Graphic method to determine the anaerobic threshold.
The accuracy of this method, anyway, is strictly connected with the accuracies of the instruments employed and with the human and environmental boundary conditions. Anyway, this is for sure a good tool to understand the orders of magnitude of the variables used. As Claude Rouelle taught me: “Is it going to be accurate? No. Is it going to be useful? Yes!”.
Here there is a table to quickly understand how to use the results (values can slightly change with athletes: this is working for me and it’s just the explanation of a method):
Recovery long
Lower than 78% of ARS
Between 80 and 82% of ARS
Between 87 and 90% of ARS
Between 92 and 95% of ARS
Between 97 and 100% of ARS
Medium repetitions
Between 97 and 100% of ARS
Short repetitions
Between 105 and 108% of ARS

Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run! 

Posts about training:
Posts about races:

Keep on training!

Omni-Lite ceramic track spikes

Not for publicity, but just for real passion and interest (after all I am an Aerospace Engineer) I publish the whole text found HERE about the state of the art in ultra-light Athletics track spikes. Here we particularly talk about ceramic technology: a solution that can reduce the weight of the old steel spikes with a high corrosion resistance of the material at the same time. And they are cheap, too! Just try and see!

Ultra-Lite Ceramic Track Spikes
  • Patented space-age ceramic material 1/3 the weight of traditional steel spikes;
  • patented design compresses track to provide more energy back to the athlete;
  • will not rust or corrode;
  • will not damage track.

Omni-Lite’s track spikes are standard features in the track shoes designed and manufactured by the world’s leading athletic shoe manufacturers including Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, and New Balance. Omni-Lite’s space-age ceramic track spikes were utilized by athletes who won over 40 gold medals in the summer Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, and Beijing. Omni-Lite’s patented christmas tree spikes were utilized in the gold shoes that helped propel Michael Johnson to several gold medals highlighted by his remarkable world record in the 200M sprint. These products were also utilized in several recent world record performances including the men’s 100m, 200m, 400m, and mile events. Omni-Lite’s compression style track spikes are mandatory at several track facilities. The companies knowledge of advanced composite materials and computer assisted production of precision components has enabled the company to capture almost 80% of the OEM track spike market.
Omni-Lite’s sports and recreational products are resold worldwide in more than 140 countries through Nike, Adidas, Eastbay, Springco Athletics, M-F Athletics and about 100 independent sporting goods catalogs and retail stores. Customers can also buy these track spikes online at the Omni-Lite Store.

My Adidas Cadence equipped with 5mm Pyramid Omni-Lite ceramic spikes.

Recommended Spike Usage
50m – 400m
800m – 1,500m
3,000m – 10,000m
Pole Vault
High Jump
Long Jump
Triple Jump
Cross Country
1/8″ 3/16″ or 1/4″ (3,5 or 7mm) Christmas Tree
1/4″ (7mm) Pyramid or Christmas Tree
3/16″ (5mm) Pyramid
1/4″ (7mm) Pyramid or Christmas Tree
1/4″ – 1/2″ (7-13mm) Pyramid
1/4″ – 3/8″ (7-9mm) Pyramid
1/4″ (7mm) Pyramid
1/4″ (7mm) Pyramid
3/16″ – 1/2″ (5-13mm) Pyramid

Spike Maintenance & Replacement
  • The Ultra-Lite ceramic spike is designed to provide athletes with a lightweight product that feels good on the track and maximizes energy returned to the athlete by compressing the track rather than cutting it. The useful life of the product can be extended significantly by avoiding concrete.
  • When inserting spikes with a standard spike wrench there’s no need to overtighten. A snug fit is satisfactory given the nature of the ceramic spike. Check each spike prior to each outing.
  • As the ceramic spike will not rust, removal of it should be easier than removing a steel spike. If removal is unsuccessful with a standard wrench the following tools will help:
      • needle nose locking pliers
      • a file
  • As in the removal of a steel spike, attach the locking pliers tightly across the flats of the spike. The locking pliers should be attached near their handle, not near the thin tip. After achieving a firm grip, rotate counterclockwise until the spike begins to rotate out. If a firm purchase is not possible on the spike, use the file to carefully create a smooth section on each flat area. Remove a minimum amount of material to allow for successive attempts with the locking pliers.
Available Colors
  • Violet
  • Black
  • Fast Red
  • Fast Blue
  • Olympic Gold
  • Olympic Green
  • Silver