Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, July 04, 2003

Peak form


On TV last night Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's coach, said something about Armstrong's training throughout the year. He said at any time of the year Armstrong is within ten percent of his peak fitness.

I'm not sure exactly what it means to be "within ten percent," but I think the idea Carmichael was trying to get across was that Armstrong is fit year round. The difference between his peak and his "off season" is not huge.

On the other hand, I might have totally missed Carmichael's point. "Within ten percent" might imply a huge difference between peak fitness and "off season." For example, a 10,000 meter runner who ran 35 minutes at their best would probably have no trouble running within 10 percent of that time even if they did almost no training in the off season.

Still, I suspect the point Carmichael was trying to make was that Armstrong is fit year round. He doesn't spend much time away from training.

In general, it seems to me that peaking for any sport (and especially orienteering) is tricky. I guess the basics of reaching a physical peak are fairly well understood. But, since performance is so tied to strategy and psychology, hitting peak physical form isn't enough to have a top performance.

Christer Johansson, trainer/doctor for the Swedish team in the late 1980s, suggested that most orienteers should try to keep a fairly even form throughout the year. If I remember correctly, he felt that orienteering rewarded an even form because of the balance between running and navigating (i.e. if you're running too fast you tend to miss controls). I think he also felt a steady form was better for avoiding injuries.

posted by Michael | 2:04 PM


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