In part one and part two of the 3-part article Matt Long, Darren Reevell and Mark Brace introduced the concept of biokinetics. In this final article they pull the learning together and ask ‘now what?’
Spring 2022. Team England warm weather training camp
After a day of training, and then some relaxation on the beach and in the sea, our two Commonwealth Games bound athletes are back at the team hotel and having refuelled they are now enjoying a relaxing massage with the team physios. Sat in the corner of the treatment room is their team coach who has one eye on the tv but who is enjoying some idle chat with the athletes.
As her calves are being worked on the treatment table, the female marathoner asks him “So you’ve told us what biokinetics is and why its important, but you promised to tell us more about how to improve it”.
Fundamental Movement Patterns
Turning the sound on the tv down, the coach replies, “We need to work on your fundamental movement patterns. Things including bracing, hinging, squatting and lunging, which will develop that optimal stiffness of your kinetic chain that I was talking about. As you achieve competence with some FMP movements we can progress through double leg to single leg squat; I will be looking for the triple extension and triple flexion via ROM through ankle, knee and hip in squat”.
Lunges once perfected can also be challenged with forward and reverse movement and with medicine balls thrown from a stable base- centre of mass over base support. The female marathoner asks, “So what will this do for me?’” Enthusiastically, he replies that, “This kind of work will help develop trunk control and when you are physically competent enough, the conditioning can be increased with the aid of resistance- but you have to earn the right to progress”.
The coach continues that, “I’d like you to spend more time with your boyfriend- on the track I mean!”. With a bemused look the female marathoner says, “But he’s a speed-based athlete and I’m endurance based”. The coach fires back saying, “You will find that by undertaking things maximal short sprints more regularly and coupled with things like pogo / countermovement jumps, hop and stick and jumping to a low box, that you will improve your physical prep work in terms of strength and mobility”.
The female marathoner nods in agreement and asks, “So what are we both doing at the track tomorrow?”. The coach prescribes that, “You can both work on foot drills which will strengthen your feet around the big toe joints and after you’ve activated those muscles and tendons you can move on to mobilising through hurdles drills which will help with hip mobility”.
Multi-terrain and hill running
The female marathoner then asks, “So after all those drills in the warm up phase of my session, what’s my main session”. He replies, “After you’ve done a few alactic sprints on the track we will get you out onto the trails, not only to build some more strength endurance but because running the inclines and declines over the trails helps with your biokinetics too, by having to adjust your kinetic chain stiffness”.
Her massage being finished and in grabbing her towel in preparation to head off to her hotel room for a good night’s sleep, the female marathoner fires one last question to the team coach. “Anything I need to know about kit for tomorrow?”, she asks. He responds, “Bring a couple of pairs of trainers, your racing shoes and your spikes and we will mix up what you wear as we progress from the warm-up to the main session on the trails.
Be prepared, additionally to do some barefoot strides on the grass infield of the track as part of the warm-up as I’ve checked the grass is safe to use. This is because over time it will improve your balance and proprioception”. (See Thompson, P.J.L. 2021). The female marathoner replies, “How come?”. He continues that, “If appropriate for the individual athlete then going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination”.
Questions for self-reflection
1. Why is an understanding of the biokinetics of healthy movement important for me to understand as runner?
2. Where are the particular points in my periodised macro-cycle of training which give me the opportunity to focus more extensively on my fundamental movement patterns- perhaps when returning from injury; when tapering for competition or when returning to training after a period of rest and recuperation?
3. When in my microcyles of training is there an opportunity to work on some of the drills and practices alluded to above? Where are my best windows of opportunity?
4. How will I monitor the success of the training of my fundamental movement patterns? Is it solely based on my performances or are there indicators of process such as the ‘feeling’ I have when running and kinaesthetic feedback which lets me know that my running economy and efficiency have improved?
Thompson, P.J.L. (2021) ‘Biokinetic energy – identifying the fourth energy system for all track & field events’. Techniques for Track & Field and Cross Country, USTFCCCA, 14 (4): 8-13. This is the Technical Journal of the United States Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) available free of charge at this link:
Mark Brace (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Darren Reevell (email@example.com) are Regional Coach Leads for Endurance who have served as England Team Managers. Matt Long is a Midlands Team Manager for Road, Cross Country and Masters and Mentee Team Manager on the England Athletics Staff Training Programme and welcomes contact for support at firstname.lastname@example.org