Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sprinting and Tactics

Track racing is essentially for sprinters, short match sprint events or scratch races which require bursts of sustained speed. At least these are the spectator friendly events. Events such as the Pursuit and other Time Trial events are more for the athletes rather than spectators, these timed events can be quite boring to watch. Track racers are into speed, direct drive speed, fast twitch speed, in your face speed.

Some of us spend time in the gym trying to build strength and muscles for sprinting. Undoubtedly, strong muscles mean power, power means speed which results in a good jump and acceleration on the track. That is the good part - on the flip side an abundant of strength and power can lead to clumsiness and impulsiveness if not combined with flexibility, leg speed, agility and temperament. One has to be patient and employ the right tactics at the right time to gain the edge. Also you have to be confident, believe in your training and don't second guess yourself.

Your jump might be excellent, but your tactics, and bike handling skills can be a problem. In three up sprints you might want to jump too early or just use the wrong tactics altogether. In three up sprints there are more variables involved and you have to be able to cover all bases. Two up sprints require different tactics, if poor tactics are used by the stronger, faster rider then that rider does not necessarily win. A scratch race is all about conserving ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the chemical compound which provides energy to your muscle fibers which allows for maximum contraction in the last 10 to 20 seconds of the sprint. Some times you make your move too early, burn up all your ATP while others sitting in your draft come around you.

This is where an external pair of eyes in the form of a good coach comes in handy. A coach who is present at the track to observe what you are doing wrong or right and to help you correct your mistakes. Many of us cannot afford to have a coach at our disposal. So instead we pick up bits and pieces here and there. Or use a video camera to analyze the ride, it is always a learning experience looking at a video of your race from a different perspective.

The Coach of Delroy Walters (Masters World Champ) is Charlie Jennings who is always at the track helping racers like me with words of advice and training tips. Charlie represented Guyana in the Sprint and Kilo events, he is a resource for many of us at Kissena.

Delroy Walters is the coach of the Star Track developmental juniors, Joe Brennan is the women's coach, John Campo is the coach for new riders while Charlie Jennings is the tactician. Charlie can always be found quietly standing in the bleachers observing the training and racing taking place at Kissena and is always ready to offer you advice.

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