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Italian tune-up

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J2R
Mar 2016
8:02pm, 2 Mar 2016
243 posts
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J2R
In the motoring world, there is the concept of an 'Italian tune-up', where you basically run the car hard at high revs for a sustained period, to clear accumulated gunk (carbon build-up, etc.) out of the system. I've begun to wonder whether a similar thing applies to running! A few times now over the last couple of years, when I've been having a period of reduced performance in training for whatever reason (normally lack of fitness), I've done a hard, high intensity interval session and instead of being wiped out the next day as expected, I've felt immediately a bit fitter, as if some performance ceiling has been removed. It's really as if I've blasted some cobwebs out of my system and everything is running smoother and more efficiently as a result! Clearly any genuine cardiovascular improvements from the session are not going to be felt the next day - that's far too soon.

I was just wondering whether anyone else experiences this? I've not come across it in the literature.
Mar 2016
8:35pm, 2 Mar 2016
284 posts
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purephase
Electrical impulses maybe, apparently the efficiency that your muscle fiber synaptic impulses fire improves very quickly and also diminishes very quickly. I cant remember where I came across this, it was a youtube video by a coach (could have been Jack Daniels) but this is the reasoning behind doing a session of strides the day before a race, it primes the muscles to fire at maximum efficiency. Of course i could be talking utter mince because Im no coach.
Mar 2016
9:09am, 3 Mar 2016
1731 posts
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Canute
I agree that improved neuromuscular coordination is likely to be important. This probably includes improved function at the level of the neuromuscular junction and also improved neural signalling in the brain. I think that hopping and skipping drills have a similar effect, but it is probably sensible to follow such drills immedialtey with strides to facilitate incorporation of the sharper neurla activity into the running action.

In my experience, hopping and skipping drills with assocated strides are an effective sharpening session during the final week of the taper for a race.
J2R
Mar 2016
9:20am, 3 Mar 2016
244 posts
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J2R
Interesting ideas. My hypothesis was more in the 'brain training' area, the brain as central governor - I did a really hard session and got away with it, so my brain allows me a bit more 'headroom', relaxes the speed governing a bit.
Mar 2016
9:54am, 3 Mar 2016
1732 posts
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Canute
The importance of neuromuscular coordination is easily demonstrated with weight lifting. If I have not done any lifting for a month or more, I cannot immediately do my former 5 rep maximum, but after a small number of re-familiarization sessions, I can achieve the former maximum. Within a session, I would really struggle to achieve my max after only a light warm up, but can achieve my max if a do a warm up and then a series of three sets of 5 lifts with load increasing from 60% of max to 90% of max and then to 100% of max.

Similar effects are easily demonstrated with sprinting.

I am fairly sure that a similar process applies in re-building facility to achieve lrace pace at longer distances, after a sustained period in which most training has been slower than race pace
Mar 2016
9:58am, 3 Mar 2016
1044 posts
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stuart little
Physiologically, it's hard (as ever) to disagree with canute. Psychologically, I've often felt (from watching newcomers to the sessions i coach) that it's simply that it teaches/reminds people how much more discomfort they can tolerate than they think they can
Mar 2016
11:18am, 3 Mar 2016
285 posts
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purephase
Thats a good point stuart, we all probably go through that at least twice a year, when the first dramatic fall and rise in temperature occurs. One day its cold and 5 degrees and the next its sunny and 15, that feels really hot and uncomfortable but then if the weather stays nice your body and mind quickly adapt and it feels pleasant.
Mar 2016
1:41pm, 3 Mar 2016
1733 posts
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Canute
There is no disagreement. Mind and brain are two sides of one coin, neither subservient to the other.

Neuromuscular coordination is mediated at many levels: conscious will, subliminal self-confidence; motor planning; neural signalling from brain to spinal cord and from spinal cord to muscles; and finally transmission at the neuromuscular junction. Although different brain regions play specialised roles, all of these levels interact.

I do not see the central governor as a Gilbert & Sullivan character in an admiral’s hat on the poop deck, nor even Amelia Earhart in pilot’s helmet and googles in the cockpit, but rather as a interacting network more like a pack of hunting dogs.

The practical implication is that all levels of the neuromuscular control system can be trained in a mutually reinforcing way.
Mar 2016
2:21pm, 3 Mar 2016
1046 posts
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stuart little
Canute: apologies if my post suggested disagreement, it certainly wasn't meant that way!

As you have eloquently explained, it is a balance of the physical and mental. It was more a comment that I see plenty of runners who have never pushed their central governor beyond their "normal" running pace making decent leaps after only one or two speed sessions having taught themselves that they can run faster
J2R
Mar 2016
2:36pm, 3 Mar 2016
245 posts
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J2R
stuart, I don't think that's really what I'm describing, though, not as it applies to me, anyway. I'm a reasonably experienced runner and used to pushing myself hard (although I will grant you that I sometimes forget how grim running training can be until I'm trying to get myself back in shape). My experience yesterday (which triggered my initial post) wasn't really of getting used to greater discomfort, but of experiencing far less discomfort than expected. I ran an easy pace run at a pace about 15-20 seconds per mile faster than it felt from recent experience, with concomitant reduction in heart rate, too.

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In the motoring world, there is the concept of an 'Italian tune-up', where you basically run the c...

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