Track diet for sprinters
A Guide to Using Running Parachutes
Running parachutes are great tools which can be used by runners who are trying to improve both strength and speed. However, not many runners know about these useful tools or have any idea how to use them. Even those runners who know a little bit about running parachutes may still not realize the full potential of these training tools. The most common misconception regarding running parachutes is that they are only useful for sprinters. However, distance runners can also benefit from the use of running parachutes, if used properly. This article will provide a basic overview of running parachutes including what they are and how they can be used.
The name running parachute is actually quite descriptive in nature and fairly accurately describes what a running parachute is. It is essentially a large piece of cloth which is attached to the runner by a harness system and billows behind the runner during training. The excess fabric billowing behind the runner creates drag which makes the runner have to work harder to overcome this drag. This helps the runner to improve both his speed and his strength because the muscles are working hard to negate the resistance associated with the use of the running parachute.
The running parachute operates on a system of progressive resistance. Simply stated this means the faster a runner runs, the more resistance they experience. This factor alone makes it obvious that running parachutes are adaptable to accommodate runners of a variety of different levels of skill and speed. Slower runners will experience less drag than faster runners. However, both slower and faster runners will experience a sufficient amount of drag to challenge their bodies and cause them to improve.
One of the common misconceptions associated with the use of running parachutes is they are only helpful for sprinters. While it is true these training aids are very commonly used by sprinters, this does not mean distance runners cannot also benefit from the use of a running parachute during their training. In particular runners will likely find running parachutes to be very useful during interval training. Many distance runners do interval training in an effort to increase their overall speed so it is only logical that during this type of training, the same devices which help sprinters improve their speed will also be helpful to distance runners. During interval training, runners incorporate sprint segments into the workout. These sprints are typically done at a pace which is significantly faster than the runner’s normal race pace. As a result the runner is developing the fast twitch muscles which are so helpful in sprinting during these training sessions.
It is, however, important to note that runners should only plan on using running parachutes for interval work which includes short intervals. Ideally, these sprints would be short enough to be completed on the straightaway of a track. This is important because longer sprints which require the runner to navigate one or more of the curved portions of the track will likely not be ideal for using a running parachute. This is because the wind direction is not likely to be beneficial to parachute training on both the straightaways and the curves.
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