The Urban Athlete – Speed

The Italian physicist Galileo Galilei is credited with being the first to measure speed by considering the distance covered and the time it takes. Galileo defined speed as the distance covered per unit of time.In equation form, this is (velocity is equal to distance divided by time) or…

v = \frac{d}{t},

Speed kills they say.  Kills what?  I suppose whatever it is you define as your prey, a corner back on the football field, your opponent in the ring with your hands or the task or assignment on the fire ground.

I was told early on by an instructor at the academy I attended for my first firefighting job that you don’t ever run on the fire ground.  Not ever.

I’ve broken that rule a few times but it’s been far and few between.  Running speed probably doesn’t mean all that much when you are doing our work (bad news for guys like me).  Maybe if you need to go back and grab another tool on the rig and certainly when you need to ascend multiple floors of a high rise scenario.  Those situations seldom occur where I work and even in the event of the highrise you had better be able to do it with a significant amount of added weight.  Gelileo’s formula comes into play when needed application of force from sledge to halligan is necessary, or when you pull a charged hand line into a building.  I’m not talking about the fundamentals behind forcible entry or hand line deployment here, what I am talking about is the muscle to actually get the job done and to do so in a manner that leaves you able to still progress forward into the task or work at hand.

Proprioception (proupri. e. sepjen/ PRO-pree-o-SEP-shan), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual” and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.

Why does this matter?  Without a well built and advanced sense of proprioception, the ability to accurately gauge your surroundings and limiters in your environment, you won’t be able to apply either the proper force or speed to surrounding obstacles and objects.

Speed is relative.  That means speed kills prey, prey that you want it to kill.  Not a bunch of wasted effort, energy or collateral damage.  Wasted movement and wasted efforts of intensity are just that.  Waste.  The body uses energy to achieve any task, a one mile run, moving an object from the ground to above your head or simple foot placement and movement when snatching an object towards you.  Guys that do nothing but train for power will never achieve their true potential without fully integrating the entire body or maxing out the quickness of movement.

An object at rest stays at rest, an object in motion stays in motion.

If you’ve ever seen Olympic lifters they snatch the bar from ground to overhead with fierce intensity (and massive weight), the weight doesn’t happen without plenty of speed incorporated.  Much of what we train our athletes to do in our programming involves the incorporation of both balance and speed into the training.  Often times the reason we have you running on tired legs, or breaking down to movements of sprinting into micro-climates of each portion of the stride while applying weight and then direct application of intensity is because we are slowly (ironic?) developing potential for more speed.

This is also the reason we stress not ever letting form and technique suffer for speed and intensity.  Both must not just be managed but trained in unison.  You want to increase the amount of force you can apply to any given task or shorten the duration of time it takes to accomplish any task than absolute mastery of your own relative speed is needed.

This all being said, you can “nerd-out” all day long and use gizmos and gadgets to measure your performance and current fitness or athleticism but at some point the sweating and work become an absolute necessity of making it happen.  The very reason we build our programming the way we do.  Get down to work, get your hands dirty, stop talking about it and make it happen.  Sooner than later, that means QUICKLY getting off your ass and getting to work and incorporating the speed aspect of the complete athlete into your training.





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