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The Eight Seconds Workout: Speed Skater Shows How to Sprint and Tweet Your Way to the Olympics or at Least Money

roadskater's picture

I hope to come back to this (he often says), but I wanted to post it before it's gone. Barry Publow's book, Speed on Skates, had some info on this, and eebee and I actually did some really short workouts one year. I would not call them fun, exactly, but I think they were helpful (along with being younger, lighter, and more obsessed with skating every day). 


Hill sprinting part of speed skater's tough work-out - Vancouver Courier -

Hill sprinting part of speed skater's tough work-out
Vancouver Courier
But he also knew one of his new and most pressing responsibilities-if he was going to qualify for the Canadian men's national speed skating team, one of the best on the planet-was to turn a buck. Amateur athletes have bills to pay. ...

and more »

[Speedskating & Speedskaters]


timv's picture

Interesting Several Ways

There are at least three aspects to that story that caught my attention. One is that Kevin Jagger is a 27-year-old former bank investment analyst who was inspired watching the 2010 Winter Olympics, who then decided to set aside his old life and become an elite long-track speedskater--in Canada of all places. That's kinda like if Eddie the Eagle had been Austrian, or if the Jamaican bobsled team had instead been German, or maybe if a late-20s Jamaican bank officer decided to challenge Usain Bolt for a spot on their national sprint squad.

There's also the bit about him using social media to support this new career of his, including setting up the website longtracklongshot.com to document his experience. The article reports that more established speedskaters who ridiculed him at first now approach him "for advice-about brand management, fundraising and interacting with sponsors," but it doesn't give any idea of whether he's actually pulling in real income from that stuff. I wish it had said more.

And I guess the hill sprints were what led to this story getitng blogged here. That's something I was yacking on about at the park after skating Monday night. Besides base aerobic work, long slow distance, and aerobic speed training, I think there's something to gained from including a small but significant amount of genuinely maximal effort, for building specific strength and also as a trigger for overall adaptation--basically a way to let the body know we're really serious about this.

We get (and give, really) so much advice not to strain, to take it slow and steady, not to risk injury or overtraining or burnout. But now and then, maybe once a week or a few times a month, really cutting loose and going all out for a few seconds at a time might be very helpful too.

roadskater's picture

Yes the Reason I Replied So Quickly at the Park

When we talked at the end of our skate on Moosday (a Monday skate substituted for the usual Tuesday skate, still involving cow fat cheese afterward) was that I had been wondering where my laminated sheet of workouts from Speed on Skates was. I used to carry around this credit card sized set of workout definitions in part at least based on some workouts in the book. I hope to look those up and include them here at some point. Too busy hacking on the site now. 

Yeah he didn't take the easy way out in terms of choosing a dream! I admire that. I also hope to go back and look at his website, and that's a big reason for logging it here for reference. 

Yes the article was disappointing for where it started to go but didn't. I wonder if an editor hacked it to death to make it fit into allocated print space. The quotations from the trainer were just starting to get good. 

But I take from the battle between the title and the first paragraph that somehow the lure into the piece was supposed to be the workouts, but the purpose of the piece may've been to simply help this athlete pimp his local fundraiser and his twitter and web proliferations. In the transition, these other really interesting things come across...energy pathways, tweetups, marketing, training, etc. 

Yes the year we did those little big workouts we did pretty well. As many say, including timv and even sometimes me, the way to skate or run fast is to skate or run fast and build up endurance. Building endurance then getting fast seems to work less well. 

And right about advice to take it easy and not burn out, too. We get and give lots of that advice, to ourselves and others. And each person has to figure out what they can do for how long without sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground, or something like that. 

When we talked at the park, I had been going over this in my mind, thinking about different things to do when skating alone to mix it up a bit, trying to figure out how to salvage a day where there's very little time or I don't feel like the same loops, stuff like that. So it was good timing, that conversation, my thoughts before, and the title showinig up in the sidebar on roadskater.net. 

Interesting stuff, with more to review later. For now, I know I'm going to add some 8 second all outs either separately or as little parts of my skating, and maybe even on the shoes. 

On the money side of the story, I would be surprised to find he's making much directly from the web and tweets, except as they build his selfbrand, making him seem someone companies want to lock in as a spokes person early, on the theory that the contracts would be cheaper to write now rather than as his target Olympics arrive. But that depends on performance on track and popularity off, methinks. 

eebee's picture

Sprints, Hill-Training, Plyometric Jumps

I don't have any answers here, just questions (just like the entire first paragraph of the article!). Is Kevin Jagger doing 8-second dryland hill sprints in shoes? How effectively does that translate, I wonder, to bursts of speed on ice? I imagine it would help, but I wonder how that ranks against, say, doing plyometric jumps?

But yes it's great to hear someone attempting something so audacious at the relatively ripe old age of 27! After every Matzger workshop I want to chuck it all in and become a skate bum, and during each Winter Olympics I want to move close to a large oval...

Yes, Roadskater, I remember those humiliating hill sprint endeavors, as you charged up the hill like a human cannonball while my wheels remained firmly planted on our rudimentary start line. I do not know what it feels like to sprint, much less sprint up a hill. I'd love to be wrong on this, but I don't seem to be able to gain any extra power from hill-repeats because I don't feel like I ever really 'launch'. However, I have found that dryland plyometric jumps on my easy days give me more power for an ascent, of the hill or staircase kind.

But then, I'm training to be able to skate three to eight hours' worth of hills, rather than a shorter, flat course. 


eebee's picture

You Need a Montage!

Just happened upon this by coincidence while looking for something else:


Looks like a whole lot more fun than working in a bank, anyway. 

timv's picture

Walking Down Stairs on My Hands

So that's what's been missing from my training: I haven't been walking down stairs on my hands. I was thinking I must be leaving out something important.

Seriously, that's good stuff. It does give a picture of the sort of training (besides the hand-walking) that goes into being an elite speedskater, and with Brock Miron as his coach, I assume he's getting good advice about what to do. It's also pretty clear that he was very fit and a very good athlete before taking up his long-track Olympic challenge.

roadskater's picture

Good Catch on the Viddy

Good stuff. Thanks for posting. I know I don't want to be a great athlete, once again I know it. Going to eat some rice and black beans now. Good day of skating two days in a row, but nothing like that, ha! There are ideas we can use here though, of course. Some of them I wouldn't try without a full face helmet! 

eebee's picture

Upper Body

For an athletic montage...gotta have a handstand :-D.

Interesting that he is maintaining upper-body muscles. Not sure how that works for ice speed skaters, but I heard a speedy inliner mention once that the scrawnier his upper-body, the better, speed-wise. 

Perhaps the balance and trade-offs of upper-body fitness vs. scrawniness vary per individual, in cycling and speed skating.

timv's picture

Compared With Running

Good questions! I know I've never heard of distance runners doing much in the way of upper-body training, but that sprinters tend to do a fair amount of it. I'd assumed that this was because arm motion doesn't matter much at a slower pace but is an important part of a sprinting stride. Then again, sprinters also think it helps to strut around scowling and flexing their muscles to try to intimidate their opponents before a race. Perhaps it's because of this that they do the upper body work.

Chris Carmichael commented that Lance Armstrong lost some amount (15 pounds maybe?) of muscle from his arms and shoulders during his ordeal with cancer--a relic of swimming from his triathlon days, or perhaps just from being a well-built athletic young man--and became a much better climber as a result.

So I guess it could be a distance thing--helpful for sprint skating but not for marathoning. Or it could also be that he's proud of how well built he is and so has built a rationale for maintaining his buffness, while the scrawny skater you spoke with had the opposite justification for his lack thereof.

He also shows that he can throw a football the length of a field and hit the crossbar of the field goal uprights. I really doubt that this has anything to do with his skating ability.

roadskater's picture

Climbers and Time Trialers and Power and Weight

I can't say if cycling sprinters have much arm, but I have noticed that most climbers are really lean in the arms, lower and upper. Seems the same of most time trialers, but maybe I've only really watched the climbers, as they end up on tele more in the last stage time trial after weeks in the mountains climbing (climbers are at the top of the rankings thus last to roll the TT).

Maybe the muscular arms provide enough power to compensate for their extra mass. Perhaps this extra mass just provides more of the type of energy burned in the eight seconds of a sprint, and this brief extra energy is not worth the extra mass/weight in a longer event (even, say, a four minute one). 

Yes, the video has much in it to show what he can do and to show his physique, whether or not it has anything to do with specific training (like the cook book writer's knees-together photos that have nothing to do with the recipes). I assume that's the marketing of his brand stuff, that makes good television commercials about just doing it or when your give up runs out or three stripes make you really fast or at last look good doing it or some such stuff. 

eebee's picture

Great Answers!

Thanks, Timv & Roadskater!

LMAO at the pre-race strutting and scowling! While watching some Diamond League meets on TV this year, I thought perhaps the male competitors looked mad at the start line because they had to race against Usain Bolt. And now that you mention it, I had also noticed the winning sprinters to have arms like Gordon Ramsay. The male sprinters were also very well-built.

Now that you both point it out, it makes sense that every extra ounce may feel like a ton after one typical long day of the Tour d'Anywhere, and that this may not matter over the short course of 41 paces.

Also great thoughts about justifying scrawniness, full-faced helmets and pointlessly naked cookery book authors.  

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