Entries by Craig Pickering

What Mount Everest can teach us about goals

Standing at 8,848m (29,029 feet), Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain, making it a target for daredevils and adventurers to attempt to summit. Despite not being an especially challenging technical climb – you can essentially “just” walk up large sections of it – summiting Everest is dangerous for many reasons, including high winds, fatiguing conditions, and the high altitude, which can induce altitude sickness leading to pulmonary and cerebral edema. Historically, it has been estimated that one person dies for every 4 who summit. As a result, around 300 people have died on the mountain, and, given the logistical issues associated with recovering a body under such dangerous conditions, many of these people remain on Everest.

Craig Pickering’s top reads of 2018

I’m an introvert, and so, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been much happier with my nose in a book than taking part in more social behaviors. To this day, I still enjoy reading, and I try to make time to read for around an hour each night before bed, along with added bursts when on holiday or traveling on planes. This year, I “read” 59 books. I started a subscription to an audiobook service, which helped boost my number slightly—although I have to be careful not to zone out when listening—and I also got much better at giving up on books that I didn’t find interesting after around 50 pages. Here, I’ll share with you what I read, and which I enjoyed the most; I do this not to boast, but because I find it interesting to get an idea of what other people read – perhaps you’ll find this equally as interesting!

Sports Science Monthly – December 2018

Lots of new topics in the December edition of Sports Science Monthly. Our first study looks at the role of genetics in endurance programming. We also look at research on whether athletes eat enough, monitoring acute:chronic training loads, biomarkers, acceleration performance, and some interesting new research on tactical periodization.

Sleep, stress, and physical performance

Whilst athletes and coaches have long focused on the physical aspects of performance enhancement, such as training program design and exercise selection, it is only relatively recently that we have started to pay attention to how stress and sleep might also influence both the magnitude of adaptations seen following a training program, and competition performance. Based on this recent research, we have an increased understanding of the need to account for psychological stress, including, in the case of younger athletes, academic work load, when developing optimal training programs.

More lessons from the IAAF biomechanics project

At the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, the IAAF and Leeds Beckett University collaborated on a wide-ranging and expansive biomechanics project, with the aim of giving us further insights into the biomechanical underpinnings of elite performance. Of interest to me was, of course, the data from the 100-meter dash, given my history in that event. Immediately following the final, the IAAF released some rough and ready data, which I analyzed at the time for HMMRMedia. Then, in July this year, they released the extended report, including great coaching commentary from PJ Vazel. There are a few interesting facets of the study which I hope to shed light on here.

Sports Science Monthly – November 2018

We cover a wide range of topics in the November edition of Sports Science Monthly. Our first report looks at new research providing some interesting insights into reaction times of Olympic sprinters. We also look at research on several supplements including creatine and caffeine, the connection between testing and performance in team sports, as well as deceleration and injury prevention.

Setting up training around a competition

Competing is the reason that we’re all involved in sport, and how you or your athlete performs in those competitions is what determines whether you’re a success or a failure; no one gets medals for good training programs. However, when discussing training theory, we tend to focus on the mechanics of physical preparation in the big picture, while neglecting the short periods of time directly before and directly after a competition.

Sports Science Monthly – October 2018

There are lots of hot topics covered in the October edition of Sports Science Monthly. We start off by looking at the transfer of different types of strength to sprinting, then see how monitoring can be taken best from theory to practice, before diving into density of high speed training, adductor strengthening, dehydration, transcranial direct current stimulation, and more.

Measuring caffeine consumption is harder than you think

Caffeine is a well-established performance enhancer; this is no secret, with many athletes using it to improve their performance. Non-athletes know this too, which is why almost 80% of the world’s population consume caffeine on a daily basis. As a result, caffeine is ubiquitous, and we are exposed to it in a number of different ways; primarily through hot drinks (such as tea or coffee), but also through foods (like dark chocolate) and medicines (many extra strength cold and flu or pain medicines contain caffeine).