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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Budget subcommittees and funding for DARS

The Texas House appropriations committee and Senate health and human services subcommittees have voted their appropriations bills out of committee.  The House committee has not voted to add any additional funds to DARS, so if the House budget bill stands then the cuts to DARS and its services will be as covered here (http://wp.me/pZf7K-22).

The Senate subcommittee made recommendations to add money to DARS, if funds can be found.  These recommendations are divided into two priorities, Priority 1 and Priority 2.  Clearly Priority 1 would be funded first, then priority 2 if funds are available.  Both priorities may ultimately be funded, but it is less likely that priority 2 will be.

Priority 1 items are:

·              $4M to restore Services in Vocational Rehabilitation to FY2010-11 levels

·              $3M to restore Services in Blind Children’s Program to FY2010-11 levels + restore the 20.1 FTEs (staff positions)

·              $6.6M to restore Services in Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services to FY2008-09 levels = ½ of our request

·              $3.3M to restore Services in the Autism Program to FY2010-11 levels– this would be added to the $3.3M already in SB1

Priority 2 items are:

·              $56M to increase service hours in Early Childhood Intervention program

·              $6.6M to restore Services in Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services to FY2008-09 levels = ½ of our request

·              $1.5M to restore Services Provided by IL Centers

From here, several things happen:

·              The House votes on the appropriation committee’s recommendations.

·              The Senate finance committee votes on the subcommittees recommendations, then the Senate votes on the finance committee’s appropriations bills.

·              The House and Senate bills are reconciled via conference committee.

While the Senate bill seems the more promising of the two, it needs to be emphasized that these changes are contingent on funds being found.  Given the cuts to other health and human services agencies, public education, and higher education realistically it is going to be challenging to find those funds.  Whichever bill passes is going to have a drastic effect on Texans.

Kirk Reynolds has an interesting article in the spring 2011 issue of Track Coach. The article consists of an interview with Terrence Mahon and Dan Pfaff, both well known distance coaches, on the training if distance runners. I find this an interesting article because some of their points are going to be a little controversial and because I don’t normally work with distance runners.

The first point that the coaches make is that there is a need to carefully and comprehensively analyze a distance runner’s form and make changes. This implies that there is an ideal form for the distance runner. They feel this is necessary from the standpoint of improving performance (for example, stride frequency, stride length, exerting force against the ground, etc.) and also for preventing injuries. Repeatedly in this article it is stressed that just because an athlete feels that he/she is running easily, that is not the same as properly.

The second point that the coaches make is what specifically to look for. Essentially they are looking for the lower leg to be perpendicular to the ground during foot strike, dorsiflexion of the foot while it is off the ground (i.e. similar to a sprinter), and focusing on arm swing similar to how a sprinter does it.

They advocate the use of sprinting drills, video analysis, strength training, and resisted core training to help develop technique and the physical foundation for it.

Another interesting point, energy system specificity aside both coaches feel that distance runners need to do sprints. They point out that a lot of African runners play football, which means lots of sprinting. This athletic foundation is often missing in distance runners. Sprints are important for reinforcing running form, exerting force against the ground, and for developing the ability to sprint at the end of a race,

Interesting food for thought. Many of the distance runners and coaches that I’ve run into would resist the idea of optimal running form, sprinting drills, sprints, and strength training instead wanting to focus on mileage and intervals.

Reynolds, K. (2011). Should coaches alter running form in distance runners? Track Coach, 195, 6217-6224.