Chieftan's Championship Quest

Thursday April 26

I dug into my library and looked up some info on the DDR relay tables. I did the tests and determined the steps for my boys and girls teams. It’s amazing how accurate they are. The timing of the pass is near dead on. I’m hoping to shave some time with these new faster passes this weekend in the 4x100.

I got to the track at 330 and found out a 7th and 8th grade track meet was to start at 4pm. The kids were warmed up at 330 and we did 4x200 at their selective paces. Last week was speed, this week I went with more intensive SE work.

F, the hurdler, did 4x200 in 27, 25, 26, 25, all with a 200m jog back recovery (back to line in 90 seconds approximately).

Could you explain how the tables work?

You have athletes do a 0-26m all out sprint and time it. Then time the last 25m of their 100. You match the incoming 25m time with the outgoing 26m time and it gives you a take off distance.

interesting, do you time using free lap, brower or something else?

Hand time worked fine.

It has been my observation that if you time high school athletes on the straight and lane 2 on the turn, the top six rankings can be dramatically different for the straight versus the turn. In other words, a ranking of 1,2,3,4,5,6 on the straight may be 2,5,3,1,4,6 on the turn, which is to say, some athletes can sprint well on the straight but can’t manage the turn. I have informally polled many high school coaches regarding their selection of the athletes for the relay, and most will select the four fastest 100 meter times. IMHO, this can overlook the ranking disparity in the example above. Two of the athletes have to run the turn and if #5 on the straight is #2 on the turn, what then?

The high school track season is rather short, and I like to get some data early in the season so I get a rough idea about leg assignments. (This is only preliminary and may change due to athlete development, injuries, grades, and other issues.) I use the 35 meter low hurdle marks for fly-in sprints on the straight and the turn. The markings are already there, and I don’t have to use a wheel to measure the turn. I use lane 2 because I prefer to accentuate the affects of the turn, but avoid the potential for stepping on a rail in practice. I used Brower for many years, but having switched to Freelap, I can leave lane 1 open for the distance coach. (I can also simultaneously measure both athletes and all the zones throughout the hand-off, which is not possible with photo beams due to multiple athletes breaking the beam).

I have also observed a disparity in the acceleration of some athletes when when an athlete is coming in versus no athlete coming in. I set up the timing equipment to measure their acceleration. Every other acceleration is done with an athlete coming in (no baton, just wait for the mark and get out) and then by themselves. I show them the numbers, and they can see for themselves that they are hesitating when someone is coming in. I let them know that they don’t need to hesitate, and we will make any needed adjustments with the steps.

To further encourage the outgoing leg to get out and the incoming leg to “run through” the exchange zone, I use exchange zone races. I divide the lane in half using flat soccer cones. The outgoing leg has to wait for the mark, and then it’s a full-on race to the end of the exchange zone (no baton). I measure these accelerations as well. The first few times, the incoming leg will often blow by the outgoing leg. After a few practices, the outgoing leg will make the mental adjustment need to get out, and their accelerations with an incoming leg will begin to match their accelerations with no incoming leg. I continue to time their accelerations when we add the baton pass.

As the season progresses and I gain confidence in the leg selection, on some speed days, I may have legs 1 and 3 do some speed work on the turn with a baton in their hand. I place the transmitters on the low hurdle marks and record the fly-in times just as I monitor the speed on the straight. I record the lane number as our lane assignments may change from practice to practice.


What is your setup for the 0-26 meter? Are you timing a gun and smoke, first movement, or something else?


I went from first movement, standing start. It was an experiment that worked perfectly for my 4 girls. The boys times weren’t on the table and I had to make some adjustments based on the table progressions. Considering I am a math teacher this was quite fun and interesting! Maybe DDR athletes who used this table had beam timed splits back in the 60s and 70s (book was written back then).

Overall, the boys time dropped 0.8 seconds Saturday off their previous season best.

Chris, I do like your idea of exchange zone games. I have felt some athletes don’t get out well. I think this will be fun to do in the next two weeks to get prepared for the bigger meets of the season. My kids don’t get enough races in the 100m through the season and I’ve found it hard to see nice drops in time. Most many run 3-5 races only. When I ran, I counted one year I ran 15 100m races in 12 week season, which may explain why for two years I opened at 11.4-11.7 and ended at 10.9/10.8. My kids opened at 11.9 and may break 11.4 if temps are warm. I say this because I think the only way the relay times will drop much will be mastering baton velocity.

I also think you are on to something with the turn times. Next year as part of my testing, I will include a lane 2 trial standing, and lane 2 trial from blocks.

Saturday, April 28
Temp: FREEEEEZZING!! meet started at about 39F, and topped around 48F around the middle of the meet. Wind was strong, but the track was in a bowl stadium and wind on the track was negligible.

The competition for most of our kids was very high. This was why we wanted to come to this meet. No one really knew of us cause we are from the other county, and most teams in our county are not as fast.

In the boys 4x800, we set a season PB by near 10 seconds, thanks to 2 teams pushing their paces. Almost every runner set a season best PB in their splits. We ran this time last year the second week in May. so we are about two weeks ahead of pace. Our goal is sub 8 minutes by June 2 at state finals. We ran 8:09. The next fastest team in our county is about 8:30.

In the 110H, F, ran rounds for the first time. He handled them well. He wont the final in 14.76 FAT and won by a lot. After the meet, a local Big Ten school approached us interested in him. He is a junior right now and is very promising future since he considers track his first main sport and not football or basketball. We have been working on the half spacing drills and it was very clear the difference in his flight times and hip heights over the hurdles. It’s not perfect but much improved. Using my 60 fps camera, previous flight times averaged approximately 0.40-0.45 seconds. This race was 0.30-0.36 seconds per hurdle.

He later ran the 300h. He has the fastest recorded 300H time in Michigan to date at 38.1ht. he ran out of rhythm and hit nearly every hurdle, running 39.1 coming in second to the kid he beat by a second last saturday.

In the 800, G, ran a tactically bad race and ran 2:00, a personal best in the open 800. He ran his last 100m in lane 4. He misunderstood my tactical instructions. He was to keep pace with a group of 3 runners and then kcik in the final 100. He tends to kick too soon and get passed. He just ran with the middle pack and kicked the last 100m! The winner, one of the ones he was supposed to chase, ran 1:56. Again, he won’t see this speed again until June 2 at state finals if we decide to let him run the open 800. He is ready to run sub 50 in the 400m, which usually is top 8 in Michigan. He has run high 50s this year in poor conditions. Hoping in the next two weeks, he has 3 chances to go after it. By May 12, we will have to decide what we will do. 2:00 is ok, but will get smoked at state finals. The top 8 last year ran under 1:55, with 2:01 being last place.

As mentioned above, the 4x100 ran a new season best, which I was very pleased.

Overall, a great meet for our kids and really pushed their comfort zones and opened their eyes as to how fast teams are compared to us.

They did have quite sophisticated equipment in the sixties. Have a look at this page on technology for measuring sprints from the Museum for Sports in Leipzig.

Very interesting! I don’t speak German, but wonder if this professor would know how the relay tiimes might have been taken. His name wasn’t one of the authors listed, but maybe he knows someone…

Monday April 30

pre-meet day, baton checks, 12 x 100 tempo

Tuesday Meet: 60F, no wind! Great conditions. This time of year last season, the kids were a bit loaded and did not perform well at all individually. The same happened Tuesday. With great weather, individually nothing to speak of. Relay times did improve for boys 4x1, 4x2, and the girls 4x2, 4x4. The boys 4x1 ran 44.5 with perfect exchanges that are dangerously close to disaster. We have definitely maxed out baton speed in the exchange zone. The girls have too, and on the last exchange, she had to slow down, and ran an average time. With a good exchange, they probably would have had another season best.

Wednesday: just to change it up, the short sprinters did 20 min jog easy and stretched, the 200/400 did 30 minutes.
Hurdlers did the 1/2 spacing drill.

Thursday: I had parent-conferences at the school I teach at (not where I coach) and could not make it. An assistant ran the practice. 4x200 with 2 min rest at 85-90%.

Friday: pre-meet, baton check. Saturday’s meet is relay style with all kinds of odd exchanges. One race has 8 people in it, boys and girls! It’s a fun meet but a headache for practice as there are so many odd exchanges.

Saturday: temp expected to be in high 60s. I’m out the door now at 7am. Will report back. Looking for 4x1, 4x2 and 4x4 times to improve today with good conditions and decent competition.

Saturday Meet results

We set 3 more school records. Boys Shuttle hurdles, Co Ed 1200-600-600-1200, and the girls 100-200-300-600.

The boys won the meet, our first invitational win in a long time. Last year we were runner up at this meet.

Some great performances even under heavy training load. I was very happy with the results given the conditions.

Monday May 7: Pre-meet

Tuesday: Last dual meet of the season. Boys and girls both have a chance for the league championship. If the girls win I believe it’s a tie, and the boys would win outright.

This saturday is our last weekend invitational meet, which is regional format (prelims, semis in 100, 110H/100H, 200), and the typical standard races.

For many this is the last hard week of the season. A few are going to train through regionals to prep for state finals. These kids are way out in front of their event and doing tapering over 3 weeks is not easy. The only draw back is a risk of time being placed in a slower heat at state finals.

The boys won the meet, but it wasn’t pretty. My 4x100 and 4x200 teams both lost. We have not lost a dual meet all year. The 4x100 we were just beat at the line and the 4x200 was a complete disaster, with the first leg jogging, and then the second leg lined up wrong.

Being a home meet and having to run the finish line, it’s hard to get kids doing what they need to do. The weather was nice and most kids were there for social fun. Glad we won and came away all healthy. Many kids are feeling it right now. We have until May 18 to recover for regionals. There is a meet saturday but we may only run selected events.

With 75% of the team now done with their season, I can get more hands on with everyone.

The girls lost a tough meet. The other team is very deep in all events. Girls were jogging 530 1600m backwards encouraging their teammates to break 530. This was the most points we scored on this team in a few years.

I had many technical issues since I last posted! So much to say. Here is quick recap:

Spring high school season ended with the team winning the county, division dual meet title, and division meet for the boys. We had 8 kids qualify for state finals, a school record.

My hurdler took 4th in the 110s. He technically won the 300mH, but was later DQd for “intentiionally hitting” the last hurdle. Such disappointment. Deep down he and I know he was the state champ.

He has attracted some attention of Big 10 schools, which is great.

My boys 4x800 team took 8th at state finals, setting a school record and medaling, a goal we set back in the previous season after a disappointing 10th in 2011. I specifically trained 3 of the 4 runners using KK’s program to improve their speed. They all ran XC and had little leg speed. Our goal was to run 50 second 400s to reach enough speed reserve to run 155-157. We rarely ran more than 600s, and this was done once a month. I like doing things successfully using non-traditional beliefs! The result was the boys running 157, 159, 200. We came up a little short of their goals but still good.

I approached the team and asked about doing USATF Junior Olympic circuit. They agreed. IF all went as planned, they should have medaled at nationals.

The state meet and regional meets were won easily. Due to limited entries, they just needed to finish the race. They made nationals and were in the fast heat (thankfully).

At nationals, this was the first meet the boys had to run a 800m prelim in the morning and the relay later on (usually relay was first, then 800 later). The meet was delayed 5 hours from the scheduled time, yes 5 hours! The 800 was scheduled for 11am, they ran around 430. They were stuck in check in from 930am until they finished their race. Meet policy didn’t allow me back there or them to leave. Such stupidity.

The relay was set for 530 and ran at 11pm. They ended up getting 7th, earning All-American and medaling, goals accomplished! The time was not great, but we also had issues training over the summer due to all the activities going with it.

I also took the girls cross country job. I will update this more when I get some more time. I have some interesting results to share so far!!!

I’m still coaching XC and things are going well. 4 more weeks to our season. During which, I am planning the sprint workouts for this winter indoor season! Just watched Charlie’s SPP video for motivation and re-education. I have 1 million ideas in my head, and usually the simplest is best.

This year my girls team looks to become dominant. The boys will have a few good individuals but not the overall depth in events as past 2 years. Coaching XC for girls, I should get several good runners out to help our distance group (2 runners returning from last season, 1 graduated and 2 quit). Having a good 1600/3200 runners who can interchange, and a mix of 800/1600 types (which I do) helps a ton. I have depth at 200/400. I have a few who will specialize in 100m and long jump.

The 200/400 group will most likely follow KK’s format Ive used in the past. The 100m LJ group a s-L. The hurdler from last year who was top 5 in both events has expressed interest in 110s and we will start with s-l this winter. A few will go long to short having run xc and will have no issues doing 600s fast, since we do alot of intervals weekly (20x200, 3x(600, 400, 300, 200); and 6 x 1000.)

Also a gamble is weather for the winter. We run on a hard marble floor. doing 16x60s is not pleasant. In the past I’ve cut sets in half. Temps outside may be too cold to run fast 60s. Going outside in cold we have soft turf fields, but if it snows or ices, indoors we go.

The plan is to tempo on grass til ground freezes, then go to bike/mat tempo most of winter to save legs. Our school does not have a pool anymore. Pool workouts will be too frustrating to organize and get kids rides to the pool in our school district.

More details to come.

This fall I started coaching the girls cross country teams. I had very little programming background but I stumbled on Alberto Salazar’s 5K program he uses with Rupp and Farah. I will post briefly cause I need more time to outline things, but interestingly, he uses an alternate day approach of “speed” work in the form of short intervals, medium intervals, and long intervals (1000-1600m). They also do 1 long run a week and once every 10-14 days do a tempo run (run at threshold for 4-6 miles; not CF’s tempo). In between are recovery runs. Recently I have seen them doing 1-2 recovery runs on these days and often do them on underwater treadmills.

I do not have underwater treadmills! But I will get into things more later.

So far with 3 weeks of season left, nearly everyone has set a personal record. We ran into an overracing issues mid season and had to ride bikes for an entire week, and girls nearly PR’d again off of that. It’s a simple program and I like what it does. The girls love it and no one ever complains. We also do yoga the day before a race, going through sun salutation sequences.

I gotta go for now, but will update more later.

Congrats on your success ESTI. I’m not all that familiar with AS’s training with Farah and Rupp but what you describe sounds similar to the Horwill 5 pace system used by Coe and with high school athletes by Scott Christensen and Lyle Knudson. I have read some of Salazar’s interviews from a few years back and he mentioned that in retrospect if he could have changed aspects of his own training he’d have definitely moved away from his high mileage approach to a more balanced program with a much greater speed emphasis than he ever had used with himself. I have now had a few move up from sprints to 800m so I’ve had to pick up a bit of mid distance information, programming though I still tend to be more comfortable to a speed based approach. This will be the first year I will use some intensive tempo with my athletes though as a high int. day (the only way CF would have agreed with such I’m sure) with extensive tempo or cont. recovery runs of short to moderate duration (20-35’) but I will always keep elements of speed in the program. The most important aspect I believe I’ve learned for both sprints and 800m in recent years is that that it’s completely fine and no compromise to use longer cycles in order to include all of what is deemed important and that the athlete won’t necessarily lose the training qualities particularly when they have extensive training backgrounds, i.e. use a 2 week cycle then repeat even if not the same session but at least the same theme.

Last winter 3 of my 800 guys came off xc season into KK’s program for a 12 week gpp and ran within 3-5 seconds of their PRs, indoors! The second GPP I went out to 600 for depletion runs (600+300 etc). I may have cut aerobic work too much too soon too.

For additional notes visit

For xc, I started girls off inJune doing 20 min runs 3-4 days weekly. 1 day turned into a long run where we peaked at 80 minutes towards end of september (4 weeks from major meets). One day turned into fartleks I picked up from Finn, who wrote “running with the kenyans.” He was open to sharing and stated in his visit, 5k types did either 20 sets of 1 min hard 1 min easy, or 17 sets of 2 min hard 1 min easy. The easy isn’t really easy either.

7 weeks from regional meet, we started salazars intervals. We did 2 week cycles 3 times. the cycle would be Tues 2x10x200, thursday 5-6x1000, race sat, then tues 2x10x200, Thursday 3-4x(600,400,300,200), race sat. I considered the races threshold runs as most resources I found consider 5k to be a pure vo2 distance. We overraced early and in the first week of oct were on bikes to heal shin splints from tight calves.

Last tuesday 10/2/2012 we had a league race. wed was recovery. Thursday 20-1-1 kenyans, friday long run (60 min). weekend optional runs.

Monday (today) 10x400, tuesday 12-2-1 kenyans. wed easy run or bike. thursdy 5-6x1200. friday easy run, sat race.

I will update the plan in the coming weeks