Coach Mike Mead

April 2012

Get on Track for 2012 Track & Field

Well, it’s 2012 and another Olympic year! The high school and college track & field seasons are all well underway. Meanwhile, the big guns of world-class track & field are just now gearing up for a longer than normal track season that culminates early August in London.

Whatever level of runner you are, you need to consider following and appreciating track & field. Some distance folks only follow the marathon which is the final event of each Olympics. However, there are distance events in track & field that are amazing to watch.

For up-and-coming distance runners, watching the shorter races like the 800m and 1500m events showcase the world’s best. The sprints are all about pure speed. You blink and you just about miss it.

The longer events like the 800m and 1500m races also involve speed, but you also need strength and smarts. One can come away with learning a lot about racing tactics that can be adopted to their own racing style.

The distance races of 5,000m and above demonstrate more patience and tactics with a lot of speed at the end. The “Average Joe” runner tends to run their fastest at the beginning of their race and fade to the finish with maybe a little burst of speed at the very end. However, watch a 5,000 or 10,000m race on the track and you’ll witness sustained speed in the last laps – faster times at the end than the start.

I remind the kids I coach that it is not where you start, but where you finish that counts. If you watch the 800 or 1500m races, it’s not the lead runner with a lap to go that usually wins. It is all about the finish that matters. To get to that point, it takes many, many hours of dedicated training.

If you are a runner looking for improvement then you must study and watch track & field meets when you can. During this Olympic year, one should be able to catch more track meets on cable and via the internet. Flotrack is an excellent website for all that is about track & field, as well as running in particular.

The U.S. Olympic Trials will again be held in Oregon at the fabled Hayward Field in late June to determine the team that will represent the United States in London. There will be meets leading up to the U.S. Trials that will feature Olympic hopefuls from meets right here in Georgia, to meets such as the Penn Relays, Drake Relays, Prefontaine Classic, and the NCAA championships.

U.S. distance running has been steadily improving over the past few years. There was a time, a few Olympics ago, where U.S. distance runners didn’t make it to the Games because they just were not as fast as the rest of the world. Hopefully, our U.S. representatives in London will be competitive enough to win a couple of medals!

Part of that success has been studying and adapting the training regiments of the world’s best. If you are trying to become faster, study this summer’s best that the world has to offer. Do not be afraid to learning something new and try something different.

Go U-S-A!