Coach Mike Mead

May 2012

Get on Track for 2012 Track & Field

In last month’s writing, I wrote about the upcoming Olympic Games and the lessons one can learn as a spectator of track & field to apply in their own running. As we approach summer and runners are gearing up for their favorite spring races culminating with the Peachtree Road Race, it should be noted that runners can learn first-hand by stepping on a track.

For most of us who don’t run competitive club, high school or college track & field, the likely brand of track experience we get is an occasional interval training session at a local high school or recreational track facility. However, for those living in the Atlanta-metro area you have a chance for about the next two months to strap on a pair of running spikes and experience the thrills and tactics of track & field events.

For many, many years, the Atlanta Track Club has been sponsoring a weekly All-Comers track meet. Every Tuesday – this year, May 8 until June 19 -- you can work on your speed game by participating in one of the ATC meets held at Emory University. These meets are always low-key and fun. If you go consecutive weeks, one week they will offer the 100, 400m, 1500m and 3,000m running events and the next will be the 200m, 800m, mile and 5,000m distances.

But wait, that’s not all!

The All-Comer meets also offer a weekly, kids 50m dash that can be surprisingly competitive. There are also opportunities to run the hurdles or participate in some of the field events one can find at a typical high school or college meet, such as the long jump, high jump, or shot put. Also contested is a parent-child or coach-athlete relay that is a unique opportunity to, literally, “pass the baton” on to the next generation.

I’ve also tried to stress to those runners who have never run track events how unique an experience it can be and the lessons learned to make you a better competitor on the roads and trails. If you have run the Peachtree Road Race, you know how bunched up it is and how it can hinder your racing ability. The same holds true in competitive track events but not so much in the sprints because they stay in their lanes.

However, a tight field of 800 or 1500m runners is not for the meek! There’s a good chance you’ll take an elbow, get boxed in, possibly get tripped up or maybe get spiked in the leg all in the first 200 meters of a competitive field.

One will rarely experience that on a Tuesday night at the ATC All-Comer meets at Emory. The laid-back atmosphere is a great chance to get the feel of running the oval under the lights. Running at night always made me feel like I was going faster and running more efficient.

Another plus to running the All-Comer meets, particularly in an Olympic year, is you never know who might show up to work on their game. Some promising or former Olympians have been known to show up at an All-Comers meet to run an event as a tune-up or part of a workout.

If you’ve never run in a track meet, give the All-Comer meets a try. For more detailed meet information, go to the Atlanta Track Club’s website at Again, don’t go with dread because you’ll be among friends! Good luck!