Track Competition Race Preparation
By: Coach Street - at June 19, 2012
In this article we will go into how to get yourself or your
athletes properly prepared for their event: Warmed and ready, on the day of the
event. For information on ‘Special Preparation Period – i.e. Race Preparation
Training practices’ or ‘Race Day Strategies’.
The following race preparation plan will be geared towards
800 meter runners, and high endurance 400 meter runners. These runners are
unique in that they both have to a need to both warm to body, muscles and mind
to the distance of the race, and also activate the efficient firing of the fast
As athletes and coaches it is important to get into a
mental and physical preparation routine. Race routines should mirror the daily
practice warm-up routine, while also tailoring to specific event. Mid-distance
athletes should begin with a general warm-up jog at base 8. The warm up
distance should be between 800 and 1200 meters. 400 meter and 800 meter
runners that run negatives will likely run 800 for a warm-up, while 800 ‘evens’
and ‘pace setters’ may prefer a longer distance to warm up. Have your runners
do a team warm-up at the beginning of the meet, even if they do not have an
event at the beginning of the meet.
Next, they should do a team stretch: 30 seconds at each position. The
stretching will likely take up to 10 minutes as a group. After their stretches,
they should do whatever combination of running drills you have prepared. For a
list of potential drill sequences, click here. The drill sequence should end
with 2 to 4 good form 80 to 100 strides. Following this they can rest. They
should not do more the 800 meters in sprints recreationally (between the end of
the team stretch and before their event preparation).
As the athlete’s event is approaching, they will begin
their individual race preparation. 400 and 800 meter runners should begin their
preparation 40 to 50 minutes before their race. Let your younger athletes know,
and explain to them that this time frame will vary depending on the race
environment, but it is likely, or rather always before the 1st call
of the event.
Runners should re-warm-up at this time at a distance 2 to 4
times the length of their race. For 400 meters this is up to one straight mile,
while 800 meter runners can and should increase this distance up to two miles.
This warm-up distance is ideal for maximum performance. Also keep in mind, this
distance should not exceed the maximum recovery distance your athlete runs
during his/her training week. So, if your 400 meter runners for whatever
reason, are not accustom to running mile recoveries after their harder workouts,
then race day is not the time to start.
The athletes should be ready to stretch and stretch prior
to the first call announcement. If the runners have run their warm-up outside
the competition area, make sure they are back on the track and stretching prior
to the first call.
stretching, move back into a drill sequence. Drills should be intensified to
replicate racing conditions. Take a moment after each drill to re-loosen the
contracting muscles in the drill. After drills, re-stretch with a condensed
version, with emphasis on any stretches preferred by each individual athlete -
Then being again with strides. Follow this up with accelerations. And follow
this with shorter sprints, sprints to pace, and starts. And again, return to
stretching the muscles, within your standard stretching routine.
By this time, you should be nearing the beginning of your
event. If for some reason you have not, and your event is still afar off, then
you should return to the beginning of the warm-up sequence, starting with the
jog. This jog should be severely decreased in distance: Down to a maximum of
four 100 meter jogs or shuffles. Then the athlete will continue to cycle through
the remainder of the warm-up.
Once the athlete is in the warm-up, he/she should not stop
and talk 15, or 20 minutes off, and then try to compete in the race. This will
mimic the initial physical and mental fatigue a runner experiences during
recovery rest between longer sets in a practice session. It is important to
their competitiveness that once they begin their prep period that it continues
through the start of the race.
Once it is time to be brought to the line, lightly stretch,
feel the length of the muscle, and take a couple mock starts. Marks, Set, and
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