Today marks the culmination of the track program’s “early” season.
With the transition comes a new focus in training. While the early half of the season tends to stress fitness and strength, the latter part emphasizes speed and technique.
Training, associate coach David Shoehalter said, is tailored to the individual. There is no “magic script” for how to train for a particular event. The only training philosophy common to the entire track program is to peak for important team meets, specifically Heptagonals the first week of May.
Athletes can physiologically carry a peak for weeks, Shoehalter said. The trick is to keep them mentally at their best.
Every inch counts
Jihad Beauchman ’06 already high-jumps 6-feet, 9.5-inches, which is the qualifying mark for NCAA Regionals.
But good technique can lead to a 2 to 6 inch gain, he said. By the end of the season, Beauchman hopes to approach 7 feet.
“I’m trying to improve my technique,” Beauchman said. “Once I get my technique down, I’ll be jumping a lot higher and further.”
Appropriately, workouts at this point in the season focus on form. Jumpers and vaulters work on approach, and sprinters and hurdlers practice coming off the blocks. Throwers practice proper technique.
At the end of the outdoor season, distance runners take a month-long break from practice, cutting back to 25 miles per week.
In June, the fun begins again: distance coach Daniel Ireland mails runners workouts for the cross country season. The majority of the outdoor distance squad competes in autumn, too.
“They’re never out of season,” Shoehalter said.
By the end of the summer, fall distance mileage peaks, Shoehalter said. Mileage can reach 100 miles per week for some athletes.
Over the course of the academic year, mileage slowly decreases. The squad currently runs between 55 and 70 miles per week, Shoehalter said. Further cuts come next week when the distance squad begins resting for late spring meets, Casey Moriarty ’05 said.
“Right now, we’re pretty broken-down,” Moriarty said.
Even rest can be helpful in preventing injury and storing energy for meets. Shoehalter said resting is important; the “no pain, no gain” mantra only applies on hard training days.
“Rest is every bit as important as training hard,” Shoehalter said.
The paper trail
Athletes step onto the track each day during the season at 3:45 p.m. with running shoes, taped extremities, 16-pound shotputs — and computer paper.
Coaches hand the team computer printouts of the day’s warm-up, workout and cool-down exercises.
A few athletes, such as thrower Eoghan O’Dwyer ’04, locate their equipment, including 16-pound shotputs and hammers that weigh more than an average bowling ball.
But the day’s practice begins even earlier in the training room. Before 3:30 p.m., athletes can apply tape, heat and electric stimulation to their bodies to treat or prevent injuries.
Unlike traumatic injuries in football and other high-impact sports, injuries in track tend to be stress-related. These injuries, Shoehalter said, can require daily maintenance.
From that point on, training becomes very individualized.
At each practice, the track team divides into two sections: the distance runners and everyone else.
The distance runners begin the week with an easy-going 14 to 16 mile run. Midweek, intensity increases before pre-meet Friday, where runners focus on the upcoming competition.
The rest of the team begins practice with a “continuous dynamic warm-up:” drills and stretches that Shoehalter subdivides into three parts.
Part A involves short running and interspersed dynamic stretches. Part B continues limbering exercises. In Part C, the team runs increasingly faster until it reaches full sprint.
Then, the team breaks into individual events. Practice ends with a cool-down similar to warmup’s Part A.
Practice is over. Until tomorrow.