What is “Track Shape?”

When making the switch from conditioning to performing, or, for distance runners, switching from cross country season to track season, the style and type of running may seem the same at first glance.

But it’s not.

What we mean with “track shape” means getting athletes into the right physical and mental shape to perform to the best of their ability on the track.

Some excel at the change, and some do not.

If you are a runner trying to get ready for track season, or a coach looking to get your athlete ready, here are a few tips we have tried or heard from the experienced coaches around us:

  1. Take time to introduce speed drills
    Yes, the athletes will see quickly that their tempo run on the track will be much faster than doing it on a trail or park. But introducing speed drills too early could interrupt their development in getting a faster leg turnover. Believe me, as a high school track coach, I know that you have very little time to do a lot. But, taking a couple weeks to ease them in to speed training will be worth it.
  2. Don’t neglect the weightroom
    During cross-country season, we have added a weightroom regimen. But, the emphasis is still mileage, cardio-vascular health, and muscle endurance.Track shape needs more power.

    If you cannot get into the weight room regularly, using bodyweight exercises, getting the athlete to move and work their body and muscles in different ways is just as beneficial.

  3. Watch the nutrition
    If you are working with pre-teens, teens and even young adults, getting them to understand the importance of a balanced, carb & protein rich diet can be tough. I implemented food logs that were checked on a weekly basis.For the college and post-college athlete, this information should be nothing new. But getting a dietitian on staff or working with the athlete can take the burden off your coaching staff.

I’m sure there are plenty more tips that could be shared, but those are the top three on my mind. Track shape is good shape, and it takes time to get there.

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