Coach's Toolkit: Training and Racing Above or Below Event Specialty

    As we look back at the year in track and field, I have been amazed by the limited range that some of the top athletes in our sport compete. I believe distance runners are better at running a variety of races than our sprinters. I do like the fact that Tyson Gay and friends might run a 400 early in their SPP. However, I think later in the year it would be worthwhile to change up your race distance once. Miss Felix has run many race distances throughout her competitive season year in and year out with great success. Her coach has scheduled these races by design. One week she will run the 100 dash and next she will run the 400. Finally the third week she comes back and runs a 200. After these Olympics, it's hard to argue that Allyson does not have the best range in sprinting.

    I enjoy looking at training plans with elite level coaching that actually takes into consideration the theme of the week in conjunction with their race distance. Over and under race strategy works nicely in practice. I see a lot of programs that run multiple intensive/extensive intervals at the athlete's specialty distance in practice. I believe when used too often this distance choice is a mistake. One of the biggest issues I have seen running the athlete's race distance in practice is the psychological component. The athlete will hear a time being yelled out and immediately stress over what that time means because they cannot replicate times in practice they can produce in competition.

    This often why in practice you will see master coaches use distances like a 450 or 350. In addition, if you believe the tables in the book Transfer of Training the highest percent of transfer often come from just below or above the race distance. Finally, I think there is a benefit to find out what really is the athletes best distance. Where would the world of Track and Field be if Usian Bolt's coach never lets him run the 100 dash?