What Does Your Track Practice Look Like?

Tony HollerCoaching Blogs 5 Comments

I turn 57 next week. Getting old isn’t all that fun but sometimes it’s not so bad. I enjoy sharing what I have learned with others. I get an email or two every day from someone asking a question about training. My cell phone number is also published. Two weeks ago I got a random call from Tyler, TX, from a guy I’ve never met. We talked for 20 minutes.

Today, I got an email from Santa Rosa, CA.  The questions were thoughtful and I think the answers could be of benefit to others.  Instead of answering dozens of similar emails, I thought I’d simply answer in a quick article.

Here is the email …

I have been enjoying reading your articles and I was hoping I could ask you some questions regarding the implementation of your workouts. I understand that this is a busy time for you, both as a teacher and a coach, but if you could offer some insight on a few items, I would greatly appreciate it. So in the event that you can, here are my questions:

1. I follow you on Twitter and noted that you had some great performances in the 40-yard Fly today. I am mostly curious about what today’s workout looked like from start to finish. Could you outline it for me? I am all about implementing Occam’s razor–“Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” I aim to be effectively efficient, as do you. I was hoping you could share what today looked like.

2. For that matter, I am curious what the start to finish process of your Fly 10’s and 30m Start days are as well.

3. I am receiving my Freelap system next week, and we are excited to use it. I am curious how you used it for your recent 55-meter TT. Did you use the thumb pads for the starts or did you use the transmitters?

I think I will resist pressing my luck beyond these 3 inquiries and I hope they do not come off as an imposition as much as a genuine curiosity and desire to learn from you.


Our 40-man distance crew ran a rolling progression run in single-digit wind chills followed by a weight room session.

Our 13 throwers did what throwers do … technique work, throw, measure, and lift.

Our remaining 52 sprinters started with speed drills.

We do not meet as a team.  We have three distinct groups.  I call my throws and distance coaches “governors” (Sean Carlson and Andy Derks).  My sprint group includes jumpers and hurdlers.  I’m assisted by my jumps coach, Dr. Brian Damhoff, and my hurdle coaches, John Singleton and Quinn Holler.

We started at 2:30 with our speed drills done with focus and intensity.  We are done in less than ten minutes.

Our sprinters then spike-up.  We set up two cones (Fx Junior Pro Transmitters) at boys’ hurdle marks 40 yards apart.  Boys’ hurdles are 10 yards apart.  Returning all-stater Zach Shelton is still out from a football injury.  I had Zach record times.  Two other nicked-up sprinters helped.  By the way, nicked-up sprinters don’t sprint for me.

We ran the in lane-4 on a six-lane straightaway.  Runners returned in lane-6.  The run-up is limited by space, only 23 meters.  We always run solo indoors, we never race.  We can run guys through the fly-40 as fast as we can record them.  Everyone does three.  Our best guy, Carlos Baggett, ran 3.68, 3.62, and 3.69.  Last year’s record was held by all-stater DeVaughn Hrobowski at 3.75.  Yesterday, DeVaughn ran 3.78 and was ranked #5 on the team.  This recording, ranking, and publishing is the backbone of my sprint training.

We presently have only eight Fx Chips (worn by sprinters), so the sprinter must hurry the chip back to the those waiting.  Three more Fx Chips are coming this week.

We were finished by 3:15.  Some of my 52 sprinters went to the weight room (highly encouraged for football players), some went home, and some stayed to work on specialty events.

Approximately ten horizontal jumpers worked with Coach Damhoff.  High Jumpers worked on their own.  Seven hurdlers worked with Coach Singleton and Coach Quinn.  A couple of our sprinters stayed and worked on blocks.  Our practice, to me, was beautiful.  Athletes took ownership, working because they want to work.  Coaches facilitated the skill development of kids.  As I left to enter times into Google Docs, the field house was buzzing with our distance runners returning from the frozen tundra, our shot putters measuring throws, jumpers jumping, hurdlers hurdling, etc.


Today, Wednesday, February 10th, we will do 30m block starts.

Speed drills first.

I have grouped my 52 sprinters in group-one (15 total), group-two (15 total) and group-3 (22 total).

I emailed my assistants this today …

I will take group one.  We will do 30m block starts, then I will teach activation and then relay exchanges.  Then they will be free to stay, lift, or go home.

John Singleton will take group 2.  John will teach block starts for 15 minutes, then group 2 will do their block starts.  We will do them with two sets of blocks set up, like we did in the 55 trial.  Don’t allow wasted time.  Each guy does 3.  This group will be done after just two sessions.  Free to stay, go home, or lift.

Quinn and Brian will take group 3.  First 15 minutes hurdle mobility (or your choice of activities).  2nd 15 minutes … teach starts … with and without blocks.  3rd 15 minutes, time block starts.

My assistants may or may not work on specialties later.

The 30s will be set up with two pairs of starting blocks in lane 5 & 6.  Two Freelap touch pads will be used at the starting line.  We will have one yellow cone on the lane 5/6 line at 30.8 meters.  We don’t race.  One guy goes, then the other.  Each guy does three.  If a sprinter is sore or injured, they don’t sprint.  Health trumps workouts.

Tonight, after I work out at Lifetime Fitness, I will come home, shower, and enter times.  I will tweet results and post a random picture or slow-motion video with the tweet.


We did this on the first day of practice, Monday, February 8th.  We call the previous three weeks “tryouts” but it’s really an extension of speed & strength training done in December and January.  I will have an article on Freelap soon, detailing our winter program.

The 55m trial was set up the same way as block starts.  Two blocks, two touch pads, one cone.  Everyone runs solo.  The final cone is placed at 55.8 meters.  Times were as expected except for the astonishing times of Carlos Baggett, who ran 6.29 and 6.36.  Obviously we don’t start with a gun, so there was no reaction time, estimated at 0.15 seconds.  See the rankings.

carlos and tommy

Tommy Harris (now running for the Illini) on the left, Carlos Baggett as a sophomore running on the right. This tweet touched off a #trackscandal, whatever in the hell that means. Click to enlarge.

Make no mistake, Carlos Baggett is ready to explode onto the scene.  As a sophomore, Baggett’s best 10m fly was 1.02 and his best 40 was 4.40 (my 40s are always hand-held).  His winter numbers were parlayed into a solid sophomore track season where he ran 11.3 in the 100m, 23.02 in the 200, and 50.6 in the 4×4.  One year later, Baggett’s best 10m fly time is 0.94 and his best 40 is 4.20.  Those numbers seem in line with someone who could run 6.29 and 6.36 in a Freelap 55m. Will this translate to a race?  Who knows?  That’s why we race.  Obviously, there was no reaction time involved in his time trial, but then again, there was also no competition (solo run).

It’s difficult for certain people to understand why we post sprint times.  The haters of the world will think we are being boastful.  This could not be further from the truth.  We simply post times to make sprinting meaningful.  Sprinters crave competition.  Athletes are starved for praise.  When you measure speed, you will never have to beg for quality.

Those who see the posting of practice times as a proverbial pissing contest between coaches are not qualified to express their opinions. Touché.


I have decided to do these two runs, done simultaneously, only during our speed and strength sessions November 30th through February 4th.  Once official track practice starts, we graduate to 40 yard flys and 30m block starts.  We also do random time trials.

When do we work on speed endurance?  Sorry, I don’t use that phrase.  When do we do lactate workouts?  We will do our first one tomorrow.  Two 24-second runs on a 180m track, separated by 10 minutes.  We will measure how far a sprinter can run in 24 seconds, twice.  Brutal.  Good news, sprinters will get a four-day weekend and come back at 110% on Tuesday.

If anyone has questions, post them as a comment.

Sunrise was at 6:55 this morning, the season is almost here.

Comments 5

  1. Excellent article. We think along the same lines. We call our after sprint work “Opportunity Period”. You miss a day of practice you owe OP. OP looks like wanna get fast workouts/ Korfist Dietz triphasic trading. Drop outs/auto regulated by the lift of the day. Anyone looking to get better can participate in OP.

    Expect 2 boys to go sub 23.6 in the 200 this week at states. Should have 4 sub 6.9 in the 55 also.

  2. Great article! I’m curious to know how you would go about training a beginner 400m hurdler though. Would you add in some slower tempo work over hurdles to get the technique and rhythm down or would you continue this work at full speed starting from the beginning?


    1. Post

      I’ve never coached the 400 hurdles. We do the 300 hurdles in Illinois. Here’s what I would do with a beginning 400 hurdler. I would establish his goal race pace, let’s say 60 seconds. Once a week (no more), I would do a workout of 4×100 over hurdles. Run each at 15.0 or better. Rest long enough to run the time. When this becomes easy, progress to 4×100 with limited rest (2-3 minutes). Never allow failed workouts. Better to do 3×100 successfully than failing on #4. Better to do 3 minutes rest than failure doing 2 minutes rest. Think big picture.

      All other hurdle work should be low impact. #1 concern for hurdlers should be their health.

      Beyond the specific workout, all hurdlers should be trained as sprinters with the quality over quantity, “less is more” concept.

  3. I just want to say thank you for writing such meaningful blogs. I found these a couple of months ago and just can’t get enough. I know somewhere you talk about not doing low, slow warm ups and I can’t find it at the moment. I work with a local track club in Northern Alberta and we have started to change our program around. We now start with some activation, some dynamic stretching and then straight into speed drills. I love the 30m easy sprint after 10m of speed drills. I also help the local high school and it’s driving me crazy that all 50 athletes (distance, throwers, sprinters and jumpers) all have to do a long slow warm up first. How would you help him see the benefit of eliminating the long, slow warm up?

  4. Post

    Jeff, thanks for reading. I have around 70 articles published on this website. Others are published at Freelap and SimpliFaster. Just google my name and these sites and you can find more.

    Long slow warmup has no place in sprinting and jumping because it confuses the nervous system. Sprinting is neural (not strength and endurance). Warmups need to wake up the nervous system, not put it to sleep.

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