Part 1 of 3
- Find a great coach.
This is essential. Many athletes will meander from season to season with sub-par results often due to having a coach who prescribes the incorrect workouts for the athlete, or worse, does not know any better. Some of the best coaches are those who have been there and done it themselves; other coaches are those who have participated in the sport to a solid standard yet were never world beaters. As far as I know, Tom Tellez and Dan Pfaff were not fantastic athletes yet up until the late 90’s, had coached some of the fastest humans to walk the earth.
Do your homework on coaches… Who were their influences and mentors? Were these people successful coaches? Did their athletes’ demonstrate excellence in the sport? Speak to their previous athletes to gain an understanding of their philosophy and whether this will suit what you are looking for. Not all coaches need to have a strong understanding of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics to develop talented athletes, however at times, this may help when explaining the various facets of training to the athlete. Some coaches just know which workouts make people faster. It has been tried and tested over many years.
In the end, track and field is a results driven sport, if you find a coach who has had great results over a long period of time they are clearly doing something right. If you are looking to change coaches to someone who does not have the results on the board; perhaps go find the coach from the previous sentence.
- Find a training squad of great athletes (then make sure they have point 1).
To become faster, you must train with people at least at your level; preferably faster (there are exceptions to this rule). You need to find a squad where there is a critical mass of athletes who can challenge you on a day to day basis. You will only rise to the standard set on the training track and if you are the standard, sooner or later you (and the coach) must be creative in the way you raise your own standard. Success breeds success. Find a group of fast athletes who have strong work ethics, are motivated to achieve and live for the sport. There are countless examples of high quality athletes teaming up with the same coach, willing and pushing each other to improve and then achieving a high level of success. To name a few:
- Lewis, Burrell & Marsh (and DeLoach)
- Bailey, Surin & Thompson
- Greene, Boldon & Drummond
- Gatlin & Crawford
- Gay & Spearmon
- Powell, Carter & Frater
- Bolt & Blake
Find the fastest athletes in your city. Surround yourself with these people on a regular basis.
- Dream BIG. REALLY BIG.
Everyone who does track and field, whether at the Olympics or a school sports day, has a goal. Set really big goals; long term goals, for you to work towards over a period of time. In the short term, set smaller realistic goals which you can achieve during a workout, a month, or a season. These are the goals which are going to keep you motivated and keep you coming back to the track once you achieve them. Getting back to point 1, a great coach will be honest, truthful and realistic with their athletes about what they should be looking to achieve each season. Share some, not all, of your goals with your coach and your training partners; they will then keep you accountable and on-track to achieve these goals. Keep some of your goals to yourself but make sure they are in plain sight for you to see each day and to continue to work towards. Do not let anyone ever tell you can’t achieve these goals.
Stay tuned for Part 2.