Facilities (Video): Construct Your Own Indoor Sprint Track...In a School Hallway
Facilities (Video): Construct Your Own Indoor Sprint Track...In a School Hallway

Facilities (Video): Construct Your Own Indoor Sprint Track...In a School Hallway

Dick Moss

Most northern track coaches are only too familiar with the rigors of indoor training. This usually means sprinting without spikes in school hallways.

Hall-Running Dangers
There are definite disadvantages to this arrangement: hallways are hard and shin splints are common. Running mechanics are different--without spikes, your runners are less able to forcefully pull their feet back beneath them as they run, which is critical in producing power during the stride cycle. This is a particular disadvantage for sprinters and hurdlers for whom technique and power are vital.

And finally, wearing flats all winter makes the first few weeks outdoors-on spikes-risky in terms of injury because your runners haven't been able to gradually become accustomed to wearing spikes throughout the winter.

Fortunately, a rubberized runway will allow your runners to sprint full-bore down your school hallways while wearing spikes.

Rubberized Sprint Strips
You can purchase rubberized runways from companies such as M & F Athletics (no, we have no affiliation). In 2008, a 50m runway from M&F, 1/2" thick (12mm) and 3 feet wide (1 meter) would cost approximately $1200 plus shipping. In the U.S., shipping is about $115 - they do ship to Canada, but the price would obviously be higher.

However, the runways last forever and are a great investment.

Setup
This setup has been used in Sudbury's Lockerby Secondary School for over eight years by Sudbury's Track North Athletic Club.

The runway can be laid permanently in a hallway, or you can roll it up after each practice. However, a roll weighs a LOT, and it's more convenient to simply leave it on the floor of a seldom-traveled hallway. After a while, it will become dirty and actually blend in with the floor--you won't even know it's there.

Facilities (Video): Construct Your Own Indoor Sprint Track...In a School Hallway
At both ends of the strip, place a high jump pit, on-end, against the wall. These mats will allow your runners to sprint for almost the entire length of the hallway without taking a lot of room to decelerate. This maximizes your hallway space.

If your runway doesn't extend to both ends of the hallway, just place the mats on one end, up against the wall. If the mat isn't tall enough, place some folding mats beneath it.

How to Use
Your sprinters can then sprint full-out to the end of the strip. As they approach the pit, they jump up, spin in the air and contact the pits backwards with the arms extended--as if hitting the ground in a judo fall. Their chin should be tucked in to protect their neck.

Be sure they practice this at slower speeds until they are comfortable with the technique. Once they get the hang of it, it's a safe way to decelerate… and most runners really enjoy smacking into the mats!

A short sprint strip set up in this way will allow you to practice sprint starts, hurdles and long jumps (into high jump pits laid flat on the floor).

You can also perform speed-endurance workouts by having your athletes sprint to the end of the strip, bounce off the mat and sprint back down towards the start. If you have mats on both ends of the strip, you can perform any distance in increments--even over hurdles (i.e. homemade PVC hurdles can be cleared from either direction safely).

In the following video, you can watch a sprint strip in action, including
the use of a high jump pit "crash pad" at the end of the runway.


Dick Moss (Editor), Physical Education Update. From a conversation with Brent McFarlane, former Head Coach, Canadian Olympic Track and Field Team. Article updated in 2008.
["Instant Runways" can be purchased from M-F Athletic Company can be contacted at 11 Amflex Drive, PO Box 8090, Cranston, RI, 02920, USA 401-942-9363 or 1-800-556-7464 in USA and Canada].

 

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