Track (Video): Self-Reporting System for Track Practice

Track (Video): Self-Reporting System for Track Practice

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

I'm fairly competent when timing and recording practice sessions for a single runner. In such circumstances, I can give lap times, splits and race-pace differentials with the best of them.

However, like most coaches, I seldom work with a single athlete. A more typical practice involves 15 to 20 runners of various ages, in different event groups, running several workouts all at the same time. Unfortunately, in such circumstances, my ability with a stopwatch fails me.

Not being a multi-tasking watch wizard I have had to develop a system for keeping track of such a large group. If you find yourself in a similar situation, give this system a try - it's easy, saves hours of time and will allow you to actually observe your runners instead of spending practice sessions with your eyes glued to a watch and workout sheet.

Self-Timing System

Self-Reporting Workout Sheet
Self-Reporting Workout Sheet
My solution to the problem is to let my athletes time themselves and record their own workout results.

The device that makes this possible is electronic stopwatch/wristwatch. These watches are accurate even when shaken and are now so inexpensive that every runner either already has one or can easily afford one. I've seen some models in department stores for under $10.

Each of your runners should have their own watch, and you may want to purchase a number so you always have some on hand.

Here's how we organize practice so that athletes can time and record their own workouts.

When I post each day's workout, the workout sheet includes target times for each athlete. A copy of this workout sheet is also placed on a table at track-side, just past the finish-line. Pencils, calculators and pace charts are also placed on the table.

Runners write their name on a blank area of the sheet and record their times beneath their name as they perform the workout. They usually do their recording during the rest intervals after each repetition, but in workouts with minimal recovery, they may have to keep some times in their memory (or their watch's) and record them when they have a chance--for example, during the longer recovery periods between sets.

This system will free you to observe your athletes as they run so you can provide feedback and analysis. And you can monitor their times as the workout progresses by taking a quick glance at the workout sheet or by asking the runners for their times (i.e. "How fast was your last one, Sarah?").

I also find that self-timing makes your athletes more aware of running paces since they give themselves immediate feedback after each repetition.

Trouble Hitting the Stop Button?
Some athletes have difficulty hitting the stop button on their wristwatch while they're running--it's common to see them slow down before the finish line because they're trying to locate the correct button.

Instruct these athletes to take the watch off their wrist and to hold it in their hand with their finger near the stop button. Times can then be taken with a movement of the finger instead of the whole arm.

The following video shows two runners recording their own times
while performing 200m intervals with a "jog across" recovery.

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update, 2016.

© 2016, Physical Education Update,

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