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Thread: handling dual meets and invitationals during track...

  1. #1

    handling dual meets and invitationals during track...

    since no one's posted this year yet, i figured i'd start. a challenge that i don't think i've successfully dealt with is handling the racing workload during track season, so:

    do you treat dual meets like workouts? if so, how?

    do you double athletes (distances) during dual meets regularly even with high profile invites on the weekend?

    do you double athletes on saturdays regularly, even after dual meets 2-3 days before?

    any circumstances you want to fill in surrounding these questions and your answers are appreciated--i know it can depend on the athlete, the teams you're racing, whether or not you have a competitive track team, etc.

    good luck with the upcoming season,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Whittier, California, United States
    I was just going to post a happy New Year just so there was at least one post from the New Year but this is much better!

    Personally I treat every meet as a race just because I don't want them to get into the mindset that they get to cruise and then they get beat by someone who decided to run the race of their life. So basically I go into the races with the attitude of run as fast as you have to run to win or sweep. What I like about this is it allows them to be tactical and maybe even work on their kick if it comes down to it... I also like the way they feel after such a race especially if they ran faster than they thought they were running. Itís a great confidence booster.

    I double athletes in distance races (1600/3200 or 1600/800) against maybe one or two teams in our league but usually I will run them in one distance event plus the 4x4 for a speed workout. If we have a major invite on the weekend, I will usually just run them in the one race and again have them run only as fast as they need too.
    Invites I like to double them whenever possible early in the season. Usually before league I will either run them in their primary event or at another distance to work on speed (800 or 400) or strength (3200) if they are a miler.

    I would say that we run the max amount of meets allowed but they will only really run an "A" effort maybe 4-5 times before the post season. I try to have them get one 100% effort in all three distance events and then from there usually one or two more at their primary distance.

    Great Post!

    Tony DiMarco
    California HS (Whittier)

  3. #3
    I am very interested to see what others write. When I first started I would quad many of my athletes because they would come out just before the season or play soccer during season. It was one of the only ways I could get them into shape. Now I have some runners that are running most of the year so I only quad/triple early depending on the shedule but one or two by the end of march. 4x4 early and they can if they want later in the season. So I will treat each kid different depending on the shape they are in.

    We are near max. on meets too. In the past I would have the kids just run fast enough to sweep. start slow and take control at half way. This year I think I am going to change that to go hard(PR pace) for the first half and then I will tell them what to do the rest of the way. I feel that when it came to big races my kids were not ready for the early fast pace.

  4. #4
    thanks for the replies--i was worried for a while that i was going to have to respond to myself and subject the rest of you to a conversation in my own mind...

    i've tried a little of both: races as workouts, races as races, racing just to win, and even 1/2 race hard like suggested above. i don't feel like any method has necessarily been better than the other, and of course it depends on the athlete. i try to stay away from quadrupling, but most kids want to try it at least once.

    what i feel is fact is this, though: no professional would race as often as we make many of our h.s. kids race and expect optimal results. given that it is near-impossible to optimize their racing schedules here in southern california (i like that we still have dual meets, but of course the invites both provide better competitive environments and prepare them for possible post-season competition), it is an annual struggle on my part at least to best play the cards as they're dealt. again, thanks for the responses, and hopefully we'll get more...

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Temecula, CA
    I will go on record that I'm not a big fan of dual meets unless both teams are really close in ability and would rather build a schedule that focuses on weekend invitationals. Most dual meets pit teams against each other that are not very competitive with each other and it makes the meet rather boring or a waste of training time. Here are the things I look at when deciding my entries for duals:

    1. Do we have to win this meet?
    2. Can we score the same points using younger developing runners instead of our top varsity kids?
    3. Do I think the other team will rest top athletes as well?
    4. Are there concepts I need to work on with my team (finishing kick, fast lap 3, going out to hard, pacing, etc.)?
    5. Who benefits the most by racing at this meet? Can I give younger kids varsity experience?
    6. If we run our best kids all out, will we be accused of "running up the score?"
    7. Do we have a big meet this weekend?
    8. Can I give a 3200 runner a chance to run the 400 or 800 in this meet?

    Ultimately, my preference is to use my younger kids in duals if at all possible and send the older varsity level kids out for a workout during the meet. I've even skipped league meets in XC to focus on training my varsity group while the younger kids race at the meets. I think a lot of it depends on what your end goals are for the season. Duals are great for younger athletes that need to race and develop more, but if you can skip it with a CIF level athlete you should. If you have to race it, then do it as a workout but make sure to give your athletes enough work to do (3-5 miles worth of quality work depending on effort).

    Doug Soles
    Head XC & Track Coach
    Great Oak High School

  6. #6
    I agree about the dual meets. I have had athletes run to the meet and do the 800/4x4 and had others do repeats on the track before the meet starts. I haven't had the depth some years to do do that though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Huntington Beach, Ca
    My thoughts are dual meets are that they are simply workouts. There sometimes there is no better workout than a good race. My bigger focus is to have the athletes be ready to perform at invitationals, where the athletes usually only single, with the few exceptions being our first race of the year, Arcadia and maybe our county champs. Almost always I will double athletes in dual meets. I mix up which two races the athletes are doing based on what race they will singling in for the Sat invite.

    With this, I will usually try and mix up the race strategies for the dual meets to have the athletes work on specific ideas as was mentioned above (go real hard the first 2 laps and hold on, stay conservative and then really pick it up 3rd lap, etc). On occasion I will also throw the athletes in to the 4x400 just to change it up and make it fun and to work on their speed a little, but mostly just cause its fun to watch distance kids do a 400 race. There are times where I also just have to let the athletes race the race. We have some very strong individuals in our league and its usually tough racing week-to-week. So again, trying to use my athletes strengths vs the other schools athletes, I might tweak the racing strategy and/or what races need to be run.

    All in all, I would probably prefer to not have dual meets, but for most of the JV/FS kids, without dual meets they would only run 3-4 times a year because it's just not as easy to find them races at invitationals with the limited entries and no JV races.
    Brian Brierly
    Edison HS (SS)
    Head Cross Country Coach
    Track Distance Coach

  8. #8
    Way too many scenarios to give a standard answer to this one. I think the first question is can your team win the league title? If yes, you race the meets to win and do it as easily as possible. If no, forget the meets entirely and just focus on individual athlete needs. I firmly believe that 2nd and 6th in team league standings are the same thing. The last 2 years we've had Wed duals, it was horrible for overall training but gave us enough time to recover for Sat invites so we didn't really need to rest the duals. Most of my athletes will double at every dual, but just because they run an event does not mean they will RACE it. My primary goal is score as many points as possible with the least amount of effort. If we are fortunate enough to treat a race like a workout it will usually involve finishing tactics.
    Martin Pennell
    Fountain Valley High School
    XC and Track

    "Do or do not; there is no try"

  9. #9
    thanks martin--i agree that there a too many scenarios for a standard answer, but yours is a useful one nonetheless...

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Walnut Creek,CA
    Run 'em. That's what we're training for. Run 'em. All of them. Of course not all races are important but these are kids and most of them, even after a year or two, still don't know how to race. So they get scripts for the races (negative split; first lap of the 1600 in 63 then die gracefully; hit the pace for all 8 laps of the 3200; et cetera). Add in extra warmups, and tack on extra recovery mileage afterwards. Make it a threshold day. Make it a critical pace tempo workout. But run 'em.

    Opinion: Our runners do not run enough 3200's, and many of them suffer from lack of experience in later races.

    Weekend invitationals are showcase events, and are not as important as the postseason. Focus on the end, and let the workouts/meets help to that end. Arcadia is not the end-all and be-all of track (sorry Rich). The California State Meet is. So, for dual meets, run 'em. "Saving" kids for a big invitational is a motivational factor for peak performances that only works a couple of times a season. Reserve that tactic for the really importance races.

    And as for world-class elite professional runners, they are not restricted to a 12-14 week season. These are high school kids, and I'm not going to curtail their season by dropping races. Doug's checklist is right on the money, but when I'm operating on 7 distance girls total, we're running races.

    Peter Brewer
    Northgate High

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