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A Guide to Track and Field

Track and Field

The Olympic Games 2016 in Rio continues and following last weekend's 'Super Saturday' which saw Britain's Mo Farrah win his third Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 metre sprint, Jessica Ennis-Hill win a silver medal for the Heptathlon and Greg Rutherford win a bronze medal for long jump, the British world of track and field is currently in great shape!

The London 2012 Olympic Games served as a huge inspiration for both professional and amateur athletes across the UK and with Great Britain currently in second place in the medals table, the momentum from four years ago has far from diminished.

Keeping in the spirit of the Olympics, Newitts has put together a beginners guide to track and field below, so if you're feeling inspired, why not take a look at some of the basics to get you started.

What track events are there?

If you're considering becoming a track athlete, it's a good idea to know what events you can choose from. Track events include sprints which range from 60m, 100m, 200m and 400m, to mid-distance running such as the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m. If you're keen to follow in the footsteps of Mo Farrah, long distance running includes the 5,000m and 10,000m. In addition, there is the hurdles which range from 60m, 100m, 110m, 400m and 3,000m and relays which consist of 4 rounds of 100m sprints.

What field events are there?

Field events are made up of jumps to include Greg Rutherford's long jump, the triple jump, the high jump and the pole vault. Then, there are throws to include shot put, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin. If, like Jessica Ennis-Hill you decide to have a go at several events you could take part in pentathlons, heptathlons and decathlons which consist of specific combinations of the above.

How should I choose an event?

It is a good idea to consider your body's strengths and weaknesses before deciding which event you are most suited to. Whether of not you'll be able to enjoy and excel at an event depends on a number of factors to include your strength, balance, flexibility and speed as well as the sports and training you may have already done. As a rough guide, throws require strength and agility, jumps rely on form and flexibility and running events require good cardiovascular fitness. It is best to try out a few different events initially to see which ones feel the most suited to your abilities.

How do I get started?

Mastering the technique of a specific event will be your biggest challenge, which is why it's better to play on your existing strengths where possible. For example, if you've already been taking part in cardiovascular, circuit or weight training, you'll have a good base for field and track events. The next step is to find a club that specialises or offers track and field training. Most clubs should have a few programmes for you to choose from.

Will my age affect what I can do?

Track and field events are suitable for almost any age group or fitness level, but like any sport, they require a certain level of commitment and determination. If you are currently not exercising, you should visit your doctor to ascertain your current level of fitness as you'll need to have a good standard of physical fitness to  tackle a field or track sport.

How to stay safe on the track and field

Always warm up before you begin your work out. Start jogging at a low, relaxed pace for one lap around the track, and then stretch. Stretches should gradually move your limbs comfortably through their ranges of motion. After warming up, your muscles will be looser making them less likely to tear when you start your track or field work out. Should you feel any sharp or persistent pain while running, stop immediately and consult your trainer.

Mental preparation

Many of the leading athletes talk about the mental preparation which is involved in order to take part in high profile sports competitions such as the Olympics. You may not be an Olympic athlete just yet, but it's worth following their example. Famous distance runner Steve Prefontaine alluded to the mental side of running with his famous quote: "A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts." To do well, track and field athletes must practice mental discipline by thinking positively and not giving up or slowing down when challenges arise.

 

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