Is it ok to Cowbell at a track & Field meet??? (and other Track & Field questions a long distance runner may be too afraid to ask)
I love sports. I have loved sports for as long as I can remember. Yes, I would label myself as a sports fanatic. Ask any of my childhood friends and they will all tell you I was (and still am), obsessed with anything involving the Chicago Cubs. I grew up watching many hours of baseball, football, basketball and tennis. Don’t even get me started about the Olympics.
Even though I LOVE sports, I didn’t grow up athletic. It took me until I was an adult before I began road running, and finally found sport that worked with my uncoordinated body. It started with a few 5k’s, then a few half marathons, and then way too many marathons..
However, I have a slight confession; being a distance runner, it took me many years to fall in love with Track and Field. I was a huge supporter of marathon runners, but to be honest the track athletes intimidated me and I was a bit too embarrassed to tell others I didn’t really know what all those laps around the track were about…
A few years later, especially now that I know the Haute Volée athletes on the Oiselle team, I LOVE watching Track and Field. With Outdoor Track and Field season kicking off this week, I want to make sure you do too. If you are a distance runner who didn’t run track or cross country in school, this blog post is here to answer the questions you were afraid to ask.
I reached out to Dr. Sarah Lesko, from Oiselle corporate development, who is also a bit of a “track mom” for the Oiselle team, to help me walk you through a bit of Track & Field 101
Let’s start with the basics of Track.
How far is one lap around the track?
400m or approx. 1/4 mile
What is the difference between sprint events and mid-distance events?
Typically sprints are 400m and down, mid-distance 800m to 5k, "distance" usually 10k and up. The 800m is the perfect half-way race (50% anaerobic, 50% aerobic).
I see athletes running multiple distance events? How is this possible?
If there is adequate recovery time, multiple races can act as a great workout stimulus, allowing athletes to push harder than they ever would in practice. Just like doing a hard interval session!
I’ve heard this term heat sheet. What is this?
When there are too many athletes for them all to race together, races are split into multiple heats. The "heat sheet" is how athletes know which heat they are in. Typically the fastest seeded runners are all in the same heat, but some races try to evenly distribute the fastest runners so that all heats have an equal chance to have the winning time.
How do runners decide which lane to run in? Is there a “better” lane?
800m races and down are started in lanes, the 800m cuts in to the rail after the first curve. The shortest distance around the track is right against the inside rail! Sometimes it's better to run on the outside of lane 1 or even go wide to lane 2 to stay out of traffic/trouble.
What exactly is a Steeple race?
A 3,000 meters steeplechase is a 3000m track race with 28 barriers and 7 water jumps. The conventional wisdom is that an experienced racer's steeple time will be 35-45s (or more) slower than their flat 3k time, due to the extra energy expenditure of jumping.
Ok, enough about running, there are also Field events.
Can you list the field events?
Field events for track and field outdoors:
jumps: triple jump, long jump, high jump, pole vault
throws: discus, shot, javelin, hammer throw
Are women offered the same Field events as men?
Yes! Pole vault and hammer throw were the latest field events to be offered equally to men and women, but since 2000 all field events at the Olympics are equal between men and women.
Does the winner of a Track and Field event win a prize?
This depends totally on the meet and the sponsors involved! Some meets have very deep prize money (top 6 places, with first place getting upwards of $10,000), some have zero prize money.
How do athletes decide which meets to participate in? Do they have to qualify?
The art of picking meets...ahh yes! So in general, athletes want a meet that will have good competition for their event. This may include weather considerations, the strength of the competitive field, how much travel will cost (and if they get their travel paid to the event), and prize money. Some meets have qualification standards (ie you have to run X time to get in - like USA Nationals). Exclusive Diamond League meet start lines are even harder to attain, by some combo of marks, "star power" of athlete, and agent clout.
What athletes from the Oiselle Haute Volée team* participate in Track and Field events?
You can find our whole list here: http://www.oiselle.com/athletes/elites. If you click on their profile, it will say which events they specialize in!
We have some athletes who focus on road races (10k and up), but our current Track and Field exclusive athletes are:
Mel Lawrence, Megan Rolland, Emily Oren, Alexina Wilson: steeple
Megan Clark, Kristina Owsinksi: pole vault
Alisha Brown, Kendra Chambers: 800m
Rebecca Mehra: 1500m, 5k
Tori Franklin: triple jump
Jasmine Blocker: 400m
Whitney Rowe: 100m, 200m
How can we fan-girl for our favorite Haute Volée? Is cowbelling allowed at T&F events?
Upcoming races are always listed here http://www.oiselle.com/athletes/races, and HV contact Volée leaders when they have upcoming races in their areas! Feel free to always email your leaders or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions! Cowbelling is *kind of* frowned on at track meets, but we're not above ruffling feathers. :)
*The Haute Volée is a team of emerging elite women athletes on the Oiselle team. A portion of the annual membership for the Oiselle Volée team supports the Haute Volée athletes.
See, the Track & Field events really aren't so intimating are they? So, grab your cowbell and head to an event this spring. Don't have a Haute Volée in your area to cheer for? Check out your local NCAA team...you never know which athlete might be the next one on our flystyle team.