In a USATF press release dated March of 2015:
PORTLAND, OREGON — The City of Portland will play host to the 2016 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Oregon Convention Center, March 11-12, USA Track & Field announced Monday.
The Team USA roster for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships will be chosen on the same track on which they will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals, one week later. The 2016 World Indoor Championships are slated for March 18-20 at the Oregon Convention Center.
The indoor track stadium at the OCC will feature a new, 200-meter IAAF-certified track and will be configured to accommodate more than 7,000 spectators for the event.
“Having our USATF Indoor Championships in Portland will enable everyone, from athletes to local organizers, timers and event staff to have a test run for World Indoors,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “We are looking forward to hosting the best that the U.S., and the world, have to offer as we kick off the 2016 Olympic year.”
I know this is an official press release, but it sounds exciting! I read somewhere that this is the first time the USA has hosted a indoor track championship since 1987, and the second time ever that the USA has hosted a World Indoors. That is a lot of pressure to put on two gigantic events, especially back to back. So, a special request was made to the track manufacturer that they build the “fastest track in the world”. What does something like this cost? No specific number was quoted, other than a broad “in the millions”.
No cost was spared. No biggie. Portland just needs the fastest track in the world! We are hosting two gigantic events! This is important! 🙂
Back to my house…
My older daughter Sarah was asked to run in an indoor track meet two weeks ago and gave me the address of a place which took us to the depths of the warehouse district. I told her there were no tracks or parks at that address. She said, “Yes, there is mom!”, so to indulge her I drove her to the address she specified. Yes, I was right and there was a warehouse, but on the door was printed:
and when we walked in, it was as though we had entered Narnia… of the track and field world. We were greeted with massive neon signage and a huge green indoor track:
Here are the up and coming Olympic hopefuls that we saw racing when we first arrived. Look at this cutie pie.
Why wear running gear? It’s not necessary! 🙂
House of Track uses an actual starter, with an actual starting gun, and when he said “on your mark, get set…” these little guys did this:
and covered their ears from the noise! I don’t blame them!
Ok, now seriously, what about this track?
Here are what some of the athletes that have been training and racing on this track have to say about it, as interviewed for the Portland Tribune:
“The color is really cool,” says sprinter Jenna Prandini, like Wheating a former University of Oregon runner. “I’ve never seen a green track before. It’s fast and very comfortable to run on.”
“I run faster on harder surfaces,” says another ex-UO sprinter, English Gardner. “The track I train on at UCLA is a little bit softer. This was different, but it’s what we need for fast times. I felt fast on this track. It will call for some crazy times at Worlds.”
“I like it more and more as I work out and race on it,” says Olympic distance runner Matthew Centrowitz, a member of the Nike Oregon Project group that has held training sessions at the facility. “I’ve run on a lot of indoor tracks. Is this one the fastest in the world? It certainly has the potential.”
There is a rumor that the track will stay local, and another rumor that is has been purchased for a school in the Midwest.
Ever hear of Usain Bolt?
At this sprinting workshop was a guy who beat him in July of last year. His name is Ryan Bailey. Super nice guy. Amazingly balanced athlete. I don’t see bodies I functionally envy often; most of the time I can pick them apart very quickly. He, however, is a machine!
I told you I got to learn from an Olympic coach? Well, the coach was there, and so was the Olympian! Here he is signing autographs with all the kids from the workshop.
The one tip
What one thing did his coach reiterate over and over? What is the one tip he wanted the kids to remember in learning how to sprint?
What in the heck is that??
Here is a hint:
The claw is your foot pawing the ground, fast. You are trying to pop the knee up to ninety degrees, extend your lower leg, keep your straight foot flexed toward your shin, claw the ground with just the ball of your foot, and have that knee whip back up to ninety degrees in as fast a revolution as possible.
That, in a condensed nutshell, is what makes speed, according to coach. ( I hope I am not revealing Ancient American Olympic Sprinting Secrets here!)
Practice this revolution, balancing on one foot. You may hold the wall to balance and execute the move at first, but there is no wall on the track, so wean yourself off the wall if possible. 🙂
- Keep your chest up and tummy tight. You need all the action to happen in the front of the body.
- Land on the ball of the foot, not the heel.
- Do not over extend your arms- if you reach too far out, you will over-stride with your leg.
What, dear readers, should bring that knee up to ninety degrees?
The hip flexor! How are your hip flexors? Need a refresher on hip flexors? Check out that blog here.
Coach did not get into the muscles behind the movement, at least when I was listening, but you know that is my favorite part.
Thus you get from him what the motion should look like, and from me what muscle should be the prime leg-picker-upper. You can force form all day long, but form with function (aka the right muscles working) is far more powerful.
Give it a try!
Good luck to all of our spring athletes, big and small, and good luck to the racers visiting our fair city in a matter of days. Next time: stay tuned about a unique track star who has an extraordinary story.
Let us know how this sprinting tip has helped you in the comments below!