Run, Jump, Throw & More: A Beginners Guide to Track & Field (2023)

An article by Corina Willner '17

In this year’s track and field seasons alone, senior Dana Fry placed 21st in the 5000-meter run, first-year Sunny Shan achieved seventh in the 500-meter, and senior Jennie Ochterski threw 10.17m to earn seventh in the weight throw. Hold on, don’t stop reading yet. Yes, I know when you see sports articles the headline—maybe the first sentence too—are all you read, but this article is different, promise. Instead of only detailing the efforts and achievements of our athletes, I want to understand—as I am hoping you do too—just what it is that they do. Click here for an inside look via video at the indoor track & field season.


The most basic concept of track and field is obvious: it brings together a variety of short competitions based on a track and a field. Beyond that, both you and I are short on details. From what I have learned, track and field competitions, called “meets,” can stretch throughout the entire day, usually beginning around ten or eleven am, and ending around four or five pm. Because there are over twenty events that need to happen in that five to seven hours, throwing can overlap with running events. Some events involve upwards of eighty athletes competing for the same title of first place. When senior Dana Fry placed 21st in the 5000-meter run, she had already beaten dozens of others by managing a time fast enough to qualify for the meet. 5,000 meters is approximately three miles, and in running those three miles at the Open New England Championships, Fry earned a personal record—they call it a “PR”—beating her previous best time by ten seconds.

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As you can tell, numbered places rarely represent just how much these athletes work and achieve. Track and field is layered, and different from team sports although the team as a whole is scored. Unlike team sports, accomplishments cannot be quantified with win or lose, because there are so many wins and so many losses happening within one meet. Therefore, while I want to go through and list how each member has been focusing on their own improvement, reaching goal after goal, it is more realistic to look at a variety of events. Every team member trains to fit their own progress, so this little guide made by a non-track and field athlete could be called incomplete at best, but it’s a start. If you want to know more, there are 26 members of our Track and Field team right now who would likely love to share.


The sprint events include the 400-, 200-, 100-, and 60-meter dashes. 100 meters is only run outdoor because it is the distance for which the track is straight, and the 60 meters is only run indoor for the same reason. Sprinters do exactly what you imagine in practice: they sprint. However, in order to improve, they do more than run the same 60- to 200-meter sprint. They often cross-train with biking, elliptical, and aqua-jogging, in addition to perfecting their running form and weight lifting.

Camille Coklow in the 200-meter dash



Hurdle events are either 100- or 400-meter with 10 hurdles in the 100 and 10 hurdles in the 400. Similar to sprinters, hurdlers will do smaller sprints as well as longer, cross-training, and weight lifting. They also develop their form throughout the season, not only in sprinting but also in actual hurdling. Each hurdle is 30 inches for the 400-meter run, and 33 inches for the 100-meter.

Similar to hurdles is the 3000m Steeplechase, which requires running and jumping, but the jumped things do not fall if an athlete should brush against them. Therefore, instead of “hurdles” these are called “barriers.” Steeplechase is popular as a spectator sport due to the second to last barrier; after this barrier is a water pit, which is impossible to avoid getting in, and sometimes impossible to avoid falling into. Of the five barriers constructed (including the one with the water pit), competitors must jump over each of them seven times in this almost-two-mile race, meaning they jump 35 times before finishing. Therefore, steeplechase competitors must train as distance runners do, but add in hurdle drills.


If you were beginning to think that simply every event in track and field meant running, let the throwers show you the alternative. Part of the “power athletes” as termed by MHC head coach Tina Lee, throwers work primarily on throwing drills with supplementary weight training. Drills are specific to each event. Throwing events inclu

de shot put, javelin, discus, weight throw (indoor) and hammer throw (outdoor), which are all different shaped objects, requiring different technique. Throwers do not often compete in more than two of these events due to the significant muscular exertion.

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Jenny Spicola competing in the hammer throw


Jumpers do less sprinting than sprinters, of course, but do need to have sprinting in their regular routines. Those regular routines can include cross training, sprints, jumping drills, and weight lifting. While some days jumpers will do up to 30 repetitions of their event—long jump, triple jump, or high jump—other days will be focused less on repetition and form, but more on increasing height or distance, like a mock track meet.


The distance events in track and field range from the 600 meter race up to 10,000 meters of running around the track. Indoor tracks are usually 200 meters all the way around, while outdoor tracks are 400 meters. This means that for the 10,000 meter race at an outdoor meet, athletes will run 25 times around the track. Fortunately you do not need to appreciate ovals that much to be a distance runner. As you have probably come to understand by this point, track and field athletes spend a lot of time in the pool, on a bike, on an elliptical, and in the weight room, as well as on the track or field. Distance runners are no different, and often have a certain “mileage” goal for each week. This means that they will do at least one truly long run—six to fifteen miles--per week. Mileage is tailored to fit the individual, so of the twelve distance runners at Mount Holyoke, there might be twelve different mileage goals for any given week, the shortest being twenty miles and the longest being seventy miles.



The heptathlon is by far the longest event in track and field, taking two days to complete all seven events, which are composed of other events in the meet. The events include 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m run, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run. As you have hopefully already concluded, these athletes cross train, lift, and sprint, intentionally improving form through drills for each event. Normally, these athletes build up

Runners can also work together in the 4x100m, 4x400m, and 4x800m relays. Each of the four competing in these events runs 100, 400, or 800 meters depending on the event. This is the one event that can bring together teammates in a single quantifiable result.


While it is difficult to follow in numbers, because supporting the team means more than watching one ball be moved around for an hour, rooting for the Mount Holyoke College track and field team can merit great results. Beyond our headlining athletes Camille Coklow, Dana Fry, and Amber Legare, our classmates and their fellow athletes have been consistently pushing themselves to personal records; Gargi Mishra beat her best time by seven minutes, Hannah Gershone beat her best time by at least five minutes, as did Mia Barnes, and these are just the first-year distance runners on a team of athletes with diverse abilities and ages. Improvements in sprints are smaller, tenths of a second rather than ten seconds, or minutes. Just this season, Shante Henderson has shaved off more than four-tenths of a second on her 200m sprint to 29.34 seconds, besting over half of her 70 competitors in the Jim Sheehan Invitational.

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As you can tell, track and field is not the most cohesive grouping of sports. Few athletes compete across the types of events (as in, few distance runners jump hurdles, and few sprinters throw as well), so the team atmosphere is less dependent. Through this, however, athletes who work best pushing themselves alone can shine, and coaches can provide individualized routines that help these athletes reach their peak performance ability. In case you find yourself with a free Saturday next year, and in case the winter takes its leave a little earlier, MHC track and field will host another outdoor meet. Come! Support the athletes who work day after day, for at least two regular sport seasons a year.

Click here for an inside look via video at the indoor track & field season.

For more information,


What 4 basic skills are used in track and field? ›

It can be a combination of speed (sprints), endurance (distance), jumping ability, (long ,triple & high jump) throwing ability ( discus, shot put and javelin), skill and technique ( hurdles & vault) and teamwork ( relays).

What are the three 3 skills used in track and field? ›

Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some of the jumping events.

What are the five 5 fundamental skills in track and field? ›

A collection of events played on a running track which involves the skills of throwing, sprinting, running, jumping, and vaulting.

What are the starting commands in track and field? ›

The starting commands are "On your marks" and "Set." Once all athletes are in the set position, the Starter's gun is fired, officially starting the race. For the 100m, women's 100m hurdles and men's 110m hurdles, all competitors are lined up side-by-side.

How can I improve my track and field skills? ›

Improve Your Strength for Track & Field Success
  1. Strength is critical to success. Running, jumping, throwing and even walking quickly all require strength. ...
  2. Exert force against the ground. ...
  3. Learn to use strength. ...
  4. Exert force horizontally. ...
  5. Don't neglect your hamstrings.
15 Jan 2015

How can I practice track and field? ›

To best prepare for Track Tryouts, complete a distance workout 4-5 times per week ,an upper or lower body workout 3-4 times per week, and Core workout 3 times per week.
  1. Run 15 minutes out (will take the same path back), run back faster than 15 minutes.
  2. Map out a 2 miles course. ...
  3. Map out a 1 mile course.
10 Jan 2017

What is the most important in track and field? ›

Strength and conditioning is important in track and field and in all sports because the fittest and most prepared athletes are always going to win. Technique suffers when an athlete is lacking in strength and conditioning because the athlete physically cannot get in the positions necessary to be successful.

What are the 4 basic skills in athletics? ›

They include force, speed, endurance, coordination and flexibility. Motor abilities are manifested on the outside by sports skills.

What are the six basic sports skills? ›

What are the 10 fundamental skills? Balancing, running, jumping, catching, hopping, throwing, galloping, skipping, leaping, and kicking are the ten fundamental motor skills.

What are the 7 fundamental skills? ›

What are the seven fundamental movement skills?
  • Running.
  • Jumping.
  • Coordination.
  • Throwing.
  • Catching.
  • Kicking.
  • Striking.

What are the 12 fundamental skills? ›

The fundamental movement skills to be developed through Health and Physical Education include: locomotor and non-locomotor skills — rolling, balancing, sliding, jogging, running, leaping, jumping, hopping, dodging, galloping and skipping.

What are the 3 fundamental skills? ›

Fundamental movement skills can be categorised into three groups: body management skills, locomotor skills and object control skills. Body management skills involve balancing the body in stillness and in motion.

What leg do you start with in track? ›

This it the leg that is closest to the starting line that generates 100% of the forward momentum. An easy way of determining this is to stand behind the athlete and simply push them forward. Whichever leg catches their weight is the power leg. This is the back leg that is farthest from the starting line.

How do I get more stamina for track? ›

How to Increase Stamina and Endurance for Running
  1. Stay Consistent. You build endurance by running as regularly as you can. ...
  2. Increase Your Mileage Gradually. ...
  3. Incorporate HIIT Into Your Training. ...
  4. Practice Plyometrics. ...
  5. Manage Your Stress. ...
  6. Run 800-Meter Intervals. ...
  7. Don't Skip Strength Training.
3 Dec 2021

What is the hardest thing to do in track and field? ›

The 400m hurdles is considered to be the most demanding of all track events. In addition to the 400m sprint, which in itself demands full muscular activity, the physical strength and skill to jump over 10 hurdles is also required.

How do you mentally prepare for track and field? ›

How Professional Runners mentally prepare for race day
  1. Trust Your Training. ...
  2. Don't Freak Out About a Bad Workout. ...
  3. Control Your Excitement. ...
  4. Try Not to Get Overwhelmed. ...
  5. Don't Get Distracted. ...
  6. Stick to Your Routine. ...
  7. Visualize Your Success. ...
  8. Have a Go-To Mantra on Hand.
27 Oct 2017

What do you do in the first week of track practice? ›

Sample track workouts
  • Warm up: 1 mile in and outs (100M sprint; 100M walk) each lap faster; last lap 200M sprint.
  • Drills.
  • 2 X 300 Meter: 70% on 200M; 80% last 100M/ rest 15'
  • 2 X 100 Meter: 75%; rest 30”
  • 4 X 40 Meter: Quick; rest 20”

What is the best position in track? ›

The inside lane is oftentimes best in track and field not because the lanes are the fastest, but because the fastest athletes are placed in those lanes after qualifying rounds.

What makes you faster in track? ›

To run faster, you should incorporate speed workouts like tempo runs and fartleks. You can also try weight training and hill runs to improve your speed. Overall, to become a faster and stronger runner, it's important to stay consistent with your training schedule.

What is the best starting position in track and field? ›

We suggest starting young athletes with a standing start and then progressing to a three-point stance while developing speed, strength and power levels through general strength exercises, speed and weight training, as well as low level plyometrics.

What are the 13 basic movement skills? ›

The 13 Fundamental Movement Skills are organized into three categories: locomotion, balance and object manipulation.
Object Manipulation
  • Throwing. Throwing involves a person propelling an object with force out of their hand.
  • Sidearm Strike. ...
  • Dribbling Hands. ...
  • Dribbling Feet. ...
  • Catching.
29 Jul 2014

How can I improve my sports skills? ›

7 Powerful Ways To Improve Athletic Performance
  1. Vary Your Workouts. ...
  2. Track & Measure Your Performance During Training. ...
  3. Make Proper Hydration a Priority. ...
  4. Dedicate Enough Time for Recovery. ...
  5. Train Your Brain. ...
  6. Fuel Your Body the Right Way. ...
  7. Consider Adding Some Supplements to Your Diet.
30 Oct 2019

How can I learn sports fast? ›

The best way to learn about a sport is to be genuinely interested in it. You can manage to quickly pick up the rules and basics about your sport of choice through video games, intramural leagues, fan organizations and many other ways. Just make sure not to get frustrated or overwhelm yourself. Good luck learning!

What are your basic skills? ›

Basic skills are very important. Everyone needs them. These are skills like reading, writing, number skills and computer skills that we use every day. You may hear them called Skills for Life.
Strengthen your skills
  • writing a letter.
  • filling in a form.
  • spelling.
  • reading.
  • speaking and listening.

What is the best way to introduce a skill to an athlete? ›

Explain the importance of the skill.
  1. Get Your Athletes' Attention.
  2. Name the Skill.
  3. Explain the Importance of the Skill.
  4. Correct One Error at a Time.
  5. Use Positive Feedback to Correct Errors.

What are the 5 essential life skills? ›

NICEF, UNESCO and WHO list the ten core life skill strategies and techniques as: problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication skills, decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship skills, self- awareness building skills, empathy, and coping with stress and emotions.

What are the basic life skills 1 point? ›

What are MITM's 7 Essential Life Skills?
  • Focus and Self-Control. Children need this skill to achieve goals, especially in a world filled with distractions and information overload. ...
  • Perspective Taking. ...
  • Communicating. ...
  • Making Connections. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Taking on Challenges. ...
  • Self-Directed, Engaged Learning.

What is the most important essential skill? ›

More than two-thirds of recruiters across all industries say communication is the most important skill they look for. Good verbal and written communication skills are often thought of as a given, but not everyone can communicate effectively in one or both.

How can I learn motor skills fast? ›

Acquiring new motor skills requires repetition, but iterative repetition is much more effective than just doing the same thing over and over. A new study from Johns Hopkins found that modifying practice sessions led participants to learn a new computer-based motor skill quicker than straight repetition.

What are the essential 8 skills? ›

The Essential Eight Skills [Pillar One of EFL]
  • Making Requests [mands]
  • Waiting after making requests.
  • Accepting Removals — Transitions, Sharing, and Taking Turns.
  • Completing Required Tasks — Completing Previous Acquired Tasks when asked to do so.
  • Accepting “No”
  • Following Directions related to Health and Safety.

What are the 4 core skills? ›

Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing

These skills are Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. In the context of first-language acquisition, the four skills are most often acquired in the order of listening first, then speaking, then possibly reading and writing.

What are the 3 tips for beginners to running? ›

14 running tips for beginners
  1. Find safe, traffic-free routes. ...
  2. Run at whatever time of day suits you. ...
  3. Start each run slowly. ...
  4. 4. ...and keep the pace nice and controlled. ...
  5. Slow down on hills. ...
  6. Walk breaks aren't cheating. ...
  7. It doesn't matter how far you go. ...
  8. Don't run every day at first.
24 May 2022

How should a beginner runner start? ›

Start by walking: If you're new to exercise or have been sedentary for a while, start gently. Work your way up to walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. Add running: Once you've been walking for a few weeks, incorporate periods of running into those 30 minutes.

Which way do you go around a track? ›

The typical direction for most tracks is counterclockwise, but it can vary. Look for posted signs indicating which direction to run. This rule helps prevent collisions between runners. Some tracks alternate directions daily or weekly so runners who use the track frequently don't get a lopsided workout.

Which way do you walk on a track? ›

Walk on the right side of the trail and pass on the left, the website said. Notable exceptions are running tracks with lanes, on which you run counterclockwise and should pass on the right.

Who goes first in a track meet? ›

Traditionally women compete before men, meaning the standard order of outdoor track events is women's 4x800m relay, men's 4x800m relay, women's 110m high hurdles, and so on and so forth. However, the order of field events is reversed for men in comparison to women.

Where should I start for 1 mile on a track? ›

Find the finish, then go “back” to find the start. In the case of the mile, you first find the finish, then knowing you are running 9M “longer” than 4 laps you need to go behind the finish line and you'll see a line across all lanes, indicating the start of the mile.

What is a 3 point start in track and field? ›

A 3-point start is basically a crouch start performed with only one hand (and therefore “3 points” – one hand and two feet) in contact on the ground. The other hand is held up off the ground, and back behind and above the hip.

How far is lane 3 on a track? ›

415.33 m

What are the 4 basic skills? ›

Benefits of testing the four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What are the 4 basic skills of learning? ›

The 21st century learning skills are often called the 4 C's: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating. These skills help students learn, and so they are vital to success in school and beyond. Critical thinking is focused, careful analysis of something to better understand it.

What are the 4 essential skills? ›

Successful individuals make a proactive effort to continuously develop 4 Essential Skills 1-Lead, 2-Manage, 3-Perform in their Job, 4-Communicate Effectively. This 4-pronged skillset applies to your job, no matter what your title or level in the hierarchy.

What are the four C's? ›

The 4 C's to 21st century skills are just what the title indicates. Students need these specific skills to fully participate in today's global community: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

What are the 3 major skills? ›

Research has found there are three basic categories of skills in the world: knowledges, transferable skills and self-management skills.

What are the 3 essential skills? ›

Robert Katz identifies three critical skill sets for successful leaders: technical skills, interpersonal (or human) skills, and conceptual skills. Leaders must possess certain technical skills that assist them in optimizing managerial performance.

What are the 12 basic movement skills? ›

The fundamental movement skills to be developed through Health and Physical Education include: locomotor and non-locomotor skills — rolling, balancing, sliding, jogging, running, leaping, jumping, hopping, dodging, galloping and skipping.

What are the 12 movement skills? ›

The twelve fundamental movement skills are; static balance, sprint run, vertical jump, catch, hop, side gallop, skip, overarm throw, leap, kick, two handed strike and dodge.

What are the 8 essential skills? ›

The eight essential skills are listening, speaking, problem-solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership, and teamwork. The skills cover communication, creative problem solving, self-management, and interpersonal skills.

What are the 7 essential teaching skills? ›

Here is a list of some Skills for Teachers to develop a better relationship with students and make teaching more fruitful:
  • Understanding of the Subject.
  • Communication.
  • Continuous Learning.
  • Leadership.
  • Creativity.
  • Adaptability.
  • Internet-savvy.

What are the 5 skill levels? ›

The scale ranges from proficiency levels 1-5:
  • NA - Not Applicable.
  • 1 - Fundamental Awareness (basic knowledge)
  • 2 - Novice (limited experience)
  • 3 - Intermediate (practical application)
  • 4 - Advanced (applied theory)
  • 5 - Expert (recognized authority)

What are the six most important life skills? ›

decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship skills, self- awareness building skills, empathy, and coping with stress and emotions. Self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence are essential tools for understanding one's strengths and weaknesses.

What is the most important skill to be successful in life? ›

1. Critical thinking. Being able to think for yourself is a key skill at a time where the concept of career and the workplace is changing. Critical thinking is clearly self-directed and self-disciplined, so you will need to be able to think for yourself in a realistic and meaningful way.


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