My Olympics: day seven, track starts (athletics)

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: track starts (athletics).

Yippee, the athletics events have begun! I’m no track and field athlete but – like many of you – I just love watching the athletics events. So, today’s Olympics-inspired challenge had to be something about sprinting, or jumping, or throwing something heavy. Or hurdling. Please, not hurdling.

As luck would have it, I was due to have a training session with retired-400m runner Tim Benjamin, who now owns and runs a couple of fitness facilities near where I live. One – Five Star Health and Fitness on Vale Road in Windsor – is brand-spanking new… and amazing. I’ll be blogging about it soon but, if you’re in the area, check it out.

“Tim, you were a track athlete. What can you teach me, in about 10 minutes and without an actual track, blocks or hurdles?” I said.

Tim was stoic and unflummoxed by the prospect of teaching a bodybuilder in Vibrams how to be a track athlete. “Let’s do track starts,” he said.

Great idea! Five Star Health & Fitness has a little mini-track in the cardio area, for doing hops and jumps and crawls. Ideal for learning how to do sprint starts!

Here’s Tim’s how-to:

“You need to get in the correct position to drive out of the start at a 45* angle. Get the start position wrong and you’ll either go straight up, or you’ll lose a lot of power. Kneel down with one knee (right, if you’re right handed) just behind the line, then stand up without moving that foot. Position the left foot just behind it and out at hip width. Then kneel back down – your knees and feet are now in the right position. Your hands have to be behind the line, and you’ll be up on your fingertips. From there, push up onto your feet, raising your hips and keeping your back hollow. Now it’s time to drive off into your first stride. You’re aiming for full hip drive and one big long stride… “

Now, I am far from athletic, not blessed with speed and agility and have no “mind body connection” at all when it comes to this kind of thing. I can genuinely say I have never tried a track start in my life.

Tim, on the other hand, counts Marlon Devonish as a former training partner, was once ranked 3rd in the world, competed in an Olympic final (the 4x400m in 2004) and came 2nd in the World Grand Prix Final in 2005 with a PB of 44:56 for the 400m. So, he was an excellent teacher. And I actually ended up moving my limbs in more or less the correct manner and striding off down that mini-track!

Take your marks… Set….


Wheeeee! Look at me! I’m running!

The fastest woman in the world…

…is not me. πŸ˜‰

Thank you Tim! πŸ™‚

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day seven, track starts (athletics) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

3 Responses to My Olympics: day seven, track starts (athletics)

  1. arch says:

    One of those tracks appeared in our gym this week in our new matted area for free weights and kettlebells. The new mats are very slippy. I did a plank that almost ended up as a noseplant…


  2. […] interested in the human form, strength and performance. As I mentioned in my Olympic-inspired “track starts” post yesterday, Tim competed as a 400m runner at a very high level, coming 2nd at the World Grand Prix […]


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