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Managing Time in a Multi-event Track Meet

Managing Time in a Multi-event Track Meet

Competing in multiple events in the same track and field meet can be a rough undertaking, especially if you’re new to the sport. This guide will give you the tools you’ll need to complete the challenge of becoming a multi-event athlete.

Plan Ahead

The best thing you can do to prepare for a meet in which you will compete in multiple events is to plan ahead. Once you begin warming up for the first of your events, you will be swamped with things to do and think about. A safe bet is to do all of your planning well before the meet begins.

Things to Plan

Planning ahead may seem like a great idea, but anticipating what you’ll need to plan for can be tricky. If you are new to having multiple events in a single meet, use the following as a checklist of what to consider.

Warming Up

You should warm up before your first event. If you have significant time between events, you should also warm up for each of your subsequent events. The duration and style of your warm-up should change, however, for each event. Your most extensive warm-up should be your first. After that, it will take less to get your body prepared to perform.

Beyond duration, each warm-up should be event specific. In other words, warming up for a jumping event should include more plyometric — jump-mimicking — movements than warming up for a sprint race.

Follow the Meet Schedule

Check the meet schedule regularly. It is not uncommon for an athlete new to track and field to miss an event simply because he didn’t realize how the meet progressed. You should check for what event is currently happening, when your next event is, and remind yourself which event should correspond to the beginning of your warm-up.

Nutrition during the Meet

Track meets can take a long time. You will want to have eaten your last large meal long enough before your first event to have fully digested it… and avoid any stomach problems. For most athletes, complete digestion takes between two and a half and five hours.

However, if the span between when you will first compete and last compete is two hours or greater, you should eat something during the meet. Bring a mostly carbohydrate snack that will sit well in your stomach. A snack bar or piece of fruit works well.

Also, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the meet. This means continuing to drink water (or an appropriate sports drink) leading up to and throughout the meet.

Limiting Your Trials & Conserving Energy

Chances are you are competing in multiple events to achieve specific goals or fulfill team obligations. You’re also probably better at some events than others.

If you are a field event athlete, keep in mind how many flights of each event you need to make to achieve your intended result. For example, if your first-round throw in the shot put will likely accomplish your goal for that event, consider foregoing the rest of your throws to conserve energy for a later event. That bit of energy might make all the difference.

If you compete in the running events, and have the chance to win or achieve your scoring goal by running more slowly in one of your first events, you should take it. It might not be so easy to win or place highly in a later event.

Possible Weather

Plan for all possible weather conditions. This means bringing appropriate clothing, so that if it rains or gets cold, you won’t be stuck competing after spending hours cold/wet.

Further, you should be aware of how the weather will impact other aspects of your meet. You will need to warm up more thoroughly in the cold. You will need to take more care to stay hydrated in the heat. Tactics vary with the weather, and you might have to adjust your pace in a distance race in heavy wind or hot weather. Plan for all possible scenarios.

Steps for Planning Your First Multi-event Meet

If it’s your first multi-event meet, try these planning techniques:

  1. Write out a list of everything you will need to do leading up to your first event. Include things like: Warming up, going to the bathroom, changing into your uniform, putting on your spikes, setting up your blocks, or speaking with your coaches and teammates.
  2. Consult the schedule of events and either: Bring a schedule with you, know where to find one during the meet, or memorize the start times of your various events.
  3. Figure out how long everything you will need to do before your first event will take. Add in five minutes of leeway. Then, count backwards from the start time of your event, noting the time you should begin your preparations.
  4. If the event in question is scheduled later in the meet, note which event is supposed to begin at the time you have to begin preparing. Synch your preparation to this event, rather than the clock time. Meets sometimes get behind schedule. Doing this will account for how much the meet is already behind (or ahead of) schedule.
  5. Repeat these steps for all subsequent events. Give yourself an idea of how much free time you will have between events. Be sure to adjust steps for each event. For example: A shorter warm-up, or finding room in your schedule for a snack.

Find Time to Enjoy the Meet

As an athlete competing in multiple events, you have a unique opportunity to feel the movement of the meet as it happens. Take it. Focus on your events, but also pay attention to what else is happening and how you fit into the bigger picture. Enjoy the feeling that you’ve experienced a track meet in its entirety!

If you are new to competing in multiple events at a single track and field meet, this guide will help you learn how to plan your busy schedule.
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