One of my favorite things to do as a coach is to come up with creative ways for my athletes to achieve their workout goals. It may be using a particular drill, creating a progression of a skill to bring about change. Other times, it may involve various tools that are available. I love experimenting and seeing what will work.
This year I purchased the Finis Tempo Trainer (FTT) to help people in the pool. (You can find it here in the Team MPI Swim Outlet store.) My clients have been using it to improve pacing, stroke rate, and assist with interval training. We have found it very helpful and fun to use.
Recently, I wondered if we could use it at the track as well. Could it help with pacing? Could it help with cadence?
For some time, I wanted to find a way to help athletes keep their first 100m under control when doing track workouts. Why? Many hear the word “track workout” and think we need to run every effort FAST! When in reality, the workout might be a controlled pacing effort.
For example, if I were to have you run 8 x 400m at your 5k pace, with the goal being “to be within 1 second of your goal pace”, most people would run it too fast. To be honest, this is a hard skill to learn and requires a lot of practice. Running a 400 at one’s 5k pace is doable and obviously not all out, yet the majority of the people go charging out the gate no matter how clear the message. I have fallen victim to this as well. A while back, I resorted to figuring my splits for each 100 but that got tricky when I was increasing my efforts beyond a 400.
is where the FTT can come in handy. We can set the audible beeper to go off at our 100m goal speed. If we arrive to the 100m marker as it beeps we are on pace. Last week, I tried this with a client of mine.
These were the steps we took to get ready.
Set up the FTT:
1. Put the FTT in mode 1 (full FTT instructions are here)
2. Determine your 100 splits. Our goal pace was 7:15min/mile.
a. Use this pace table to find your 400m time. (for 7:15 it's 1:48)
b. Convert that time to seconds (1:48 = 60 seconds +48 seconds = 108 seconds)
c. Divide that pace by 4 to find your 100m time. (Ours was 27 seconds)
3. Enter that time (27 seconds for us) into the FTT
Set up the track: establish markers for each 100m (see picture how we broke it up)
Get ready to go: hit the top button on the FTT and listen for the beep to sound as you approach the 100m mark. I had the FTT clipped to my hat so we both could hear the beeps.
We soon found that we were able to fine-tune our pacing, trying hard not to over compensate. We were getting better at pacing with each 400 and loved not having to look at our watches. We were motivated by having these markers to keep us in check. Not having to deal with any GPS issues or delay in pacing data was perfect. Our focus was finding that perfect rhythm in our running gate to nail the paces. We both liked using this tool to help define our pacing. Because of that, I will definitely be using the FTT again and encourage my clients to use it for their track work.
Another way to use the FTT, like swimming, is use Mode 3 to help establish a more effective cadence. You could use it on the run and/or the bike. Again, no counting is necessary. One needs to be in step or pedal with the beep. It would be a lot easier for the runner to be in time with the audible beep than count and check their watch. I know that you would achieve your cadence goals much quicker using the Finis Tempo Trainer.
No matter what you use the FTT for, it can simplify things and allow you to focus on the task at hand. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how to use it I’m happy to help. Until then embrace the ideas and go for it.