St. Mary’s Outdoor T&F Team Blog #2

MONDAY: It was back to work all around on Monday.

On the sprints side of things, the theme of the day was acceleration – namely, learning how to make it happen. We began with some arm movements, and then it was up into the bleachers for stadium stairs. Stairs are great for learning the ever-important dorsiflex position, and can add an element of conditioning, as well.

Then it was back to the track for the first day of blocks. As they are a very teachable skill, we like to get into blocks early. Athletes who have done thousands of block starts trained alongside those who have never even seen them before. Those veteran athletes helped guide everyone through setting up the blocks, getting comfortable (or at least, close to comfortable) in the blocks position, and then exploding out upon hearing the “Go.”

Coach Brett worked with the hurdlers, some of whom had never seen a hurdle before and others who have been hurdling for years. He had them go through our hurdle stretches routine, alongside some lead and trail leg drills. Even the most seasoned hurdlers benefit from these simple fundamentals. Coach Brett set up the blocks, discounting the height and distance of the hurdles so everyone could get that feel of jumping over the hurdle without the anxiety or concern of not being able to get over it. 

The distance runners went out for a distance run. As meet days are Tuesdays (even though we didn’t have a meet this week), Mondays are generally easy days. Most athletes ran at least four miles and finished their workout with strides on the field. 

The throwers were in full force, with shot put and javelin going. Coach Themo and Coach D rotated among the groups, with Coach D primarily focusing on shot and Coach Themo on jav. Coach Themo broke his throwers into groups based on experience level and who was ready to work with the turbo jav, our new Ghostjav aero javelin training jav, or the full size and weight javelins. Coach D largely worked on form outside of the circle, ensuring everyone was hitting proper positions and building kinesthetic awareness.

The practice ended with a team cooldown to promote team building as well as ensuring everyone is stretching at the end of practice. This is something we are emphasizing this year. It is an important way to keep everyone together amongst the many different events we all participate in. No two practices look alike whatsoever, but they all begin with the team warmup and end with the team cooldown – all 100+ athletes performing them together. 

TUESDAY: A light rain didn’t stop a great practice.

A promising practice for one of the team’s favorite events: high jump. Coach Smith and Coach Brett guided the high jumpers, with Coach Brett also coaching the javelin throwers. Again, it was a mixed group, from State qualifiers to complete novices, but the practice began with the same theme: fundamentals. And again, the veteran athletes who know the event helped the novice athletes through form drills, 3-step approaches, and getting their steps. Senior Scott Amin, who had never high-jumped before, cleared 5 feet, 8 inches! 

On the sprints and distance side, as Tuesdays will be meet days going forward, we hit a hard workout. The sprinters went lactic again back to the hill with a suited up Coach D and Coach Beth, joining the distance runners. There was definitely an element of seeing who wants to be on the team present in scheduling a second hill workout on another rainy, cold day… but again, the team delivered. No one walked off or quit the team. 

All three throwing events were going back at the track, with Coach Brett in charge of javelin, Coach Calie overseeing shot put, and Coach Fox, senior Ellie Fox’s mom, overseeing the discus. It was largely building on what was done days prior, with several athletes stepping into the circle for the first time to get a feel for what they’d be doing at meets and translating their drills into action. 

Another group 400 and stretch cooldown, and we called it a day!

WEDNESDAY: Those athletes, particularly sprinters, who participated in the high jump or javelin the day before did not get away without their lactic workout. 

Instead of hills, these athletes performed classic 200-meter repeats. Reps ranged from 4 to 8, and rest times ranged from 90 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on where each athlete is in their athletic career. This is a bread-and-butter lactic workout for long sprinters, but not one we would be returning to often. Coach Smith considers himself a speed-first, “Feed the Cats” coach. While some conditioning is necessary, Coach Smith prefers to keep volumes low, and future lactic workouts would reflect that. 

The sore athletes who hit the hill yesterday did some rollout work with Coach Brett, who discussed the importance of recovery for athletes. He also got them back in the blocks for light block work, then hit plyometrics and core. It was certainly an active recovery day. Distance went for a recovery run as well.

We had a little mishap with the throwing implements, which we keep at Manning Field in a box secured with a padlock. Somehow, the padlock’s code got changed. Apparently, it is very easy to do this inadvertently. While Coach D was able to muscle it ajar and slide out some discuses, the shot puts were completely locked in! The shot putters hit some form drills and jumped in for 4x30m sprints. The day was not lost – and Coach D will be bringing his bolt cutters to practice on Saturday.

As today’s theme was acceleration/recovery, Coach Smith opened up the pits for the horizontal jumps. Those athletes interested lined up and got ready to get sandy as the main focus of the day was the approach. Everyone – from state qualifiers to absolute newbies – hit some runbacks, which team manager Eliana recorded. Some athletes did 8 steps, some did 10, and the most advanced did 12. The more steps, the more that can go wrong – so better to increase it progressively than to try to get everyone to that 12-14 range off the bat. 

As the sprinters accelerated, distance recovered, and throwers chucked large objects, another day of great practice was in the books – Coach Smith closed things out with a discussion and demonstration about the importance of teamwork being crucial to being able to do things an individual can’t do.

THURSDAY: Rainy days can’t stop the track team.

Instead of heading to the field, the practice was held on the school campus. Coach Smith held a meeting for juniors and seniors, followed by a team-wide practice. 

At the meeting, seniors sported their new fashion trend: signed pants. Every year, on the last day for seniors to wear their uniform, they all sign one another’s khakis as an ode to the uniform many of them have worn for the past several years. As we enter fourth quarter and the end of the year, seniors in good standing at St. Mary’s are allowed to wear whatever clothes they want to school.

Coach Smith led a quick meeting regarding upcoming invitational meets, an overnight trip to New Bedford, and service opportunities in Lynn! He also facilitated the distribution of uniforms to the upperclassmen before the underclassmen arrived in the dining commons, and the team was off!

Despite being rained out of their usual practice location, St. Mary’s Track made it work, with the sprinters completing their first record-rank-publish “Feed the Cats” day of the season. Following their usual dynamic warm-up, male and female sprinters separated onto the second and third floors of the building respectively. While the girls blazed down “History Hall” on the third floor in their high-intensity, low-volume sprint workout, the boys certainly got their reps in on the floor below. They primed their legs with technical form drills, including one of Coach Smith’s favorites: high knees with a pause. 

Following their short yet highly effective mobility and drills, focusing on dorsiflex positions during accelerations, the boys headed upstairs to swap places with the girls. Meanwhile, the female athletes were hard at work getting their start-of-the-season times in 10m flys, using chipped up FreeLap technology to capture a fully automated time. Coach Brett led the charge on the third floor, leading the sprint workout and working with manager Eliana to record the team’s times. Tracking top speed, “Feed the Cats” days are one of the team’s favorite sprint workouts and one of the coaches’ favorite ways to track athlete progression throughout the season!

At the same time, distance athletes were certainly breaking a sweat, as they completed 10 reps of everyone’s favorite: stairs! After dashing up six flights of stairs, they quickly darted to the next stairwell to race back down, and then all over again. Coach D finds that “pushing each other is one of the best ways to get better;” this workout did exactly that, pushing the distance athletes to get better one step at a time. 

Throwers also completed a lift in the weight room across the street with Coach Calie and Coach Themo. All around, it was a “nuts and bolts” type of day to get in, get the work done, and go home.

While the rain may have prevented St. Mary’s from a day of practice outdoors, it did not deter the team from coming together and getting the work done. With a final team breakdown and enthusiastic stretch, the Spartans concluded another great day of practice. 


After a long week of practice, a break is needed. Since Friday was Good Friday, the team got the day off and was instead encouraged to join their school’s day of service. Many athletes came to school to help make PB & J sandwiches for the club Rachel’s Challenge, helping to reach the club’s goal of 3,000 sandwiches for our local soup kitchen, My Brother’s Table!

SATURDAY: Jumping into the weekend with a strong morning practice. 

All groups practiced on Saturday, starting with the hurdlers and jumpers, then the throwers, distance, and sprints. This 8-11 am training session excited the team to hit a tough lactic workout and begin gearing up for the McNiff Relays hosted by Bishop Fenwick the following Tuesday.

After the usual 400m warm-up and some dynamic stretching, the athletes broke up by event to complete a variety of workouts. 400m hurdlers Josiah Madden and Chance Bonfanti powered through a brutal 3x800m hurdle workout. Running alongside them were the distance athletes, who ran an equally hard 8x400m workout. Both groups really put in the work during their reps, definitely getting the most out of them. 

While the 400m hurdlers and distance runners completed what seemed like a million laps around the track, the high hurdlers practiced going over several hurdles and worked on getting those long strides out of the blocks. 

The weather outside was absolutely perfect on Saturday once the sun came out, and the fact that the sun was shining down on the Spartans definitely gave them a boost of energy in their workouts.

Some great work also came from the sprinting department, as they worked on form and acceleration in their 2×150 workout. By giving it all they had in the reps, they practiced in a race-like environment in their high-intensity reps. They also utilized the blocks and wickets in their workout, which helped them get a feel for their race plans and starting sequences.  

After the throwers finished the hurling shot put and discus, and high jump athletes got in some practice with their approaches, the team cooled down by groups via a 400m jog, hurdle walk-over stretching, and circle stretching. After breaking it down in groups, the Spartans head into another day off after not only an amazing day of practice but also a fantastic week!

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