OKTOY Blog: Focus on the basics

 Don’t make the mistake of dropping material from your testing regime once you’ve gotten it correct a couple of times. If it’s important, it needs to be practiced, and practiced again. And don’t put stock in momentary gains that result from massed practice. Space your testing, vary your practice, keep the long view.
   –from Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel

Runners at starting position on trackWe are in the middle of the spring track season. Workouts are progressively getting more specific toward race demands and increasing in difficulty. Still, it’s important to remember you cannot always continue on a path of improvement without taking care of the basics. The foundational pieces that got you where you are today need to be re-visited periodically to make sure that your base does not erode from underneath you.

Many of my younger athletes often struggle with the concept of “going backwards” in training. They correlate their recent successes in competition to their most recent workouts. Therefore, they think we should do more of the challenging, race season exercises, only faster. They lack the ability to see the whole picture. Their racing success did not emerge from one or two specific sessions but instead by the cumulative power of all the workouts over the past few months.

The support workout that my athletes did eight weeks ago prepared them to compete at their current levels. Returning to those introductory types of workouts during the season benefits my athletes in multiple ways. The first is by intentionally maintaining a level of fitness that we worked hard to obtain. Following the old adage, if you don’t use it you lose it, we make sure that we are not letting our foundation fall into disrepair while we build the house above.

Second, by including maintenance workouts in the schedule, we build in “recovery” weeks where adaptations are given the time to grow. As an athlete, you cannot expect to tear your body down day after day and simply gain positive adaptation. Recovery can be just as important as hard efforts in the long run.

This week, as we prepare to enter the final month of the season, we are being intentional about making sure we haven’t left anything behind in the training process.

As many classrooms across the state are in the “testing window,” what maintenance workouts should you be considering for your students? Massed practice, just like fast repeats on the track, will reap quick rewards, but will lack the longevity of a sound training program that intentionally works to keep all aspects in tune.


-Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Program



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Last updated on April 16, 2015