A Lesson Learned from Starter Blocks

Sep 10, 2020

YouTube can be my best friend. I like to think of myself as a replacement mechanic. A do it yourself kind of guy. Dryer breaks, look up the problem on YouTube, order the part and replace it, simple. The same holds true for most projects around the house from replacing brakes on a car to resurfacing my deck. Research the project on YouTube and do it. Diagnosing a problem normally doesn’t work out well but remove and replacing a part is definitely doable.

That wasn’t the case with learning how to properly set up starter blocks and takeoff out of the blocks. I have been training to compete in the 50 and 100 meter dash in this year’s Master Games for over a year. Due to the pandemic the games were postponed from May to October. That actually worked out great. It gave me more time to prepare. My Father’s Day gift was a set of starter blocks for the race. Yes, a bit unusual for a 61 year dad but it was time get serious!

Excitedly I jumped on YouTube to figure out how to set them up and improve my start. Although I had never trained or ran a formalized race I know the start is the key to winning the race! I spent hours watching video after video on the set up and takeoff out of the blocks. I integrated all this information with what I knew about speed training. It was time to test it out.

The first nice weekend day my wife and I went to the track. Set up the blocks and camera. We filmed over 30 different block set ups and starts. My legs were exhausted! But now the real work began, studying the videos.

Utilizing a protractor on my computer I analyzed each video for all the various angles of the body in the set position, the take off and my first three steps. This didn’t just take hours it took days!

Upon completing all the research, actual starts, and video analysis I realized, I had figure out nothing! All that time and effort and I was no closer to knowing what to do than the day I took the blocks out of the box.  It was time for a professional.

I contacted Nicole Dumpson, Associate Head Track and Field/Cross Country Coach at Central Connecticut State University. Nicole had a decorated track career including two-time US National/World Championship Trial Semifinalist. She has over 15 years of experience coaching sprints and hurdles.  I found my professional!

She agreed to work with me. The experience has been invaluable. Her years of competing and coaching have given me confidence; I cannot only can compete but I can win!

There are times when YouTube or reading a few books can help us get by. But, lawyers practice law, accountants perform accounting, doctors practice medicine, and coaches coach. I have my team of professionals that guide me through life and business. I have had business coaches for the past 8 years. I am not a business major. Without them I wouldn’t still be in business. People hire me for my expertise in fitness. Sure people can get by exercising on their own but are they safe, effective and getting results?

People acquire an education or skill to excel in their field. There is more to it than a few videos or books. I believe you can learn and do anything you want it life. The question is, is the time and effort always worth it?

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