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Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Stick Workout

Earlier the post on the stick was overshadowed by what preceeded the workout- an ugly scene at the high school track. That post is still available but I did want to repost- to give this workout its due.

The Stick
The Stick consists of a series of 5-6 (up to 10), 3 minute bouts at 8k effort with equal rest. The Stick name comes from the actual stick which was placed in the ground at the track where we were to have reached in this 3 minutes.

This workout was a staple during cross country season at Fort Lewis College.The entire track would be strewn with sticks, each having a corresponding name scribed to it... 30 of them at locations based on race times. It was nice to see the stick move with the season... maybe 850m at the start of the fall and all the way around to 1000m by the end of the season. A GREAT measurement tool. If you work with a team of any kind I would suggest this workout.

  • Here are some of the benefits of The Stick.
  • Progression through season is obvious.
  • Teaches you to cover distance, to race.
  • Keeps the entire team together for the entire workout. Everyone runs 3 on, 3 off.
  • You can run this with a relay baton, the one with the baton has to make their stick, or everyone gets to go again... bonding.

Not quite 80x400 in the Moonlight... but...
I found a large grassy field... no idea how large, but falling back on 3,2,1 training I set my timer for 3 minutes, (and 1 second...) and set off for the duration at 8k/5mile effort. The first trip was sluggish but helped set the bar for this arbitrary grassy loop. After 3 minutes I jog back to start- and repeat for a total of six trips.

The second 3 minutes I was able to cover about 30m further, at lower effort. This then was my pace (my "stick"- it was actually a soccer goal). Now the body and mind were loose and settled. With strong arm swing and efficient drive from the core. That brain was calm. I was in my happy place... at long last.

Repeats 3, 4, 5 went on much the same. The rest feels excessive during the first half of the workout... soon though- with #4 and #5 the last 30 seconds of recovery is the only real rest as the buffering systems become labored, working to clear the lactate for the entire 3 minutes, heart rate and breathing returning to "normal" just as you are set to go again.

When #6 came around, I stayed consistent until the final minute. At that point I opened up, the arms swing freely, the legs flowing farther away- I let it rip. Passing "the virtual stick" and beyond- awaiting the 3 minute beep! I kept running and running, binding up a little, wondering 'when is that time going to expire?' Re-focusing I pressed on... then- that sweet electronic beep... and done.

Despite earlier distractions I was able to find a good place to run from, on Earth and in mental space. All in all this was a succesful, and enjoyable workout!


  1. Nice! I like the idea of a visual indicator to mark progress. It makes it easier to discover how hard you need to push. Nice job on the last one kicking up a few notches.

  2. This is quite interesting ... never thought of this way of running together.


  3. Wait - just noticed on your side bar....upcoming goal race. Are you going!?!??!


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