H. W. "Bill" Hargiss
Board names head coach
Football scores 1928-32
Hargiss and Bausch
KU 1928
Football 1928
Big 6 champs 1930
Backfield 1930
Victory 1930
Column 1931
Elmer Schaake
Alter kickoff
Coaching change 1932
Coaching shift
Noble coach
Recalls 1930 season
KU football reunion
Jayhawks set marks
Glenn Cunningham Trains
College Freshman in Athletics
Training of Track Athletes
Track travel photos
James Naismith
Track coach Hargiss
Coaching school

Individual Differences in the Training of Track Athletes
H. W. Hargiss, Track Coach, University of Kansas
Athletic Journal, March, 1935

     TRACK, more than any other sport, provides an opportunity for the coach and trainer to study the individual traits and characteristics of those participating. Through scientific study and. experiment it is possible to determine the event, as well as the kind and amount of work, best suited to the development of the individual athlete.
     Originally our knowledge of track athletes came from the ideas practiced by old-fashioned trainers of race horses and professional boxers. Even today a stereotyped procedure is often followed in developing and conditioning track athletes. However, modern trainers of race horses are varying the training schedule in accordance with the temperament and physical characteristics of the horse. So in track, it is impossible to outline a training program, say for the mile run, and expect that schedule to meet the needs of everyone participating in that event.
     Scores of letters have been received from young coaches and candidates for the mile run requesting an outline of the training schedule of Glenn Cunningham. But the program which he follows would without question be wrong for many runners. This is well proved by the fact that each of the several great middle-distance runners of today—Cunningham, Bonthron, Beceali, Lovelock, Ny, and Venzke—has an entirely different program of training and practice.
     The famous trainer Mike Murphy once said that "Champions, like poets, are born, not made." But the majority of our modern champions, whether in mental or physical prowess, have become such because of perseverance, determination, hard work, and a willingness to pay the price, as well as because of the fact that they have inherited certain qualities. Every boy can learn to run and may often improve to a point well beyond mediocrity through determination and proper training. This is valuable in many respects as it adds to his health, courage, poise, and self-reliance.
     The allowance for individual variety in training work should come after the basic work is completed. Cross-country or road running is the best and surest method of conditioning the heart, lungs, nervous system, and muscles. It is essential for those athletes running distances of 440 yards and up and is beneficial even for sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers. Two or three runs each week in the fall over distances of from 2 to 5 miles, in heavy shoes without spikes, make a splendid preseason program of work. Another indispensable part of training throughout the season is calisthenics. Setting-up exercises, rope skipping, Indian clubs, chest weights, bag punching, and bar work are very valuable as they develop coordination and rhythm.
     When the pre-season training period is over, it is well to experiment in actual contests to determine the events for which the several candidates are best suited. While in college, athletes often become stars in some events other than the ones in which they participated in high school. Careful observation and selection of proper events for boys in their early scholastic training are of
utmost importance.
     When men have been selected for their events, careful observation should be made of each to determine how they react to workouts. Two hard workouts each week will with many runners get better results than hard work every day. "You can't pull water from a well with a barrel and expect the supply to last." Then too, it often happens that one runner needs much speed work and another in the same event needs endurance work.
     After runners are in good condition, over-distance work is not necessary. Speed and knowledge of pace are important, and rhythm and ease of running are necessary. The nearer the athlete keeps to a uniform pace throughout the race, the better will be the performance. I am convinced that recuperation comes from rhythm and not from running some part of the race, particularly the third quarter, more slowly in order to rest up for the finish. In the race in which Glenn Cunningham established a world record for the mile, the quarters were fairly even,—approximately 62, 63, 62, and 59.7 seconds. Many prominent coaches have taken exception to this theory and suggested that, if Cunningham would run his first half in 1:58 or 2:00, the 4:04 mile would be easily within his grasp. They may be right, but we have never felt like trying it. When Ben Eastman ran his 1:48.9 half mile, the first 440 was run in less than 52 seconds. Maybe, if Ben had run the first quarter in 53.5 seconds, he could have finished with a 54-second last 440 instead of nearly a 57-second quarter. As I viewed the race, it was evident to me that Ben lost much time on the last 100 yards.
     The study of training methods of champions furnishes proof that some athletes do better on a maximum amount of work and others equally well on little. Paavo Nurmi was a glutton for work, and many times during the indoor season worked hard in the afternoon before a race at night. Joie Ray, a champion for years in distances up to and including the marathon, was unorthodox and irregular in his training.
     In practically every event, we find each candidate with a style of his own. I believe it wrong to try to change this natural method unless it is impossible to bring about improvement through it. Allowance must be made in the kind and amount of training for the several types. It is the height of folly to teach men to run alike or to give them the same schedule of training exercises. A jumper too should be allowed to jump his natural way. His best form is the one that enables him to clear the bar at the greatest height. Honus Wagner said that the secret of batting success in baseball is to hit the ball; when Nurmi was asked to talk on how to run, he said "Get out and run," and his speech was finished.
     Track is a fascinating form of athletics to teach because the coach has to deal with so many different types from a mental and physical standpoint. While it is necessary to prescribe a varied program of training and instruction for each individual, the coach should not attempt to change the athlete's natural style or method of execution.