The Decathlon crowns the World’s Greatest Athlete. Why? Because the Decathlon is a true test of every attribute of an athlete.
The Decathlon tests strength, mental toughness, consistency, commitment, technique, speed movements, jumping ability, flexibility, throwing ability, technique, hand-eye & hand-implement coordination, explosive power, endurance, agility, heart, and much more.
There is no other single event that tests the ability and talent of a person in every way as the Decathlon does.
So, what are the secrets to success in this challenging and grueling event?
Firstly, you must look at each event and determine…
What does it take to be great at that event?
What are the fundamentals to success in that event?
What is the consistent key across the board, regardless
of technique that makes champions in that event?
A test of speed, which is defined as Stride Length x Stride Frequency. You must find the optimal stride length that allows for maximal stride turnover. You must also allow the sprint run to go through it’s phases: block start, acceleration, and a few “ins and outs” to keep it simple.
(* Note – An “in and out” is a max effort followed by a “free fall” or relaxed sprint in order to maintain the greatest amount of speed for the longest amount of time. Humans, on average, only have about 6 seconds of all out max sprint before you need to rest.)
One last comment: make sure that your feet are landing right underneath you, or slightly in front, while maintaining a slight lean forward. In order to accomplish this, you will find yourself running with good knee lift, or what we call “front side running”. Also, get your feet on and off the ground as quickly as possible.
Understand this: This is the “long jump”! A jump for distance. I find so many decathletes, especially young ones, talking about hitting the board in an effort to obtain height. Once again, I say this is event is measured for distance, not height. So, your effort off the board should be out not up. All of the most successful jumps in history have had a very low angle of launch.
As in all jumps, the most important aspect of the long jump is the approach. You’ll want to carry good speed down the runway and be consistent with hitting the board for take off. Focus on rhythm. Be tall at the take off board, and four steps out from take off, you should not be looking at the board anymore whatsoever.
At landing, your center of gravity should be as low as possible. You can do this by getting your legs extended out in front of you and leaning the chest over the thighs.
The test of strength and explosive power. So, firstly, spend a solid amount of time increasing your strength and power.
Focus on these lifts: Bench, Squats, Dead-lifts, Clean & Jerk, and Snatch.
Let’s address: What effects the distance of all throws? It is the angle of release, the height of release, and most importantly the speed of the implement at release.
As far as technique for the shot goes…Well, there are two main ways to do it: the Glide and the Spin.
In the glide, your focus is to start the acceleration of the shot to the center of the ring, then to seamlessly put yourself in a good power position to continue the acceleration of the shot and the throw side of the body, while blocking or stopping the opposite side.
In the spin technique, you are essentially doing the same thing, except you are using a rotation to accomplish this goal instead of a linear motion.
You’ll find it easier to be consistent with the glide because there are less moving parts, but you’ll find more potential to increase the speed of the shot in the spin technique.
The key to success in the high jump is understanding how to use the approach run and a proper take off to jump high.
Firstly, the high jump approach is run in the shape of a “J”. The bottom of the “J” is where the mat would be. When you are carrying great speed into the bottom of the “J” part of the approach, you will find yourself in a interesting lean position away from the cross bar.
This may seem weird at first, but when you take off in this position, you will shoot up into the air and because of the forward motion and speed that has already been built up, you will be carried over the bar.
This is the key. A fast approach run, a good lean away from the bar due to centrifugal force, and a quick yet powerful takeoff. You will need to prepare the legs to handle this take off. Squats, power cleans, and plyometrics will help you in this area.
The test of speed endurance. The great 400m coach, Clyde Hart, once said that the reason M. Johnson is the best 400m runner on the track was because of his ability to run faster than anyone on the track for the longest amount of time.
That’s the key to the 400m. To train yourself to maintain the fastest speed for the longest amount of time.
I like to use combination interval training for this. I combine interval training with event specific training.
On one training day, run 8 x 100m at race pace. Then, increase the distance as you find yourself consistently hitting your race pace times, while maintaining form. As you increase your distance, you can do less reps.
Take 5-10 minutes rest. Soon, you find yourself easily running and hitting your goals in the quarter mile.
Then, on a second running workout, run intervals between 100 – 200m. This distance is good because it works the ATP and lactic acid systems. Run between 76-88% of race pace with little rest between reps. As you near peak time, increase your speed and do less reps and sets. Also, take a longer rest between sets.
Decathlon Day 2
It won’t take long being around the Decathlon before you’ll realize that the second day of the Decathlon can make or break you. It is a day full of technical challenges and endurance.
Most Decathletes find this day to be the hardest to score highly in. Not only do the events take a lot of skill, but you are battling with fatigue and mental challenges as well.
110m High Hurdles
A test of technique, agility, flexibility, and speed. In life, there are many obstacles that keep you from getting to your goals and these 10 hurdles stand in your way when you start the second day of the decathlon.
What does it take to run a fast hurdle race?
It takes a good block start and acceleration to the first hurdle, a take off that is the correct distance from the hurdle as to help in aiding a low, quick angle over the hurdle, a fast snap down of the lead leg followed by a quick trail leg, a quick 3 steps between each hurdle, a clean race (don’t hit the hurdles), and concentration and focus all the way to the end of the race.
I remember some young kids asking me once, “Do you get a penalty for hitting the hurdle?” I laughed and said no because hitting the hurdle is penalty enough. Not only does it slow you down, but it can also injure you and others around you.
It is imperative that you learn to run a clean race. That doesn’t mean that you start “floating” over the hurdle like the tooth ferry, but instead work on proper take off distance, take off angle, flexibility in the hips, and a high, tight trail leg.
A test of technique, strength, power, and coordination.
A recent study showed that there are two factors that were consistent across the board with discus throws that went a far distance: A powerful push off the ground toward the front of the circle and a powerful stopping action.
Here are two secrets to keep in mind when throwing the discus.
Secret one: Lean your head and body slightly to the right (for right-handed thrower) to form a “C” position as you make your first spin out of the back. This will help you keep good balance and keep you from “falling into the ring”.
I like to think of the motion in the ring for discus as a “paper clip”. I call it this because you have a half turn out of the back, then a straight line explosive sprint motion toward the front followed by a half turn in which you land in your power position and are ready to make a half turn to throw.
It’s the exact motion a “paper clip” makes.
Secret two: It is important that the block foot get on the ground as soon as possible after your power foot touches the center of the circle to allow for a long pull on the discus.
In order to accomplish this, you need to pick the left foot up and tuck it tightly to the right leg as it passes by on the way to the center of the ring. It’s really not that hard to do, but it is necessary. Just do a number of drills working on the rhythm of the movement.
A test of hand, eye, and implement coordination. It also test strength, courage, and speed.
You can determine whether or not a vaulter has the ability to clear a certain height by measuring the speed the vaulter carries through their last 4 strides.
Once you have learned how to carry great speed through the last four strides by working on speed, proper pole carry, and transition into plant without losing speed, you are well on your way to clearing high heights.
The next skill you’ll want to work on is transferring all that speed and power into the pole. You do this by having a high pole plant, a powerful long jump type takeoff, and a correct grip on the pole that makes the transfer.
Your next major feat is getting upside down and becoming comfortable with being upside as you are propelled 1-4 feet into the air.
A test of throwing ability, power, and leg strength.
Besides running, the javelin may be the oldest event in the decathlon. I say this because it was originally use to hunt and fight.
The javelin is a very fun event. Here are a few tips to throwing the Jav far.
1. Have a good, consistent, fast approach. This will help you increase the speed of the implement at release.
2. Have a hard push off on the third to last stride to allow for enough time to get into position for the soft step javelin technique.
3. Have a solid block leg.
4. “Throw through the point”. This ensure that all the power was put into the javelin.
The event most decathletes love to hate. This is the final event of the decathlon and is a test of endurance and mental toughness.
To run a fast 1500m you need to be in great shape. You need to have a solid aerobic base. Here are two workouts that can help you score big in the decathlon.
1. 30-45 minute Fartlek (speed play).
2. 800m (ex time: 2:23)
400m (ex time: 72 seconds)
300m (ex time: 45 seconds or faster)
* Note: Take 1 minute rest between each run. Make the time adjustment according to the goals you have set for the 1500m.
Remember that the 1500m gives 6 points per second. So, don’t neglect this event or it could cost you a medal.
I hope you enjoyed and learned a lot from this Decathlon Secrets article.
To your immediate and lasting athletic domination!