Last Updated on March 26, 2015 by Jimson Lee
Flashback to 1989.
This is a picture of a device I used to time myself when my coach was not around or when I was self-coached.
It is called the Seiko Training Timer, which you could probably buy brand new on eBay for under $200. It was a regular stopwatch with a device that looks like a shutter release cable for photographic cameras, used for long exposure photos or when using a tripod.
Back then, all my workouts were timed “on the fly” either by 2 methods:
1) I would start 10 meters back, run into the start line while holding the tiny start button on the watch, push the button to start while running at near full speed (or whatever 10 meters could get me), then use the hand held release cable “gizmo” to stop (or splits) the stopwatch. You’ve seen this starting method by distance runners excluding the gizmo.
2) same method as above, but I would program the splits to be well over the duration of the run, then use the gizmo device to “start the split” when I crossed the start line, then again when I cross the finish line. This would give me a more natural running motion compared to holding the start button like a marathon runner! By using a pen and paper, I would then take the 2 “splits”, subtract them, and that would be my fly time. For example, by subtracting 1.87 (split 1) from 17.18 (split 2), it would give me a 15.31 150m fly time.
Of course, this device would be impossible for timing a proper start from a 3 or 4 point stance. Even a 40 yard dash was impossible. And even if you had a coach timing you, how accurate is it? It is, after all, a hand time where you must rounded up to the nearest 1/10th of a second. At 9.91 on your stopwatch becomes a 10.0 HT, but 9.91 sounds better right?
So what is there to do?
Freelap Timing System
I’ve been using the Freelap timing system which is essentially a stopwatch using electromagnetic field transmitters to take split times, accurate to 2/100th of a second. It’s made in Switzerland, so as a watch, you know it’s already good.
You have to wear the watch on your chest or waist level for the most accuracy and a strap is available. Having it on the wrist is not accurate as your arm could be in an upswing or backswing when you cross the transmitter.
By using 2 transmitters devices, you can easily do fly testing at any distance over 20 meters.
It so simple to use, that you (or the coach) no longer has to worry about missed timing. Just run fast!
For distance runners, it does lap times automatically but you only need one transmitter, unless you want to do 200 meter splits, then you’ll need 2 transmitters.
The watch can also record over 700 splits and/or use software to download to your PC. So there’s a lot of flexibility to the unit.
But What About the Start?
By using the TX Touch device, you can start from a 3 or 4 point stance using the hand on the ground as the starting mechanism. That hand should always be the first to move when you react to the gun.
The TX Touch device looks like a thin hockey puck, but since I am Canadian, everything resembles a hockey puck.
I’ve been using it… it’s extremely accurate, though my 40 time is not as fast it it used to be.
The minimum split times is about 1 sec or 20 meters. My 30m fly time with a 20 or 30m acceleration is my frequent test for max velocity. I also love it for my magic speed endurance session of 60, 80, 100, 120, 150m. It also works great for my magic special endurance sessions.
For a 100 meter dash, you can now get 10 meter splits, and with 10 TX Juniors transmitters placed on the lane lines, you can have 2 athletes record 10 meter splits.
If you have enough devices, you can even do the RAST test for speed endurance
If you don’t have a coach, I highly recommend getting this unit.
Even if you do have a coach, you should use this instead of expensive FAT timing systems and stop worrying about inaccurate or missed times in practice. Remember, the times you run in practice will extrapolate to the time you will run in real races.
I use the Sprint 1 Coach package which has the watch, waist belt, starting device (the TX Touch), and 2 transmitters (TX Juniors). It’s very small and hardly takes up any room in my track bag. And best of all it’s extremely affordable.
Did I say it would make a great Father’s Day gift?
For more information, check out https://speedendurance.com/store/freelap-timing-systems/