Progressive Training Team

Written By Courtney Herrig

    TAMPA, Fla. - Every Tuesday and Wednesday a Tampa's most motivated runners meet at the University of Tampa campus track field to practice their speed work with the Progressive Training Team.  Some are triathletes, some marathoners; others are just looking for a new challenge.  Coach Dror Vaknin divides the runners into groups depending on their level of fitness.  The day’s groups could be divided into as many as 17 sets.
    Today’s regiment is two 800 meters, one 1,200 meter, two more 800 meters, then a 400 meter with an optional mile.  Depending on the group, Dror assigns you a time to finish each segment. For example, group 5B’s required times are 3:30 for the 800s, 5:30 for the 1200, and 1:45 for the 400. 
    Coach Dror began Progressive Training Team in 1991; He was training the USF cross county team when many locals began coming to him for running advice. Vaknin said that he was having three-hour phone conversations about training techniques before he decided to start this program.  “It just made sense to organize a group,” explained Coach Dror.  Now the organization has nearly a hundred members and the numbers will grow as the season progresses. 

    How did the team grow to such numbers? “All of my friends were on the team and they got me to join,” Sarah Sadd said. 

     Another Progressive Training member, Tom Lane, had the same explanation, “My triathlete friend, Jackie, got us to join.”  Nearly all the members were associated to another member before joining Progressive Training Team. 
    Bob Gries has been attending the Progressive Training sessions for 3 years.  In a New York City accent Gries recites, “258.52, New York Marathon . . . and I have the picture to show for it.”  As if he has told a hundred people before, Bob continues with the story of his greatest accomplishment, “Unfortunately it was 1981, I was 22 years old back then.  I never ran another step after that for 25 years”.  Now he runs regularly with the Progressive team and the Blue Sharks on Saturday morning.  Gries advises “Running with a group is the key, (you) gotta have a group to train with.”

    There are all shapes and sizes on the track this evening. Coach Dror explains,  “We have runners from half mile up to ultra marathoners and triathletes.  I have kids as young as 12 and about three women over 70-years-old.  The best times are about 15:30 for 5K all the way to 40 minute 5K runners.”

    There is a membership fee of $40 per month.  The membership includes a personalized training schedule, speed work training at either UT campus or Clearwater High School and personalized consultation with the coaches.