Coach Dalton covers a lot of ground in this interview, including the challenges of coaching a large team. Thanks Andy for your time.
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Click here to download the transcript (PDF).
Jay Johnson: Andy, thanks so much for joining us on High School Running Coach this year.
Andy Dalton: Hey, thanks, Jay, and thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on it.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. It’s really exciting to have you be part of it. What I like to do in these interviews to start with is in your program, what do you think are two or three things you’d see in your program that you’d also see in other successful programs, and with what you’ve accomplished, you can even say, what would you guys be doing with the Carmel girls that you would see other NXN type teams doing?
Andy Dalton: Okay, great question. I think I can start with the easy one. I think as I’ve talked to other coaches, and I think we all agreed to this, the one thing that really makes all programs great is there is no perfect training plan out there, but every program has a plan. The good programs have a plan that goes from the first day of off-season conditioning, all the way through the final championship race. Not only that they have a plan, they stick to the plan.
Andy Dalton: I think that’s one thing that all programs that are solid programs across the country, they make tweaks throughout the year based upon individuals and based upon what they’re seeing, but typically the first big hurdle is just to have a plan. Second thing I’d say that we do that I know a lot of great programs do, is we have come to learn over the years that it takes more than just running. Any program can show up and have a training plan that consists of days that are fast, and days that are long, and days that are easy, and it’s all mileage.
Andy Dalton: I think over the years, the industry or the sport has really grown to understanding that especially with high school athletes, and especially with female high school athletes, that it’s got to be more than just running, and all the great programs have good quality strength programs that they’re doing, whether that’s body weight strength, or other strength that they’re doing, cross training that they’re doing, or a yoga, or whatever. They understand that they’ve got to build the whole body, not just run.
Andy Dalton: Those are I think huge things that the best programs out there have learned and those are things that we do.
Jay Johnson: Great. Actually, and I hope the listeners don’t find this annoying, but I actually want to jump and just fast forward to a moment to your training calendar. You’re talking, you’ve done a great job sharing with us actually what you do with these cards in terms of strength work, so the planks and the bands, and things like that. Do you have any rough idea of what percentage of your week, if we were to look at hours or minutes that you’re working out, is running versus non-running? Part of this question is also that you’ve got a decent amount of cross training in your programs as well.
Andy Dalton: True. True. The easiest way to probably calculate that is we’re spending 20 to 30 minutes each day in some strength training environment. Let’s just say 30 because some days it’s longer and some days it’s shorter. You’re talking 30 times 6, 180 minutes a week that we are spending in a non-running training of some type, whether that’s focusing on the lower legs or the upper body, or the core, whatever it might be. Then, based upon the athlete, they might be spending another hour or two a week in cross training.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, because I just wanted to put that in perspective for some people, and granted when they read your document and that’s in point B is strength every day, then point two under point B is the legs, and this idea that the high school girls need to learn how to fire their glutes. I know in my working with high school athletes at the Boulder Running Camps, it never fails to surprise me each year. It’s actually I would say getting a little bit worse over (This was our 16th day of camp)… over the course of the years, to see girls who have some pretty good PRs, but when you watch their mechanics, that knee is just concaving in, and the foot is splayed out.
Jay Johnson: We’re trying to teach them some general strength and some flexibility at camp. Obviously, if they’re going back to a high school program that isn’t valuing that, it’s not to say that every one of those girls will have an injury when they get back, but I’m going to make an assumption that that with your team, with all this focus on the non-running work, that you’re able to keep… Let’s see. How do I want to phrase this? That your incident of injuries is maybe lower than some other teams that are performing at such a high level.
Andy Dalton: Right. Yeah. I couldn’t agree to you more and there are some… Especially the younger girls as they come into the program for ours and others across the country, like you said, they might be able to hit good times, especially as eighth graders, freshman, sophomore, or whatever. If they have those bad mechanics, they’re just going to become that much more susceptible to injury as their bodies grow, as they start doing more miles, and yeah, having the right strength and having right mechanics is huge.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Great. What then are some things that you’re doing with the Carmel Girls Cross Country team that you think are unique to your program that you wouldn’t necessarily see in all of these other national caliber programs?
Andy Dalton: I think one of the things that really sets us apart from the other large programs across the country is relatively speaking we’re a pretty low mileage program, and actually for years and years, people would have thought otherwise. The sport right now has a little bit of a swing back in the high… In the strong programs to more of a high mileage strategy. It’s better high mileage but it’s still more of a swing back on the pendulum.
Andy Dalton: For our reasons internally, we’ve decided that at this age group with high school girls, and especially with the number of girls that we have on our team, we just have to be more careful there. Instead, we try to make sure everything we do even though we’re a little bit lower mileage program, is quality miles. We don’t do what sometimes the industry called junk miles.
Andy Dalton: If we’re going to do a long run, an eight-mile long run, we’re going to make sure that that’s not long slow at recovery pace or easy pace. It’s going to be a long aerobic run, so that if we’re going to do miles, they’re going to be for a reason, and we’re not just going to add miles on just so we can get up to a certain number in a week, and that sets us apart. I’m not saying that those that are doing higher mileage are doing anything wrong. That’s just what we have to do.
Andy Dalton: I think that’s a big one for us. If you do the math, if you look through our plan, you can do the math and our plan actually adds it up for you. We will top out with our top varsity girls at about 38 to 40 miles a week, and we know comparatively speaking, that’s a probably about 15 to 20 miles less per week than some of our other national competitors.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Having interviewed well over two dozen coaches now, and granted, some programs would have been a boys coach but I was shocked to see that. Not only like you’re saying that it would top out at 40, it’s not like you have eight weeks of 40 miles between June and October. I think if we look closely, there’s probably only one or two weeks at that volume.
Andy Dalton: Right, yeah, because we slowly increase throughout the offseason and into the season to that peak of 40. Jay, some of that is just because, you and I have talked about this, but we didn’t talk about it yet today on the phone, we’ve got 160 plus girls in our program. With that comes some benefits, because of strength in numbers and that stuff, but with that also comes … You just have to be more careful because you’ve got girls all across the spectrum and managing that number, and training that number of girls just adds some complexity to try to create a training plan that works for everybody.
Andy Dalton: We make sure that we know some of our top runners still need more volume, and so as you’ll see in our plan, we try to offset the volume that they’re not getting in the mileage through intentional cross training that they’re doing on a regular weekly basis, whether that’s in the pool or on a bike, or on an elliptical machine.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Yeah. I’m actually probably interrupting you here, so that was one thing, but what are one or two other things?
Andy Dalton: Okay. I’d say the other things that… One of them I mentioned there that probably sets us apart is we are a very large program as I just said, which has some strengths. Part of that is because our school is a good sized school but also a big part of that is because over the years, our programs created quite a culture that a lot of girls want to join the team, which is awesome. With that brings some great strengths of community. There’s a sheer force, this sounds bad, but when our team arrives to an invitational and we unload four, full school buses…
Jay Johnson: That’s so awesome.
Andy Dalton: … full of girls that are all wearing the exact same practice packs, and the exact the same uniforms, and they do the warm-up exactly the same, we tell the girls sometimes they’ve already won the race before it’s even started, because it’s such a strong look when we get off the bus, just by the sheer size of it.
Jay Johnson: To put this in context, this year, you’re thinking roughly 160 or 165?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. We’re right about 165 right now.
Jay Johnson: Okay. When you started the program, it was in the ’90s?
Andy Dalton: Myself personally?
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. I may have that stat wrong, but is it something where you’ve progressively gotten larger as you guys have had more and more success?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. The numbers have increased each year and some of that is because they have fun, and some of that is because our middle school and elementary programs in the district have gotten better, and so they’re feeding us more and more girls, and that kind of thing. Yeah, it’s progressively getting stronger and they like it. It’s a no-cut sport at our school. We do have time standards but it’s one of the few no-cut sports, and I’m glad that it is.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. From a managerial standpoint, how many assistant coaches do you have? Can you also talk about the fact, this is somewhere in the document, this idea that coaches are going to run with athletes?
Andy Dalton: Sure. Yeah. There are myself and three assistant coaches. It’s still-
Jay Johnson: That’s not very many for-
Andy Dalton: It’s not very many, and sometimes we’ll have some volunteer coaches as well. This year, we have another volunteer, so it’d be five of us total. She’s not able to make every day but about half of the time, but yeah. You’re still talking an athlete to coach ratio of 40 to 1, right? You’re talking four coaches to 150 athletes. You’re right, one of the things that’s been a hallmark of our program for years now is we feel some of the best coaching we do is we run with the girls every day.
Andy Dalton: That’s one of the things I like more about cross country than track because it’s easier to run every day with the girls than it is in track. We, because of that, have to split the girls up into training groups understandably, and we split them up into four training groups basically because there are four coaches. We all rotate who is with a group each day or each week. We tell them their workout and then we do that workout with them, and as we all know, the coaches who have ever done that before, some of the best conversations you’re going to have with one or two or three girls is when you’re in the middle of a six, seven, or eight-mile run and you’re just running next to them for half hour, and you can talk to them about their goals.
Andy Dalton: You can talk to them about race strategy. You can talk to them about what they’re thinking about when they run, all that stuff. You just have a be little bit more time because time is very hard to come by with the size of group that we have.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Wow. That’s really fantastic. Knowing how fast your girls run at the end of the season, that means you have four fit coaches on your staff.
Andy Dalton: Yeah. Let’s just say some of our top girls, not all the coaches can stay with anymore. We make sure that depending upon the workout we’re doing that day, somebody can be with them or with their group.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Are there more things that are unique about your program that you’d like to share?
Andy Dalton: I was trying to think about that, some things that we do that others don’t. You’ve brought up a little bit with our strength. I think a lot of teams do groups. I don’t think that sets us apart. We do have very much an aerobic-focused training plan, which you’ve probably seen as you look through our training plan. It’s very heavy on aerobic training, less heavy on what the world would normally call the traditional speed work, or threshold training, where we really feel like the 5K is predominantly an aerobic race for a high school girl, and our goal to continue to increase their aerobic capacity over the season.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. With that in mind, can you talk a little bit about the mentality on these long runs? Is it a progression long run or a fast finish long run? Is it an out-and-back? Are you on a soft surface or pavement? Because that is a big part of your schedule that we will get into, but can you just go into detail a little bit about what that long aerobic run looks like?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, sure. We do our long runs on Mondays and it is a long aerobic, not a long slow. We use here in Indiana or in Greater Indianapolis, we have a trail called the Monon Trail, which is very nice. It’s not soft. I wish it was. It is an asphalt trail but it’s flat, it’s straight and it’s safe. As you can imagine, if you take 160 girls out on a long run, you can’t really do loops and squares, and such, for fear of losing them, or them getting lost on the run. It’s a long out-and-back depending upon their group and their level, and the nice thing about that is then you typically pick everybody up on the way in because it’s down four miles, back four miles, or some groups, maybe they’re doing a six-mile.
Andy Dalton: We typically try to schedule it so most all of them get done about the same time. Majority of a run, it’s a consistent aerobic pace the entire time. We try real hard to keep them out of the tempo phase or out of the tempo area, and really just stay right on that aerobic threshold, and it’s hard. It’s a hard part of our training for them to learn what does that mean for them? What is the difference between a slow pace and that tempo pace?
Andy Dalton: We used a lot of language like aerobic is the pace that you could run that entire eight miles and still do the same pace in the eighth mile that you do in the first mile, but if you run just a little bit faster, you wouldn’t be able to hold it. It’s that pace where you can talk to the girl next to you and have a conversation, but if you run just a little bit faster, you wouldn’t be able to have that conversation as easily, so things like that that’s really easier for them to try to start figuring out what their aerobic pace is.
Andy Dalton: Now, some of them, I’d say more in the varsity level, as the season progresses that does turn into… We’re okay if they want to do a little bit more of a progression or a cutdown in the last two or three miles. It’s less for the fitness that they’re going to gain from it, and more for the mental confidence that they gain from finishing strong in a long run. Maybe at miles six, seven, and eight, they start dropping 5 or 10 seconds a mile, and it just feels to them, “Hey, I just finished not just an eight-mile run but I finished more solid than I started,” and that mimics how we want them to race their races.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Is this something that their timing or have a Garmin to look at a pace or not?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, absolutely. Every one of them times it and a lot of them still have a GPS watch or a Garmin type watch of some type. We do a weekly training in log. We’re actually using the final surge platform that they have to enter into the training log, and that allows us coaches to see how things are going, and them to how see how they’ve progressed over the year.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Prior to going into the training schedule, can you just explain strides? You’re saying that you’re preferably doing them barefoot. Where exactly is that? Is it on your campus or in a park nearby, or where were you able to do those?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. One of the nice things about our high school is we have a decent size campus so our strides will be done in one of two places. When they finish the run, we have the large grass field that we will do each day our strength, whatever the strength is for that day, the core, the strides, or whatnot. They’ll either do strides on that grass field or they’ll do strides on the soccer field, which is a turf soccer field, depending if the soccer field is in use.
Andy Dalton: We like barefoot strides because we feel it helps to develop and strengthen the foot as we all know, and that’s what we do. We don’t do a ton of barefoot running but we know that’s one of the places where we can develop the foot strength. At the same time, when the shoes are off, their turnover is going to be higher as we all know, and so that helps them to also get a little bit more up on the forefoot for those that like to be heel strikers, and get a little bit better turnover as they’re doing the strides.
Jay Johnson: Great, great. When it says that you’re doing hills weekly, where is that, and how long, grade, things like that?
Andy Dalton: There’s two ways that we do hills. One of the unfortunate parts about the State of Indiana is it’s pretty flat. Unlike other parts of the country, like your own out in Colorado, Jay, we don’t have great mountains and hills to utilize.
Jay Johnson: Honestly, when I saw it, I’m like, “Wow, hills.” I know that out in Terre Haute, that’s of course that you’re obviously going to run often, and it’s rolling, but-
Andy Dalton: Yeah. Two ways we get hills in is there are some neighborhoods close to the high school, were not too far away, a half mile away that have a decent enough hill in the neighborhood where we can do some short hill sprints, where they do 10-second hill sprints in the middle of the recovery day, the middle of the recovery run. We’ll do some of those or we’ll also get hills every Saturday. We try to do our aerobic runs on grass and hills as what we call them.
Andy Dalton: Basically, there’s a course nearby to our high school, a couple miles away, called Northview, where there’s a lot of cross country races. It’s a church that has a beautiful campus and has developed a great cross country course on their campus, and so we encourage the girls to do long runs on that course because it has grass and hills.
Jay Johnson: Okay, yeah. Great, great. One thing when I was looking at your training both on the calendar and then on your notes is this idea of taking one day off per week, and I was immediately thinking about the American Fork boys program, which is a program where each week they’ll take one day off. How was that compared to other programs nationally? I guess my one question too is, do you ever have an athlete who has progressed through your program, freshman, sophomore, junior year, and they want to run in college and things like that, who is saying, “Hey, I hear that all these other girls are training maybe 13 out 14 days,” or is this something that in the culture of your program everybody is excited to have that one day off and have that nice rest day?
Andy Dalton: That’s a great question. We are doing the day off because it’s just another way to provide an extended day of recovery for these girls. Partly it’s because like many high school associations, our high school associations does not allow any sort of gatherings on Sundays, no meetings, no practices, nothing. Sundays you can’t touch, so that works well, but we do it. Our boys program has the boys run on their own on Sundays, so that’s fine. It’s not like they can’t do something on their own. You just can’t have an organized gathering.
Andy Dalton: We’ve chosen not to because it does force them to take a day off, not just physically, but I really enjoy them mentally taking the day off. These high school kids as you know, Jay, they have full, full schedules during the week. Especially if they’re doing two-a-days and they do a morning run, and they go to school all day, do an afternoon practice, come home, try to get in two hours of homework, try to eat, get to bed, and rinse and repeat, and they do that for five or six straight days. Well, mentally, it’s a long season for the national programs who were planning on starting their training in June and going all the way through December nationals as well. Mentally, they just need a break once a week, I think.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. I’m somebody who has girls who are ages six and nine, and they’re getting ready to go to the beach with their mom as we speak. They’re a long ways away from being a high school athlete, but I would love to see them if they were runners, to be in a program where they would have one day off per week, because I just think that at this… You are an absolutely fantastic example of achieving at a very high level and working out at a high level six days per week.
Jay Johnson: There’s an argument I think sometimes that there’s athletes training seven days per week but are they getting as much done in those seven days as six-focused days, and then having that day to completely just from a psychological standpoint take some time off?
Andy Dalton: Sure. We all know high school athletes, especially the top ones, endurance athletes, if you don’t literally say, “Take the day off,” then, they’re always going to think, “Do more means better.” It’s not always the case. Doing more doesn’t mean you run faster, and so we intentionally say, “Off,” so that they have to… I’m not trying to toot our horn here, but the last five straight years, we have sent a girl to Foot Locker, right? We have five straight girls here that we’ve sent…
Jay Johnson: That’s a fantastic stand. That’s really fantastic.
Andy Dalton: …somebody to Foot Locker but that’s not to toot our horn, it’s just to say. But none of them have ever been mad or frustrated, that they’re not able to do more. They trust the plan and they’ve seen it works. They know they can compete on a national level both as a team and as individuals.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Why don’t we hop into June 2017, this training. First, it’s laid out in a very nice way where we can see on the notes for each week what’s going on. At the bottom, we’ve got notes, total mileage, and then that phase, so this would be in the base phase. Can you explain what the 40-minute cutdown looks like?
Andy Dalton: Sure. Yeah. We start the season, and as you can tell to some people’s chagrin, our weekly schedule is very rhythmic. They know that Mondays are long runs, Wednesdays are workouts, Tuesdays and Thursdays are recovery, Friday is a mileage and then Saturday might be the third hard effort of the week. If they had a race, it’s a race, if not, it’s usually something on the grass, and it’s a hard effort.
Andy Dalton: The other thing we do then on Wednesdays is since it’s our workout days, the workouts, the easiest way to think about it is the interval starts at the longest possible interval, and the interval get shorter as the season goes on. The longest possible interval is just like a cutdown run, and so what they might do is start at an eight-minute per mile pace, and every five minutes they’re going to cutdown 10 seconds per mile, and they’ll be able to do 7:50, 7:40s, 7:30s, 7:20s, whatever it takes, just to start getting them used to it.
Andy Dalton: One of the things that we try to teach a little strongly but this is one of the ways we do it is, a cutdown run starts to teach them that they are controlling their pace, that they are choosing on a specific time. They look at their watch five minutes and they say to themselves, “I am now choosing to go faster. I’m not going faster just because the girl next to me did.” We want them as early as they can to start controlling their own pace.
Jay Johnson: Okay. This leads in something that I didn’t know exactly how to fit it in, but you led into it perfectly. What you shared with us for you key workout is the hollow 12s, so these hollow 1200s. At the very last bullet point on there, you say that that workout teaches the fact that they are not “victims” to how they feel or at the pace of others. Is that the same thing that’s going on here?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. It’s in the same strategy and if you want I can talk a little bit about the hollow 12s. As we all know, those of us that are runners, we sometimes are out there in a race, and we feel, or we want to be a victim of what’s going on around us. If we’re in a pack that’s going fast or in a pack is going slow, or if the race is going faster, we’d like to be victims, because it gives us a reason at the end of the day, right?
Andy Dalton: These girls have to learn that they’re not a victim to that or they’re not a victim to how they’re feeling in the middle of the race when they might be feeling awesome in the first mile, and you know what? Most everybody does feel awesome in the first mile. When you’re a victim, you don’t think ahead and you just run as fast as you can because you’re feeling great. And then later in the race you’re going to have that wall. We don’t want them to be victims. We want them to own it and be mentally engaged in it.
Andy Dalton: One of the great workouts that does that as the season progresses is the hollow 12s because it mimics on a very small scale what a race looks like, where a race usually goes out faster, backs off in the middle, and finishes strong. We want them to intentionally think through going out faster, and then intentionally saying, “Okay, I’m going to back off my pace, not because I just got tired, or not because I just got dropped from the group, because I chose to back off.” Then another lap later, “I chose to pick it back up because I’m going to choose to have a strong finish in the last mile.”
Andy Dalton: I just think if they can practice that over and over, and over again in practice, when you’re in the race and it’s really hard to think, you just go on instinct, but you’ve done that over and over. It’s going to be that much easier for them to choose instead of just respond.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Great. In June, there’s two cutdown workouts, and then a fartlek workout in the last week. One question I have is you’ve got lots of different things between core 1, core 2, quads and glutes, lower legs, planks, things like that. How as a coach have you figured out, “I’m going to pair this general strength with this workout, or recovery day”?
Andy Dalton: That’s great question. Actually as I look at the plan that I sent you, we’ve even tweaked that a little bit this year because of the things we’ve learned the last couple of years. Typically, when it comes to the strength training, we like to do legs on the same day, leg strength of some type, on the same day that we do a hard workout. Actually, the one you’re looking at is not that. A couple of years ago, we did it opposite and we did leg strength on easy days, but what I didn’t like about that is then you would come into the workout on Wednesday with tired legs, which in my opinion started to lead to fatigue, and possible injury.
Andy Dalton: Instead, now, we try to keep legs on our workout day, so you come into the actual workout days with an easier, your legs have a little bit of recovery, so that makes sense. Now that I know you’re going down and looking at this. We all make tweaks from year to year and that’s one of the things that we’ve learned.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. When it says circuit strength, so I’m hopping ahead now out to July, and that would be on Monday on a long run day, then on the Wednesday your workout day, you’re doing a tempo there. Can you explain if it’s just moving, bam, bam, bam, one exercise to another, or is there a little bit of rest in that circuit?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, so what we do, also because of the size of our team, it’s impossible to have everybody in the weight room. There’s no such weight room that’s that big. We do take about our top 20-ish girls and they will do twice a week, once the season starts to get going, more of a weight room. It says, lift one, two, three later on. Right here, it says strength circuit, but it’s basically a circuit of about 20 different exercises each day. They move from one to the next. They have about a 15-second break in between.
Andy Dalton: Most of it is body weight, not hardly anything with free weights. They’ll do the body or machine, or ropes, or something like that where they’re moving quickly through the strength circuit.
Jay Johnson: Great. You’ve given us an attachment, and maybe I’ve gone through this too quickly, but it seems to me that when it says core and it’s got what you could I think cut out is three cards. Are these cards that each athlete has that you’re going to hand out it at each day?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. What we do is in previous years, we a have premade, laminated set of cards, and all of our strength staff, core one, core two, planks, hips, whatever it might be, it’s like a set of 10 different strength, cores, strengths and these things. They would all be clipped together and there’s six or seven sets available. When a group of girls gets back from the run, that set of 20 girls will grab one of those sets of cards. They’ll turn to core one and they’ll do core one together, because not everybody finishes it at the same time.
Andy Dalton: We’ll just keep those sets of cards and then they turn them in at the end of the day, but they’re laminated so they can take them out to the grass. They don’t get ruined. This year, actually we’re utilizing the Final Surge platform a little stronger. We’ve also loaded all of those core sets into the app as well. If we don’t have enough sets of cards available for all the different groups of girls, they can just pull it out on their phone because those are loaded in for the day, and then they can just go through the thing there for the day.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Yeah. I would say that Final Surge seems like it has a lot of functionality that in the future, people can really take an advantage of, and I’m somebody who what, 10 years ago, made the Building a Better Runner DVD, right? When you put the DVD-ROM into your computer, you could download a PDF that you can print out. I think what’s really interesting is I’ll have adults ask me like with these videos, these SAM videos that are up on YouTube, “Where is the PDF of that?”
Jay Johnson: It’s never a high school kid or a high school coach asking for that. It’s really interesting how things are evolving. Would there be an expectation for kids to have the plank memorized or core memorized, or as somebody who’s been in your program for a year or two?
Andy Dalton: Most of these, they don’t have memorized because there are so many of them, and we tweak them each summer, but there is one set that they do memorize not because we force them. They just do because they like it. It’s a set called the Carmel set. It’s been tweaked over the years but it just has… I don’t know if you call it a longstanding tradition in the program. It’s the girls’ favorite set, and so whenever we can’t think of anything else to do or I can’t remember what it is for the day, it’s easy to tell the girls, “Hey, just do a Carmel set.”
Jay Johnson: While we’re on this topic, can you explain what a Britney Spears times 30 is?
Andy Dalton: That’s a great question! I try to remember because some of these I have to ask them, because one of the pluses for our program is we are right next door to one of the premier sports training facilities in the country with St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis. They have that trainers and docs who work on our Olympic athletes all across the country. Each summer, we spend a couple hours with them and they help me tweak our cards with the new stuff that’s being learned.
Andy Dalton: They’ll look at our warm up and our cool down stuff, and they’ll say, “Okay, let’s get rid of this one, this one.” They’ll put stuff in there that is more scientifically speaking, and then the girls take it, and they put their own name on it.
Jay Johnson: Sure. Yeah.
Andy Dalton: To be really honest, I literally don’t know what the Britney Spears is right now.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. We had something that I actually saw, the Bowerman Track Club, and this was years ago when they weren’t the Bowerman Track Club. What were they? They were like the Oregon Track Club in Portland, or something. It was a plank where you’re basically rotating with your arm. This guy I was coaching, I was coaching a very small group of post-collegiate athletes, and he called it Fruit Roll-Up to something else and it was just the thing that they knew, but it took me probably two months to realize that they had taken that exercise and given it a name.
Andy Dalton: I know.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. There was one that I got from Mike Smith who’s now the coach at Army but when he was a coach at Kansas State, he called it Australian Crawl. Basically, it looks like you’re swimming on your stomach on the ground and that was swimmies as opposed to Australian Crawl, which honestly, that one probably makes more sense.
Andy Dalton: Right, yeah.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. One thing you can explain is when you’re using the term cruise intervals, and I’m embarrassed that I never know the exact Jack Daniel’s definition of a cruise interval, but is that the Jack Daniel’s definition of a cruise interval, or is it there a tweak in there in what you do?
Andy Dalton: Those are just basically long intervals but not on the track, so those are when you’re going out doing four by six minutes with two minutes active recovery in between, so it’s our way to do long intervals where they can all be basically progressing still on the same loop, or on the same course no matter how fast they’re going, and so they’ll run for six minutes, they’ll jog for two in between and then pick it up again, so those are our cruise intervals.
Andy Dalton: Cruise intervals like everything else, the interval gets smaller, so we might start with 10 minutes, three by 10, four by eight.
Jay Johnson: Five by six?
Andy Dalton: They keep going down. Then, you basically get into mile repeats, K repeats, 800 repeats, as it gets to smaller and smaller, but basically above K we just call them cruise intervals.
Jay Johnson: Okay, great. Great. Obviously, there’s going to be some racing at some point. Can you describe what your prerace routine or your prerace day, what that looks like?
Andy Dalton: Absolutely, because we did the same thing every time. If it’s the day of, they all know that exactly 50 minutes, five-zero, not 15, but 50 minutes before the race, is when they start their warm up. We just found over the years that that’s the amount of time that they need. An hour is just a little bit too long unless there’s some tent or gathering thing at the larger national races where they need them there 20 minutes early, but typically 50 minutes.
Andy Dalton: They do about a very easy eight to 10 minute warm up jog, and then they come back and do their dynamics which takes them about 10 minutes. They have a dynamics routine that they do every day at practice and every race that they just memorized and get used to, and it’s mostly activation type stuff, and there’s some dynamic stretching in it. Then, when they get done with dynamics, they know they have about 10 minutes to hit the last bathroom break, put on spikes, and get out to the starting line.
Andy Dalton: Once they get out to the starting line, they usually have about 10 minutes once they get there. There’s two different run outs that we do. The girls all run out together and the first run out once they get out is up to them. They get in a circle and they have a little chat without the coaches, and then on their second run out, the coaches give them a little pep talk, and then they’re ready to go.
Jay Johnson: It’s great, yeah. It’s great. What do you guys do after a race? I think I’m remembering this correctly that there’s some times where you’re doing a 30 minute run after some races?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, depending upon the week of when you, and the race. If we need a little bit more volume, we might have a longer cool down or maybe even a little bit of a fartlek run after a race early in the season, just because in a race you can only get so much volume, and early in the season, when you’re not really worried about the race too much, but you just need to get a little bit more, so we might do that after.
Andy Dalton: Typically, yeah. On the most part, they have about a 10 minute cool down after a race, and then we always do a set called lower leg prep after races that the girls are fond of, but it’s basically a set to strengthen shins and calves and feet.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. Is there anything that you guys are doing in terms of nutrition or hydration that is unique to your program?
Andy Dalton: Not that I know of that’s unique. I think we’re probably doing most of what everyone else is doing. Maybe we ought to bring a lot of Gatorade jugs filled with water, or Gatorade mix to every meet. The girls are basically responsible for their own but then we bring extras, and typically, like most out there, they’re grabbing a snack soon after a race. Now, what is somewhat fun and unique, and a little bit less about our program, it’s more the parents of our program. As our program has grown over the years, our parents program has also grown and they are parents on a weekly basis that every meet will set up a couple different tents of their own, parent tents and they gather. They have their coffee and donuts together before the race, and then they prepare snacks, and chocolate milks, all that stuff for the athletes after the race, so the athletes can actually go over to the parent tent after the race. As you can imagine with both the boys and the girls’ teams, you’re talking 300 plus athletes.
Andy Dalton: It’s like a locust field just destroying these parent tents full of snacks, but the neat thing about that has been the parent community in itself, they’re a tight-knit group because they go to all these meets together. At the bigger meets, as the season gets cooler, they’re bringing crock pots and they’re bringing coffee makers, and they’re having chili, and you name it. The parents are just having a good ol’ time.
Jay Johnson: That’s great. This obviously is in the training document but we’re featuring the Carmel girls’ team and boys’ team in season three of High School Running Coach. What is it like being at a school where both programs are fantastic but there are two separate coaches? There’s going to be things culturally in each team that are a little bit different? I’m assuming that the list of pros is really long. Are there any cons that are a little bit challenging?
Jay Johnson: It might be as easy as there’s teachers that maybe don’t understand the dynamic of the two programs or something like that?
Andy Dalton: I’d say we’re at a great place right now with the two programs. Now, it hasn’t always been that way. Numbers of years ago, there were times where the two sets of coaching staff weren’t overly fond of each other or the parent clubs weren’t overly fond of each other in years past, but that is well in the past. The two sets of coaching staff right now are great friends. Our offices are five feet from each other. We talk a lot.
Andy Dalton: In years past, we wouldn’t even have the same meet schedule, and so one of the cons would’ve been you might be a parent that has both a boy and a girl in the program, and you’d have to choose which meet you’re going to that weekend, because maybe the boys are going to an invite at Terre Haute and the girls are going to an invite at Indianapolis, who knows.
Andy Dalton: We, myself and Colin, the boys’ coach, have really worked hard the last couple of years to do more and more, and so this year is the first time in a long, long time where our meet schedule is identical.
Jay Johnson: Cool, yeah. That’s great. Yeah. Is there anything, and unless I’m misunderstanding things, when they’re doing their longer hard run, I assume it’s on that same path? Do you ever have both programs which are big programs out at the same path doing a long aerobic run at the same time? I’m embarrassed, I don’t have his memorized. That run might not be on Monday for them.
Andy Dalton: Yeah. The boys’ plan isn’t as regimented to be every Monday like ours are. I think he’s on a different cycle. I just can’t remember exactly how many days are in their cycles, but yes, the same Monon Trail is used by both the boys and the girls’ teams. The coaching staffs will try to say, “Hey, are you going north today? Are you going south, or what routes are they going on?”
Andy Dalton: We also have a lower loop which is like a grass loop at the high school, and we talk who’s on the lower loop that day, because there’s just so many kids, but there are days we’re both on the Monon Trail and one of the hard parts is we’re guaranteed some phone call or email to the high school the day after because somebody is…
Jay Johnson: Somebody’s walking their dog?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, and the kids are just, as much as we try to harp on them not to, they’re four or five abreast, and they just make somebody mad, so it’s guaranteed.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, all right. I’m looking at your August document, getting ready to flip the page to September, and the thought that… It’s easy to have this thought now because we’re having this conversation in August, is when I was a college athlete at the University of Colorado, Coach Wetmore would talk about the danger zone being the week of cross country camp, which would be the week before school started, and then the first two weeks of school starting, partly because school is starting, but also because everybody’s on campus training together at that time.
Jay Johnson: My question to you is, is there any danger zone? Not so much in like the USATF way of where volume and intensity are crossing over, but just in something that’s unique to your academic schedule. Obviously, you guys have your team camp in early August, and so maybe that’s a harder week for some reason?
Andy Dalton: When you say danger zone, a little bit, you mean like injury?
Jay Johnson: Yeah, and also I guess I’m assuming that with a program as successful as yours that you have a high attendance rate throughout the months of July and August, but I’m also going to assume that you don’t have everybody there until whenever that first week of school is.
Andy Dalton: You’re right. The first two weeks of August are pretty crazy, which we’re just finishing up right now, but both teams are no-cut teams, both the boys and the girls, and we both do team camp that first week of August, and then we take a week and then school starts the next week, so there’s a weekend between team camp and we both go away for team camp.
Andy Dalton: The girls go to a state park and the boys go to a local university, and we’re offsite, and we have them a whole week. Like you said, the volume is higher at team camp and it’s the first week that it is high volume, and one of the issues is though a majority of the girls have been progressing well over the summer, it’s inevitable that there’s a number of them that show up just in time for official practices to begin at the beginning of August, and that’s a very big danger zone for them because they don’t have the time to progress slowly into their run, the days per week or the miles per week, just because the season is going to be over before they know it, and if anybody gets hurt on the team, it’s typically those girls who just show up at the last minute. It’s literally impossible to hold them back enough, or else the season is over for them. That’s a little bit of danger zone. It’s also a busy season, yeah, because of back to school stuff. The girls, I don’t know about the boys, but the girls are starting to get into their higher mileage and higher intensity stuff for the first time all summer.
Andy Dalton: Then, we also have like I said, though it’s a no-cut sport, we do have time standards, and so we have a couple time trials that the girls actually run in where they have to make a time mark just for the sake of road safety. There is a base time standard that they have to meet to be on the team.
Jay Johnson: Sure. Yeah. You’re a program that has individuals running into December. You’re a program that has a team, a lot of years, running into the month of December, how do you treat races in August and September in terms of are you running half your varsity? Do you completely sit out your varsity? Is there an important race in September? For instance, in the State of Colorado, and this is a very polarizing race, but there’s a race called the Liberty Bell Invitational.
Jay Johnson: It’s pretty much a road race but it’s the one time during the year where a high school athlete who’s here living and racing in altitude can run a time that looks decent compared to sea level cross country times. I think it’s roughly the middle of September, so how are you looking at the months of August and September in terms of who runs at what races and what the mentality is around those?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. In August and September, we will for the most part, if all goes well, the top athletes of the varsity girls will run about every other weekend in a race. We have meets every weekend that the team is attending, and so it’s not like the entire varsity will run one week and then they’re completely off the next. We’ll split them in half and rotate them through, and at the same time, we’re juggling things like SAT and ACT tests that girls are taking, that they have to miss a meet, or maybe a college visit where they have to miss something.
Andy Dalton: We just balance all that. We also can’t show up to meets… It’s a little offensive to show up in meets and just not run to anybody.
Jay Johnson: Sure, absolutely, yeah.
Andy Dalton: Luckily, we have the benefit that we can split the team, the top girls in half and still make a great showing at most meets, and allow them not to race so much so there’s only so many races on their legs. They still go to every meet and if they’re at the meet, they’re just doing a workout instead of racing that day, cheering on their teammates. There are a couple meets, yes, that we highlight in our program and it changes from year to year, but like most teams out there, we need to win our conference meet which is the last regular season meet of the year.
Andy Dalton: We need to win our county meet which is earlier in the season and there’s been a couple invites over the years that we’ve put a little more focus on. One of them was the Trinity Invite, which is down in Kentucky, in Louisville Kentucky, and that was because over the years, it was our one place to see schools from out of state. We can see some Kentucky schools and some Ohio schools, and that type of thing. As you know, some of these meets from year to year, they’ll go through rotations where they’re going to be stronger than others.
Andy Dalton: The State of Indiana right now, the teams of State of Indiana are quite strong at the top, and so we’re finding, we have a phenomenal competition just within the state, and so there’s some other meets that we’re going to focus on a little bit more this year.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. With that idea, is it ever hard, and I’m looking at your schedule and I know this is the 2017 schedule, but we’ll say, Saturday, September 23rd, the conference meet. Are you able to run a JV in a varsity, and my question is, is it ever … At least the college teams I was on, it was always number six, seven, eight, nine. There wasn’t a huge difference between them a lot of years, and so if you’re not able to run your exact varsity every week, is it hard to know who is that seventh, that sixth, or seventh runner on your team?
Andy Dalton: It’s really hard, and so yeah. The last two weeks of regular season, and I know where you’re going here. Typically, that weekend of the 16th and 23rd from last year, and particularly the 23rd, is when the coaching staff is able to get a better idea of five through 12. In the State of Indiana, when you go to the state tournament series, which starts at sectional and moves on, the State of Indiana forces you to only keep 12 girls on your roster.
Andy Dalton: At conference, we have 160 girls on the roster and two weeks later, we have 12. A lot of girls, understandably, in the top 20, that’s what they’re going for all season long, is to be on the sectional or what we call the sectional roster, or the tournament roster. Often, at our conference meet, because we’re pretty solid in our conference, we’re able to rest and not race our top four or five so that in the varsity race of conference, we can race runners…
Jay Johnson: That’s really creative. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Andy Dalton: … 6 through 15, all against each other in one race, because even if they run on the same day but one runs in the varsity, it’s hard to compare, and that allows us to really compare the bubble. They’re all in the same race at the same time. In years past, that weekend, we have gone to two different meets that weekend and won, and we’ve raced one varsity elsewhere and one varsity at conference, and win both.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. We can talk about workouts in October too but I guess my biggest question is, you’re in a state where you go sectional, regional, semi-state, state, and can you talk a little bit about years where you were an extremely strong team relative to the competition and how that might look a little bit differently now if the competition is more challenging in your state, and maybe if there’s any weird outlier thing where in you’re in one of those meets, there’s a really strong team that you have to compete against?
Andy Dalton: Yeah. The name of the game always in the tournament is to move on, to qualify, and to get to the next round, and to advance. In years past, typically, if all goes well of those 12 that are on the tournament roster, we try to run half of them at the sectional race and the other half at the regional race, so that most of the girls aren’t having to race four times. Then, we try to bring together our starters, our starting seven for the actual semi-state so that they can get in the groove before the state meet.
Andy Dalton: Now, like you said, last year was a prime example of a year where we didn’t have that much buffer. We’re in a very solid sectional and regional, wherein it’s just a place in Indiana where we’re the strongest sectional, regional, semi-state, and as you progress, it’s just the way the type of schools, right? We didn’t have the margin last year to do that in our regional race.
Andy Dalton: We ended up getting second, which is absolutely fine, because we advanced to a very, very strong team. They were terrific, but we also weren’t able to race, only half of our girls. We had to run our stronger crew than we wanted to.
Jay Johnson: Sure, yeah. Is there anything going on from a mental prep standpoint? I don’t know if that’s even the right term, but obviously, there’s something going on in the month of October where it’s 34 miles a week, 32, 30 down to 28 miles, the week of state, and I’d like to highlight too that when you’re going down to 28 miles, that’s still a pretty big percentage of what your highest volume is. One of the things I think coaches who are newer to the sport think is that, “We heard about Shalane Flanagan going from 140 miles a week down to 65 the week of the New York City Marathon,” and actually that’s a bad example because I don’t think they do that.
Jay Johnson: All I’m trying to say is that these aren’t that dramatic percentage-wise lowering of volumes, but is there anything that you’re doing from a psychological standpoint to get them ready to run a great race at semi-state and state?
Andy Dalton: Absolutely, yes. From a year to year basis, as a coach, you’ve got to figure out what is your goal race that your varsity is going to focus on, and a lot of that depends upon your competition. In years past when we were more solid compared to our competition in the state, our goal race wasn’t state, it was two weeks later with NXR, Nike Regionals, and so we would taper what you’d call a taper, but as you can tell… It’s like you pointed out, it’s never a strong taper… Two weeks later.
Andy Dalton: We would try to get to that 28 mile mark for NXR, and so we would still be running strong with for the state meet. Last year, the other competition was solid. We ended up actually only getting in third at state because there are some great schools with some great programs, and what we’ve said to ourselves at the beginning of the season was, “Okay, we are focusing on state,” and that’s why you can see that gradual taper, but we always know in the back of our brain, you can’t taper too much because we know we’re going right back two weeks later, and we can completely shut their systems down for like an off season at state.
Andy Dalton: We back a month a little, so they have fresh legs, and we tell them all this so they understand what’s going on. We tell them in the middle of the season when they are still training hard through a meet and they have tired legs, “That’s okay. You’re supposed to. We’re not worried about this meet,” that thing, but we also tell them when we get close to state that they get a little less miles on their legs so they should be a little more fresh.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. What’s going on, on the Sunday between state and the next week where you’re going to do a long run, getting ready for NXR? Is there anything you’re asking them to do in terms of extra sleep or things like that?
Andy Dalton: Those two weeks in between, basically we got always two weeks in between our state meet and our NXR. That’s just how always the calendar works out. It’s actually nice. It’s the first time in a good chunk all season long where we have two weeks without a race, so the first week, we can hit a little harder, and then back off in that second week. We still take the Sunday off just because that’s their normal routine and they’re used to it, the Sunday before NXR, but yeah. Nothing bigger than just we hit the one week hard and then back off the next week.
Jay Johnson: Yeah. In talking to Colin, the boys’ coach, he, and I think I have this correct, there’s encouragement for his entire boys’ team to run in NXR. Is that something you’re doing as well, this idea that you don’t go from a big team to a really small team when the state tournament starts?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, so that’s one of the nice things about the program is we call that club season, right? Our state, I just say requires us to make a 12 person roster, but the rest of the girls are welcome to stick around for the club season. The club season starts right away. Some of them will train for NXR. Some of them will be training for the USATF series, the Junior Olympic series. Some of them, maybe the AAU series. Some of them, we have a series of intersquad races that we put on that month, and yeah.
Andy Dalton: We had I think about 75 of the girls stick around and do post season, what we call post season for them, and with NXR being the thing that they’re really shooting for alongside the varsity girls.
Jay Johnson: Great, great. What are maybe one or two things that you’re willing to share that you think, and why don’t we go back to make this a general question that you’re doing between the state meet and NXR, and then in the years when you make NXN, and then in the years when you’re running really well there, which is a lot of years that you think maybe would apply to coaches listening to this? I think we have a lot of coaches who have teams that are performing well throughout the year but maybe not running as well as they’d like at what they’re identifying as the most important race of the year.
Jay Johnson: Are there any things that this is outside of let’s say doing 400s on a Wednesday or doing mileage on a Monday, that you think coaches should consider?
Andy Dalton: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. Everybody’s going to have their own setup but I hope that not too many actually pick up on this, at least in my state.
Jay Johnson: Granted, you can share whatever you would like or not share whatever you’d like too, yeah.
Andy Dalton: Like we all know, this is not rocket science. Like I said in the very beginning, as long as you have a plan, but one of the things we have learned… Not learned… What I’ve observed over the last couple of years, is the teams that typically go on and do well at NXR, it’s because there was an understanding and an expectation, and a plan in the girl’s minds in June that the season is going to continue past state.
Andy Dalton: I think it’s really hard if you don’t talk about it all year long and if mentality it’s not there, then what happens is you do really get geared up for that state meet. Then, let’s say a program has a great state meet, but you haven’t yet talked to the girls or the parents, or whoever about, “Hey, we want this to continue for another two weeks.” There’s that letdown that happens and it’s like, “I don’t know if I can rev the engines back up. The mental engines, the mental focus, I was ready to be done.”
Andy Dalton: Whether or not we win state, we always know that we’re going to continue, and the girls know that, and we’re going to go back to school on Monday and start it again for another couple of weeks. I’d say that’d be one thing for those programs out there that are looking to continue on and to that post season world. Their training plans have to change and then how they talk and think about the season has to change with athletes, with parents, and the coaching staff, because it’s a long season for the coaching staff.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. When I was a collegiate coach, I’d look at volleyball and think, “My gosh. That’s a pretty easy year compared to a distance coach who is doing cross country, doing indoor track, doing outdoor track,” and then when outdoor track ends, you maybe have two weeks, and then July 1st comes, and you’re on the phone talking to high school athletes. You’re exactly right to go from June to December straight, is intense.
Jay Johnson: One question I have, and I might be making an assumption that is not correct here, but I’m going to assume there’s some parity from let’s say the seventh girl to the 12th girl, or let’s say the 12th girl to the 20th girl. What are you doing from when your team gets smaller to encourage that girl that, “Hey, if you take whether it’s a week or two off, or whatnot, that you can still impact our team,” and let’s say she’s a sophomore or a junior, or even a senior who’s going into track, what do some of those conversations look like?
Andy Dalton: That’s great. One of our struggles with the size of our team, one of the strong points of the size of our team is we have a ton of depth, but then also it lends itself to sometimes the difference between number five and number 20 isn’t that huge. There is a drop eventually but it gets amazingly tight for the top five girls, the top seven girls who actually race at state, or Nike, the top 12 who make the tournament roster and it’s really hard on a yearly basis.
Andy Dalton: The difference between 10 to 15 is basically nothing, which is a great problem to have in our program. That being said, we also don’t want them to be completely destroyed and deflated if they’re number 13 and they didn’t make that tournament roster, and then they feel like, “I’ve got to wait another nine months,” which isn’t the case, which is why we do the post season program for them immediately, and I want them to get that into it immediately.
Andy Dalton: We Feed them into the track program, which feeds them right back into cross country, but yeah. We have done a lot of conversations about, and I don’t want this to sound all bad to anybody else in the State of Indiana, but we tell a lot of girls who just barely missed that roster that, “You’re in a great program in a huge school, and probably in any other school in the state, you’d be running varsity, and you’d be scoring for them.”
Andy Dalton: The great thing about our program is it’s awesome. The hard thing is there’s only so many spots and you got to know that you’re better than you think, if all you’re doing is comparing yourself to your teammates, not just at this level but the next level, and that if they will just stay on it through the off season, through the winter, through track, they’re going to be there and they’re going to be knocking on the door the next year.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, great. I want to make sure that we can cover anything that you have, so we’ll save that for the last question, but one question I have that I do think relates to High School Running Coach, but I’m going to frame it, and the fact that you attended the Boulder Running Clinics this past January, all of the speakers have been featured on High School Running Coach.
Jay Johnson: Can you explain when you’re somebody who’s had all the success you’ve had and you go into a clinic like that where there’s nine presentations over two days, are you trying to take one thing per talk? Are you going there to listen to things where you hear somebody who also has teams at NXN and saying, “Hey, they’re doing some of the things that we’re doing.”
Jay Johnson: The reason I’m asking this is I think everybody who’s made the investment in High School Running Coach wants to improve as a coach but I think sometimes there’s an overwhelm of information, and there are actually is on our site, if you’re a member of all three seasons and have access to all of this training. When you’re in that spot of going to a clinic and trying to learn, how do you figure out what you’re actually going to take home with you?
Andy Dalton: Hey, great question, because I did attend the clinic, and I loved the clinic, and I always say that everybody will always be a great coach as long as they’re always willing to learn. Once you get to the point where you think you’ve got it figured out, I don’t think you’re a good coach anymore. The athletes change. The sport changes. The other programs get better.
Andy Dalton: I took a ton home from the clinic. I couldn’t encourage it more. We didn’t use Final Surge until I heard about it there. I took copious notes on the different training plans, and it doesn’t mean we’re going to change everything to those plans, but why they do the training plans that they did, things like injury prevention that all of us have to think through and work through, and we’ve tweaked our plans and our strategies every year.
Andy Dalton: I intentionally was listening for other programs that are large programs like as far as numbers, not just as far as success, because that’s one of our struggles, is how do you manage and continue to make sure that you can handle a large program and still succeed at the top? I learned a ton of great stuff from that clinic, so I think yeah. I didn’t think I was going to get 20 things from every speaker and if you do, you don’t, but I took down 20 bullet points from every speaker, and I’m probably implementing at least one from each.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, wow. Wow. When I’m asking the question, I would’ve guessed even lower only because of all of the successes that you’ve had, but one thing to interject is within a couple of weeks of being hired as an assistant cross country coach and a coach at the University of Colorado, Mark Wetmore and I are going for a run, and the men had just won their first national title in cross country the year prior, and I’m listening to him go through all the things he’s considering changing that year, and I’m thinking, “Wow, this is pretty crazy. He just won the national championship and here he is trying to figure out what he’s going to tweak.”
Andy Dalton: Yeah. Maybe sometimes we tweak too much and maybe it’s not like a huge training plan tweak, but there were things and ideas that people gave about how to handle freshmen, or team culture stuff, which is big for us, or whatever it might be. They’re great ideas and I’m like, “Might as well try them.”
Jay Johnson: Yeah.
Andy Dalton: There were stuff especially for the track season, speed work every day and things like that, that was great to hear and great to be reminded of whether or not I’ve heard it before, so yeah. I think it’s just too bad when coaches get to the point where they can’t learn anything.
Jay Johnson: Yeah, and granted, by asking you this question when you’re featured on this site, I want people to understand that in a way, we’re preaching to the choir because people have taken the time, and obviously, have put the resources into improving as a coach. I do think it’s easy sometimes to get overwhelmed with all the information of a clinic like that, but yeah. As a closing thought, is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you’d like to highlight with what you’ve shared with us?
Andy Dalton: I think the one thing I haven’t been able to share, and I don’t know if it’s really going to help anybody out there, but I want to make sure they know is, always as a coach, you are building upon the success of others. Especially in my place, I get the opportunity and then the spot just because there’s been coaches before me that have developed a phenomenal program at Carmel.
Andy Dalton: It’s just hall of fame coaches that right before me at Carmel, it’s I always want people to think, “This isn’t my doing.” I took a great template and I tweak it on a yearly basis whether that be head coaches or other assistant coaches that have been in the program, and everybody just needs to know they’re building on whoever went before them. It’s not really their name and we’ve had great culture for many years.
Andy Dalton: We went all the way back to Coach Chuck Koeppen who started the Carmel Program, both boys and girls, so I never want that to be lost in anytime that I’m giving a talk.
Jay Johnson: Okay, great. Hey, I look forward to following both your team and the boys’ team this year, and I look forward to some interaction with the various other high school coaches that are members on our site this fall.
Andy Dalton: Thanks for having me, Jay.
Jay Johnson: All right, thank you.