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Joan and her husband, Marc, are in their 4th year of coaching cross country at Loudoun Valley HS, in Purcellville, VA. For 10 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Joan coached at James Madison HS and South Lakes HS, where she and Marc had the privilege of being Alan Webb’s 9th grade coaches. During this time, they coached numerous state qualifiers and a handful of state champion relays and individuals.
After an 8 year hiatus from coaching while raising their many kids, Joan and Marc started a youth running club, NOVA Athletic Club, which enabled them to be involved in the sport without the huge time demands of high school coaching. However, once their son Drew began running in 9th grade, the Hunters saw his potential and wanted to ensure he would have every opportunity to develop, so they began volunteering at Loudoun Valley and eventually took over the distance program spring of Drew’s sophomore year.
The Hunters have led the Viking boys XC team to 3 consecutive state team titles, and 3 Viking boys (Drew Hunter, Peter Morris, Sam Affolder) have won the last 6 individual state titles. In 2017, the Viking boys scored 15 points at their state meet- something no Virginia team has ever done. That team went on to win the 2017 Nike Cross Nationals. Drew Hunter qualified for Foot Locker in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2015. Last year, Peter Morris qualified for NXN. The Viking girls have been state runners-up in XC for the last four years, have had one individual state champion (Natalie Morris, 2017) and have had one individual girl, Ciara Donohue, qualify for Foot Locker in 2014. In track, the Viking boys have won 2 outdoor state team titles. Last year, in Loudoun Valley’s first full official indoor track season, the Viking boys were state runners-up. Other important wins include the 2016 NB indoor nationals DMR and the 2016 Penn Relays DMR.
Key mid-season workout: CV reps plus hills
Warm-up (Ebbett’s drills, posture check, joint rotations, lunge matrix, runner’s touch, 100 ups, heel flicks, easy jog about 800 meters, skips, strides, and dynamic flexibility). 10 mins of running plus 3 mins tempo. All this takes about 30-35 minutes.
1st season kids:
8 mins easy run, then 2 mins at tempo effort.
4-6x 800 meters at CV pace, with 90 second jog recovery (about 175 meters or so, I don’t worry about how much ground they cover.)
3-4x 200 meter hill, mile race effort, with easy jog down for recovery.
Easy run till they get to 55-60 minutes, total time.
Veteran, but non-varsity level kids:
10 mins easy run, then 2 mins at tempo effort
5-6 x 800 meters or 1000 meters at CV pace, with 90 second jog, same as above.
4x 200 meter hill, same as above.
Easy run till they get to 60-70 minutes, total time.
Varsity level boys and some girls (freshman girls would do 800s or a mix of 800s and 1000s, most girls have 90 sec jog recovery)
10-12 mins easy run, then
5-7x 1000 meters at CV pace, with 75 second jog (about 175 meters)
4-5x 200 meter hill, same as above.
Easy run till they get to 65-70 minutes.
CV, or Critical Velocity pace, is about 90% of VO2 max pace. We estimate this using our kids’ current 5K race times, or a time trial in the early season. We also adjust the times based on what we think they could run the day of the workout, based on weather, terrain, etc. We use Tom Schwartz’s pace calculator: http://runfastcoach.com/calc2/index.php
Typical varsity week of training, late September, early October, no race that week:
Total mileage for my top boys was about 60-67 miles, depending on doubles. My top girl was about 55 miles on single runs, and my other girls were between 38-45 miles on single runs (freshmen were less.)
Monday: 50 mins easy [Read more…]
John Sipple – Downers Grove North (IL)
Sipple is a Chemistry teacher and started at Downers Grove North High School in 2007. He spent the first five years as the Head Boys Track and Field Coach and the Assistant Cross Country Coach. During his time as the Head Track Coach he coached the sprinters and the athletes he coached set 12 school records. In 2011, Sipple took over for Illinois Hall of Fame Coach, Will Kupisch as Head Cross Country Coach and transitioned into the distance coach for the track season as well. Since that time the cross country team has accomplished the following:
- West Suburban Conference Champs – 2016, 2017
- State Champions – 2017
- State Runner-Ups – 2013, 2016
- Other State Finishes – 2014 – 14th, 2015 – 18th
- 11 All-State Finishers, with 5 of the 11 finishing in the top 10
- NXN Individual Qualifiers – 2013, 2014
- NXN Team Qualifiers – 2016 – 12th, 2017 – 4th
In Track and Field, Sipple has coached multiple All-State athletes from the 4x400m relay up to the 3200m. In 2014, DGN became the first team since 2007 to have an All-State 4x800m Relay, and All-State runners in the 3200m, 800m, and 1600m. Since taking over as the distance coach, Sipple has had 5 athletes run 4:14 or faster in the 1600m.
Additionally, Sipple is incredibly proud of the number of runners in the program that have gone on to run at the collegiate level and a large amount at the D1 level. Plus, prior to Coaching at DGN, Sipple was a Volunteer Graduate Assistant Coach for the Men’s and Women’s cross country and track teams at Eastern Illinois University, where he competed as an undergrad.
1000m Repeats – anywhere from 4 – 8 repeats with rest varying from 30sec to 4 minutes depending on the goal/effort of the work.
We will utilize this workout in a variety of fashions, but the basic premise goes back to 1k repeats. Because of our training environment in the western suburbs of Chicago, we are limited to the streets and our access to do extended work on the streets can be difficult to organize with the size of our team. Additionally, I have found it very difficult to teach kids who have played other sports their entire lives to do any sort of extended tempo or threshold running.
One reason why I really like this distance is that a high school runner needs to be trained to focus for extended periods of time (especially younger runners). In most other sports that they have played to this point, they are only asked to “tune in” for very short segments of time. In playing with the rest available to the athletes and how we can “break-up” the distance and we are able to help runners develop focus over longer and longer periods of time. For example, we will actually start younger runners with shorter intervals (600m or less) and with athletes who are not our top athletes we try to pick a distance where they are being asked to focus for the same amount of time (so maybe 800m) as our top runners.
So, essentially everyone on the team is being asked to execute the same workout but it is tailored to them specifically. An additional benefit is that everyone on the team is having a very similar shared experience from the freshman to the senior and it is happening all on the track at the same time. I believe, that this can be used to really help develop the culture of your team.
We do an assortment of variations on this workout to the point where we will never really repeat the workout, and we will change everything from volume, intensity, and rest time. For example, in the early season we will utilize a version of this workout that we call 1k cruise intervals. For this workout the rest between 1k’s is about 30-45 secs and the athletes are being asked to run at a “tempo” pace to help our more experienced athletes work back into the mindset and the type of physical demands that will be necessary to do the 3 and 4 mile tempo runs later in training.
Additionally, we will modify the 1000m to mimic race demands that we want to emphasize and prepare our athletes to handle. For example, if a particular course that we are racing on in the coming weeks requires our athletes to commit to getting out harder than our typical race plan. We will modify the 1000m interval to reflect that by having the first 400m of the interval to be run at sub-3200m pace and then the remainder of the interval will be at 3 mile effort. As the season progresses we will change this workout and utilize it as a “classic” VO2 max style workout where athletes are running faster than race pace but are given plenty of rest for the next interval.
In the end, I really think that the main thing is to find the workouts that work best in your specific training environment and tailor those workouts to help prepare your athletes for not just the physical demands of your race but (and probably more importantly) the mental demands necessary to accomplish their goals. And as you design these workouts it is so important to think about the relationships that your athletes are developing with each other and how these workouts can impact team culture. K’s on the track is talked about by our guys during interviews and with other teammates in both a loving and joking way, and these are workouts that the kids will relive and talk about throughout not just the season or school year but for years after.
Paul Vandersteen – Neuqua Valley (IL)
Paul Vandersteen is the boys head cross country coach and boys track distance coach at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. Coach Vandersteen’s teams have placed in the top ten in the Illinois State Meet the last eleven years, placing in the top 4 all but two of those years. His teams have won the State title three times, with his 2007 team winning the Nike Team National Championship. His 2016 team placed 5th at NXN. The Wildcats have competed in five Nike Cross Nationals meets. He coached current Nike runner, Chris Derrick, who was part of the 2007 team that won the national title. Coach Vandersteen recently started coaching track and field, with his
3200m relay winning the State title in 2016. Coach Vandersteen has recently been inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coach’s Hall of Fame.
Active warm up that includes leg swings, lunges, butt kicks, high knees, etc.
2 mile easy run followed by a couple strides
Spivey Workout: 30-35 minutes, alternating 100, 200, 300, 400, or 600 m reps of their choice with full recovery between.
I call this the Spivey Workout. After once talking to Olympian Jim Spivey about how he prepared for his best 1500 m on the track, he talked about doing faster running of his choice of distance while also ‘feeling fresh’ and ‘in tune with his body’. Therefore, I decided I wanted the athletes to ‘own the workout’ to replicate this as much as possible. I put guys in small groups (no more than four) of equal speed ability. I tell my athletes they must jog for recovery of at least 3 minutes if they choose to do a 400 or 600. Other distances require at least 2 minutes of recovery. I require them to do at least one 400 and one 600 during the workout, otherwise, they get to choose the distances and sequences they run. The pace is limited to one second per 400 m faster than mile race pace, no faster. It is important that guys are not matched by their best 3200 m time, for this criteria might include a runner that is more slow twitch and he will be forced to run too fast to keep up with stronger, faster runners. It is best to form the groups based on their best 800 or mile.
I do this workout fairly frequently in the track season, for it allows everyone from 3200 m runners to 800 m runners to do the same type of workout to match their needs. We will also do this during the cross country season as a rep workout. In the fall, I ask they do this on the grass, while using their watches to monitor distances and times. The goal of the workout is to provide some mechanical/neuromuscular work without a lot of anaerobic stress. It is a workout that can be followed by another moderate quality workout the next day that puts emphasis on the aerobic system. The third day following this sequence is definitely a recovery day.
2 mile cool down followed by some plyometric exercises such as burpees, lunges, frog hops, step-ups, etc.
Andy Dalton – Carmel HS (IN)
Andy Dalton serves as the Head Coach for Carmel Girls Cross Country and the Asst. Coach (Distance) for Carmel Girls Track and Field. In one of the only remaining states with a single class system, Carmel Girls Cross Country has won 7 of the last 8 State Championships and 18 out of 37 Championships in the history of the state meet. The Carmel Girls team is a 7 time NXN Qualifier with 2 podium finishes. Individually, Carmel boasts 4 individual state champions and 4 Foot Locker finalists, 3 of which Andy has coached in the last 3 consecutive seasons.
This workout is typically done mid to late season because it takes a decent level of aerobic fitness and strength to make it most effective. The primary purpose of this workout is to improve the athlete’s mental strength by simulating the perceived level of effort during a race and building her confidence by her ability to dictate the pace instead of being a victim to the pace of others or her own fatigue. Easiest to accomplish this workout on the track, but it is also possible to create ¼ mile loops on the grass if desired.
5 minute warm-up jog
Dynamic flexibility and muscle activation drills
10 – 15 minute run
5 x 1200m repeats with 3:00 rest
1st 400m @ mile race pace (i.e. :80)
2nd 400m @ mrp + :10 (i.e. :90)
3rd 400m @ mrp (i.e. 80)
10 – 15 minute run
- Longer rest is important so that the athlete can fully experience the change of pace.
- Goal is to make a conscious decision to slow down and speed up pace under stress.
- Simulates racing mindset that is able to start fast, back off and then finish strong.
- Most important to make the pace jumps, so back down the pace if unable to hit all 3
- Teach the fact that they are not “victims” to how they feel or the pace of others