Greg Weich has accomplished a great deal in his coaching career, coaching five different Footlocker Finalists, including Katelyn Kaltenbach, who won in 2003.
Greg now coaches at Broomfield High School and his teams are consistently in the hunt for state cross country titles.
What follows is Q&A with Greg recorded a few years ago at the Boulder Running Camps. You can listen to the audio, or, at minimum, read the notes below.
Thanks Greg for your time, not only during this interview, but also for being part of Season 1 of HSRC.
NOTE: The following audio will be in a future episode of the Run Faster Podcast, which also features many HSRC coaches.
Download – Greg_Weich
When Do You Individualize Programs for Athletes and How Do you Do It?
- Greg gives an specific example of a CU runner demonstrating elite tendencies during his junior year in high school.
- Greg discusses extending a foundation period of training to prep for a specific meet at a certain location.
- Greg describes how the traits of motivation, personal goals, and skill set for each athlete will dictate the specific customizing of workouts.
How Has Running with Athletes Helped Your Program?
- He describes himself as an intuitive coach and how it is important to get athlete feedback as you run with them.
- On a run with athletes you can use cues such as breathing, mental readiness, physical readiness as a coach to determine the execution of that day’s workout.
- Running with athletes permits you to determine which athletes should work harder and which should ease up.
- Athletes typically give the coach a little more respect or understanding if they know he/she can do the workout too.
- Coaches running with athletes help build culture as motivation for the program
All of the Foot Locker Finalists Were Obviously Successful, What Were Their Strengths and Weaknesses and How did You Address Those?
- It’s enjoyable to coach athletes that are students of the sport, most high achieving athletes are highly motivated and passionate about the sport.
- Being highly motivated can be a gift and a curse during high school training for athletes (lack of rest).
- Some common strengths of high achieving athletes are having a large aerobic engine and having a high capacity to train daily.
- Some common weaknesses of high achieving athletes are not knowing when to back off, listen to your body, and rest.
- Having an athletic background is an important and unique criteria for success in distance runners.
- Transitioning from High School to College running can be a challenge for high achieving athletes that rarely lose in the High School setting.
So You Coached a Young Man Who Ran 8:45 for the 3200, Can you Tell about Brent Vaughn’s Training Leading Up to That?
- Brent Vaughn had a highly athletic background before working with Greg Weich.
- This athlete had a large aerobic engine coming into the program.
- Brent kept relatively low mileage and slowly progressed quantity throughout high school.
- The best thing to do for all high school athletes is consistency coupled with specific skills needed for racing.
- Brent helped Coach Weich identify times throughout the year when academic loads were lower, which in turn allowed larger athletic loads.
- Pace work, longer intervals, pace changes and other racing skills were fundamental to Brent’s success.
So What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Your Training Now and How You Were Trained as an Athlete at Adams State?
- Coach Vigil wanted consistency and higher mileage for success at Adams State.
- Coach Weich has trained his runners using more variety in workouts.
- Variety can be manipulating terrain, location, time…or making segments based on time and not distance.
- Variety can help high school runners to not worry about external factors that influence training (sleep, stress, rest, academics, relationships).
- Repeating or cycling through workouts leads to high school athletes to typically getting caught in a psychological comparison.
If You were at Sea Level, What Do You Think You would Do in the Summer Instead of That Run?
- Hilly mountain running can get you close to your Aerobic Threshold without trashing your legs at elevation.
- At sea level, running faster on flat ground can give you a similar aerobic benefit as hilly mountain running at elevation.
- Coach Weich would instruct programs at lower elevations to do threshold running, even though it’s not as fun as mountain running.
What has Changed in Your Coaching Between Your First Couple Years Coaching High School and Now?
- Coach Weich started out his coaching career without having a concrete idea of the philosophy he would eventually embrace; he relied on the principles learned as an athlete with Joe Vigil.
- Initially, there was a good amount of aerobic running and prepping for fast times towards the end of the season.
- Coach Weich changed his coaching philosophy at Smoky Hill when he encountered a lot of great athletes that were intrinsically motivated to get better.
- Consuming information, networking with other coaches, and constantly learning also gave Coach Weich an opportunity for growth.
- Embracing change as a coach and seeing results in the athletes’ performances further helped Coach Weich develop his approach and philosophy for training high school athletes.
- Observing data (watching your athletes progressing each year in high school) and constantly learning with an emphasis on consistent running volume helps Coach Weich constantly improve.
“How have You Seen Shoes Evolve Over the Last Few Years, and What Types of Shoes Do You Want to See Your Athletes Wear?”
- There are a lot of factors that will keep you healthy but Coach Weich believes footwear is important to minimize injuries.
- Lower profile shoes are great tools to implement into training, and make feet stronger.
- However, with lower profile shoes, you want to incorporate them intelligently into training.
- Gait analysis isn’t always necessary to get the “right shoe” for each athlete, but basic mechanics observation will help your athletes.
- If an athlete is not getting hurt, even if the shoes don’t work biomechanically, perhaps leave it alone.
- Be practical when choosing footwear, everyone is different, but for the bulk of your running pick something that will give you impact protection for your feet.
Do You Have Coaches Ask You at Clinics About How You Got People to Run So Fast on So Few Miles?
- When Coach Weich would share his training with other coaches, it would look like not enough running, but his athletes (Brent Vaughn) would still progress.
- Variation in training keeps kids motivated on “low volume.”
- Athletes that are motivated to run, and believe in the training, will continue to progress throughout high school.
- When the coach/athlete are on the same page, trust each other, and can give honest feedback, they will succeed.
- High School athletes should not derive all their confidence from workouts and/or mileage, athletes should be able to trust their coaches and the training.
- Progressions throughout training in high school is hinged on athlete/coach relationship
- Athlete confidence can be derived from the coach, this will help them progress each year in the program.
- It is in the best interest of the athlete, not to max out the absolute potential in high school, for long term growth; leave a little in the tank.