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John O’Malley: The thing that we started doing more recently in the last four or five years that I’ve noticed that has made us better is that we’ve run a new training system. One where everything is present at all times, and it’s just to a different degree. So in June we will be doing sprint work. We will be doing sprint mechanics. We will be doing light loads of even VO2 max. These are very light loads that are just anything that I would say are the high end aerobic work. It’s there. It’s all always present in our training system. It’s just the degree that the volume and the density of it, the frequency that we do it changes as you move on.
I think that once we started doing that, we started getting a lot better. That moved us away from the idea of having a three-month aerobic foundation build. One where you’re basically just running aerobically. That sort of foundation perspective that used to exist was not as effective.
That’s definitely something that once we started doing that we we really started getting a lot better.
Jay Johnson: I would love for you to use the terms base and foundation and – just say what you just said – but try and use those terms so that people understand what you’re talking about is different than what some people might say – “you just need to build base in the summer in June and July and the first couple of weeks of August” or “just build your base so that you can run faster later In cross-country.”
John O’Malley: Yes, that’s a huge mistake in my mind. You know traditionally the way I was taught in high school, and you know the literature I’ve read early on was essentially that you “build an aerobic base, and that’s your foundation.” The early literature from early on stated that your foundation of training is aerobic running which, to a degree, is true. But that’s not all that you should be doing in the three month basic building block training block.
I don’t ever want to get to a point with any kid on my team in which they are doing something that they haven’t done in three months. Therefore, when we talk about doing base or foundation now it’s it’s not just the aerobic work that may be the priority. In fact it is the priority. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not doing every other component of training that’s a part of our training system. We do 60 meter sprints, we do hills. If you were to look at our June program and our July program all of that would be present. You know Charlie Francis (sprint coach) once said you never want to get too far away from your ability to compete. [Read more…]
What follows are two excerpts from John’s full interview, available to Season 2 members, of HSRC. You can listen here or on the Run Faster Podcast. The transcription of the interview is below.
Jay Johnson: Can you give me two or three things you do in your program that you think you would see in all successful cross country and track programs. Could be from a coaching standpoint, or from a team standpoint, like “here’s what our team is doing or what I personally do as a coach.” It could be something like – the importance of consistency in training. We’ve had other coaches say hey you really need to get kids you know out for our sport that that if you’ve got 20 kids on your team versus 80 kids and your team you’re going to have a much better shot of being successful if you’ve got 80.
John O’Malley: Yeah. It’s really cool hearing those answers and the question didn’t even occur to me until ask if it’s just a coaching question or team questions and I have I’ve asked it in that way. So that’s really clear that you segmented it that way.
I think some things that we do that is simply learning from other programs and getting exposure to other great programs. I think first of all every great program has a plan. The plan can work differently but there’s plans in place and there’s organization well before you your first moment of action, your first practice and I think great coaches do that. I think great programs have had that kind of a plan that doesn’t mean necessarily if they stick to it 100 percent and I think that would be counterproductive if it did.
But there is a plan in place and there is a plan in place for racing and training and mental/psychological training and things like that and cultural things with your program and how you’re going to develop the program. So I think there’s there’s a lot of planning involved in any great program. The best coaches I’ve seen are the ones who are constantly learning and have constant dialogue whether it’s with their own staff, if they have a staff, or other coaches around them and are just perpetually learning and really work hard.
You know I think sometimes people forget that to build a program, to build great runners and to be a great coach you really have to work hard. It’s not like you get to a certain level and then that’s just going to perpetuate itself. You’ve got to work hard all the time. I think that the best programs have a balance of of having accountability and being tough and rigorous and challenging and also have the human factor. You know the fact that they’re teenagers and they’re developing and growing and they often come to us as freshmen will know no background in running or very little background or running or something like that. And we balance that with you know those things and what it means to be a part of a team and what it means to grow from freshman year to senior year and as a person. And those those elements are clearly a part of a great program. [Read more…]
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.