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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.