Below is a piece written for a local paper inquiring about my coaching philosophy:
“Ms. Official! …Ms. Official, I would like to sub this runner in for that one, at the bottom of the next hill.”
Wouldn’t it be great if this is how running races worked? As a coach, I am glad they don’t. I would like to think my coaching philosophy mirrors the fortitude necessary to succeed in races and in life. I can can only give them the tools. It takes an individual’s willpower for the team to succeed in cross country. Therefore, I design training and practices with a methodology that allows those who want to succeed, will; and those who are along for the ride, improve.
Quality over quantity. Athletes only improve if they are healthy; why pour on the miles if it risks so much and deadens the legs? We run a moderate amount of miles while focusing on workouts and ancillary exercises routed by science; not what old coaches have been doing for decades. Within reason, this allows the individual an opportunity to maximize their intrinsic drive to pursue performance goals. Thus, most of our workouts are time based opposed to the traditional distance based intervals (mile, etc.). There are specific physiological markers based on the duration and intensity of exercise, the body does not function based on distance.
IE: A fast runner will cover more than a 800m in three minutes. Where, in three minutes, a developing runner might cover about 600m. Three minutes is roughly the amount of time it takes for the body to steady state. The extra 200m the later athlete would have to cover is junk and not inline with the goal of the workout. Goal oriented training is how we progress.
Applying this logic has lead to steady improvements at every level of the team. On race day the teams are prepared, it is left up to them to decide what kind of performance they will be happy with. The mind is our fiercest competitor. I think our women’s captain said it best: “We are ready for this but, it is going to take guts!”