This weekend a colleague contacted me to get my thoughts on a Cross Country/Track & Field Coaching vacancy at a suburban school in which he has an interest. The program is one which has had enormous success over the years and deservedly so. The school has had a great coaching staff and dedicated and committed athletes, and while it is a tough act to follow, everything is in place for continued success. Add to that the fact the student body and administration support the program and it seems like the right move. My friend is happy at his current position but seems ready for a new challenge. My advice was simply to consider the benefits of change versus the benefits of staying in his current position. He asked for my thoughts, I think, because I was in a similar position prior to coming to Whitman-Hanson. When asked specifically why I came to Whitman-Hanson, my answer was simple. It is a successful program, with some extraordinary athletes, and it represented an extraordinary challenge. But what specifically drew me to Whitman-Hanson was a video, still available on the running links to the right of this entry. (2012 workout video) This weekend I watched the video . . . twice. First, the video was shot at one of my favorite places to run, Turkey Hill in Hingham. This immediately got my attention. In the video I learned the coach at the time, like me, followed the Jack Daniels training formula. And finally I saw some outstanding athletes completing the workout, many of whom were still on the team (including then freshmen Samantha Coletti and Abbie Newman.) Like my colleague and the vacancy he inquired about, everything was in place at W-H for continued success. There were of course, challenges along the way, but I am grateful for the efforts of the athletes, coaches and administration of W-H who have kept this program successful. I am very excited about the upcoming school year and believe this success will continue into 2016/2017. In fact, I am counting on it.
That said, I referenced the Jack Daniels running formula earlier. I would recommend his book to any athlete in training. You will undoubtedly see that much of what I suggest is based on his methods. He recommends cross country runners "do a prolonged initial phase of steady, easy running." This phase consists of all Easy pace running with drills and stretching every day. During this phase running pace is based on the "Daniels running chart", a link to which you will also find to the right of this entry. Experienced runners can simply look at his/her current race results and use the corresponding VDOT to determine his/her training pace during this phase. For example a 1:51 Half-Marathoner would have a VDOT of 40. A per mile (Easy) training pace of 9:50 is determined by this VDOT. Most of you are still in this Phase of your training (Weeks 1-4.) Please use the tables to determine your training paces. It represents the optimal training pace at this stage. Deviating from this pace to extreme will result in your season not being all it could be. For beginners, the plan is simply to get you up to 30 minutes of running without stopping. That can be accomplished by following the Novice training plan detailed in a previous entry (and also available to the right of this entry in the Featured Post section.)
Nobody wants this season to be successful more than I do. It is apparent we have athletes who share my feelings. "Plan your work, work your plan" and this may be your breakout season! Over the years I have seen a number of athletes go from worst to first by following this plan. On the other hand I've seen other very talented runners experience injury and disappointing race results by dramatically deviating from it. In the days ahead I will provide more details on Phase 2 of your summer training. In the meantime, get out there . . . your season has begun.