Tuesday, March 24, 2009

John McDonnell Notes from Running Works Clinic

Coach of the Arkansas XC and Track teams, talk at the Running Works Clinic at Villanova. I figured I would share the notes I took and he provided:

- Relaxation. This is a key success factor. Top runners all run relaxed. Starts with the face and head - loose lower jaw. No head bobbing. Relaxed wrists - floppy even. Short arm stroke. Minimize movement from the hips up.

- Communication. Never set goals too high. He is not a "reach for the stars" coach. Also, as a coach make a habit of telling the truth to runners.

- Discipline. Told the story of kicking a kid off the team one year because he was not willing to put in the same level of preparation and work as the rest of the team. This paid off later, both with his team as well as that person wrote him a letter 15 years later thanking him for that life lesson.

- Weight. I covered this in another post - but it is another critical success factor.

- Runners with no speed. He feels too many distance runners with no speed spend too much time worrying about it and working on improving their speed. He believes this is a waste. Focus on developing the strength and then run the race to optimize to that. Told a story about one of his runners taking the lead at the half way point in a race and just pounding the finishing kick out of his competitors. He trained for strength, which was his strength.

- Concentration is a critical success factor. "This is a major problem with distance runners, especially in the longer races. A runner must concentrate to stay on pace during a race. Many things go thru a runner's mind during a race. I encourage our runners to fix their eyes on the competition. This helps them to concentrate and be ready for any changes of pace."

Here is the training cycle for distance runners at Arkansas. These are levels that very few can attain - so scale to your own situation:
Post Track - Take 2-4 weeks "off". He recommends that runners actually run 3 miles every other day or so to make sure they do not lose the flexibility and tone of the muscles and tendons. He has seen many runners take 2-4 weeks completely off and come back to get injured.

Summer - 50 miles per week. No speed. Just base work. The rest of the year is about 75-85 miles per week.

XC Start - August - Do 6 weeks of building a base. Begin doubles at 3 miles in the morning, moving up to 5 miles after 3 weeks. First 3 weeks is all distance. After the first 3 weeks, they begin to do strides (6-8 X200 on grass after their afternoon run). At the end of 6 weeks they are doing 5 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon.

"Shoes can be a major cause of injury". They change shoes about every 5 weeks (400 miles).

XC - Getting Serious - Monday - 5-6 X Mile @4:40-4:45 on a hilly golf course.

Tuesday & Thursday - Weight session. After weight session, team does 8 miles at 5:20-5:30. Every other week they do oxygen debt running to simulate race conditions. First mile is 4:30, then drop so ff to 4:45-4:50 and then back to the 5:20 pace. This gets them used to going out quickly in races. "Nothing good happens in the back of the pack".

As they get closer to Conference, District, NCAA, they add 400 meter repeats on Wednesday afternoon. 12-16 X 400 on grass. Half are uphill at 68-70 and half are downhill at 62-64.

Sunday long run 14-18 at 6:15 pace.

Transition to Indoor Track. Makes sure they do not run too fast early in season. They do not do very much speed work. Work on Strength. "Strength is speed".

Likes downward ladders with increasing speed (start at 2000 meters and come down gradually to 200 meters)

Transition to Outdoor. For two weeks they just do easy mileage of 70-90 miles per week mostly on grass.
Next two weeks long intervals on grass. They go to the Texas Relays without any real track workouts!

After that they go to the track and the pace quickens much more than the Indoor sessions.

May and June - they cut miles and increase quality.

Example workouts for Elite (3:35) 1500 meter runner:
1. 1 X 800 @1:52 >5 min rest, 1 X 600 @ 1:24 >5 min rest, 1X500 @ 69 > 3 min rest, 1X400 @ 54.

2. 2 X 800 @ 1:52 >8 min rest, 1 X 400 @ 54

3. 600 @ 1:24, 800 @ 1:55, 600 @ 1:24, 400 @ 56 - all w 6 min rest.

4. 4 X 400 @55 >4 min rest, 4 X 200 @25 >2.5 min rest

5. 6 X 400 @ 55 >2.5 min rest

6. 8 X 400 @56.5 >3 min rest

7. 6 X 300 @38 >3.5 Min rest, 2 X 200 @24.5 2.5 Min rest

8. 8 X 200 @ 26-26.5 > 2 min rest, or @24.5 with 3 min rest.

9. 1 X 1000 @ 2:22 >1.5 Min rest, 1 X 500 @ 69

10. 12 X 150 @ 18 >2 min rest

11. 800 @ 1:50 ? 8 min rest, 400 @ 55 >4 min rest 300 @ 38

No comments: