Saturday, March 27, 2010

MXC Track Weekly Update

This Past Week

We are getting into a rhythm. The miles are starting to build and we are starting to get in shape. The purpose of March is really to build a base for our target races in May. Hence, we are training thru our scrimmages and meets and making sure we get miles in every day.

In spit of Senior Trip and training thru our scrimmages, we had a great day at Cinnaminson on Wednesday. There were two PR's - Shipley and Lamina. As mentioned previously, Shipley is really putting in some good work and seeing some marked improvements. Lamina is a freshman, first time runner and it is fun to watch him explore how good he can get. It will be interesting to see if he can earn a Varsity letter with a sub-5 performance once he gets in shape.

Up top, Horten got some speed work in, with a nice 2:06 800. Out in 60.5, it was his fastest 400 of the season and he held on pretty well. Weintraub ran a steady 71-72-72-68 for a 4:43 leading from start to finish int he 1600. Samocki showed a lot of toughness and buried the guy from who finished 2nd in the Divisional XC meet.

Today we headed out for a great hill threshold on Paul Drive. This is a great volume and strength day. The top guys ran 10 miles, with 4X 1000+ meters. Even the Freshmen got 7+ miles in.

This Coming Week

Just to make clear, our goal is to run fast at the end of the season. That means Sectionals for the top guys and the Haddonfield Distance meet for others. Both are toward the end of May.

We are doing things a bit different this year and introducing speed work earlier in the season. The idea is to get used to running that fast, but not do it in such a way that it is too hard and allows us to still get miles in a build strength. So if the weather cooperates, we will target a light strides at sub-mile pace at the end of easy miles on Monday and some 400's at mile pace on Wednesday.

Saturday, May 3 is the Hall of Fame Relays at Maple Shade. Please let us know if you will be away. We are expecting everyone to be there and participate. Weintraub, Horten, Samocki and Ems will be doing the 4 X 1600 relay. The freshmen will be doing a 4 X 800 relay and most others will be in Distance Medley Relays.

Also, remember that we still need volunteers for the Moorestown Invitational on Saturday, April 10. Please let me know if you can help by emailing me at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Joe Newton, Terrence Mahon

Last Friday I spent the morning at another fantastic Running Works Day of Distance Coaching at Villanova. This year they had a great 1-2 punch - Joe Newton and Terrence Mahon.

Joe Newton is the legendary coach of York High School. His teams have won 26 State titles in the 50+ years he has been coaching. He has a book that served as a foundation of our program we have built at Moorestown High School, and a great high school XC movie that follows his team thru the course of a season - The Long Green Line.

At 81, he is an energetic, motivating and entertaining speaker - he had the audience of 150 coaches laughing half of the time and thinking the other half. Here are some of the notes I took on his primary messages:

At the beginning of the season, he asks his team three essential questions:
  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Are you committed to excellence?
  3. Do you care about me? Because I care about you. I love you all.
He also related a funny story of a speech he heard by W Clement Stone and his 4 lessons:
  1. Do it - now.
  2. I dare you to be great.
  3. Tell yourself you feel healthy, happy, terrific. Every day.
  4. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe - is possible.
Other pearls of wisdom:
  • Don't be afraid to work hard.
  • Discipline yourself during the hard times.
  • Aristotle said: Life is only meaningful if you are striving for a goal.
While these are all things we know, it was great to be reminded of them in Joe's inspirational style. Afterward I went up to him and shook his hand and offered my heartfelt congratulations and thanks.

After Joe, we got to hear Terrence Mahon talk. He is the coach of the Mammoth Lakes Track Club, the elite training group that includes Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Jen Rhines, Deena Kastor, Amy Hastings and others. He ran at Villanova and learned at the foot of Joe Vigil. He ran 28:31 and 2:13 himself before focusing on coaching.

Terrence is a very precise, focused coach. He gave a great talk that focused on technical aspects as well as the idea of adapting your coaching style to each runner to match their personality and motivations.

The foundation of his program is understanding and maximizing all 7 energy systems:
  1. ATP-CP. This is 0-6 seconds in length. Most distance runners ignore this in training, but Terrence has his runners do 2-3 sets of 3X30 meter sprints on Mondays. This helps develop this system, and improves running style and efficiency.
  2. Alactate. This is from 15-40 seconds in length. He maintains that many races are determined in the last lap, and having this system is key. He does 4-6 X 150 meter sprints w 4-6 minutes rest every two weeks.
  3. Anaerobic Overload. This system is used between 40-90 seconds before it is depleted. He does 6-8 X 300 meters at 800 meter pace with a 3 minute rest between each.
  4. vVO2 is your maximum oxygen consumption level and lasts between 90-180 seconds. He does 3-5 X 800 m w a 1-1.5X rest.
  5. Anaerobic Threshold is 2-20 minutes. He does 5-8 X 1000 with a 400 jog between.
  6. Aerobic Endurance is 20-90 minutes. This is a normal long run.
  7. Aerobic Regeneration is 20 - 180 minutes as an energy system. This is a slow recovery run. For his athletes this is typically the easy run of the daily double or the warm-up and cool down of harder workouts.
The last three make up the bulk of the miles and effort, with 7%, 50% and 34% respectively.

One of the interesting points he made was that recovery is really the key to training. He talked about how his runners sleep 8-11 hours per night and they all take naps during the day of 30-120 minutes. He also told us that Ryan Hall, who can run sub 4:50 for 26 miles does his regeneration runs at 8 minute pace. So SLOW DOWN on your long runs and recovery runs.

In addition to suggesting that we SLOW DOWN, he also told us that we should SPEED UP. He suggested that doing fast work helps improve efficiency and should be done at the beginning of a season - not saved for the end of the season.

He also gave us a sample workout program for a decent high school runner who is doing 60 miles per week. He broke the season into 2 weeks - the first week kind of being the first half of the season and the second week being the second half when you were trying to sharpen.
Week One:
Mon: 30-40 min run, 3 X (3X30m hill sprints)
Tue: 4-6 X 1K @ Threshold w 60 sec rest
Wed: 30-40 min regeneration run
Thu: 30-40 min run, 4-6 X 150 sprints
Fri: Tempo 30-40 min
Sat: 30-40 min regeneration run
Sun: 60-90 min long run

Week Two:
Mon: 30-40 min run, 2 X (3X40m flat sprints)
Tues: 2 miles @ AnT, 3-4 X 800 @ Vo2
Wed: 45-60 min regeneration run
Thurs: 30 min endurance run, 6-8 X 250-300 m w 3 min rest
Fri: AeT Tempo 2-3 X 15 minute tempo w/2-3 min rest or a 30-40 min uphill run
Sat: 30-40 min regeneration run
Sun: 60-90 long run (include 8-10 X 1 min hard)

He suggested to use Jack Daniels charts if you did not use heart rate monitors for pacing.

In summary, it was a great way to spend a morning learning from some of the best in the business... Thanks very much to Marcus O'Sullivan, Steve Shaklee and Cricket Batz for putting this on every year. Already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moorestown School Budget

School Budget
I want to take a brief diversion from my normal running updates to encourage people to vote on the School Budget on April 20, and to pass along some information as well as give you some of my personal thoughts.

Readers Digest Version
To give a quick review of what is being voted on, the School Board has proposed a budget of $61.3M as compared with last year's $61.6M budget. The tax increase to fund this budget is 1.9%, or an average of $124 per household.

There is a reduction of 43 positions as well as 10 coaching positions in the middle school and 8 coaches in the high school, including elimination of the Winter Track and Bowling teams. This results in a reduction of over $1.3M in expenses.

Unfortunately in spite of the reductions, there are three primary factors that are causing the request for a tax increase:
  1. State aid is falling by about $800K due to reductions in the state budget.
  2. Benefits are increasing by about $1.1M due to contractual obligations covering health and pension benefits.
  3. The tax rate-ables have decreased for Moorestown as a result of the re-valuation - in essence homeowners got a net tax decrease while the township and school district got lower tax revenue.
If you want some more information, I would recommend reading this powerpoint presentation, reading the proposed budget, or taking a look at some of the other links.

Last year the budget was rejected by a vote of 1,208 to 1,050. With over 4,200 students in the district, it is surprising how few parents vote. I think part of this is that people find it difficult to remember. So here is a link to the polling places as well as a link for an Absentee Ballot (this is what I do because of last minute out-of-town business trips).

Personal Perspective
This may be a little out of place, but let me give you my thoughts on this subject from several perspectives.

First, as a homeowner, one of the most valuable assets that I have is my home value. Some day I will sell my house and I hope that I can make money on it. Much of that home value is tied up in the perception and reality of the quality of the school district. It attracts new people to come and buy homes in Moorestown. Having repeated budget defeats gives the district a bad perception and does affect quality in some manner. I understand that the reverse logic can apply with tax rates being too high. But from my perspective, the $124 extra tax I pay will be more than offset by the increase in my home value over time. In some ways, it is like justifying a home remodeling project that preserves and increases the value of my home.

Second, there is much frustration over employee compensation and benefits within the school district. Passing or rejecting this budget has zero impact on that. That contract is done every three years between the board and the unions and employees. The contract is coming up this year. The way to influence that is to correspond with the board and teachers as part of that process. If you feel passionate about that, then make your voice heard on that subject - not by abstaining from the voting process or using it as the logic for voting no.

Third, as a person who has had the benefit of a good education I want to make sure that is available for future generations. And my definition of education is beyond the formal subjects taught in the classroom and include athletics and the arts. I trace much of my personal success and happiness to the lessons I learned running cross country and track and being part of those teams and having the mentorship of coaches. Hard work, setting goals, having fun, being part of a team. It is the reason I volunteer with the distance runners in the high school - to pass along the benefits that I received.

I know that if this budget gets rejected, the cuts will come from extracurricular activities around athletics and arts. And that is the primary reason why I will be voting for the budget.