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!

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