Friday, October 22, 2010

Nike: Young Runners

originally posted March 13, 2009 by Coach Jay

My name is Johnathan and I am the distance coach at a high school in Texas. I have a sophomore girl running a 12:40 3200m and 5:50 1600m. I'm looking for advice on what I can do to help this runner reach her potential. Here is what we are doing during workouts:

Mondays: 6 quarters under 80 secs (3 minute break)
Tuesdays: 4 miles
Wednesdays: Mile intervals (under 7) with negative splits (4 minute rest)
Thursday: 4 miles

She works out with the head coach during athletics a couple days a week. This week coming up I'm going to lower the break between quarters to 2 minutes and hopefully increase her mileage. She has only been running for 2 weeks since basketball so we are a little behind. Our ultimate goal for this year is for her to get the school record in both races. The 3200m is 12:30 and the 1600m is 5:35.

I know the workouts I am giving my kids are making them better runners because their times are improving every week, but how do I get them to fulfill all of their potential? - - Thanks, Johnathan

Johnathan - Thanks for the detailed email. Long term, the three big things that are missing from the young woman's schedule:

  1. A longer, more challenging aerobic workout once a week during the track season and twice a week in the summer and in cross-country.
  2. Lots and lots of general strength work...she can likely handle a great deal of this work.
  3. Some light neuromuscular training: running at 400m-800m pace 1-2 times a week, but with full recovery jogs.

Working backwards from the list above, think of the neuromuscular work as simply "faster than 1,600m pace" work. You simply need to give her some "strides" or 100m-150m repeats at 800m pace 1-2 times a week. Most good coaches assign this after easy days, so you might want to add this at the end of one of the 4 mile days. That said, you only need 4x100m or 4x150m with a SLOW jog between them.

The general strength work is simply adding the routines that are on this site (general strength videos are found on the video wall). You can have her watch the videos, then print the PDFs and have her bring them to practice. Initially, the pedestal routine will be challenging, but eventually she should be able to do that with ease 4-5 times a week. Also, at the beginning of the season you can and should ask her to do 10-15 minute of this of this type of work following her last event of her track meets. Keep the next day easy and then consider giving her a day off two days after the meet (so if the meet was on Friday, she does an easy aerobic run Saturday and takes Sunday off).

Finally, you need to add an aerobic workout once a week during the outdoor track season. You can read through older posts to learn about threshold running and fartlek runs, but either way you need to give her one aerobic workout a week. This could be as long as 5-6 miles for her. She will be better by her senior year if you do this work, though in the short term, your schedule is fine. If you truly want to see her develop and get better every year then you need to give her one workout a week during the track season that is a high level aerobic stimulus.

Good luck Johnathan and thanks for the email.

*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

Coach Jay coaches athletes at RunnersCoach.com and blogs at CoachJayJohnson.com. If you have a question for Jay, email him here: coachjay@nike.com.