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Coaching Track (Read 1094 times)


sconzof

    Has anyone out there coached middle to high-school students for the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter events? Do you have advice on how to get started? 

     

    Some background: Okay, so my son is starting his second year of middle-school track. He does the long-distance events, but unfortunately the school doesn't have a long-distance coach. They have three coaches, but none of them specialize in long-distance. So, the distance athletes will simply be doing much of the same work-outs as the other shorter-distance athletes.

    My wife has been insisting that I offer to help coach. The problem is: I am not a coach. I've run 10 marathons (reaching toward 3:10) and about 20 half-marathons and I did one year of cross country in high school, but I don't think I have the right qualifications to be a coach.

    Also, I'm a workaholic. It would be almost impossible for me to get to the track every day after they finish school to help out. But my wife says even one or two days a week would be better than nothing.

    Ultimately I will email the head coach and explain my situation, and ask if she wants my assistance. But my question is: where can I find good resources/bibles of coaching for the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter events? Being a marathoner, I doubt my own training routines will be effective for what really are shorter distances. And will I be any help to these students who meet five times per week, but who might only see me once or twice per week?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      At the middle school level, it's all about keeping them engaged, and giving them the basic knowledge and skills to move up to the next level.

       

      Focus on developing them as runners.  That means teaching them the value of consistency, managing effort, and learning the basics of how to run on a track.  I wouldn't worry too terribly much about specific types of workouts, but more on instilling an interest and desire to achieve something more.

       

      Also, talk to the coach(es) for the Junior/Senior HS team(s) to see if they have anything they would like to see developed in their future runners.


      just a simple cat

         

         


        Fat butt on couch

          I agree with the focus Scout described.  That said, as a semi-absentee coach your contribution will be slanted towards workouts.

           

          Don't underestimate the value of even a moderately intelligent workout plan if these kids are currently being coached by non-long distance specialists.  I won't bash coaches I don't know, so you'll have to make the evaluation, but in my experience coaches with experience in sprints/throwing who try to coach distance runners MAY be doing them more of a disservice than anything.....too many intervals, too much intensity.

           

          My middle school (ie 7-8th grade) 1600m/3200m track training consisted primarily of 100m sprints run with short recovery until kids started dropping from exhaustion (the washout rate was high).

          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

           

            I coached the 7th and 8th grade distance team (and the long and high jumps, of all things!) for a couple seasons many years ago.  As Scout said, the top priority is keeping them engaged and instilling a love for running and competing.  We did "workouts" designed to build their endurance, and followed it with some sharpening stuff.  A good portion of those were camouflaged as something fun: instead of 20-30min slogs (which can be a long way for a smaller 12-year-old with no aerobic base), they'd do run/walk mixes, or break into teams and do relay type stuff, or ... whatever your imagination can conjure.  Same for faster/harder stuff.

             

            But it's going to be tough for you to get much out of it if you're only there once or twice per week.  I was there every day, so I got to interact with them, convince kids they could do more than they thought, evaluate who worked hard, who had the capacity to work but wasn't putting in the effort, etc.  Helpful as a coach, and rewarding too.

             

            There were two other coaches: a teacher with sprint experience, and a sturdily-built field guy.  Not that I changed lives, but I have little doubt the distance kids would've been told to plod around (every day) or thrown in with the sprinters.  (Actually, a handful of my kids did end up as four-year lettermen in HS.)

            “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman


            sconzof

               Thanks so much for the advice. I think this makes a lot of sense.

              -Frank

               

              At the middle school level, it's all about keeping them engaged, and giving them the basic knowledge and skills to move up to the next level.

               

              Focus on developing them as runners.  That means teaching them the value of consistency, managing effort, and learning the basics of how to run on a track.  I wouldn't worry too terribly much about specific types of workouts, but more on instilling an interest and desire to achieve something more.

               

              Also, talk to the coach(es) for the Junior/Senior HS team(s) to see if they have anything they would like to see developed in their future runners.


              sconzof

                I believe you did make a difference. For a kid (from my own experience), just having someone take an interest and lift you up goes far.

                Thanks for the feedback.

                 

                I coached the 7th and 8th grade distance team (and the long and high jumps, of all things!) for a couple seasons many years ago.  As Scout said, the top priority is keeping them engaged and instilling a love for running and competing.  We did "workouts" designed to build their endurance, and followed it with some sharpening stuff.  A good portion of those were camouflaged as something fun: instead of 20-30min slogs (which can be a long way for a smaller 12-year-old with no aerobic base), they'd do run/walk mixes, or break into teams and do relay type stuff, or ... whatever your imagination can conjure.  Same for faster/harder stuff.

                 

                But it's going to be tough for you to get much out of it if you're only there once or twice per week.  I was there every day, so I got to interact with them, convince kids they could do more than they thought, evaluate who worked hard, who had the capacity to work but wasn't putting in the effort, etc.  Helpful as a coach, and rewarding too.

                 

                There were two other coaches: a teacher with sprint experience, and a sturdily-built field guy.  Not that I changed lives, but I have little doubt the distance kids would've been told to plod around (every day) or thrown in with the sprinters.  (Actually, a handful of my kids did end up as four-year lettermen in HS.)


                sconzof

                  Yes, I agree with Scout's recommendation too. I'd love to be there five days a week, but with my full-time job it would be impossible. If only these kids could train at 8pm Smile Thanks for taking the time to respond. And I've done that Sprint-Till-You-Drop workout myself, many times. Fun stuff.

                   

                  I agree with the focus Scout described.  That said, as a semi-absentee coach your contribution will be slanted towards workouts.

                   

                  Don't underestimate the value of even a moderately intelligent workout plan if these kids are currently being coached by non-long distance specialists.  I won't bash coaches I don't know, so you'll have to make the evaluation, but in my experience coaches with experience in sprints/throwing who try to coach distance runners MAY be doing them more of a disservice than anything.....too many intervals, too much intensity.

                   

                  My middle school (ie 7-8th grade) 1600m/3200m track training consisted primarily of 100m sprints run with short recovery until kids started dropping from exhaustion (the washout rate was high).

                    I helped coach MS distance runners last year. I went to practice about 3 times/week, and the other times I gave the workout to my son who relayed it to the HC. 

                     

                    I'd say keep try to keep it fun, but meaningful. I really stressed consistency (not that many listened) being the key to improving at distance events. 

                     

                    What you have to remember is that for most kids, because they lack any semblance of an endurance base, any running they do will result in improving their racing times. So, why kill them with lots of speed work? Moreover, most kids don't lack speed. They lack endurance.

                     

                    Most of the time we just ran easy distance with some strides while stressing running relaxed at faster speeds. Even when I prescribed something faster, most didn't do it. For most, they know two speeds -- really slow (or walking) or race pace. It was hard to get them to conceptualize the idea of 5K race pace, or temp effort.  I ended up scratching the idea of structured training for most of the kids.  However, for a few of the better kids (that were in the 4x800 relay and qualified for state), I gave them more structured workouts and they improved a lot w/out doing killer workouts. 

                     

                    I plan on helping the distance runners again this year as the same set of kids are back for the 4x800 relay and are hoping to get under 10:00 this year. 

                     

                    Edited:  The way I worked this out work wise was to use about 2 hours of PTO/Vacation 2 or 3 times/week.  My boss actually liked this better than some of the people that take off a month at a time when they back to their mother ship (India).   I asked the head coach if he'd consider moving the practice time for the distance runners later in the day. Not acceptable...


                    Fat butt on couch

                      Yes, I agree with Scout's recommendation too. I'd love to be there five days a week, but with my full-time job it would be impossible. If only these kids could train at 8pm Smile

                       

                      I hear you.  I would love to coach, I live <2 miles from my district's schools, but work 30min away.  I doubt I would ever be able to do it.

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                       

                      Muddyfeet


                        Read and use Daniels Running Formula. It is invaluable in creating a season training plan and will help individualize each runner's workout based on his or her ability.


                        sconzof

                          Thanks MuddyFeet!


                          12-week layoff

                            I coached the 7th and 8th grade distance team (and the long and high jumps, of all things!) for a couple seasons many years ago.  As Scout said, the top priority is keeping them engaged and instilling a love for running and competing.  We did "workouts" designed to build their endurance, and followed it with some sharpening stuff.  A good portion of those were camouflaged as something fun: instead of 20-30min slogs (which can be a long way for a smaller 12-year-old with no aerobic base), they'd do run/walk mixes, or break into teams and do relay type stuff, or ... whatever your imagination can conjure.  Same for faster/harder stuff.

                             

                            But it's going to be tough for you to get much out of it if you're only there once or twice per week.  I was there every day, so I got to interact with them, convince kids they could do more than they thought, evaluate who worked hard, who had the capacity to work but wasn't putting in the effort, etc.  Helpful as a coach, and rewarding too.

                             

                            There were two other coaches: a teacher with sprint experience, and a sturdily-built field guy.  Not that I changed lives, but I have little doubt the distance kids would've been told to plod around (every day) or thrown in with the sprinters.  (Actually, a handful of my kids did end up as four-year lettermen in HS.)

                             What he said.  I have coached track for years, and I ususally divide my 800 and 1600 teams from the sprinters.  Sometimes I would work my 400 team with distance, when it was their speedwork day, but mostly they would work with sprinters.  We would usually do one day of LSD, but at the beginner level, it doesn't mean the same thing as in marathon training.  We would start out with 15 minutes of run/walk, and progress through the season until most kids could run for 20-25.  One day, we would do something like mile repeats, and one day something like 400 meter sprints.  Always, we would do push-ups, crunches, lunges, and some drills like butt kicks and knee lifts.  For fun, we would do indian runs in groups (faster runners together, etc) or play freeze tag.  Freeze tag is a great workout! 


                            Interval Junkie --Nobby

                               Freeze tag is a great workout! 

                               

                              In HS, after soccer practice, I'd go to X-country practice because I had a lot of friends on the team.  I was faster than most, but they could out-distance me.  I could out-distance the soccer player.  Anyway, we used to play a game the coach called "1,2,3 Ring-a-leavio".  Two teams, gigantic open field.  You give the prey a 2min head-start.  They 'hide' in the field (which is ineffective by design).  Then you send the hunters after them.  When they grab someone they need to say "1,2,3 Ring-a-leavio" while in contact (this just serves to prolong the game as some people are slippery).  The captured are taken to a base.  If a free-prey tags captured prey in the base, they are all set free.  You end the round by capturing the entire team.  Each team takes turns being prey and hunters.  The team with the shortest-capture time wins.

                               

                              I can't tell you how much fun this was.  There's a bit of ad hoc strategy that develops.  Persistence hunting is usually the key.  Everyone was exhausted by then end with huge stupid smiles on their faces.

                               

                              Obviously, the sooner you're captured the less of a workout, but as more are captured the game accelerates as more hunters chase the same prey. 

                              2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon ("Congrats! It's tough to race with poop in the mind" --Wing)

                              Current Status 03/17: Drinking beer and eating crap -- all the things I couldn't do before the marathon

                                Stadjak, we called that Jailbreak or Release.  You can go pretty anaerobic toward the end, when the bulk of your team has been captured and you're grossly outnumbered.

                                “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

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