by Pam H
Tief! I was looking up the new Boston qualifying times, when I saw your page pop up--imagine my surprise when I realized this was the result of a (I believe) 3 month experiement you had told me about when we were teaching together in the 08-09 school year. Glad to hear you are still coaching and that this website is now a reality! I started doing a little assistant coaching 3 years ago when I moved to GA. I help recruit middle school students to join our running club, which helps build an interest and running base so they're ready for a highly competetive CC/track career in high school (our HS has won Team State Championships the last 5 years). While it's not set in stone yet, next year it is highly likely I will be taking over our program at the middle school. All that said, I actually do have a question. Most of my coaching tips/strategies/training plans come from my own personal experiences as a runner/endurance athlete. Having never been on a track/CC team to learn from coaches, I need some resources. Any good books out there to help me put some method to the madness? Thanks, and I hope all is well with you!
Of course I remember you. You were keeping the students in line and whipping the staff into shape back when I worked with you!
Yes, the site has mutated into quite a monster actually. After I received your email, I did searched the stats on tips4running. I have over 300 articles and average over 2000 page views every day. That's nuts! Basically, I just have been writing articles about what I think runners would value or want to know.
The best resource I have read is a book called "Positive Coaching" by Jim Thompson. Middle school is easier than high school
because the training and performance is pretty much secondary to making sure you have fun with the running.
Don't work them too hard, especially at the start. Celebrate all the small and big successes. I like to do a lot of simple out and back runs so you can see all your runners at the halfway point, and run back with the back of your group.
Other thing I like doing are walk, run, race type workouts. For 30 seconds, you walk, 30 seconds run, and 30 second sprint, and then you simply repeat it. There are some other workout ideas that I have, but the easiest thing to do is follow what was done in the past and just change a few things that you would like to add.
I wouldn't worry too much about the training aspect of the running. The first thing to consider is how many different fun things can you mix into your running. Some simple things that cost a little money would be to give out watermelon at the end of a run. Give everyone a stick of gum at the end of a run. Do relay races. Do scavenger hunts on the school grounds. Play ultimate frisbee. Find a nice grassy area and do some barefoot running, which feels great on your feet and actually makes your feet stronger if you don't do too much too soon.
Don't get too serious with the running, just gradually build up the mileage as the season goes on without doing it. Promote a healthy lifestyle at every step of the way, because the ultimate goal isn't fast times, but developing healthy habits and hopefully creating some runners for life.Take care - Dave
P.S. - I hope Georgia is treating you well. Do you miss the Brewers at all, or are you a Braves fan now. :)