When is enough, enough


#1

I am far away from the cold and wet status of New England, enjoying “real” spring weather down here in Williamsburg, home of the W&M “Tribe”. Saw them out in T-shirts, sweating and enjoying a leisurely run through the back roads…

So, tonight, I look over ma.milesplit coverage and see some outstanding performances being flashed across the screen and wondered…what now?

This indoor season was a very tough one for all of the athletes up in MA as the winter took its toll. The racing season, lasting from early December into early March was long, also tough and competitive right to the end. Can these very good athletes come back one more time for another season that starts off cold, wet and windy and finishes (more than likely), hot, humid and possibly wet as well (never can tell how those June rainstorms will come about).

My personal opinion is that maybe, just maybe the MA athletes might be pushing the envelope just a bit much. I have strongly suggested to our group to step back, rewind and get back to basics after a few years of doing the “full monty”…conference, divisions, all state, New England and Nationals.

I am old and I tend to be conservative when it comes to training and racing, building a strong base before trying to finish up strong at the end of the season. Although I like indoors, I am also old fashioned when it comes to liking outdoors even more. I am not a big believer in “burnout” but I do believe that too much stress for too long can lead to injuries and “mood” swings…(losing interest or get mentally tired).

So, I would be interested in hearing how other coaches view my thoughts. I am assuming those who had their athletes “run the gamut” this winter think it is ok, but you never know…

Just some thoughts on a quiet night while on vacation…:slight_smile: (no TV allowed and no other track stuff allowed here, either, just snuck this in).


#2

You bring up interesting points! I can comment from my perspective with Peter this year as he went right on up through Nationals, versus what happened last year. I apologize for my rambling!

Nationals was never in the training plan for Peter this winter. Heck, New Englands wasn’t, either. I left those two weeks with question marks when I planned the season out after cross. Everything I had planned out ended after All-States with a refresh period segueing into outdoor, and when we decided to say “yes” to New Englands and Nationals, those meets were just icing on the cake. Those last two weeks of NE’s and Nationals we basically continued what we were doing all season long: aerobic workouts. We just added a faster last rep at the end of the workout. Peter only ran a race pace workout in practice once during indoors, as did Mahoney (our number two guy). Now, we did plenty of (controlled) hills, but if we did any “faster” reps in workouts they were short pickups after tempo runs, after strength building 1000s, etc.

Our other kids (whose seasons were shorter and who have different goals in mind) touched upon faster workouts a tad more, but that doesn’t really bother them because they have ample recovery time before the spring starts after their winter season ends. Still, the focus since I have been coaching in the Swamp (and when I was helping out in Danvers) has been aerobic development with your typical strength workouts. We’re lucky in our conference that a guy like Peter can use dual meets as workouts: dropping down in distance or hitting a tempo pace for two miles, etc. If we were in a different conference that might not be the case. For outdoor, his real racing probably won’t start until roughly State Coaches, maybe even later.

There was a huge difference last year, when we got a little too aggressive with “running the gamut” as you say indoors, without recovering as needed. I learned from that as a coach, Peter learned from that as an athlete, and we made changes that have worked. He even commented: “Coach, I know we have the different training phases, but there’s not too much difference between them.” And he is right with that comment, because last year, when he got down to 9:25, he was fighting his way to that time: feeling wiped out with legs that just weren’t there during the winter. So any changes as far as “phases” go this year were very minor. It got a little better during outdoor track last year, but he didn’t feel anywhere near as good as he has felt all indoor season. That’s partly because of my changes, but also partly (I think more-so) due to the base he has now that he didn’t have last year. This year, he felt great every race, and learned a lot about racing and tactics while competing against the best MA has to offer.

Peter was able to “run the gamut” because he wasn’t crushing workouts three times, or even twice, a week. Lots of steady, strong, controlled running. Had we tried to hammer out super fast intervals there is no way Peter would have been able to keep racing well that many weeks in a row.

Yes, bringing his PR down to 9:18 is fantastic, but for me the best thing is he how FEELS racing: and he still has a ton of room to grow as a runner. Hopefully, when we blend in some other training elements, we get an even better result this spring. I have to make sure I keep him on the leash for now, because he’s pretty excited after this weekend. But, he knows the long term is always the goal. No one remembers who performed well the first week of outdoor unless you can do it in June, too.

So, to end my rambling, my whole philosophy is that for a kid like Peter (or any kid who wants to rip in the spring), indoor is all about getting ready for outdoor. But, when an opportunity presents itself, sometimes you have to take it. I initially was wary about Nationals, but after the New Englands race I knew he HAD to run Nationals because he COULD run sub-9:20 and I wanted him to get that off his back. We can ease him into the outdoor season based on our dual meet schedule and have plenty of time to get into tip-top shape.

I know some teams like to hit the big invites in December and drop fast two mile times or whatever, but that’s not a part of our program. I do think that a lot of coaches can be trusted to make the right call for their athletes; I can think of a few who dropped fast times in December and came back to run faster in March. I can also think of athletes who did the opposite. Either way, there’s more than one way to go about it, depending on the coach and the athlete.

Anyway, just my two (or more) cents!

Coach Bartlett
Swampscott XC


#3

Practice starts the 18th.

An elite athlete could conceivably skip the rest of March and half of April resting/active recovering before running a qualifer, states, and nationals.

Or they could get an early Q at Weston twilight, and train.

I do think there is some athletes who are relied on too much coming off a long indoor season - just to win dual meets, but if done well and diligent, it can be managed easily and responsibly.


#4

More or less everything I wanted to say, without the rambling! :slight_smile:


#5

Why/What is the reasoning to have to “re-qualify” in the Mile/2Mile
again outdoors?? recency??
Same for Shot/HJ/LJ


#6

I just think it would be a disadvantage to athletes who didn’t run indoors if their opponents could skip racing in their event all season long and show up at states to race them. Also, they are considered different sports, indoors and outdoors, so that makes them different Q standards. In fact, I don’t think the indoor standard is even considered when creating the outdoor standard, the only thing considered is the previous indoor standard.


#7

SwampscottXC: My concern or interest is not just distance runners, but also those athletes who sprint/hurdle and jump and or run relays. And I don’t mean to sound as being an alarmist or accuser, rather just wondering. If you look ahead to the college athlete’s racing load, you can see a major difference, as the number of competitions is cut down tremendously.

So, I was just comparing and wondering how much of a workload of training and racing young athletes can handle and still produce outstanding times down the road. I am sure your approach is well thought out and your concern for your athlete is most admired.

I used to love to race running 75 440’s my senior year of college, but I was fully developed and had a solid base of training over my four years at college. I am not sure if a young 16 or 17 year old athlete (girls and boys) is going to get the most out of themselves when they are cranking so often and for so long.

I am not a big fan of the High School National meets, but I know the athletes like them a lot and enjoy the experience. As a coach, even at this late stage of my career, I like to learn from others and maybe I am missing something.


#8

On my end, I prefer to skip indoor nationals in favor of outdoors. I like outdoors because there is a nice long break afterwards, and I think the kids can mentally and physically recover from it, plus they can see the finish line during training, making it easier for them to put the work in on their own. I’m not sure you get that same yield from athletes when they are being self-coached after indoor NE’s.


#9

What if times from class and/or state meets are allowed?

During the indoor season, times are not allowed for Q outdoors because of different tracks and supposed unequal competition. But once athletes get to post season indoors where RLC is used for all, they can carry those times over to outdoors.

Its a (not great) possibility/thought.


#10

Well, the Mile/2Mile standards change but the distance remains the same, regardless if run over 4/8/10 or 8/16/20 laps
How many teams do not compete indoors?
Vast majority, i can see, are D3-4 and the Berkshires
Why doesnt the Berkshire schools take advantage of Wiliams indoor track (Southern Vermont uses it for their meet) and have an indoor season??
Indoors is state of the art FAT/Outdoors is a history teacher and a parent
volunteer timing
55m indoors/100m outdoors
2013 indoors 1 hand held time in first 110
2012 outdoors 47 hand held -106
Why not take advantage of the accuracy of indoor marks??

Well, thats all for now:p


#11

To answer the question … enough is enough when you are on vacation and still can’t stop posting.

BTW outdoor collegiate track in NE is useless - the vast majority of athletes have their conference meet the first week in May - THAT IS NOT A REAL SEASON.


#12

I don’t think useless is the right word. I know a lot of people train right through indoor into outdoor; therefore the “real season” would really be from about January to May. And by the time conferences and NEs roll around its warm enough to have good outdoor meets.


#13

As I get closer to home again (Delaware), the cold is starting to run up my back and I know that double filled jacket of mine will get lots of use in the next couple of weeks. So, little chance at qualifying (but that was not what I was talking about).

Also, this isn’t college, as I am often reminded about when I do make suggestions, so I still wonder if competing so often at a high level at the end of indoors (Divisional, State, New England and Nationals) is a plus or minus for the athletes and coaches who also want to have a really strong outdoor season.

Without giving out names of some prominent athletes who I thought did a heck of a lot of very good competing this winter all the way through to Nationals, I wonder how they will do outdoors after another season of dual meets (I can’t see a lot of coaches holding out their prominent runners meet after meet) and then the whole cycle again of relay championships, divisionals, states, New England and Nationals.

If it works then I say great and I will rethink how I approach all of this. My last attempt at going full bore through indoor Nationals provided me with a negative outcome by the time we got to early June.

What if it comes to the end of outdoors and many of these very good performers are either on the sideline (injuries) or produce subpar marks? As I said, I like indoors, but I really enjoy outdoors when it finally gets nice and warm.

By the way, I see 300kicks’ point about using indoor marks, but the truth is we are outdoors at the end of May. What someone did in Jan or Feb has little or no relationship to what happens at the end of May.


#14

Fan opinion (not a coach) - the top performers won’t have any trouble with qualifying marks, if they maintained a little conditioning going from indoor to outdoor season. Some that just made qualifying marks for indoor, will need to work again to get the qualifying mark in the spring. Those that just missed a qualifying mark may finally get it in outdoor. The dual meets may be the best place for the borderline runners to get some competition. Seems to me those are the meets that produce the initial qualifying times. End of the season is for bumping up the seed times before the big meets.


#15

This seems like this can only apply to the “elite” athletes, which don’t make up the majority of college athletes. Most athletes finish their season in February and are given time to rest, and get enough training in to be ready to run well at their first meet. If a season starts in late march for a non elite athlete, they have about 6 or 7 meets with one per week or two in one of those weeks. That is a real collegiate season, with enough meets to drop multiple PRs, improve and become more elite, and have enough rest to be fresh every meet and not burn out.

And for the elite athletes, they end later than February, but are done in early March… so they get a week off (which is enough rest), then can skip their first meet (or even first two meets) and still have at least 5 meets to run, plus their conference meet, plus anything like New Englands, IC4As, or Nationals. 6 to 7 meets for them too, which isn’t bad at all for a college season. I don’t think that a conference meet in early May means that the season is extremely short. It’s sufficient, and the athletes aren’t burnt out at all.

When you are running 12 to 15 races a year, thats when enough is enough. In High School, especially for distance runners, they just can’t perform at a high level at meets like New Englands and Nationals if they are racing from the beginning of the season at a high level. Yes, many distance kids do perform at a very high level, but in most cases, they do not run in as many races as the others, or they do not run at 100% because they are in a weaker league or are just dominant in their event so they do not need to exactly race every time they are out there. I’ve seen this with distance kids in the Bay State League (My former league) so many times. The League is usually very competitive, so kids are going all out in dual meets to get a win for their team, but when the All-State meet comes around they either burn out completely or do not really improve and remain pretty much stagnant. They might match their PR, but when you get to that competition, you need to PR, not match it or come near it.

Just an opinion of a college runner in a library procrastinating :cool:


#16

I think (hope) most coaches who have athletes go to indoor nationals, give them a rest, even if it means staying out of a few dual meets early in the season.

Alternatively, don’t go to NE or nationals.

Also, train smart during indoor, don’t load them up with too much until their bodies can handle it - particularly sprint/jump/hurdles.

Seems simple enough.


#17

I am very curious how they will “reload” as well trackmanpete. I really enjoyed watching O’Donnell, Coppinger, Montague, Kerber, Burrington, Parsley, Hale, etc. perform this winter in the mid-distance/distance events and hope that all of them come back and “rip” it again this spring. All that being said - I can’t help but think back to last spring as I watched Colin Bennie absolutely dominate and look so “fresh” doing it!

How will he + runners like Scott Carpenter, Jon Green and the Stafford brothers do this spring after either taking the entire indoor season off or just competing in a few races vs. those mentioned above? Only time will tell whether the success that those mentioned above had this winter impacts what they do this spring.

I wish everyone well! :slight_smile:


#18

I predict no one will beat burrington in a race during the spring season


#19

I would think this is easier said then done. I feel the pressure sometimes to run some of our better athletes on all cylinders and have to really be disciplined to guide them properly. My own desire for their success and their desire to go at it is what seems to be at play.

It is sort of interesting, as old school coaches had no problem with the concept of head to head competition week after week.

The concept of resting, training, training and limited racing is relatively new and found most often on the college level, especially when head coaches are distance oriented.

So, I bear no ill feeling towards coaches or their athletes who cranked indoors. In fact, I am very happy for them, as they help build up the image of Massachusetts as a place where track is done well.

I, too, hope after a heavy duty indoor season, our “big time” athletes continue on and win big outdoors as well. As I said, if a majority of these “elite” high school athletes have an outstanding outdoor season, I may have to rethink my own approach to coaching. Even after so many years of coaching, an old dog can still learn new things, for sure.


#20

The problem of too much racing is much worse in HS than in college. For states that have three full seasons (read: The Northeast), it’s tough for all but the super elite. There will be pressure to help your team during the regular season, invitational relays and, naturally, at season’s end. Of course if you’re Mary Cain or Sara Baxter, or run within 20 places of them at Nationals, then you run on a different schedule. But lots of kids qualify for state and regional meets and many of them have aspirations of running competitively in college. Combined, these factors can make life tough. The pressure to perform at league, then sectional, the all-state then regional (NXN or FL) means four, sometimes five or six races in the Championship season. This for the good runners, not just the great.

In college it seems very different. The fall xc schedule is every other week rather than weekly (or worse in HS) and invitationals are the norm rather than league dual and tri-meets. At season’s end, you have a league meet and the regional; that’s it. Precious few make it through to the final. There are alternative season ending races but mostly they’re for the super elite/pro set (i.e. those with post-college aspirations). The number of athletes motivated and invited to run in these events is vanishingly small.

For xc runners, track and field starts in January, not December and I wager 75% of colleges (mostly outside of the NE and Mid-Atlantic) treat track as one season. Sure there is an indoor championship season with qualifiers, league meets and ECAC/IC4A, etc. but coaches seem intent on staggering their runners in these meets and, with few exceptions, look to peak only once in the second semester. That would be outdoors.