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sprint vs. distance coaching philosophies
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually agree with just about everthing in your First off post.

My only question is what does it matter what a TV announcer thinks if the guys on the track think that they can compete, and hate to lose?

I'm not sure I follow the first part of your "Next" post. It seems like you are giving common excuses for not training harder. Training harder is something that I crusade for at all levels and routinely get blasted for.

I'm still not convinced that there is no sprint culture in the US. I might be misquoting my Anthropology 101 professor here but I believe culture is a part of any group of human beings, no matter the size. I would say that we have a sprint culture, it's just a little anti-social.

And for your post on other sports influencing each other I think you missed my meaning there. Obviously you aren't going to take someone from the NFL and turn them into a world class sprinter. I mean in the developement of a young athlete. Here is an example to illustrate what I mean. You've got a high school freshman that wants to play football. He goes out for the team does his weights, explosive drills ect. The coach tells him to go out for track since it is an activity that's more closely related to football than baseball in terms of conditioning. (My first coaching job was with a coach that did just this). The kid goes out for track, something he wouldn't have done without being pushed in that direction by his football coach. The kid turns out to be a good sprinter. That doesn't seem very far fetched to me. Also does anyone know how many of the US's best sprinters/hurdlers right now played HS football. My money says it's most of them.
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Conway
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow I'm making a little headway here ... Laughing

Where to start ?? How about with the TV Announcer ... Wht he thinks is extremely important as he has the power to influence more young people in 60 minutes than you might touch in a lifetime !!!!! The media is all powerful ... Whether we like it or not ... And what we want is the meida on OUR side ... When someone in the media says we are not good at something, then for all practical purposes we are not !!! The media IS public opinion ... And they can make or break you !!
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Conway
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as training harder, I am not giving common excuses, but rather looking at the rationale of one saying that they are training as hard as they can as parat of the problem itself !!! When one says they are giving 110% there is no where left to go (actually 10% ago !!) ... When you have no where left to go you are in trouble ...

And I hate to say this but your Anthropology teacher was wrong ... A culture is no where defined as a gathering of individuals in and of itself ... But I do detect animosity in your statement for sprinters, and it is there that I think we are getting closer to your real issue when it comes to sprinting and sprinters ... But without going there I will simply say that while sprinters have similar traits among them, that does not create a sprinting culture in this country ... It just means that sucesful sprinters (like successful people in any endeavor) share some common traits ... A separate issue from culture ...
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Conway
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for your cross training definition of football producing sprinters, I'll go you one further ... Kids at play develop the skills to do many different sports ... Now having said that what does it prepare them specificallly for ??? Answer: not a damned thing ... Simply gets them physically fit ... What does football do .. Gets them physically fit .. If a kid goes on to run track it is because the ability was already there ... Not becasue it was developed through football ... In the story that you gave, yes there are times when football coaches see that they have a kid with some speed and suggest they go run track to stay in shape ... The side of that that you don't see is that typicall in order for that young person to do well as a sprinter they have to be totally retrained ... Much too much work ... What most coaches do is accept the kid, use the speed where they can ... And then send em BACK to football ... THAT doesn't make the kid a sprinter ... USC, UCLA, Tennessee are programs that do this regulary ... Just gives them another temporay body !!! They usually don't even have them during the first part of the season as Spring Football takes precedence ... WHY ??? Becasue the training and muscles developed are different ... In the case of hte high schol student (as you described) football mearly provided a forum for the kids talnets to be seen/discovered ... Football didn't pput the kid there ...

And as far as how many of hte US best hurdlers and sprinters played football in hgihg school I would imagine a high number ... But the reason being to give them something to do during the off season to stay in shape ... Not to prepare them for sprinting ... Given a choice between football and cross country your average sprinter is going to choose football ... And there is a BIG difference .. Now the next logical question would be to ask how many of these kids were as good at football as they were at track ... And the answer would be a relatively small number !!!
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Conway
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A personal side note here ... Most of my freinds and I actually found playing basketball to be a better activity than football to prepare for track and field ... THE one HUGE drawback in playing basketball is the constant running on the hard wood floors .... Bad on shin splints and similar leg problems for individuals with smaller than normal ankles which most sprinters tend to have ... Basketball gives you much more aerobic activity and the explosive movements of jumping and on again off gain sprinting are much more conducive to sprinting than football movements ... I htink hte fallacy of belief that football is a manufacturing pool for sprinters in that the few positions in football that require any type of speed are the most visible !!!
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, thanks DG and Dan for responding to my question. I didn't feel that Wetmore's system had changed, either, but I felt you were closest to see if there were any day to day differences that he would have made. I agree with your risk to reward example, but the idea would be to get as much out of training as possible without going over the edge, because once injury sets in, any improvement comes to an abrupt halt.
I think the post you were referring to was made on who really works and trains harder....

My personal feeling is that there are more ways to skin a cat in distance running than in the sprints. You have training ideologies that range from Wetmore's/Lydiard's all the way to Mihaly Igloi's, with most somewhere in between. In the sprints there are certain things you have to accomplish in training on a daily or weekly basis that you simply can't neglect to become or stay successful.

A key, in my thinking, is to match up the athlete with the coaching philosophy. I think Ritz matches up very well with Wetmore. I feel Webb would match up very well with someone coaching more in line with Igloi.

Your thoughts, anyone??
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conway you make some descent points but I still disagree with you on a couple of points.

I know you said you announce for track meets so I just want to say this is nothing personal. TV announcers influence public opinion but that still has no real baring on elite distance runners, whether they're currently running or 12 years old wathing the meet on TV. Anyone that is going to do the training and racing on their way up through the American High school and college system to reach the elite level can't have a fear of anyone no matter where they're from. If you are going to become an elite runner (on the national or international level) you can't be afraid of anyone. This isn't football or boxing where if your competitor is better than you he can really hurt you, all a better distance runner can do is run away from you really fast.

And I hold no animosity towards sprinters, but as an outsider looking in they're always trying to psyc each other out, by show boating and boasting. Which to me seems a little anti social. It also seems to be a major component to the sprinting culture.
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Second of all, to address Hammer's comments:

Good athletes + bad coaches = success : In this situation I think the athletes realize what is happening and end up coaching themselves if they don't move on (as in college). Notice that Teter moved from Reebok to the Nike Farm Team. I don't know how much better the coaching is, and how much the the external components come into play, but she has improved 3 sec just on her 800m time.

Bad athletes + good coaches = lack of success : I believe that great coaching can take rank and file athletes to the point of possibly qualifying for the NCAA's or at least their Conference Championships, even if they don't place. My opinion at this point is how a coach affects all the athletes he or she is dealing with, not just the ones destined for greatness.

I am in agreement with your environment logic, but I think we are putting the cart before the horse here. I feel the principle here is that the coach ends up creating the environment or atmosphere and the athletes are drawn toward that. And because of the coaching and athletes that atmosphere ends up mushrooming. Now, there are exceptions to this. I will name four and I am sure that people can come up with more.
1) Florida Track Club. I think this was Bacheler's idea and I don't think a coach was involved even if most of the people drawn to there shared similar training ideas.
2) Eugene. A lot of runners were drawn to Eugene in the 70's and it wasn't a coach who was the draw. Many of the runners had different running philosophies.
3) Boulder and other altitude sites. Self explanatory.
4) San Jose or Bay area. A throwers mecca during the 70's and early 80's. Shot and Discus throwers were drawn to that area like a magnet. Most were self coached or coached each other. Many of the best throwers camps are still held in that area.

Paul
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Third, to address the culture issue. I can't!! But I my intuition tends to go with Micah's thoughts on this. I feel an individual who puts in 4-5 hours a training a week at even 7-8 min miles has at least some idea what goes on at the elite levels of the sport. Maybe not a significant idea, but some idea anyway. Much better, for instance, than the couch potato, who, while channel surfing, comes across the Boston Marathon. I don't know if DG's baseball analogy fits unless you go to a batting cage and have them crank up that pitching machine to 95 mph. Uh, we could make that part of the activities for the Team Run-Down get together!! Wink

Maybe culture isn't the right word, maybe its a sprints mentality. As in, if our nation's athletes fail to win the sprints, we are shocked. I guess I was somewhat shocked at the 200m in Edmonton.

Paul
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Dan
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, good analysis in your second to last post. Oops, you just snuck in another one... Make that third to last. Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul I know what your saying but believe me if you are only puting in 5 hour a week a 7 minutes a mile, that still a world away from the physical and mental demands these athletes put on themselves. I do like your pitching machine analogy though. The problem is that when you step into the batters cage, you don't have 10.000 fans booing you because you are being paid 12 million dollars a year and are in the middle of a 5 for 47 slump. You aren't looking Rodger Clemens in the eyes an inning after your pitcher went high and tight on Derek Jeter. That is the difference between the guy that goes to the cages to take some swings and a big league ball player, in the same way that is the difference between Johnny 5K and Adam Goucher.

Perhaps in a broader since average runners are part of a communtiy of runners but, just because two people live in the same town doesn't make you part of the same culture. It's like living on different sides of the tracks. On one side you've got big penthouse apartments on the other you've got low income housing. They both may be in New York but their cultures are very different.
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Dan.

To back up what Micah said about not having time to go to any other site in What's Dan do with his time..., I end up opening up 5 or 6 Internet Explorer windows so I can jump between them as I'm writing my comments.

Going back to Wetmore, I was going to make the comment that I felt he had a "one size fits all" program, but that would have been stupid on my part. Of course a coach is going to believe in his program. A coach does not say "well, you haven't improved in 6 weeks, its time to try something completely different".

In my thinking, the two main areas of "coaching-philosophy" differences occur in the areas of volume and intensity. In my coaching experiences (competitive Olympic Style lifting and Powerlifting, both men and women), I had athletes who thrived on lifting near maximum a good percentage of the time, and those who could lift a lot of moderate weights, but would become quickly overtrained if you added too many near maximum lifts to their training diet. But coaching Weightlifting might be easier than coaching Track and Field simply because of the closeness of the coach and athlete with regards to the training environment.

Paul
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Conway
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well DG we're getting closer ... Wink

Back to the TV Announcer ... We're not talking about elite athletes here ... But rather young people - pre teens / early teens who are easily impressed by what they see on TV .. They may choose to participate in certain events (or not participate) based n their perceived ability to do well later on ... Obviously if you have gotten to elite status you have chosen your path and the positives and negatives that go with it ... But unless you are a young phenom the inclination for most people is to follow the path of least resistance (and has nothing to do with the "lazy" discussion held earlier) ...

Now on to the "anti-social" sprinters ... You really should spend some time with them ... They are a most interesting group of individuals ... You are absolutely right in that there is a great deal of posturing taking place ... Imagine the following ... Tomorrow you are going to get in the blocks with 7 other individuals to run a race in which the difference between the best PR and worst PR is .05 sec ... Who is gonna win ??? You can't say the fastest because esssentially you are all of equal speed ... Essentially it is going to be the individual that runs the best race ... The cleanest race ... Most technical race ... Executes his race plan the best ... Of course given that each individual in the race does that we are looking at a "pick em" scenario ... Confused ...
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So sprinters spend a lot of time tryin to get into each others head ... Trying to gain psychological advantage .... What you want as a sprinter is for the other guy(s) to be thinking about somethign "other" that his/their race ... One stumble, bobble, mistake by your opponent means victory to you (given you make no mistakes) !!! Sprinting is as much mental as physical in many ways ... Why is Mo Greene so dominant ??? One is his utter belief in himself as the number one guy on the track ... But almost as important is everyone else's belief that he is the number one guy on the track ... Why do they believe it ??? Becasue he has beaten them enough ... Becasue he has won the one's that matter ... Becasue he is the WR holder ... Last week was his most important race of the year .... Why ??? Becasue he assumed his mantle as #1 sprinter ... Had Montgomery won there would have been the possibility that he was vulnerable ... But by winning he showed that even coming off injury and only 1 race under his belt he is still the man !!! The psychological edge remains ...

Look at Montgomery's interviews and comments ... He has Mo on the brain ... Can't get Mo out of his head ... And for THAT reason he cannot beat Mo ... Mo looking back at Tim in the semi gained him the victory before the next day arrived ... In sprinting the mind is truly a terrible thing to waste ....
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Paul
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DG, I'm not in disagreement with you. That's why I said I "tended toward" Micah's statements and why I used phrases like "somewhat of an idea..." . For me it is about 60-40. In fact, I might be inclined to take you one step further and say that an average person who steps up his or her training to a certain level to enter a marathon, for instance, possibly realizes and appreciates the tremendous gulf between where their training is compared to an elite runner, more, than would a runner who just puts in 3 30 min sessions a week and spends the rest of his time buried in Joggers Digest.

I don't know how many times I have watched a game with a group of people and listened to them say what the athlete should have done differently, and I look at them and tell them they don't even have a clue what playing that game entails.

Hmmm, I wonder if these 2 paragraphs even made sense to me!! Confused

Paul
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