The best book for High School Coaches

“You can have twenty years of coaching experience or you can have one year of coaching experience twenty times.”- Joe Vigil

I want to discuss something from the Iowa Track and Field clinic that I thought about traveling while home.  At the end of the Threshold Running talk a coach stated that the Dainels Running Formula book was a great way to coach a team.  I agree.  There is no doubt that American Distance running would be well served if every HS distance coach had a copy of Jack Daniel’s Running Formula.  The book takes complex training concepts and distills them down to into a framework for training large numbers of humans; it’s the best, most effective template to coach a high school team.  (This article details how German Fernandez’s high school coach, Bruce Edwards, used Daniels methods in working with Fernandez Note: you can purchase the book here to help support this site.

BUT…it’s just a template and at some point in a coach’s career the coach will have to deviate from template based training to training that accounts for variability.  Some scenarios where variability is needed.

  • Maybe two of your top five play fall soccer.
  • Maybe you have a shot at NXN as a team, yet the regional qualifying race is three weeks after the state meet and you don’t know how to both win state and qualify for NXN.
  • Maybe you killer number one and number two runners but have a big gap to the rest of the team and no clear order between the rest of the varsity spots, three through seven.

“You can have twenty years of coaching experience or you can have one year of coaching experience twenty times.” I don’t know when Joe Vigil said that but I recently heard it from a Gary Winkler interview from the Canadian Coaching Centre podcast.  The Daniels book is fantastic, but it’s best used when you’ve taken good notes on what has and has not worked, giving you the leverage to make effective changes in the training design the next year.  Again, I think we all need to have a copy of Daniels and I have no doubt that a HS coach with thirty or more athletes will benefit greatly from calculating vDots and plugging the athletes into a workout, yet the reality remains that if you coach an athlete through their freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school via Daniels that athlete will need a slightly different stimulus to fully reach his or her potential as a senior.  No doubt some will disagree with that last statement, saying that because the paces of the workouts and races are quickening each year, the athlete is getting a novel stimulus each year, which elicits an adaptation.  True, but I my personal opinion is that the while cruise intervals are a great way to teach threshold training, a high school senior can and should do a progression run that has them finishing much faster than those cruise interval paces.

Bottom line is I think Daniels book is a must buy and I think that the longer you move through a coaching career the more you’ll deviate from the letter of that template, keeping the spirit of the template in the back your mind as you write training.

I’m not a high school coach and I can’t wait for the high school coaches in the readership to comment on this.

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  • Michael Pollard

    When I started coaching, I coached my team using concepts I had learned from my own college coach (who had learned a great deal from Jack before his first book was published), and my teams had some outstanding individual runners, but the middle of the pack had difficulty progressing.

    A few years later, we were visiting my wife's grandparents in Cortland, NY, and “Grandma” introduced me to her neighbor and friend who was the local college's running coach and who was working on another edition of “his running book.” I knew who he was, of course, but our conversation that afternoon completely changed my perspective on making workouts for each individual athlete.

    My talk with Jack helped me understand that what I had been giving my athletes was the “cut-flower” version of at good training schedule. The training looked very similar to what Jack's program outline might look like on paper, but because it had been cut off from its source — the concepts of vDOT, threshold training at individualized training speeds, and short-season periodization — my training programs weren't very adaptable as I didn't have the knowledge to adapt them well.

    I used the vDOT tables so much that I had my Daniels' book spiral bound so I could flip back and forth between the chart's pages more quickly as I planned workouts.

  • Matt

    Jay, I can't agree more with you regarding this. I'd probably even go further and say JD's book is more focused on mature single runners, rather than new, young, still-growing runners. And at least from my experience, I don't know how many coaches can create individual workouts for everyone on the team — not just because of time constraints, but because of the need to build a team (in both the sense of keeping people involved and creating chemistry) and the difficulty of many younger people to run personalized workouts alone.

    In short, I can see it as a bible for the NXN teams out there, but the further you get from that….

    PS — thanks for the post below this!

  • CoachKedge

    “… the system was the star. The reason the system works is because everyone buys into it. If they don’t there is a weakness in the system.” No, not from Daniel's book, from the book Moneyball about the semi- successful Oakland A's. I wonder if semi-successful has anything to do with it. Is it a good quote that does not apply because of the A's never winning the World Series or is it a good quote?? Humm.

    And then… “There are only two training questions, both simple and haunting. What should I do and how much should I do it?” – Kenny Moore

    And then… “One important thing I’ve learned…no one has all the answers about how to best train…” That is Daniels, praface page X.

    Now… “Bottom line is I think Daniels book is a must buy and I think that the longer you move through a coaching career the more you’ll deviate from the letter of that template, keeping the spirit of the template in the back your mind as you write training.” that is Jay – above.

    I agree with Jay, it is a must buy, a must read, and a great source. My personal evaluation is that the meat of the book is not in the vDOT charts. It is what you can get from the book, from any book about running when you “deviate from the template”. I find the charts not a great application for high school kids that-
    * feed off each other both + ly and – ly (positively and negatively)
    * stay up late goofing off or studying
    * feeling a little down today
    * can handle more or less than their peers of equal running years or equal ability
    * run pace type workouts on uneven surfaces
    * run pace type workouts at altitude
    * are getting better faster then you thought
    * are in a funk

    In other words, kids, young kids, don't opperate “by the book”. Buy it, read it, use it as a guide, but find your own system that works.

  • CoachKedge


  • dracey

    I agree with Coach Kedge that there are alot of variables that make the vDOT charts hard to use at the high school level. The one thing I have used from the book is the idea of doing your workouts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a Saturday competition. Especially if the kids do long runs on Sundays at a decent clip. The book I really like is Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald.
    I would also like to see a great clinic put on by Jay in the Boulder area.

  • Matt

    2 things on this one…

    1. I ran a year at Adams State just after Joe Vigil retired. He was still around Alamosa and was a very cool guy. The seniors on the team had enough stories about him to make me wish I'd been there a few years earlier.

    2. As you mentioned in an earlier post, The Pacewheel puts Daniels compactly in your hand. I have one of the early copies and will go back to using it shortly (as soon as I can rehab a little more from a freak ax accident to my left foot). I just wanted to remind some of the other readers of how accessible Daniels' charts can be.

  • hamiltontrack

    we have been using the daniels book as a reference for training for several years now. Our distance program has been progressing quite nicely, partly due to the mantra that “any plan is better than no plan” and “all work is good work” (dont know sources).

    As good a book as Daniel's is, it only touches on one part of HS track coaching, it will not help a developing track coach learn how to teach triple jump or hurdles. It is a distance book that really helps your athletes 1500m and up (i know there is stuff in there for the 800 too).

    The concepts presented in the book do help give an understanding of the human systems and how to best develop them…

    For all the other events I like “high performance training for track and field” by Bill Bowerman (3rd Ed) and “Peak when it counts” by Freeman. Those two book have helped me tremendously in planning a year long training plan and keeping the fundamentals in mind.

    My recent trip to Richmond VA for the USATF Level 1 class didnt hurt either…

  • ryanwest

    I am only in my third year of coaching and have found JD's book to be quite useful. There are many training philosophies out there but JD makes it accessible for a former HS JV runner with little experience like myself.

    The question I have for more experienced HS coaches is how do you differentiate workouts while still making everyone feel like they're a valuable part of the team? Do I need to do a better job of communicating the reasons for the different workouts or is there something else I can try? I've grouped them by event and amount of base work but it inevitably ends up being varsity athletes in one group and JV athletes in the other with the JV athletes wishing they could be on the track instead of doing base runs.

    For those who don't have the book and can't wait to get it, this link ( has 5 articles written by JD himself. Also, Flotrack has a few seasons of “Thirsty Thursdays with Jack Daniels” which provide good insight into his training philosophy.

  • CoachKedge

    Great healthy exchange of ideas this far! It seems to be a hot topic with a bunch of posts.

    Ryan, If I can be classified as an experience guy I'll take a stab at your question. I do differentiate by ability groups, both speed and total workload. However, it is rare that I seperate by workout type. I find that there is still gain to be had by keeping most all of the kids on the same routine. In other words, even if a youngen` needs a little more base and the core gruop is doing something different I most likely will keep him in with the group and just modify the pace / volume / rest / or a combination of those factors. Young runners or pre-pubesent kids respond more favorablly to interval type work anyways.

    To sum it up, sometimes team unity, team bonding, and individual motivation to work hard, plus being able to supervise everyone is best done by having everyone do the same thing. I don't find that those factors work against an individual's progress. The science behind running has to fit in with the dynamics of building a team. Besides we're talking JV/C kids and any running at all is going to get them better. You want the big dogs to model for the young bucks.

  • CoachMK

    After I was done running in college, the first book I read was Jack's first edition book. I later acquired his Oxygen Power book of VDOT tables (more detail and nearly every event you can think of). Having competed against Jack's teams for several years (I went to a rival SUNY school), I had a good knowledge of his teams and what they did. In the years since I've been fortunate to have talked to him many times.

    I think one problem that some coaches make, mostly new ones, is they treat the VDOT as law. If you run 14:55 for 5k, then you must run the exact paces to get the most benefit. This is the difficult part in putting things like this in print. Training is not an exact science in this case, there are guiding principles. Being in a range is much easier for a youngster to handle and also much easier to build team chemistry. It was my belief that the 15:30 5ker can still train regularly with the 14:55 guy. That is where your individuality as a coach must come out.

    One other interesting thing I learned from Jack, but not so much from his book is the use of “Mix” workouts. His books do some of this, but I found he did it a lot more often with his college teams than the book represents. Here is what he did in mid-September prior to a early/mid-November championship:

    Su: Long run + 8x100m strides
    M: Easy run + 8x100m strides
    Tu: 1200 repeats at I on grass
    W: 6×200 @ R + 3x1k @ I + 2 miles @ T
    Th: Easy run
    F: Easy run + 6x100m strides
    Sa: Race

    Some other examples of his mix workouts from that season:
    2 miles @ T + 4×200 @ R + 3×800 @ I
    6×200 @ R + 2×1000 @ I + 2 x 1 mile @ T (Tues prior to conference)
    1 mile @ T + 6×200 @ R + 1 mile @ T + 2×1000 @ I
    3×1000 @ T + 4×200 @ R + 1×800 @ I (Tues prior to NCAAs)

    I guess I went a little on a tangent, but the point I'm trying to make is that Jack's training is great if it's used by a beginner with not a lot of background OR by an experienced coach as a guideline.

  • stevemagness

    I think the Daniels' book and tables are decent place to start, but if you end your search there that's a problem.

    Just my opinion, but the one thing that drives me nuts about Daniels vDOT tables is that it implies (or is interpreted as, as the poster above pointed out very nicely) that there are certain magical intensity zones, which is not true at all. I often see coaches get trapped into the zone thinking and completely dismiss anything that falls outside of the zones based on one's VDot level. The body doesn't work that way. I'm not a big fan of basing training paces off %VO2 or VDOT, too much individual variation.

    In coaching HS kids, I prefer more individualization looking at what the athlete actually needs. 5x1k at the so called I pace is going to give a completely different workout for a fast twitch type guy than a slow twitch type guy even if they're training for the same event.

  • Matt

    What I think is important about the intensity tables is to stay near those values, rather than run “quality junk.” Run the different workouts no harder than necessary for the purpose of the workout.

    I also don't know anyone in town here who actually tests VO2max. Rather, the tables can show what they might be based on a PR in a certain event, and give training ideas from there. E.g., if a girl's best event is an 800 and she can run a 2:30, then easy pace should be in a certain range, a T run would be around a certain pace, etc. But if her best event is the 5k, then there is a different table.

  • CoachJay

    Obviously a fantastic comment and at the risk of taking away from it let me add this thought. In the presentation on Friday (see the previous post titled “Clinic – Ames Iowa December 2009″) the thought in my mind when the when the HS coach was bringing up the importance of Daniels was that if you give an athlete the same workout four times over the course of a season and they get better the first three times, yet bomb the fourth workout they'll most likely be extremely disappointed. HS kids often bomb workouts; college kids bomb plenty of workouts; when the post collegiate athletes completely bomb a workout then we have a problem. And this then comes back to Coach Pollards comment that after speaking to Jack Daniels he learned that “my training programs weren't very adaptable as I didn't have the knowledge to adapt them well.” So that's the issue – following a template is part of becoming a capable coach; learning why and when and how and to what degree deviation from a template is needed is the key to continuing one's evolution as a coach.

  • CoachJay

    Yes, it sounds like we need a clinic in Boulder and I will discuss – with you and coach Kedge in particular – the best time and the best format.

    Thanks for your thoughts on vDOT

  • CoachJay

    Great tool and Coach Pollard above is the inventor of the Pacewheel and you can buy it at a discount at the link in Matt's comment called “earlier post”

    Matt – how did you insert links in your comments? Did you just post HTML? Thanks in advance and hope I don't look like too much of an idiot to be running a blog and not know how to do that.

  • CoachJay

    For the first two or three years of my coaching career I was fired up about the graph of the intensity zones and the idea that there are areas that you can't train in. This, of course, was based off of my experience running at CU where in the months of August there were in essence 4 threshold runs a week, even though it looked like a fartlek on Tuesday, Medium Distance on Wednesday, either and AT or fartlek on Friday and the Sunday long run. September only differed in that there would be 300's on either Tuesday or Friday. It simply didn't make sense to me that there were zones where you got a lot of aerobic benefit and then zones where you got no more benefit by running in that zone. While I see how this conceptualization gets athletes and coaches to focus on “what do we need” and get away from “more is better” I still think it's counter-intuitive and I wonder if the laboratory methods used to measure oxygen utilization lead to this.

    But more important, in Dan Pfaff's interview on the Canadian Coaching Center site –… – he talks about the fact that while we try to train the three metabolism separately, when the athletes racing there's no distinction between metabolism, CNS, muscles, etc.

    Now, let me be clear. I may be wrong (and Steve may be wrong too) and maybe there are “no man's land” training zones that you shouldn't train in, yet the argument that you gain nothing more by training in those zone and you should either run slower or faster to get into a defined training zone simple sounds too complex to me. For this reason I have RMB running up to 12k on the track, touching half marathon “dream PR pace” for just 400m or so, then running well slower than threshold pace, then going back to that half marathon pace. The workout is all over the map and for the 12k (almost 7.5 miles) she doesn't run nearly as fast as she might if she just ran controlled for 8k and then ran had for 4k – the typical progression run (or may closer to Scott Simmons's predator run) – so you can't look at it and say, “Wow, I killed that.” But to me it's money in the bank because we can keep running the recovery part faster over her career, but we're teaching her body to be comfortable at that rhythm. And even today's workout is an example. She ran 5×1 mile on the roads with the Jonesy group, then came to the track for 15 more minutes of work. I had her run 300's in 60 sec, then jog 15 seconds across the HJ apron for 1/2 of a Vern Gambetta leg circuit; then 10-15 jog and another 300 in 60. I have no clue* what was going on metabolically, yet I know her leg circuit was fantastic – great pop, great posture, fantastic rhythm on the step-ups (no real decrement across 50 reps) – and that at the end of the day she needs to be able to ask her body to either maintain pace when it's tired or speed up when it's tired. Yes she needs and engine to do that and yes we want to most efficaciously build that aerobic engine, yet there are days where we simply need to work hard and need some coordination between metabolic training and the neuromuscular/whole body training.

    Motor learning is complex and the role of nitrous oxide as a signaling mechanism in the body is complex, but I don't think that train 5-10 seconds a mile on a four mile run is the end of the world.

    And to bring this full circle, read Coach Kedge's comment above – maybe the three previous threshold runs or cruise interval workouts the athlete has been under stressed because of schoolwork, yet the rock this weeks workout partly because they just got a full ride academic scholarship to Kenyon College.

    Sorry to rant and I know it looks like I got off topic and to summarize, I agree with young Mr. Magness that there ARE NOT “certain magical intensity zones.”

    *That's not completely true. I have know clue in the laboratory sense; I have not HR data and no blood lactate. But I watched part of each 300 and I looked at her face before each 300 (she said she was working/hurting but she looked good) and obviously I was watching like a hawk during the curcuit work.

  • CoachJay

    Yes!!! The reason the book is so valuable for the novice coach is that when a girl goes from 2:30 to 2:24 you have an idea what what she can run for longer workouts…though we have to be honest that most 2:24 HS girls don't have coaches assigning cruise intervals or putting them in the 3,200m as a threshold workout. Oh well.

  • Matt

    I wonder how much of the “go no faster than this pace for this workout” is because JD thinks there is no more benefit, vs. the benefit is not outweighed by the risk of injury. Injury avoidance is clearly a top priority (if not *the* top) for JD, and from my observations of HS teams, is even more an issue with growing kids new to running.

  • Matt

    I just type in the HTML manually. It's cumbersome but works a lot nicer for long addresses. I'd give you the format but it would just hide it as a link, haha.

    Go to and there are tons of short explanations of how to do HTML stuff. Links are under HTML Basic in the left column.

  • CoachJay

    Good news and bad news – good that my guess was correct but bad because I'm fairly lazy when it comes to this, but I need to take the time to do it – looks better and is easier for people to click on a link rather than cut and paste.

    Thanks Matt!

  • stevemagness

    Excellent reply. Couldn't have said it better.

    No offense to Mr. Daniels, but I think it's very easy to get caught up in the zone mindset when in “research” mode.

    JD states in one of his books that there are something like no man's land intensity zones, which I can't agree with. He's lightened up a little in his new edition saying that T workouts can be performed at intensities other than at threshold.

    I really hate this myth that there are certain intensity zones that do wonderful things. I mean do you really think your body goes “Hey I'm running at 90-92% HR/VO2/5k pace this is much better than 89%.” The same pace/effort/intensity is going to give the same person a different training stimulus from one day to the next depending on a whole lot of stuff.

    If you really want to get complex you can look at signalling pathways and gene transcription/translation and understand that the zone concept can't make much sense. But that's not even necessary, and is probably pointless. Just step back and use common sense.

    Matt- I really don't think injury risk has much to do with it. You can't tell me that running at VO2max pace (let's say 2:30 800m) is any safer than running at 2:22 or 2:38.

    Lastly, I think it's better to focus on what you are trying to accomplish in the workout. As nicely put in Jay's presentation, there's a million different ways to get increased high end aerobic ability (or lactate threshold or whatever you want to call it). It doesn't only occur by running at some LT zone. I could design a workout that was high end aerobic by doing 100m repeats at somewhere around mile pace if I manipulated the rest correctly. It could have the same metabolic stress as a 4mi threshold workout.

    Zone training schemes are my pet peeve.

  • CoachP

    I agree with many of the comments. Daniels' book is an excellent foundation to build on. For example, you might use threshold miles as a benchmark workout at several stages of a high school cross country season, as both a physical and a mental gauge for your athletes. Keep in mind that you may need to tweak the overall program of 24 weeks into shorter phases that best fit the goals of your team for that particular year.


    “If speed is the name of the game, we should never get too far from it.”
    - Peter Coe

    Obviously Coe is speaking more of training for 800/1500, but the basic concept doesn't change. In the end, all distance running is speed over some race distance. The results of Frank Horwill's 5 pace training system (Workouts at 5k, 3000, 1500, 800, 400 pace over a 2-3 week cycle) as adapted by Peter Coe (multi-tier training) and used by Seb Coe speak for themselves.

    It makes logical sense that you should train at 2 race distances above, 2 race distances below, and the race distance itself, as long as you're matching the specific demands of the race in terms of aerobic vs. anaerobic. For high school cross country, this would be Half marathon, 10k, 5k, 3k, 1500 (or long run, acceleration run, AT run, long intervals, short intervals if you want to think of each pace in those terms).

    My question:

    Any thoughts or insight from high school coaches who have used Daniels Running Formula with female athletes?

  • CoachMK

    For the three years I exclusively used Daniels type workouts and schedules, I always felt the girls showed more improvement than the boys. However, I can't completely attribute their improvement to the type of training. My belief was that the girls on my team were at a lower starting point than the boys, which is why they showed more improvement. When your conditioning is at a 0 out of 10, it's easier to get faster than if you're starting at 5.

  • CoachKedge

    A few years back I worked “across the tracks” from a coach that had her girls do almost exclusively what I'd consider mixed zone training. Mixed zone training is a nice word for what could better be described, by me, as a little of this, a little of that,… that did not add up to much of anything. It was often some distance, some AT, some VO2 max, in a random order. I'm being critical, but I often found the end result – classic underacheiving. I always asked myself, where is the long run? Where is the VO2 max workout? When do they recover?

    At my core is the feeling that you do one type of workout, do it well, and then recover from it. While you're waiting on the recovery you work on your aerobic fitness.

    Now recently, I've begun to do some mixed zone trianing with my boys. The difference as I see it it is most always in a format that mirrors a race. I try to have it transition from a lower intensity zone to a more taxing zone. Simply put, I think the Kenayans are on to something with what we'd classify as their progression runs; start at recovery and work to AT. Or start at AT and work to VO2 max. Even start at VO2 max and finishing up at considerablly faster than race pace stuff. The key to these are that anytime we get towards the 5K race pace or faster for an extended period of time that we work in recovery for a day or so – recovery is key! So much so that I'll write it again – RECOVERY IS KEY. Logic has it that I'd then do my CNS / drills, etc… on or after a VO2 max day but my kids are usually so taxed after those workouts that I often bunch them in on my recovery days.

    Sorry to get away form the JD – Running Formula talk and touching on what I see Jay doing as progressive zone training. “Progressive zone training – A walk through the various metabolic zones.” Jay that sounds like a book title to me. You're the guy.

  • Matt

    This is a great post, IMHO. One key thing from JD is his emphasis on 2-3 “quality” workouts a week, with recovery. I would guess this is even more relevant to growing / maturing HS kids. Reading “Bowerman and the Men of Oregon,” I was struck that B's emphasis on recovery was so disdained by so many coaches.

  • stevemagness

    When I started working with HS kids 5 years ago, I did a good deal of what I'd call traditional interval training and not a whole lot of what you called mixed training. We'd do things like 6×800 or 4xmile or other straight rep intervals.

    Every year I've gotten further and further away from that and had more and more successs.

    It's gotten to the point where for the past 2 years where I don't think they've done one traditional VO2max type workout. My detailed reasoning can be found here (shameless plug…sorry):

    I've moved more and more to mixed workouts on our hard days because I think it hits better metabolically and neuromuscularly what goes on in the race and what I'm trying to accomplish in the workout.

    For example, we have used a lot of workouts like the following too:
    -1200,400,1000,300,800,200 w/ 3-4min rest at, long stuff at 5k pace, short at 3k down to 1600 pace
    -Alternating 1200m at steady, 400m at 5k pace for 4-5mi.

    I guess my only point is that I think we need to get away from this concept of time spent at VO2max as being critical and the use of certain intensity zones. If you ever want to know why there are certain intensity zones just look at what variables we can measure. The reason we train at VO2max is b/c it was easily measurable and identifiable in the lab, same with LT.

  • CoachKedge

    Steve, Matt, Jay, Coach P, Coach MK, ryanwest, hamilton – the pizza is on me. Come to Albuquerque and we'll have our own coaching round table. You guys inspire me to try and get better. I don't know how I'm going to get my kids to be one step ahead of yours.

    Man, too much time chatting up XC and track and not enough time to grade papers. I hope my boss is not on this site.

  • steepledude

    Ok, please correct me if I am mistaken, but if one were to follow Daniel's book, wouldn't a large amount of testing have to be done? In addition to that, there is a lot of concern with “heart rate” training, and heart rate monitors need to be used, right?

    My problems with this:
    1. the testing–didn't Daniels just lose all his funding at NAU because to do the testing correctly, one needs state of the art testing equipment.
    2. heart rate monitors–when running in a group, it's easy for a HRM to pick the transmission from a teammate, and not your own. my college team ran into this quite a bit, and after 2 weeks, we (and i'm not joking here) threw our HRM's away.

    Overall, I think Daniels is a good start, but I think he fails to recognize that Cross Country and Track & Field are all about racing. If I wanted to time trial my way through the season, I'd probably go with Daniels, but since I want to race well, I'll do race-simulation type workouts. Now, of course, some workouts will feature more race simulation than others, and I think this is where the “art” of coaching truly steps in.

    I've read most of the books on training, and the one I keep coming back to the most is Lydiard's first book, Run to the Top. (Jay, correct me if I'm wrong, but, didn't Wetmore host Lydiard on his last speaking tour?) I think it's great for more advanced runners–people who have 3-4 years of serious training under their belt, but if I had to start at the high school level, I'd go with Tony Benson and Irv Ray's, “Run With The Best.” If you can, try to find the software that accompanies the book, that can be a fun and useful tool as well. I keep hoping that 3rd edition of the book and software will come out.

  • Matt

    Steeple — a great thing about JD is you don't need to do testing; look at table 3.1 on p. 48-49 (second edition). And I think JD is really based on racing, building to the peak, but no further such that you fall off into nothingness!

  • steepledude

    Thanks Matt, I'll check it out today. I read the book right after reading Lydiard's about a month into grad school, and found that I enjoyed Lydiard's approach better.

    Also, I do use some elements of his training–the pace wheel for example (and I know that Coach Pollard should be getting recognition for this as well), and I've had good results with it, after about 2 months of usage.

  • Matt

    Steve, how would you say this philosophy compares with JD's specific workouts (say phase III and esp. IV in table 17.1). And do you view building specific-endurance as a season-long goal, or something to work on closer to the season / races, preceded by base building, etc.?
    And CoachKedge, we'll probably be passing through Alb on our way to Jay's camp next summer. :-)

  • dracey

    I think there is a practical way to apply threshold training in any situation. It is up to the coach to facilitate that. I like using H. R. monitors for recovery. That will tell you if the kids are training the way you want them to.

  • Michael Pollard


    I agree with you that analyzing and questioning our training doctrines (dogmas might be a better word) is good practice, but we can't forget why they have become dogmatic assumptions.

    Perhaps you've simplified the terminology you're using to discuss this, but it seems you're missing a big function of what Jack Daniels' measuring system really is. Daniels' VDOT percentages are not a percentage of sustained VO2 max at every given moment of the workout, rather they are percentages of velocity at VO2 max.

    The purpose of Jack's percentages is not to say “you should train at 90% of velocity at VO2 max every time because that's the exact location of every person's Lactate Threshold” (though many coaches incorrectly interpret it this way).

    The way I read it, we're looking at the relationship between VO2 max and the total time of a given race — assuming a full race effort is given. Daniels' work is based on the same concept as the old cooper test i.e. that if I race my heart out for 12 minutes, I can get a pretty accurate read on what my Velocity at my VO2 max threshold is. Not that in a 12-minute race effort I will be at VO2 max the entire time, but that the body of research shows that these values correlate well.

    These correlations of not just velocity at VO2max, but also statistically significant correlations to the Aerobic Threshold and Anaerobic Threshold (which both must exist if an of our understanding of physiology and energy systems is accurate and which, as you rightly point out, are somewhat variable) .

    Applying Daniels' VDOT numbers means that you are relying on the analogous relationships that generally exist for most runners between their speed as a percentage of their velocity at VO2 max and their bodies' physiological adaptations to the stresses created (directly or indirectly) by those speeds.

    You're right that it's just a good starting point, and there may be validity to Noakes' criticism that the actual reasons that Daniels' percentages work may have nothing to do with VO2 max at all, but it's hard to argue that they don't work at all, especially not as a basic starting point.

    I particularly like to use these targets with beginning runners to get them to identify the way certain types of workouts feel, and then to use times with experienced runners as ballpark estimates to get them in the right neighborhood.

  • CoachMK

    For several years (~2003 I think), we did what we called a Kenyan Warm Up run. We often did it while the team was away on break or they did it when they were home because it was unstructured and they could do it almost anywhere. Basically, they runners start out really slow and get faster throughout the run, until they are really moving (sub 3k pace sometimes) in the final 1k. We kept this to around 3-4 miles for the women and 4-6 for the men, but sometimes did it for longer.

    Then I met Scott Simmons, heard his presentation on predator runs, read his book and realized that they are the same thing. And now CoachKedge (Jay, I know you have too :) mentions them again. We also had a lot of success when we did these runs 2-4 times a month (depending on the time of year and our race schedule). These progression runs cross several key training zones and even more important in my eye, teach the runner to run negative splits, run fast when tired and give them confidence to run fast at the end and feel great doing it.

    One problem with doing more of these progression runs is convincing our runners that they are indeed better for them than the traditional 3x1mile or 5x1k workouts. Sure, they have their place, but I truly believe the progression run is much more important to their overall development.

  • CoachMK

    The other coaches felt that way because it wasn't the thing to do. Rest was bad. Just as old school football coaches didn't let their team drink water during 90+ degree temps. Now we know better, well, at least some of us do. Rest = Adaptation = Improvement = Success = FUN.

  • Matt

    Hey, Jay — best post / thread ever! :-)

  • CoachMK

    Not to comment on how Jack's workouts from his book compare, but rather to reiterate that Jack didn't really follow those workouts listed in his book. Like I stated earlier, he did a lot of “Mix” workouts to cross from one training zone to another and sometimes back. I believe he did this because he 1) Saw the benefit of doing more than one “zone” in a given training session, 2) Knew it would add volume to the workout without adding a lot of additional stress, 3) Knew that he had to get the most out of each workout, since most of his team didn't do doubles.

  • CoachMK

    You don't need fancy equipment to use Jack's system. True, he did test all his runners at Cortland and this gave him some added insight that most of us can't get. But we used a simple time trial near the beginning of the season for a base fitness level. We used 2 miles (since the USATF put a lot of stress on that distance too in the level 2 school). Since I had Jack's Oxygen Power book, I could find their exact VDOT, to the nearest tenth and then find corresponding performances over a variety of distances.

    Then we'd just use race performances from then on. Obviously making adjustments to the athletes paces based on race conditions and the terrain we did our workouts on.

  • Matt

    I asked because a number of JD's workouts (eg, p. 217-219) could be read as “mix” workouts — different zones, etc.

  • CoachMK

    Matt, you're right. For some reason, whenever I've spoken to others about Jack's workouts, the majority do not include these mix workouts. I don't know why that is, but that's been my experience.

  • stevemagness

    I don't have JD's book with me. It's back in Houston, which is where I'll be tommorow so I'll take a look.

    I think specific endurance is an all season goal. The amount and emphasis just changes throughout. In terms of what's done with my HS kids, we'll do something specific even if it's the beginning of the year. It might be something as simple as 8x30sec at 5k pace w/ 2:30 easy in the middle of an 8 mile run during the base phase. From there, it progressess in any number of ways. I like coming at it from several different angles. Below is a simple example of coming at it from 3 different ways, 2 without manipulating pace a ton, and one focused on specific speed endurance. short to long, and alternations. Example for 5k:

    short to long:
    8x30sec speed variations at 5k pace in middle of 8mi run.
    8x45sec ” “
    3 sets of 4×400 w/ 30sec b/t reps, 5mmin b/t sets

    5mi of 200 at 5k, 1400m at steady
    5mi of 400 at 5k, 1200m steady
    4.5mi of 600/1000
    4mi of 800/800
    2mi of 1000/600, rest, 2mi of 1200/400

    specific speed endurance:
    1600,600,1200, 500, 1000, 400 w/3-4min rest at (paces10k, 3k, 10k, 1600, 5k, 16)
    1200, 500, 1k, 400, 800, 300 at (5k, 16, 5k, 16, 5k, 8)
    1k, 200, 900, 300, 800, 400 at (5k, 800, 5k, 16, 5k, 3k)

    Hope that makes sense.

  • stevemagness

    Michael- Good point on that people misinterpret what JD means/says.

    I'm aware that it's not % VO2 and that what Jack did is forced everyone on the same economy curve which then allows for him to get all the nice data of approximate speeds that a person could run at based on that.

    My problem with relying on VDOT's and zones is that. It doesn't matter if the VDOT's correlate with LT or VO2max or whatever. JD's central premise in training is that training at or around these intensities elicit specific adaptations that give a superior training effect then the in between paces.

    My point is that, In my opinion based on practical training knowledge and physiological knowledge, that's not true. In addition, if you read JD's book he states that the point of VO2max training is to accumulate time spent at VO2max. Once again, in my opinion, I don't believe that to be true.

    For decades no one used training zones. They're a somewhat recent creation. I'd argue that the physiological based zones represent the fact that those variables are easily measurable. That's why those zones exist. It's similar to why we thought lactate caused fatigue for so long. Well, it was measurable early on, and since it's one of the only things we could measure easily and it corresponded with fatigue, it had to cause fatigue. Problem was, it didn't.

  • ryanwest

    Wow, this is certainly turning into an enlightening thread. Let me offer some clarity from a new HS coach which Jay mentioned this book is useful for. Jay's original post said that JD's book was good for HS coaches because they deal with a lot of athletes at different abilities. HS'ers often have trouble finding the right pace on workouts such as cruise intervals. JD's VDOTs provide a good guideline for pace especially if the coach is reminding them to pay attention to indicators such as their breathing for future workouts. Jay also said JD's workouts are a good framework. They are not to be followed word for word, that's where experience and the art of coaching comes in. Dig deeper, ask WHY those workouts are at that spot in the season and adapt them to fit your situation. JD's book is a good starting point and framework to write a season of workouts with the understanding that most if not all will be personalized later. This is how I've used the book the last two years with more and more success as I personally learn and grow as a coach.

  • Michael Pollard

    Steve –

    It looks like we're arguing the same point from different perspectives.

    By measuring only what we can now and assuming it's causative (or at least correlative) to the results we're getting can be helpful for prescribing action for the future to repeat the desired result; however, once we better identify, measure, and understand the true cause, we should move to that as the measure and prescription.

  • CoachJay

    Wow. Great comment and I want to highlight the idea that the moving through “the zones” described above can be distilled down to a simple concept of, “do your fastest running of the day at the end of the workout.” Simple concept, but I think this has help me in my coaching more than anything else. Again, we only have two data points in Renee and Sara, but I think the primary reason they both ran well this past summer is that we ended the workouts fast. If we ran a threhold workout then we might end with some 200's at 1,500m pace or 3k pace. If we were doing 1,500m work for Sara then we'd end with ether 120's at 800m pace or we'd make sure the last rep of the workout was faster than 1,500m goal pace.

    The second think I want to point out is that we have one of the best HS coaches in the country talking about recovery. This coach guided the HS record holder in the decathlon last year and I'd love to hear how he got that kid, who is a killer worker and is dying to be world class, to buy into the importance of recovery.

  • CoachJay

    2-3 workouts a week is all I've ever fit in, regardless of training age. You could argue that Renee is getting in 3-4 a week, yet relative to her PRs she only hits it once a week hard with race pace type work or work that will, all Adam said, tax her to the point where she's really tired. So maybe the answer is 1 workout a week that is hard/you barely can run with good mechanics by the end. And this could be a 10 mile run – it doesn't have to be repeat miles or repeat 400s. But then you have 1-2 more “quality” days and to me this is where great system are dogmatic. The long run at CU. Maybe it's not as hard as Tuesday and Friday for a senior who is a 10k runner, but it's solid. With Renee we're downplaying the LR from an intensity standpoint and just getting the mileage in; same with James Hatch.

    But the bottom line is 2-3 is the max number of “quality days” and then you need to tease out what you want from each day. Again, back to one of Adam's comments – try to accompolish one thing metabolically in a workout. Or my take might be accomplish one thing metabolically in XC; in track do one thing metabolically, yet when you can also accomplish a specific neuromuscular goal, then that's the ideal two-for-one. But sometimes in track you're better off with a threshold run, then 5 min of slow jogging/spike changing/water drinking and then some fun 120's or 200's or 300's or what ever.

  • CoachJay

    Rest = Adaptation = Improvement = Success = FUN

    …looks like a coaching clinic T-shirt to me…

    Fantastic. Thank you!

  • CoachJay

    All shameless plugs to sites where thoughtful, passionate people talk training are encouraged.

    While I just said in a previous comment above to keep things in one area, I agree that mixing is great….but I have the unique opportunity of working with just a 3-4 athletes at the MOST at one time and for this reason I defer to the thoughts/comments of the other coaches when it comes to groups. That said, I think we're all a bit remiss at this point to not use an old running word: Fartlek.

    Aren't we really talking about anal fartlek running workouts? Yes the workouts are timed and over prescribed distances, likely done in racing flats or spikes, but isn't that really what it is?

    Dan Pfaff commented to me a couple of years ago about seeing Bekele do a fartlek somewhere in Europe on a wooded path. Pfaff spoke about the fact that at every pace – and there were several different paces Bekele was running, not the just the On/Off or RacePace/Steady that I'm familiar with – his mechanics were great. I bring this up because I'm really trying to hone in on knee angle as a window into mechanics and the idea that at 7:00 pace vs. 4:40 pace both Brent and Renee will have much different knee angles. But that's just a simple window into the fact that the entire body is moving to a great ROM at most major joints at faster running. Combine this with the idea that the foot and ankle have much different stiffnesses when running slow or fast and you can argue that a simple run spending time at several paces is a great way to biomechanically prepare an athlete for their primary race.

    I'll close with a phrase that Pfaff used several times in his Canadian Coaching Centre interview '- “There are many roads to Rome.” Indeed.

  • Matt

    This reminds me of how my daughter's middle school coach had them run 200s at the end of workouts. He called them “icing on the cake.” Easy concept for 7th and 8th graders.

    OT — is there a discussion board like this at another running / coaching site? This thread has been really enlightening.

  • CoachJay

    I like all of these,especially the idea that early you run 5 miles/8k but get either 1k or 2k of work at 5k…and if anyone is curious, I assume that if you go back and re-read Lear's Running with the Buffaloes you can equate Steve's workout to a CU fartlek…

    and if you can't then trust me, it's the same thing, though college guys might go for 50-60 minutes, which is hard.

  • CoachJay

    Love this comment:

    “You're right that it's just a good starting point, and there may be validity to Noakes' criticism that the actual reasons that Daniels' percentages work may have nothing to do with VO2 max at all, but it's hard to argue that they don't work at all, especially not as a basic starting point.”

    The whole reason for this thread is to say that in my humble opinion Jack Daniels Running Formula is a book every HS coach should have. And what this great series of comments show is that a curious coach will then delve into the WHYs:

    Why does the table work for my seniors so week?

    Why can't my 800m runner from basketball run the 3,200m time the table predicted?

    And the Coach Pollard follows up that comment with:

    “I particularly like to use these targets with beginning runners to get them to identify the way certain types of workouts feel, and then to use times with experienced runners as ballpark estimates to get them in the right neighborhood.”

    I firmly believe that teaching athletes to feel paces – threshold pace, race pace and “the pace you can run for your long run” – is key developing athletes but very hard to do. And this is where I'm probably the worst guy to have a blog. Most of the athletes I work with already have this skill and the only issue is to make sure I understand how various paces feel because I have a tendency to under-assign.

    Bottom line is Coach Pollard does a greet job developing athletes and his comments highlight the importance of the book.

  • Michael Pollard

    Jay, Thanks for noting my relationship to the PaceWheel. Matt, thanks for mentioning it and opening the door to this shameless plug:

    To order one with the discount, just click on my name above this post or go to

  • CoachJay

    No testing needed, other than having athletes race. That's the elegance of the book – athlete races, you look up the vDot and you now have a template – a template that has worked for thousands of athletes in a variety of settings – that you can use for training.

    HR monitors…I'll write a separate post.

    Yes, Lydaird was in Boulder just weeks prior to his passing; Mark was the MC of his talk in Boulder. It was a great evening.

    Yes, Run to the Top is a great book, but again, it's the antithesis of what I perceive special about Daniels. Daniels tells anyone, even someone who knows very little about running, who is willing to read a bit and put some time into setting up practices how help a team or an individual run faster. Run to the Top assumes you've run and the volumes discussed aren't accessible on the first reading. So I agree with you, but again, I'll go with the Daniels book as the one must buy/must have for HS coaches.

  • Matt

    “Why can't my 800m runner from basketball run the 3,200m time the table predicted?”
    I'm curious — do coaches here have runners who run the longer distances faster than their shorter distances would indicate, as per JD's tables? JD emphasizes that people develop speed first, then endurance, and that has been what I've observed in HS — they run 5k way slower than their 800 times would indicate.

    Jay, love this:
    “I firmly believe that teaching athletes to feel paces – threshold pace, race pace and “the pace you can run for your long run” – is key developing athletes but very hard to do.”

  • steepledude

    Thanks for the clarity from you all. What do you (I'm speaking to anyone reading the thread) think about Benson and Ray's book, Run With The Best, in comparison with Jack Daniels training?

    Jay, in some of your earlier posts, you have discussed the concept of progression. What do you think would be a logical progression from a high school student using JD's training for the majority of his high school career to his new college training? It is my understanding that Wetmore employed a great deal of Lydiard's training methods and achieved great success with that. What is your perspective?

  • CoachKedge

    It was a long time coming, getting a classic work horse, to understand the concept of rest. Curtis (7909 pts) was/is a special one that not many of us have seen come our way. Not only was he a work horse he was a thouroughbread too – a deadly combination. An endless worker – with talent, durability, and no fear.

    Recovery only came after he began to think of decathalon as being ONE w/ 10 parts and not 10 seperate things. Then getting the numereous coaches, more than you can imigine, coaches that helped Curtis and I to understnad the same things was a challange. Once we were all on the same page, egos checked at the door, things went smooth.

    Points that made the difference is to convince all that -
    1) you can't fry the CNS or you're toast for a week.
    2) taking some of the anerobic system contineum cP -> speed endurance to the brink is better than tapping it out completely. Tapping out any energy system has it drawbacks. Procceed with caution.
    3) everything you do has a cross pollination benefit AND drawback. Your hurdle drills are plyos, your starts and your shot dry lands are in many ways are much of the same. HJ or LJ Reps at 1/2 speed count as speed endurance if you do enough of them, speed endurace bleeds into lactate threshold if you squeeze the rest too much. I don't know all the scientific ramifications but from a practicality standpoint I know that most every training mode involves multiple systems at different times in different amounts. It is back to the same continum of paces we started to talk about at the begining of these posts.

    All in all, I learned more than I could ever imigine from coaching that boy. I was not ready for it but am thankful that I was tossed into the fire and had to adapt the best I could. The honest truth is, I was so relieved when it was over that I made it through without screwing him up.

    Way off the JD and distance topic – sorry.

  • AndrewArmiger

    Great post/thread, and hopefully it will keep growing with similarly thoughtful input.

    I have a tangential question – though no intent to hijack – regarding thoughts from Jay and others on a training manual I recently got, Squires and Lehane's “Speed With Endurance.” I am highly intrigued by it (the name Squires alone did that) and though I have yet to really digest the contents I would be interested in estimations of the merits of the system outlined within.

  • CoachJay

    Wow. Where did you find that book/manual? I need to find a copy. I know a guy in Boulder who ran in the Boston area 15-20 years ago and probably knows some of the system, but the bottom line is that there is a lot we can learn about in terms of marathon training from American coaches and athletes who were running well over 26.2 twenty years ago. Also, I think I forget that at the elite level it is very much about “Speed with Endurance” and that what ever the athletes max 400m speed is we need to make sure we maintain that over a career. Vigil, Brooks Johnson and others with USATF identified the critical zone for world class distance races as being able to close in 52ish for men and sub 60 for women for races 1,500m-10,000m. Think how many American distance runners can't do that, yet could put in the work to run under 2:08 or 2:07.

  • CoachJay

    Totally agree – HR monitor is a great way to keep a kid who is obsessive about training and running hard to keep their easy days easy. Think of it as a leash – you assign a HR that they can't run past, even if they're running 40-60 sec a mile slower than normal. And yes, I agree that there is a practical way to apply threshold training in any situation, especially if you have a broad definition of threshold (though the physiologists might disagree that you can have a broad definition of threshold).

    Thanks Dave.

  • stevemagness

    Very interesting info.

    In regards to the Bekele observation- I sometimes wonder if we spend too much time in that “on/off” mode and just see “easy/hard” or some variation of it and not the actual blend of paces/efforts that there actually is. Just an observation, but Africans handle changes of paces much better than most of us americans. We're kind of herky jerky and they can smoothly change paces with only slight changes.

    Anyways, your entire comment, and especially the end part: “spending time at several paces is a great way to biomechanically prepare an athlete for their primary race.” reminded me of a workout I used to do with Tom Tellez when I was a younger developping runner. He's huge on relaxation and making pace changes as easy and efficient as possible. So, we'd head out on a dirt road with him driving his truck besides me and we'd do a fartlek where he'd basically tell me to pickitup and to what degree (varied between long gradual pickup to full sprinting and everything in between), and the focus would be on biomechanics and metabolic. In other words the idea was to learn how to be able to change paces, either subtly or dramatically in a biomechanically correct/efficient way.

    I really like the idea and think it translates well to racing.

  • CoachMK

    You can order the book here, Although I don't have the book, I've met Bruce Lehene a few times while we competed at Boston Univ. He seems like he knows his stuff. I almost bought it a few years ago, but didn't.

    Andrew, what's your thoughts on the quality of the book? Worth getting?

  • Rhymenocerous

    The name Brooks Johnson almost made me check out entirely, but I persevered and made it through the end of the post.
    I hope large amounts of money weren't invested in some sort of task force to calculate this elusive 'critical zone', as it can be easily determined watching a couple championship track races on TV. They likely had a TV in the VIP room in Berlin/Beijing/Osaka/etc., though I'm sure the buffet was also quite attractive, so maybe the USATF boys missed the five and ten and had to check the tape.
    The problem in the past has been that B. Johnson et al have harped on basic speed and making sure people can kick. The thing is, none of that matters if you're a 13:30 guy – or, really, even a 13:05 guy. Gebrselassie and Tergat can run 27:08 (Atlanta) and 27:18 (Sydney) ripping the last lap because they have PBs under 26:30. Even more so for Bekele as he likely has Gebrselassie over 150m, and by a bit over 10,000. Ritzenhein and Rupp have their tongues hanging out of their mouths at 27:20 pace, but for Bekele it's easy – which is why he can kick off of it.
    I'm trying to remember what the Wisconsin TC guys closed in at USAs this year, relatively fast at any rate. I'm sure a kid like Jager could close a race in 53 sec. if was slow enough. So he has the mechanical and metabolic capability to run that fast. The problem is, he can't run 10km WR pace for 5km. So my feeling is that it isn't a problem of improving basic speed, rather extending specific endurance so one can reach the bell fresh enough to kick properly.

  • CoachKedge

    Okay, as we're now geting into other resources for coaches I have a reccomendation too. I'm going to throw all of you a curve and hit things from the other end of the spectrum.

    I continue to go back to an old book I have called The Competitive Runner's Training Book – Dellinger and Freeman 1984. Note: It is NOT The Competitive Runner's Handbook – quite different.

    It may be, is, on the other end of the spectrum of training from JD Ruinning Formula. It is much more pace-based trianing with a whole paragraph and a half on tempo (pg 27). It certainly can provide a good balance. Anyone else have / like / use ? Thoughts? You'll even find some good 1984-ish General Strength stuff.

    Get your hands on one – its a gem.

  • stevemagness

    Coach Kedge,
    Have that book and it's great. I like that that book, and others from Dellinger and Bowerman from that era, pretty much take a common sense/practical approach to training. Athlete's want to run X pace for their goal race, so how do we progress them to handle X pace. One particular favorite from that book are the race simulation workouts.

    I really think looking at some of the older texts is a must. A lot of the training is designed completely off of logic and common sense. It also helps to remind us that almost every type of workout imaginable has been done and it all gets recycled. A lot of times we think of GS or core work or name another in vogue training regimine as modern, but they've all been done at some time in the past. A couple other solid books from the past include:
    -Run, Run, Run by Fred Wilt
    -Running my way by Harry Wilson
    -Mechanics of Athletics by Dyson
    -Training with Cerruty
    -Van Aaken method by Ernst Van Aaken

  • CoachMK

    I also have The Competitive Runner's Training Book and agree that it's a great resource. Like Steve said below, I like the simulation workouts. They do a great job of building confidence. They are basically a very structured fartlek, like several of us mentioned earlier in this thread.

    A newer book I really enjoyed was Healthy Intelligent Training by Keith Livingston. Keith does an awesome job of putting old style Lydiard terms and philosophy into our “new” current terminology.

  • jschools

    I agree with all that everyone has said. Daniels' book is a great template. I use it to plan out when I am going to do certain types of workouts. To determine the type of workout that I am going to do, I use my 20 years of experience to determine that. I have both editions of the book, the second addition is actually signed by him. I have a copy of the DVD made by McMillian Running. The DVD is an awesome tool to along with the book. I have watched all of the videos on Flotrack that feature Jack Daniels. Every time that I review his material, I learn something new. They are all excellent resources.

  • jschools

    By the way Jay. We on the East Coast would love it if you could come to the Atlantic City Clinic!

  • Matt

    Speaking of Jack and individualization:
    Flotrack video.

  • Matt
  • mnort

    I haven't chimed in for awhile, but have been reading …

    Coach K/Jay: maybe, especially with younger runners for whom there are some many unpredicatable stressors on a given school day, a 5×1000 (insert your favorite workout here) is a “mixed zone” workout even if they hit the same times for each repetition. Maybe what we really need to be doing is paying attention to what they look/sound like, as Jay suggested after his 300s the other day.

    Concerning Daniels, I like what hamiltontrack said about Daniels' limitation on building a complete track team, and I'd add (as a high school coach) that perhaps gender plays a role in how we should train. My XC girls are, more often than not, capable and needed to compete in a much wider variety of events in track. My XC boys are pretty much confined to the 800-3200 in track, with the exception of a 4×4 runner occasionally.

    I've built my training the past few years around the idea of multipace training in the fall because we had gifted girls for whom I knew I wanted them to be able to sprint in the spring. I think our boys suffered somewhat, because their primary gifts were more as aerobic monsters and were being “underfed.” It's probably why our boys were pretty decent in XC and the 4×8, but not great at the 1600 or 3200; we hadn't spent enough time on developing their aerobic capacity. By the time May rolled around, they only had enough gas in the tank for a good 800. Along with that, the year I was most pleasantly surprised by our boys 4×8 came after a winter filled with 50-60 minute hard runs (probably “mixed zone,” starting slower than LT and progressing to perhaps near their 5k race pace). Not that the boys don't need to touch on various paces in the fall, but maybe not as much as the girls.

  • hamiltontrack

    Dont forget that some of the best ways to add some speed, and promote faster running in younger “distance athletes” is to throw them in a faster event at a “unimportant” track meet.

    This past weekend we had our Indoor Frosh/soph meet. We had some of our “distance” girls run a 4×400 and would have had our two-miler guys run a 300 if was scheduled better.

    Those races are great to teach the art of racing and to get them past the idea of surviving a race.

    There is a huge mental aspect to young athletes.

    with our older athletes we have used meets (especially in winter) as workout days, running our “top” athletes in back to back events (a 1000m followed 20 min later with an all out 300). That alone is a training stimulus that cannot be replicated in practice. (in NY in winter at least)

    ask them, “do you want to run your best… or do you want to run your best when it counts most?”

    Jay, best comment thread ever.

  • CoachKedge

    Great little video- JD just confirms why this thread is so popular

    “… if it were easy” [deciding how to train] “nobody would need a coach”

    He also touch, just breifly on an area we tend to put on the back burner of our training plans that may be as important as any factor, “…, what give you better running economy, …” Jay, the first set of the many videos you made a few years ago got into this. Maybe you could repost them, I think there were of Brett Vaughn on the track. The series of hurdle drills I still use (I've modified one or two). I”ve done them most for track but need to work them in to XC this next fall.

  • CoachMK

    Nice interview that was just posted to Runnerspace -> Coach Kedge Interview

  • Matt

    Great interview, Coach K, and thanks for posting it, Coach MK!

    Jay — running in Sabino Canyon a few days ago, we saw an entire girls' track team doing the lunge matrix. :-)

    Happy Holidays, all!

  • jimgerweck

    To be honest, the best book (or at leas the most effective) for HS runners I ever found was “Run to the Top” by Arthur Lydiard (it's out of print, but his later books have the same info). When I first started working w/ a HS team upon my return from college, I had the kids follow his schedule for XC almost to the T (w/ some reduction in mileage). We used the regular season dual meets as his “time trials” and went to invitationals where he called for “races.”

    What made this book so great is that it is unequalled in bringing athletes to their peak on a specific day. 6 out of 7 kids on that team ran huge PRs at our league meet, and the team scored a ridiculous 23 points vs. the rest of the conference. My only mistake was in underestimating the talent of the kids, and planning their peak there; they couldn't hold it for 2+ weeks to the state Open (they did run away with the state sectional and class meets). What's also great is it's simple and goes largely by “feel” – in that sense it may be antithetical to Daniels' book, which I love for individuals but is harder to adapt to large groups.

  • jschools

    If you go to there is quite a lengthy discussion on Daniels vs Lydiard. But then again, you need to have to a certain personality to post there. If you know what I mean.

  • thomas_t

    Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. After 76 comments I'm not sure if there's anything to add here or not. Nonetheless, I'm going to give my .02 worth. The first time I read through this post (back when you could count the comments on your fingers) my initial reaction was, Wow, it's kinda funny how all of us are saying the RW proclaimed “Greatest Coach in the World” is a good place to start. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not setting JD up to be a demigod or calling the community a bunch of arrogant SOBs. There's a broad base of knowledge and many successful coaches (some very successful) in the readership, but when you look at JDs record, he obviously has enjoyed a great degree of success as well. Something he is doing must be working for him, or more to the point perhaps, the athletes he coaches. Not saying this is the only way to do things, just pointing out, it is a fairly proven program. The great thing about running is, as Jay pointed out, there are many roads to Rome and half–if not more of the fun–is figuring out the best way to get there*

    Now, RW probably calls JD the World's Best Coach because his tables brought what, there to fore, a method of training to the masses that was previously reserved for the elite (people who could get there VO2 maxes tested). IMHO, however, JDs real genius is not revealed through tables but in those interviews on Flotrack or the one on the


    Canadian coaching site


    . When I listen to these interviews, I'm not awed by fancy scientific facts but at how well this guy is at inspiring someone to run fast. That is what coaching is about in the end. I think sometimes we get caught up in science but in that sense I think coaching is a lot like cooking. Sure there's a lot of complex scientific processes going on in each action but the person who first figured out how to make a chocolate cake wasn't didn't figure out how to do it in a chemistry lab. Same thing with the guys who Steve references. They weren't figuring out their programs with a treadmill and a lancet but that doesn't diminish their worth. This is where we get in trouble I think, throwing out the baby with the bath water because we don't like the science behind it. Do you think the mythical first baker cared about how he was denaturing the proteins of the eggs in the first chocolate cake?

    A lot of times we get caught up in the whole finger vs. moon paradigm. Not to get too metaphysical–a feel I say that in about half my post–but I think many coaches would agree with the following statement:

    “My teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine, but no doubt some people will take it as such…[M]y teacing is [like]…a finger pointing at the moon…An intellegent person makes use of thiginger to see the moon, A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon…My teaching is like a raft used to cross the river. Only a fool would carry the raft around after he had already reached the other shore…”**

    That, I think, is what people meant by saying, JD is a good place to start–it just took me about a 1,000 more words to say so. The great thing about JD's Formula–or even better, the pace wheel–is that it's a lot easier to carry than a raft. The big problem I have with pace-based training versus Vdot's etc is aren't they basically the two ways of coming at the same thing–the Appian Way versus the Via Flaminia, so to speak? I mean, if you take a look at it a 5:02 1500 (80.xx/400) is a 54 Vdot according to Daniels. Daniels “R Pace” for a 54 Vdot is…84/400. For a HS kid with all the confounders listed above, who is still learning to listen to his/her body, in trainers vs. spikes, w/o competition, tell me those things aren't worth a couple seconds per 400. Heck, if you don't like Daniels, try McMillan who, for the same athlete provides the following window for the same athlete: 1:16.6 to 1:22.5. Not trying to rag on anyone, their philosophy, or system. Just trying to keep the moon in sight=) Personally, coaching high school girls I use Daniels nomenclature (Reps, Intervals, Tempo/Threshold) with McMillan's windows, while explaining the workout in pace-based terms (I = 3k pace or a little slower, R = 1500, T= comfortably hard). Well, that's my two cents and then some. Hope the html worked.


    * Though Rome might be a bad example because the best way to get there was through marathon training for a bunch of Kiwi's–or barefoot for a certain Ethiopian.

    **Nhat Hahn, Thich. Old Path White Clouds. Parallax Press. Berkeley, CA. 1991.

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  • Steve Mally

    You are right. I have been coaching 20yrs and using Daniels for 18yrs and I modifiy and increase the intensity and volume as needed for the experienced runners. Some kids I have been coaching since 6th grade and know pretty well what they can and cannot handle. The injury rate is very low. Thanks for the post.