Podcast 027 – John O’Malley

Coach O’Malley, in my humble opinion, is one of the best HS coaches in the country. This podcast is a collection of excerpts from High School Running Coach.

There is a metric I have for coaches and it’s very simple. Would I want my daughters coached by _____ coach? Coach O’Malley is on the list.

Thanks Coach O’Malley for your time in both the interview and your sharing meticulous documents and training plans on High School Running Coach.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or listen to it on Stitcher if you have an Android device.

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How Should I Run Strides – High School Athletes, Summer Training and Cross Country

Please read the overview on strides before you read this article. Thank you.

Strides should be an elemental part of all high school training programs. Why? First, you don’t know how fast a high school athlete is until you’ve asked their neuromuscular system to work. Doing 4 x 200m with 200m jog on the track two weeks before the regional cross country meet, when the athletes haven’t been doing fast strides up this point, isn’t going to tell you what the athletes are really capable of. Now, the hierarchy will probably be the same, but if your varsity is running 29.5s for these 200s at the end of an easy run, who is to say they couldn’t be running 27.9s as a group?

So what should be done in training? [Read more…]

2013 CHSCA Clinic

I’m really excited to have the honor of speaking at the 2013 CHSCA Clinic.

All of the content – the slides, the notes, the links – that I referenced in my talks are below.  Please feel free to comment on any of the elements of the talks.

Thanks to John Hancock for inviting me back.


Main Handout with notes from “Mistakes” and “Lungs” talks.  Here are the slides, in .pdf form, for the two talks…they’re big files.  Mistakes (14.2 mb) and Lungs with Legs (25 mb).

General Strength and Mobility (GSM) Handout with circuit.  Related to that is the Eight Week General Strength Progression.

This handout I created for the Ohio clinic last winter, but I think it’s still valid.  It covers miler training (the links in the document are below).

Finally, there are several resources I think are important – such as the two Matt Fizgerald articles on Lactate  Lactate Acid Myths and Six Lies You Were Taught About Lactic Acid – that I referred to during the clinic.  These two articles are must reads.

Finally, I would love to have you and your team come to the Boulder Running Camps. Here is a flyer you can use to promote the camp.


“Give me 15 minutes” article from Running Times (discusses how to incorporate general strength into your training program) – here.

“The Jump” article from Running Times (discusses how high school athletes should structure their summer training to run to their potential in cross country) – here.

Speed Development article from Running Times and corresponding video – here.

The Lunge Matrix – here.

Advice from Adam Kedge of Albuquerque Academy on how to build a program – here.

Advice on race distribution for 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m runners – here.

Podcasts with three great high school coaches: Patrick McHugh, Adam Kedge, Dr. Jeff Messer.


180 strides a minute for runners

Simple question.  Do runners need to try to run 180 strides per minute?

I don’t know the answer.  I do know that Jack Daniels did an informal data analysis at the Olympics one year and found that across athletes, events and gender everyone was running 180 strides per minute.  Pretty interesting.

But then there is this evidence, from Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science, that shows that strides per minute is a function of pace run.  And for him and others (including Amby Burfoot) it is actually higher than 180 strides per second. [Read more…]

Adam Kedge at Boulder Running Camps

On Thursday, July 19th, Adam Kedge of Albuquerque Academy will be speaking at the Boulder Running Camps.  The talk is open to public, but specifically I’m hoping local high school coaches will be able to attend.
Adam’s boys team have twice been ranked #1 in the nation by Marc Bloom’s Harrier magazine.  Maybe more impressive is that fact that they’ve made the Nike Cross Nationals most every year the event has been held.
With that in mind, Adam’s first talk will be focused on what he does to get his teams to qualify for the Nike Team Nationals.  There will be plenty of time for questions following that talk.
His second talk will be focused on working with Curtis Beach, who set the high school national record in the decathlon under the guidance of Coach Kedge.  I think it’s interesting that Adam had to coordinate Curtis’s work with his various event coaches and I think we can all learn from that experience.
I will have the talks on video in some format, but I can’t promise when they’ll be available. [Read more…]

Ingredients for 1,600m success

This is an open invitation for input from the readership.  Here is what I came up and no doubt the following list of ten items can be improved.  I look forward to your comments below.

1. The 1,600m is roughly 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic.  Thus, improving the aerobic metabolism is extremely important.

2. We will identify the critical zone for the 1,600m race in two parts – the last 400m and the last 200m. Specifically, for the 4:16 1,600m runner whose race averages out to 64 seconds per lap, the reality is that the runner needs to be able to run closer to 61 or 62 seconds in the final 400m and closer to 30 or 31 seconds for the final 200m.  We want to develop someone who can win tactical races, not someone who can only run evenly paced time trials.

3. The five biomotor abilities – strength, speed, power, flexibility and endurance – must be addressed throughout the weekly micro cycle.

4. Competency at five paces – 400m pace, 800m pace, 1,600m pace, 3,200m pace and 5,000m pace.

5. A progression of strides at 400m pace, 800m pace and 1,600m pace should begin as early as possible in the annual macrocycle.

6. Posture and biomechanics need to be optimized. A slight forward lean of 1º to 2º, allow the athlete to utilize the hip flexors and put force into the track, is the goal.

7. General Strength and Mobility (GSM) must be done daily to allow for the intensity and volume of the running training.

8. Speed Development work needs to be done periodically to improve not only maximum speed, but also to improve Running Economy (RE).

9. The ability to run several types of races – sit and kick race, evenly paced race and races where the paces speeds up, then slows – is critical.

10. Ideally, the 1,600m runner will have the speed and power and anaerobic capabilities of a capable 400m runner, as well as the “aerobic engine” of a 5,000m runner. When in doubt, the coach and athlete should come back to this duality and ensure that their training is empowering the athlete with the abilities of both a 400m runner and a 1,600m runner.

2012 OATCCC Clinic

Thanks to Wayne Clark for inviting me to Ohio to speak at the 2012 OATCCC clinic. Really excited to have the opportunity to come back to the clinic and hopefully everyone will be able to take something from the presentations.

First and Second Presentation: 13 Week Training Schedule
6-page Handout – click here
Color version of 13 week training schedule – click here

The videos that correspond to the 13-Week training schedule are as follows: Lunge Matrix Warm-Up and Myrtl

Use the videos from the the Eight Week General Strength Progression to see Cannonball, Grant Green and the three exercises that comprise the Later Lunge (LL) warm-up (LL warm-up is: lateral lunge – 10m, single leg lunge – 3 x 3 on each leg, lateral shuffle – 20m)

Also, check out the Speed Development article and video from Running Times.

13 week Training Schedule

Third Presentation: Threshold Training
Handout – click here

Forth Presentation: General Strength for High School Athletes
Handout (13 week General Strength and Mobility document…good resource) – click here

Building a Better Myrtl

Simple question: If you were to design a routine that strengthened the hip girdle area and lasted five minutes or less, what exercises would you use, how many reps and in what order?

Couple of things to consider:

  •  This comment and this comment correctly highlight that lateral leg raises are targeting the lower back and gluteal muscles.
  • Maybe something that looks like one thing is actually another.  I never thought of the leg swings as an ankle mobility exercise.  Please take the time to read number three on Mike Boyle’s list of Eight Mobility Drills Everyone Should Do. (Note: Gary Gray is person who came up with the Lunge Matrix.)

So here we go – let’s see what we come up with. There are thoughtful people reading this blog and the collective knowledge of the group is many multiples of my individual experience.

I suggest you link to YouTube videos in your comments as our comment service (Disqus) will show a thumbnail of each video you reference.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!