Monday, December 17, 2007

Ask the Mystery Coach

With the holidays quickly approaching no questions came in this week and I'll be away for the next two weeks, even Mystery Coaches take vacations so everyone have a healthy and good holiday season. To give you something to think about for a productive and rewarding New Year a few quotes from Arthur from a 1970 talk he gave in Washington D.C.:

When I talk to athletes I always try to impress on them that no one really knows their capacities until they study middle distance and distance running and probably not until they start to apply themselves. I have seen too many good runners develop from more or less "no hoper"

I have always said that when you are training for middle distances and distances the aim should be to develop efficiency and stamina. I realized a long time ago, that it was not speed that we wanted, but the necessary stamina to maintain the necessary speed over distance, So, this is why I started training my athletes over longer distances.

I believe in doing things gradually so when we started to do anaerobic training, I used it gradually because you have to realize that when you start to do anaerobic training, you don't necessarily stimulate your body metabolism to become more efficient. You must be careful not to undermine your body metabolism. This is why lots of people can, through racing too much, wear their condition down. Now, we have taken all of this trouble to build up our condition to get our steady state high. not to upset our nervous system, or any other system in our body but to keep it in good condition. So, if we go out and do a lot of hard anaerobic training we are going to risk pulling our condition down before we can get our speed back, before we increase our capacity to exercise anaerobically or before we can coordinate it. So we have got to bring the speed back and we must increase our capacity to exercise anaerobically and then to coordinate it.

These time trials are the key to balancing your program and to help find the weaknesses of your athlete. So, for instance, if you have two athletes who are 3 milers and even if you go through all of this training, you will still find natural abilities showing. In other words, if a man has good natural speed, all together he will have a certain advantage if he is one of these nervy people who leaves the mark fast and hangs on, or the other type of fellow who couldn't go early and hangs back. You will find these abilities still predominant. You have to realize we have athletes who aren't sharpened; they haven't raced over middle distance or distance. In this period I started to sharpen them and put them over, say the 3 mile. If these boys had run 3 miles the previous year and their best time was 14 minutes, I would tell them to go out and run evenly and strongly, bearing in mind that you are not in racing condition. You are not really sharpened properly but run evenly and strongly and come in pleasantly tired. So they go out and come in about 15 minutes which is usually about what this first trial will show; about a minute or 3/4 of a minute off their best. you will still see that the athlete who goes off fast, the nervy type, will lead early, and the other guy will be hanging back and coming home strongly at the finish. From this we have a time and we know the condition of these athletes at this stage; we now have to sharpen then and we have to race them. Now, if I have an athlete who is showing signs of running off quickly at the start, and tiring at the end or the other athlete who is coming on at the finish but he couldn't go early, well, that latter athlete who couldn't go early and is coming on at the end, I would give under distance races. And, the other fellows who were going well at the start and dying at the finish. I would give over distance races. I started to coordinate it this way.

Another mistake I see made by athletes throughout the world is when they do reach this peak of satisfactory fitness, they continue to do hard training. You must realize you have trained hard to reach this peak of satisfaction, and now you can maintain it for a long, long time. The hard training is finished. It is hard racing you have trained for, not to be a trainer.

I have rushed through things here to give you an indication of my observations and the simple way I trained athletes. There wasn't anything very complicated. It was simple but I always tried to exercise control. I always tried to make my athletes understand clearly why they were doing something.

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