How do we actually train?- Presentation from Kentucky Track Coaches Clinic
Some of the best experiences I have in terms of learning are when I get to travel and speak at different conferences. As someone who grew up hating public speaking, I now thoroughly enjoy it, so each time I get to talk I have the opportunity to refine how I do that. But beyond that, the learning that goes on during these conferences is inspiring. No, I’m not talking about me dropping knowledge, but its contagious when you get around a bunch of people who voluntarily come to a clinic to listen to rounds of speakers for 5-6 hours. So it’s impossible not to get caught up in wanting to take some information away yourself.
The other reason I like going to things like this is that you get to learn from other people. You see, everyone thinks that when you present at a conference, everyone is coming to learn from you. But the reality is, when you present, you learn a ton from not only the other presenters, but also from interacting with other coaches. As I talked about previously, everyone’s got a lot of knowledge and insight in them, enough to write a book if they wanted, it’s just most people never let it out. So when you go to these conferences, often times I pick up thoughts and ideas that I take home with me that make me a better coach. It’s the informal interactions you have with people that spark new ideas. For instance, the kinds of questions I get asked tell me more than most people realize.
Once again, we learn from interactions, so the more you can have, especially with people who are passionate about what they do, the better. And I can safely say that the people I met at the Kentucky coaches convention were passionate about what they did.
As always, in the name of being open and sharing almost everything I do (i.e. there are no secrets in coaching…), I’ll post up the three presentations I gave. But first, some quick explanations.
This clinic was unique in that I actually had to talk for 4 hours! Thankfully I got a break when former Kentucky All-American Cally Macumber told her interesting running history, which provided a nice respite and another good learning experience! Whenever we reach success, all people talk about and really tell about is what they are currently doing that made them successful. But, in my experience, you learn more from understanding how someone got to that point. The process is what tells the story. As someone who’s used to talking for 60-90min tops, 4 hours in a day was pushing it and I was really kind of worried that I’d be able to keep it engaging enough for that long.
Whenever I first started going to coaching clinics I’d always kind of be upset. Early on in my coaching career, I felt like no one actually gave any details on what they did. It was all generalities. I always walked out thinking, I don’t actually know what they did.
So whenever I present, I like to give away actual information and in this case decided to make one presentation where I just gave away my athletes actual training plans and discussed them.
If you want actual training weeks from people like sub 9 2-miler (and eventual top 10 at NCAA XC) runner Ryan Dohner, or by sophomore at Houston who qualified for NCAA’s in XC, or from Sara Hall who just ran sub 71 for a half…then click the presentation. I gave a couple weeks training for each athlete so you got the idea.
As I grew as a coach, I started to see that a lot of times, we just got the same kind of presentation. It was more of “we do base here, vo2 work, speed” and so forth. Even if they gave details of what the training was, it was still missing something. They would give explanations and rationalizations for “why” they were doing a particular workout and that mostly involved some sciency explanation. But what I missed was the process of the decision. I realized that I didn’t know the process that that coach was going through to come up with the decisions that made up the training.
Once we get to a certain point in coaching, we all know why we are doing a particular workout in terms of physiological adaptation, but what we miss out on is the actual thought process that went behind creating and putting all of that training together.
So, one of my favorite talks to give, which started when I had to figure out how to communicate endurance training to Strength, football, Soccer, and other “ball” sport coaches, is on the Process of Training. The goal here was to take you through the thought process behind why I set up my training the way I did.
Lastly, since I’m a labelled science nerd, I always get asked to present on science type topics. In the past, I have given presentations contrasting the worlds of scientific research and real world coaching, but this time I wanted to have fun. Most of the time when hearing science things during presentations I would think “this is really interesting, but so what? What’s the take away or applicability?”. Combining that with the fact that this would be my last presentation of the day, so people would probably start to grow sick and tired of me spouting on about random subjects, I went with a presentation that was about science, but in reality it was about cool stuff that I found interesting. It was a hodge podge of research, ideas, and concepts that I’d come across that I thought “this is awesome!”. So it was a mixture of motivation, psychology, testosterone, and even a few studies about sex to demonstrate behavior. Just fun stuff.
So without further ado, here you go. My 3 presentations from the Kentucky Track Coaches Clinic. Thanks a lot Mike Horan, for being persistent enough to get me out there! Thoroughly enjoyed it!
The Process of Training
How do HS, College, and Elites actually train?
Fun with Science
Big thanks Steve for the presentation (and your book, this site and the wisdom of twitter).
If I may, what is the science behind the gradient of hill sprints? do your recommend/find beneficial this or that type of hill? greetings
Thanks for sharing Steve. I look forward to getting the chance to go over these. I really enjoyed your post on the place of uncertainity in training (the first one–I haven't had the chance to read the most recent). It made me think about how the use of uncertainity might differ for high schoolers who might be racing (a form or programmed uncertainity) as much in a month as some pros might run all year. It looks like these presentation might contain a little insight. Thanks again for sharing and best of luck to you and your athletes for the rest of the year.
Ok–third time is hopefully a charm! Thanks for sharing these Steve! I look forward to going over these. I really enjoyed your post on the use of uncertainty in training (the first one–haven't had the opportunity to read the most recent). It made me think about the how the use of uncertainty might differ in the training of a high schooler who might be racing (a form of programmed uncertainty) as much in a month as a pro does in an entire year. Thanks again for sharing and best of luck to you and your athletes as the season continues!