Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/23 13:18:38 (88 reads)

NFL can't remember promising to fund concussion research. Story.

NYT: Swimmer Rethinks Her Course After a National Breakthrough

Alex Hutchinson: Why Coaches Matter. ...And The best fitness tracker? Your brain

The science myths that will not die

NYT: Fit Body, Fit Brain and Other Fitness Trends. ...With all the holiday rush and stress, perhaps you missed the key phrase. ..."Japanese scientists found that the brains of fit older men were almost as efficient as the brains of young people."

Just in time! Dave Barry’s 2015 Year in Review



Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/21 21:52:32 (118 reads)

1. In the last Q&A (7/25/15), you described an aggressive summer training program, and were optimistic on the fall season. What went well, and not so well? Prospects for 2016?

The training went well as indicated by the results. Foothill League Championship for the Varsity Boys, 7th at State. Timmy Sterkel's pick-up football game on the beach in early October? That did not go well. Perhaps we would have finished higher at State with Timmy healthy. It was a sophomore mistake and lesson well learned. My fault for not instituting a NO RISKY RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES RULE for varsity athletes until after that beach football game. Returning boys are rated #22 for 2016 by milesplit without even accounting for Timmy. That's a fine place to start.

Our girls should have finished higher. Although Golden Valley and Hart, in addition to the expected solid Saugus girls, were very strong this year. Looking forward, our freshman girls were the strongest in the League with a solid work ethic and great enthusiasm for their future. They should be fascinating to follow over the next few years.

2. If still in charge, what would you change?

I would add more assistant cross-country coaches to help manage an increase in the numbers that we would carry. Now that we have established the work-ethic and competitive expectations, it is time to pull in more athletes.

3. What West Ranch runners (not named Welker) were special in developing a winning culture, inspirational, team builders? What made them so special?

Ryan Painter has been a tremendously influential athlete for the West Ranch program. Tucker Welker came into the program as a freshman with high expectations. Ryan showed up that same year under-the-radar. Although he knew he would be great someday. Quickly Ryan made our varsity line-up in that early transformational year. He showed others that were good but not great youth runners that they could become real performers at the high school level with the West Ranch program. Ryan had a tremendous impact on the next class which included guys like Jack Arnold, who himself went from a good youth runner to a high level contributor.

4. What help and challenges did you get from parents and coaches (yours and others)? How did that, and your time as coach, change you? What did you learn, new perspectives?

The BInnies, the Tans, Bob Earnst, Jack Haggenmiller, Wayne Lee – the list of parents is long and there are more that deserve mention. One that deserves extra recognition is Chris Go who does so many great things in support of the programs – from our websites to our corporate sponsor program and anything that needs to be done.

On the coaching side, Jeff Jackson made a lasting impact on the athletes. Cindy Hoelzel and Mike Sterkel are beginning to make their own impact although time constraints limit their full-impact potential. That's why we need to increase our coaching ranks in addition to finding a new leader at the head coach level. And that's just the cross country side. All the track coaches have been good with Dave Saville needing to be singled out for his support and expertise.

One thing that all parents must realize: even if we are able to get a head coach in place with a full-time teaching assignment which will increase the potential for longevity in the position – long term success of the program STILL requires the participation of every parent that has the time, energy, patience, and enthusiasm to make a positive impact.

I have certainly gained new perspectives from managing and/or channeling parent expectations, "coaching the coaches," or whatever it takes to keep the collective vision fixed on the mission. There is no problem in the corporate world regardless of budget or revenue expectations which even comes close to generating the emotional turmoil associated with "I think that my child could get an athletic scholarship for college." Understanding and dealing with that effectively is a wonderful way to increase your people skills!

5. Best wishes to you and yours in future endeavors. You were/are a transformational figure in SCV, a fun and can-do, will-do guy. Thanks!!! Final thoughts?

I am most certain that I will never coach again. It pains me to walk away from coaching cross country and track at West Ranch because it has been the most rewarding four years of my life. Some people are telling me that I will find a coaching role to play in Tennessee. I don't see it happening unless I find myself as emotionally vested in the community as I am here. Maybe there's a school there that deserves it – the help to turn an underdog into a fighter and then a champion. It's been wonderful. Friends – please find the passion to keep the fight fierce on the westside!


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/21 13:10:08 (102 reads)

Q&A with Kenenisa Bekele. Probably the best distance runner since Haile. Wants to end career with marathon gold in Rio. ...Why track and cross country runners get injured in the marathon.

Brit paper complains, Mo Farah lives in haze of unanswered questions

Another look at racing on extreme slopes. Are there some courses, hills, where walking would be prudent? Consider.

Jay Johnson video: 8 week General Strength Progression - Part 1. Do you know a coach who says you don't need to do such stuff?

Gotta read: Kevin Castille: The Unlikely Making of America's Top Masters Runner

Eugene’s legacy more important than ever to track

Why We Should All Love Track & Field


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/20 12:46:53 (109 reads)

German athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing substances heading for jail? Story. Italy and France are instituting criminal penalties.

Is someone monitoring your awesome workouts? Running in the Fish Bowl

Kinda busy right now? Multitask Masters

Why does young generation feel entitled?

Kathryn Schulz: Best Facts I Learned from Books in 2015

Making Waves With the Bangladeshi Surf Girls

Stuff to make us healthy, happy, and wise. Here.

Skateboarding Vasquez Canyon Road. Video.

Register Guard: Lananna ties to Nike, Phil Knight have grown ever tighter. And he happens to be a down-to-earth, good guy.

Runner's World: 8 True Tests of Your Overall Fitness


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/19 14:27:29 (103 reads)

Consider: Master's College Half Marathon While it's especially for NAIA collegians, it's open to everyone at a bargain price. While the clock will continue to run after 95 minutes, those finishing thereafter will not appear in the results. And no one gets a finisher's medal to flash at Starbucks. No participation ribbons either.

Must read: 16-Year-Old Sprints Right Into Professional Track

Steve Magness: The Training Grind- Why it's sometimes better to feel bad than back off.

Alex Hutchinson/Sweat Science: The Optimal Slope for Running Uphill. Re Killer Hill at COC, Gene Blankenship said we should navigate it with the same level of effort as we were running before reaching the hill, that is, gear down, take it slower. Glory hounds will bound up faster, but likely you'll pass them --spent, pooped out--before cresting the second, shorter hill.

Bart Yasso: Top Three Treadmill Workouts. ...Don's tip. Do 'em with audio books.

NYT: Are Avocados Good for You?


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/19 0:56:17 (104 reads)

1. Congratulations on the 2015 XC season. Best ladies team ever at Master's, and overall 5th best combined team in NAIA? The program just gets better and better! What changes, refinements were made in 2015 that made difference?

Yes, I think this year was one for the record books. The NAIA recognizes the top 4 teams of each gender, as well as the top 4 combined men’s and women’s programs. Our women were 7th (the highest finish of any team I’ve ever coached) and the men were 9th (second highest finish behind the 8th place team featuring John Gilbertson, Anthony Pizzo, & Jeff Jackson); our overall combined score was good enough for 5th best combined program in the NAIA. We just missed the podium, but next year looks very promising as we return all of our top 5 on the men’s side, and everyone but Karis on the women’s side. Graduating Karis is a huge loss for our women, but we all know the majority of points come from the 4 & 5 spots in cross country, and I feel we will be much improved in these positions next year. In all, I think both teams will be the best we’ve ever fielded next fall. As far as changes and refinements made this most recent season, we are always making small adjustments to our training and discovering what works for us. Like so many coaches, I am constantly studying what the best are doing, and attending clinics whenever possible. The body of knowledge for the sport is at an all-time high, and I would bet we will continue to see faster times coming at all levels in the US. Probably the biggest adjustment we made was adding some of Peter Thompson’s new interval training to our system. I had the opportunity to spend some time with Peter in Chicago, and I felt like he helped us continue to focus our system of training. More on New Interval here: http://www.newintervaltraining.com/

2. What does Master's do as to stretching, core building, weights (if any), and cross training?

Elites are always looking for more they can do, but with heavy class schedules (and work for some) we have to minimize much of the extras. If I had more time with my athletes, we would do more, but we keep the extra’s minimized due to time. One element to my coaching is to pinpoint the work that has the greatest benefit that we can consistently do with the least amount of time. I have 8 daily exercises I believe are must for runners, and a very easy stretching/drill routine we do after each run; we also do core 3 days/week. A number of years ago I studied the Egoscue method for postural alignment. The 8 exercises are the best fixes I have found for the common running injuries that plague us all.
Egoscue Menu for Runners
Directions: Please complete the following exercises on a daily basis in the order listed.
Arm Circles 2 X 40
Elbow Curls 1 X 30
Overhead Extension X 60 sec
Static Wall X 3 min
Cats and Dogs X 10
Downward Dog X 60 sec
Runner’s Stretch X 60 sec
Ankle rotations X 40 each direction


3. What should we be looking for in the 2016 track season? Where do you practice? You have had some good steeplers? How does that happen, not having a water pit or, I'm assuming, full control of a track? How do you convince people to try the steeple?

The next 18 months are going to be very exciting for us. Our training and health is the best that it has been and our athletes are VERY focused. I believe all of our athletes run new lifetime bests, and will work very hard together to help each other succeed this spring. The year will get kicked off with a very low key half marathon we are hosting. I feel if athletes know how to race a half marathon it gives them the confidence to train harder on a daily basis. Most of our guys should run in the low 70 minute range and the girls should all be well under 90 minutes. After the half we are looking for some fast racing at the Occidental Distance Carnival, Mt Sac Relays, and the Oxy Invite at the end of the year. I believe we will have the largest qualifying class to the outdoor national championships we have ever had, which will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama. To follow our season: like us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mastersdistanceproject. At this point we are only planning on having Karis Frankian and Josh Sherfey run a 10k at the Mt Sac Relays. I am hoping for big racing out of those two; hopefully we will turn some heads at that point in the season!

4. You have been coaching John Gilbertson and Katrina Graham, and with outstanding success. What's next for those two, and do you coach other post graduate athletes?

We are planning to get back on the track this spring. Both of those two are in great shape and are ready for some new PR’s. I think if you asked them they would both tell you the past year has been marked by some of the best work of their life, and with this I am confident great racing is in store in the coming season. We will sit down in the weeks to come to map out 2016, but as of now I’m not sure everything they want to do. We should have their race schedule in place soon, however. The Mt. Sac Relays will most likely be a target weekend. Regarding coaching other post grads, I’m not currently, but am open to working with athletes that could have a mutually beneficial relationship with our collegiate program.

5. Next up is the Winter 5K in Quigley Canyon on January 16th. (Flyer.) Same fun, beautiful course as in recent years? What are the course records?

I really think this is a fun venue. It is the same course as it has been historically. Last year we had to move the start/finish to the street because we were having a new athletic field put in. This year will be back to the athletic field for the start/finish. I think this is one of the most enjoyable 5k race designs in that it starts on a large athletic field, and then immediately turns into a road race for the first mile. The middle mile is marked by the scenery of the Quigley canyon open space, which is beautiful; there’s even a portion of the race that covers a fun winding single track. The last mile is back to the roads where you run past some of the oldest oak trees in the Santa Clarita Valley. Both course records were set in 2012. Shannon Murakami ran 17:10, and Baxter Frick ran 15:52. These are very good times on this course. The course doesn’t produce overly fast times; there is some sand, and it is a true 5k.


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/18 14:14:02 (99 reads)

Insanity: NCAA Assistant Football Coaches Earnings. Wouldn't our tax dollars be better spent on merit pay for the best primary and secondary school teachers, including gym teachers and cross country coaches? ...Is there a politician in the U.S. that would advocate a tight cap on public collegiate coaches salaries, and/or kicking big time football and basketball off campus, and wholly self supporting?

Forbes: 10 Mistakes Smart People Never Make Twice. Consider such in your running life. Always injured?

State Street Mile, 6/7/15. Ryan Painter

WSJ: When Does Gratitude Bring Better Health?

Fun video: 2015 Mount Marathon Women's Race in Seward, Alaska ...More

Flotrack: Mile Voted to Replace 1500 at NCAA Outdoor Championships

Ever raced a competitive mile on the track?

Top 100 xc preps, boys and girls, here. No Foothillers. Grace Ping, 7th grader, was 20th, and we know Lexi Fernandez, a year younger, was shadowing her at the JO.

Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that's teamwork. ~John Wooden. In basketball and cross country, we think.


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/17 11:23:37 (95 reads)

Q&A with Evan Jager

Paavo writes: USATF finally posted the 11-12 girls junior olympics race with Lexi Fernandez. If you watch, she’s in a long-sleeved white top with black trunks. She’s in fourth or fifth at 1K and 2K and then you can just make her out in the distance at the finish. Looks to be in fourth when she falls the first time. It’s both scary and inspiring to watch as she staggers and crawls to the finish line. Video

MileSplit California has a boy’s list including Ryan Tate on the 3rd team. Here.

Nine out of ten cancers are not caused by bad genes, study says. See here and here.

The Sweat Science 2015 Holiday Book List for Endurance Nerds

Daily News: Boys All Area Cross Country Team ...All Area Girls Team here. ...Rene Paragas is Girls Coach of the Year.


Posted by donmclean on 2015/12/16 13:01:55 (136 reads)

A week in the life of the Columbia University Cross Country team (and Brian Zabilski). Cross Country Big City

Must read Q&A with Kenneth Kunz, oncologist, 56 years old, outstanding 800 racer. Lower Cancer Rates Among Runners

Dyestat: Legendary 'Tinman' and Drew Hunter, Footlocker Champ

Over-caffeinated Brit delivers: Inside Niketown: How Eugene, Oregon became the centre of the latest athletics controversy. No one calls Eugene Niketown. Eugene was kicking ass before Pre and Nike.

When Americans Are Inactive, This Is What They Do

Lauren Fleshman: 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome. We agree.

FYI: Causes of Death in Shakespeare Plays

Olympian Steve Spence Runs Sub-5:00 Mile for 40th Consecutive Year. Doesn't happen if you're not doing your stretches and drills.

Mariah Castillo gets Honorable Mention on the MileSplit All-California Girls Team. Link.

ESPN: Mikey Brannigan, autistic and a superb prep miler. Video.

Science Myths That Will Not Die

Steve Welker writes: If you have not heard yet, I am resigning. Moving to Nashville, effective December 28th, to take a great career opportunity that is not related to coaching cross country or track & field... Tucker will finish his senior year at West Ranch.

Steve promises an exit interview.

NYT: Running Helps Fight Off Colds

Video: The Oregon Coast - A Winter Odyssey


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