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Developing the Female Distance Runner . Understanding the journey: Junior high through High School and beyond. Introduction. Years of Experience I have noticed certain patterns coaching female distance runners. Head Coach at Warren East High School 1989-1994, 1995-2001

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Developing the female distance runner l.jpg

Developing the Female Distance Runner

Understanding the journey: Junior high through High School and beyond

Introduction l.jpg

  • Years of Experience I have noticed certain patterns coaching female distance runners.

  • Head Coach at Warren East High School 1989-1994, 1995-2001

  • Fortunate to have coached 4 girls state champion teams, 2 boys state champion teams, 5 state runner-ups ( 4 girls, 1 boys) , and 2 middle school boys team state titles.

  • 2002 Finalist National Girls XC Coach of The Year NFHS and NHSACA

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Topics of Discussion

  • Developing the outstanding female distance runner. I have broken down into four stages.

  • Stage 1 “New Sensation”

  • Stage 2 “Honeymoon”

  • Stage 3 “Transition”

  • Stage 4 “Reality and Recommitment

  • Coaches must understand what the runners are experiencing.

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Stage 1 : The New Sensation

  • All of my teams have had a 5th, 6th,7th, or 8th grade girl show up and dominate older girls.

  • Important as a coach to understand what is happening.

  • Characteristics of the “New Sensation”.

  • Physically not mature

  • Limited Training achieves at a high level.

  • No preconceived idea of pain.

  • Primitive racing strategy-runs scared.

  • Major meets runs to the front

  • No Knowledge of Sport / likes spotlight

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Stage 2 : “Honeymoon”

  • Characteristics of the “Honeymoon”

  • Confidence of runner is off the charts

  • Expectations are high due to previous year

  • - parents, coaches, and media

  • -illogical thinking, last year was so good imagine the future.

  • Limited training

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Stage 2 cont.: “Honeymoon”

  • Talk of a future in running from the runner / parents

  • Scholarship talk, still high achievement on little training

  • Plans of Individual state title and yes even The Olympics

  • The “I” syndrome is present.

  • Individual catering to runner is expected by runner / parents

  • Racing strategy is primitive, run to win.

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Stage 3: Transition

  • This is the most trying year of career

  • - Make or break the runner

  • -Usually happens in the 9th or 10th grade

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Characteristics of Transition

  • Expectations/ confidence high early in year

  • Training has typically been same

  • 1st time pain is associated with training and racing

  • Doubt shows up for first time.

    -notices who the competition is.

    -wonders if same results as past are possible, not as easy as it used to be.

  • They now know the competition by name.

  • Early season can be devastating

  • -Interest in sport wavers

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Transition characteristics cont.

  • Excuses for performance

    - burnt out

    -injuries (real / ???)

  • New sensation steals spotlight

  • Reality of consistent training needed

  • Extreme amount of pressure

    -Parents / self imposed

  • Cross roads: quit or continue

    -season is usually below standards

  • Injuries also can occur

    -over do training trying to make up difference

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Transition Cont:

  • Arrival of Puberty-not always conducive to distance running.

  • Very self conscious about physical changes

  • Difficult to survive this stage

  • Strain on runner / parents

    -emotionally, physically, and mentally draining for all

  • At the end of this stage they are either GONE or progress to the next stage.

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Stage 4 Reality / Recommitment

  • Still a part of the team and very experienced

  • Physical and Mental Maturity take place.

  • Final Progression of High School career.

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Stage 4 Reality / re-commitment characteristics

  • Knows what it takes to be successful athletics/ academics

  • Training is a part of life- no bitterness toward budding stars

  • Train properly: diet,rest, and use of knowledge

  • Racing strategy is complex: pacing, courses, weather, etc.

  • Coach-able- now know true abilities-, role on the team, realistic of future

  • Leader- perseverance recognized by all

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Stage 4 cont:

  • Self confidence- genuine satisfaction with self

  • Team oriented- now understands importance of team

  • Recognizes and empathizes with “new sensation” on team.

  • Shares experience with others

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Over view of Progression

  • Four stages- New sensation, honeymoon, transition, and reality /recommitment

  • Coaches must understand- mental, emotional, and physical pressures

  • Understanding will prevent- Revolving door program

  • Use this understanding to build leaders and role models for your team

  • Bottom line: Long term individual success = Long term team success

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Ways to get through the transition stage

  • Educate parents and runners from the beginning: Let them know it is common for young girls to excel.

  • Keep team records- shows what older girls did in the past.

  • Encourage running camps- education and start to Summer training

  • Focus on the team not individuals

  • Honor older runners for longevity

  • Check on runners in the off season.

  • Give older runners special privileges-

  • Allow “new sensations” to be what they are: Junior high runners- (patience)

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  • My way to describe what I have observed.

  • I have experienced both sides of the spectrum- top 5 runner as 7th grader quit as a 10th grader, 18th place 8th grader progress to 3rd place senior.

  • Provide a positive experience for our sport: responsibility of coach.

  • Understanding this progression will help you develop a great program, not just a great team.

  • More importantly you will be providing a positive experience for all.