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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

Developing the Female Distance Runner

Understanding the journey: Junior high through High School and beyond

  • 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
topics of discussion
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.
stage 1 the new sensation
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
stage 2 honeymoon
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
stage 2 cont honeymoon
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.
stage 3 transition
Stage 3: Transition
  • This is the most trying year of career
  • - Make or break the runner
  • -Usually happens in the 9th or 10th grade
characteristics of transition
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
transition characteristics cont
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

transition cont
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.
stage 4 reality recommitment
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.
stage 4 reality re commitment characteristics
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
stage 4 cont
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
over view of progression
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
ways to get through the transition stage
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)
  • 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.