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Locker Room Talk with Mark Coogan

in INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/USA by
Mark Coogan, 2007

Mark Coogan represented the United States at the 1995 world championships (at 5000 meters) and the 1996 Olympics (in the marathon). At Dartmouth, notably, he successfully guided the career of Abbey D’Agostino, 7x NCAA champion. He is currently the New Balance Boston Elite Coach. Daniel Wallis caught up with Mark for this insightful chat on college vs professional attitude, developing coaching knowledge, and training in Boston with his outstanding group of athletes.

SOS Locker Room Talk with Mark Coogan

As a college coach, there are so many variables in the life of a student-athlete that are out of a coaches control. However, as a professional, the idea is that you’re more mature, experienced, and live the required lifestyle. With that in mind, what are a couple of key distinctions in your approach to an athletes’ training between college and as a professional?

Mark Coogan with Abbey D’Agostino during his time at Dartmouth (Photo by Doug Austin) dartmouth.edu

One key distinction that I have noticed is that in a lot of college athletes you really have to find ways to make them train harder. There are a lot of distractions on campus. It also seems that at some colleges now it is about the student-athlete experience rather than doing well. At Dartmouth we tried really hard to make sure the student-athletes had a good experience but also set a tone that you are going train hard and win.

With the professionals that I have coached the last few years, I learned that holding the pros back some days is a key to their success. The professional runners want to succeed so badly that they will over do it if they don’t have a good coach watching and communicating with them. Communication is the key between the coach and professional runner.

College athletes have all the logistical things handed to them, especially if they are from big time schools and conferences. I used to tell the athletes that I coached in college that they could do 2 things well. They can run fast and do well academically but it is really hard to do 3 things well. With the collegiate athlete I would try to make practice the best 2 hours of the day with the hope it would become a top priority. The team would become their family away from home.

The professional runners have to be more responsible than the college runner. They have to do a lot of the logistics on their own. They have to make their own appointments with physical therapy, massage, pay rent, cook their own food, drive to practice etc. Real life stuff! On a college team you have all this at your fingertips and it is done for you.

 

You were self-coached and trained in Boulder with some of the greatest athletes in the history of distance running who all had a wealth of knowledge. As a coach, how do you continue to learn and develop your coaching knowledge?

Mark Coogan, 2007, photo by PhotoRun.net

I always ask a lot of questions. In Boulder, I was kind of the ring- leader trying to get people to train together every day. On runs with Steve Jones, Arturo Barrios and Mark Plaatjes you just absorb what they say and do.

I have never been afraid to ask other runners or coaches what they are doing for sessions. Daniel Coyle is the author of a book called the “The Little Book of Talent” and one of his tips is steal without apology. Improving is about absorbing and applying new information and that is what I try to do. I was lucky enough to be around a lot of the best coaches in America over the past 30 years, a list that includes Charles Torpey, Bob Sevene, Ray Tracey, John Gregorek, Jerry Schumacher, Chris Fox and a few others.

I had the opportunity to train with Providence group from the late 80’s and Boulder crowed in the 90’s. There have been so many great runners and coaches who have influenced my coaching philosophy that I feel I have a very good background, while now at New Balance I have a ton of resources that I can utilise.

Your group is based in Boston, a city often hit pretty hard in the winter. Given it’s that time of year, how does your group adapt it’s training when being outside crosses the line from tough to stupid?

I don’t think Boston is as tough a place to train through the winter as people think it is. On a few days you need to be flexible with your training but other than that you can get your work in. An example of that happened last week. I wanted to have some athletes do a 25-minute tempo run but it was snowy and windy. It was impossible to do it. So we improvised and did cruise intervals on the indoor track. At the end of the day I think we accomplished the same thing. I can tell you it is a lot easier to train in Boston than the other places I have lived – like Dartmouth or Madison, Wisconsin in the winter. When you run in bad weather you really do make yourself a little bit more mentally tough. You can look at the cold weather as a stressor and you will adapt. Then when you see terrible weather in a race you know you can handle it. It is the same reason the Patriots practice outside in Foxborough year round no matter the weather.

 

Behind the Scenes with Clayton Murphy

in ATHLETES/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/SOS PRO'S/USA by

SOS athlete Clayton Murphy races with the poise and experience that you’d expect from someone with far more experience. At the US Olympic trials he showed the country that he was more than ‘just’ a great college athlete, then he showed the world he was the real deal as he crossed the line in 3rd place in the 800m in Rio.

We caught up with Clayton to see what makes his wheels turn, and how he has transitioned seamlessly from college to life as a professional athlete.

For the past decade the 800m has come to be dominated by ‘specialists’, runners like Yuriy Borzakovskiy and David Rudisha who are pure half milers. You however, are reminiscent of the likes of Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, guys who could mix it up in both the 800m and the mile. Do you see yourself racing more regularly over the mile and above in the future?

I think the future of my race selection is interesting. I really enjoy both races, each with their own challenges and styles. So as far as a favourite I do not have one right now, and training for me for the 800/mile is similar. So I think right now I am really just enjoying both and keeping my options open for the future!

Clayton Murphy
©TrackAndFieldPhoto.com 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials

 

Many American athletes in particular struggle with the transition from college to professional running, especially given the lack of a ‘team’ atmosphere that is easy to become comfortable in. Are there any specific ways you have managed this transition so well?

I think the biggest transition I noticed was that you lose your everyday schedule and support group you had as a collegiate athlete. You lose your teammates, medical staff, academic staff, equipment people, etc. That group is no longer is there, so not only are you making the transition from running a collegiate season, you are transitioning and creating an entirely new support group.

Lucky for me I am able to help coach and train with my collegiate teammates, work everyday with Coach LaBadie still, and use the same massage therapist/sports chiro I used while I was a student-athlete. Being able to keep the core pieces of my “team” with me has been huge in making a smooth transition to life as a professional.

It’s easy to go mad as a professional runner, how do give yourself a break from training and routine day-in, day-out?

I think making sure that I have fun with running is the first priority. Everyday for me training has to be fun. If you are not having fun it doesn’t matter what you do outside of running because you’re going to go insane.

Outside of running I am finishing my schooling to receive a bachelors degree in Finance from the University of Akron, so that takes up time after workouts. I also play a lot of video games including PS4, Xbox One, and PC gaming. My roommates and I are very competitive in FIFA and the Call of Duty games

 

Some half-milers and milers are now making incorporating blocks at altitude in their training. Is this something you have ever considered?

At this point in my career I have not considered altitude training block yet. But I am not against it, I have not researched the idea enough to act on it yet.

Many find it difficult to adjust to life in the village at the Olympic Game’s given they are thrown completely out of their routines. How did you go about each day in Rio to make sure you still did all the little things and remain in a positive mindset?

In Rio for me, and other big meets I really try to just adapt and make do with what I have. I have learned over my three years in college that not every hotel, restaurant, city, practice facility, etc. is going to have the same thing you want every time.

With Rio we had to make a pretty big adaption. Our practice track was 1 to 1.5-hour bus ride away, so we had many runs that had to be done in the village. This was tough running concrete circles but if I wanted to compete well I had to get it done.

 

END

RUNNING AROUND THE HOLIDAYS

in LIFESTYLE/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/USA by

It’s that time of year… Christmas, New Years… all that good stuff. Holiday’s are great, except they create some unique challenges when it comes to training.
Runners are creatures of habit; we create routines for ourselves to manage stress and   stay on top of all the variables associated with training. Basically, runners build their own micro ecosystem.

If there is one thing that can disrupt that ecosystem, its travel – which is why you will regularly see runners’ hotel rooms looking like a workout room. The bare necessities for normal humans are a suitcase and a bathing suit. For the runner it’s a foam roller, stretching rope, lacrosse ball, theraband… the list goes on.

Chances are this holiday season you will be travelling, and that your family will still never be able to comprehend why you are “going for a run”, or why you can’t just “fit it in” some other time. Then there is trying to explain why you are so tired all the time, and telling Nana as politely as possible that you already eat a lot and don’t need “fattening up”. Add to that the fact that you’re likely going to be either sharing a room with three other relatives or sleeping on the sofa. Last but not least you’re probably going to be in a place that you don’t do a lot of training in. There is no 4 mile loop that you can shut your mind off on and just lap a couple of times, or your trusty favourite workout spot.ssrun5

Just like exam time during University, the above is all added yet underrated stress on the body. Runners are constantly dancing around and across a very thin red line of peak fitness or injury and illness, and it often only takes a few new variables for the scales to quickly tip. With this in mind, we have put together some simple yet effective tips to help you manage training during the holiday season.

For those lucky enough to be runners in America, annual leave virtually does not exist, so chances are you will be back home in about two or three days.

 

PLAN AHEAD

Sounds simple, yet it is one of the easiest things to forget about. It often feels like Christmas is the day after Thanksgiving, and you go from your Turkey Trot to having lunch next to that weird Uncle who still wants to teach you how to wrestle.

Finding good training spots in new areas is now more accessible than it has ever been, particularly with the rise in popularity of applications like Strava. Look for some popular loops, parks or paths and plan your training accordingly. The data will give you a good sense of where you can run fast, and where you can run without dealing with traffic or a lot of people. University campuses are usually a pretty good starting point, as even if you are in the middle of the town where they made ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ you will probably find a track or some bike paths to run on.

 

GET GOOD AT RUNNING LAPS

There is no point taking any risks while you are running in a new area. By that I mean if you find a decent little park or grassed field somewhere, run it to death. There is nothing worse than trying to do a recovery run and also figure out where the hell you are: stopping and starting, looking down at your phone and trying to navigate out of iTunes and into Google maps. If Bowerman TC can do a 15 mile run on Ronaldo field at Nike WHQ (which is 3 laps to the mile) then you can run around a shitty high school football field for an hour.

 

GET A TRIAL GYM MEMBERSHIP

24hr gyms are everywhere, and they all offer free-trials for a couple of visits. Set one up in advance and head there before and/or after runs. That way you can get into your tights and lay around on the floor with your various shaped balls and stretching ropes without your family thinking that you’re some kind of burlesque performer.

By heading to a gym you can dedicate all the time you need to pre-hab and re-hab and not need to worry about any running-related activities while back at the house. Not only is this easier logistically, its also a lot less stressful as there isn’t any chance you can be made to feel bad for doing your bum exercises while Nana is fisting the turkey with stuffing and everyone else is pottering about the kitchen.

 

REGULATE NOISE & LIGHT

It is perfectly acceptable for people aged 50 or over to fall asleep absolutely anywhere, yet runners often have the energy and motivation levels of the elderly. The advantage Grandad has is that he can turn his hearing aid off and instantly be in nap-heaven.

If you are not lucky enough to require the use of a hearing aid yet, buy some earplugs from the supermarket. If you are a seasoned traveller you will likely have some noise cancelling headphones. Add to this a sleep mask and you have a ripping day-time sleep set up that signals your intentions for a nap and will make people feel bad about trying to wake you. If you can add to this a feet-up situation that involves a blanket and/or a pillow you will have successfully mastered the task.

Target your most important daytime sleeps for after meals when there is a higher likelihood of your family doing the same after they have eaten themselves halfway towards diabetes.

 

MINUTES NOT MILES

Once again, sounds simple, but it can be a huge help. Don’t worry about pace or distance. If you normally cover about 10 miles for a 70 minute run at home but are now somewhere where you are still not quite settled, just do 70 minutes rather than trying to hit an exact pace or distance.

GPS watches are a great tool but can often be more harmful than helpful. Don’t try and force the pace and distance of a run you know inside out back home in an area where you aren’t as comfortable.

 

TAKE A DAY OFF

Getting fit is about a balance between stress and rest. Chances are you will probably be going to sleep later and up earlier than you normally would be. Being surrounded by people every minute of the day can often leave you feeling a bit drained from being ‘on’ so much.

Play it safe and schedule a day off during the week so you can enjoy a lunchtime beer and kick back like a normal person for 12 hours. This will help to restore your reputation as something more than the fanatical ‘exerciser’ in the family.

Toeing the party line like this for a day may cause temporary insanity, given it will be a consistent recycling pattern of sitting, eating and the same stories over and over and over. Still, it will be good for the body and is also a great chance to bank some emotional capital that you will need for leaving early during the opening of presents for your tempo.

 

Enjoy the Holiday’s, and don’t forget to hydrate!

 

 

Marathon Fueling by Laura Thweatt – 1st American 2015 NYC Marathon

in SOS MAGAZINE/Uncategorized by
Whilst the weather may be cooling off in US and Europe, many of us are starting to gear up for two iconic marathons – Boston and London – early in the spring of 2016.
Now is the time to sort out the training plan and buy the kit, but many a runner forgets one key ingredient: Electrolytes.  Yes we all know the marketing gimmick about the gels but its electrolytes that get you round.  After all when you sweat it’s not just water you loose, its sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium.  If you don’t replace these and in the correct amounts, then your training and ultimately your race day will be adversely affected without you even knowing it.
SOS asked Laura Thweatt, the 1st American home in the 2015 NYC Marathon, to give us her lowdown on training and racing from a marathon fueling perspective.
Who's ready to run?!
Who’s ready to run?!
The Learning Cycle:
Going into my first marathon I knew very little in regards to the type of fueling needed to successfully complete 26.2. What I did know was that I did not want to find myself at mile 15 running straight into the dreaded “wall.” Having been a competitive runner for the last twelve years I understood that electrolyte drinks were a key component in hydrating pre race and rehydrating post race. As we sweat during a run or race we are loosing important minerals, such as sodium, that a few gulps of water cannot replace. During a marathon it is crucial that you are rehydrating and replenishing what you are loosing though sweat in two plus hours of exertion.
Why SOS:
My coach Lee Troop kept stressing the importance of getting fluids down during the race, and that the gels were there as back up just in case I was struggling to get down my drinks. SOS Rehydrate provided the perfect balance of sugars and sodium, two essential components in preventing the bonk by replenishing the body’s losses.
Practice makes perfect:
Long runs are a great way to practice fueling and thus finding out what works for you individually.
When and how much SOS did you drink:
I took 5 x 8floz (250ml) bottles of SOS one at 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k, 25k.
Favourite Flavour:
I used SOS Mango as my go to flavor in training as well as in my debut at NYC Marathon. Good luck to everyone out there training! May the force be with you 🙂
 Laura Thweatt electrolyte drink SOS
There you have it.  Marathon Fueling the simple way.  Thanks Laura and best of rehydrated luck for marathon number 2.
SOS wishes everyone safe, fun and rehydrated running.  May this in some small way help you achieve your goals.

SOS at the USATF XC Champs

in SOS MAGAZINE/Uncategorized by

SOS Rehydrate is proud to announce the newly established partnership with the US Cross Country Championships. This year’s event will be hosted in Boulder on February 7th as the country’s premier distance runners compete for a chance to represent the USA at the 41st World Cross Country to be held in Guiyang, China on March 28th.

usa xc logo

SOS Rehydrate is a contributing sponsor to the championships and will be present throughout the day’s events at the expo with prizes and product on show in conjunction with the elite of US distance running. As effective as an IV Drip for moderate dehydration, SOS will also be on-hand at the official after party to help athletes and fans alike to “Survive the Night” and be ready to run the next day.

 

Co-Founder and former British Track representative Tom Mayo announced the partnership today: “We are absolutely delighted to be supporting the best cross country race in America. SOS was founded by runners, for runners, and Boulder is the running capital of America. Working with USA XC is just one of the steps we are taking to commit ourselves to the community of Boulder and Colorado”.

 

Based out of San Francisco and available on three continents, SOS Rehydrate is sold across Colorado throughout King Soopers Supermarkets and is the rehydration solution of choice for many of the world’s top athletes, including World and Olympic Medalists.

usa xc pic 1

Races begin at 8:15am at the Flatirons Golf Course on Saturday with the flagship Open Women and Men’s events at 12:15 and 1:00pm respectively. This year’s event boasts over $30,000 in prize money and is expected to be one of the deepest fields in recent history.

 

About SOS

 

SOS is a fast-acting electrolyte replacement drink with 75% less carbohydrates than the average sports drink and three-times the electrolytes.

 

Engineered by a doctor and two former professional athletes SOS provides a rehydration solution that is as effective as an intravenous (IV) drip for mild to moderate dehydration.

 

Utilizing the foremost medical science, SOS’s method of oral rehydration therapy and water absorption follows the standards outlined by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to keep you performing at your peak.

 

For More Information Visit: www.sosrehydrate.com

Cross Country USATF 2015 World Trials and US Champs
Cross Country USATF 2015 World Trials and US Champs

 

 

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