Navigating the Group Run

Featuring TheRunZone?s resident coach Tinman. All participants are welcome to post and reply to topics in this section whether you?re looking for advice, or sharing your own coaching experience.

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ap4305
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Navigating the Group Run

Post by ap4305 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:03 am

Some great advice from Alan Culpepper on navigating group workouts. Concepts should be nothing new to most people on this site, but he makes the points so clearly it was worth sharing.

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2015/04 ... run_114749

runthe8
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Re: Navigating the Group Run

Post by runthe8 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:27 am

Mark Coogan: “I think I actually lost fitness from that mile.” That made me laugh out loud!

I have to make my best girl run with the boys sometimes, because I just can't see how a steady diet of 8:30 to 9 minute pace distance runs with her much slower teammates is going to help her run 10:30 or better for the 3200 this spring. She doesn't want to hurt their feelings, and I can't really blame her for not wanting to run with a bunch of immature boys, but it just seems necessary to do so. Wish I could train with her!

Tinman
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Re: Navigating the Group Run

Post by Tinman » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:08 pm

Joan,

No doubt that your top girl runner (Ciara) needs to train with the boys. Think of it this way, if you were coaching Sally Kipyego when she ran for Iowa State University (she was the NCAA cross-country and Track & Field champion), would you make her run with the much slower girls on the team? Would you instead just tell ALL the girls that they should train at their technically correct and appropriate training paces. (Reasonable ranges can be set for training paces so that more that runners can train together.)

If Sarah, Kacee, and Teah have a a correct training paces range of 8:30 to 9:15 per mile for easy runs, they can train together, even if one is able to run at the faster end of the range and one at the slower end, for example. A compromise is in order, so you tell those three they can run today's 7 miler together at roughly 8:45-9:00 per mile pace, which is still adequate stimulus for the top girl and pushes a tad for the least fit girl. It's not going to make a huge difference, however, one way or another.

As a general rule, you'll not have many situations in which you will have more than three runners who should train together. Often, two is ideal, as they are closer in ability. And, for the best runners, they will often have to "go it alone." A top boy will often have nobody to train with on his team in high school, and that's just the way it is. The coach can hop on a bike and ride alongside that boy to accompany him, if needed, but the truth is very often a top boy won't need much external motivation to work alone. He's used to it, basically. A top girl will often have a very strong mindset, and when she's not at formal (team) practice sessions, she runs alone, mile after mile, because she's motivated. It's only in the team environment that she has to weigh her personal goals against the social culture.

In my opinion, it's a coach's duty to step in and instruct the members of the team about what they need to do, being specific as possible about paces, distances to cover, and so on. When the coach takes control, defining the details of the workout, that takes the pressure off the girl (or boy) who needs to move on, move ahead. It's the coach saying, "Ciara, I need you to run with Ted and Tony for this run at 7:15-45 pace, no slower, no faster. I will hold you (all three) accountable to that objective." Ciara is then doing what she's told, not making a decision to run ahead, and thereby socially ignore, her teammates. The other girls, knowing that the coach requires something, won't go into social attack mode. Ciara can be their friends before or after practice.

Take care,

Tinman
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Re: Navigating the Group Run

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:50 pm

The group run dynamics has been an issue for me sometimes with my Sunday group. I have no problem being vocal though about what paces I want to run. I had one runner whom wanted to run the easy long runs at 6:45 to 7:00 pace and I always had to remind him that 7:15 to 7:30 was my range for easy. Granted, 7:00 is not hard for me, but it also isn't considered easy so I made sure that I didn't get talked into running this pace.

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