Wednesday, January 20, 2016

BW Team Camp



We had a heck of a week last week with our first ever Track team camp at Baldwin Wallace, and I would say it was a huge success.  Getting the opportunity to bring the whole team back a week before school start practice, team meetings and have guest speakers is a huge advantage for our team over the rest of the conference and I would guess the majority of the teams in the nation.  We are very fortunate to have the resources and backing from our administration to do put on such an event with full support.
Monday we kicked off camp with a brief meeting then got into the fun stuff: practice!  We did our usual spinal mobility, hurdle mobility and band work warm up followed by a recovery run, some stadium sprints and a core circuit.  Following lunch I had the group watch a DVD on Rope stretching by Phil Warton that I bought over break.  It gave all of them a few more pointers on technique and some stretches to do with the rope.

Coach Cole talking about Team Family Pride

Later that night Coach Cole went through our program philosophy, TEAM: FAMILY: PRIDE, and our core values.  He also introduced the rest of the staff and found some hilarious pictures of all of us from our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.  His meeting definitely set the tone for the week and season.
On Tuesday we did a 2k Time Trial/workout and got a lower body lift in.  The time trial went well for the first effort back with a mix of performances.  Two of team members, Greg and Alex, had work and a DDS appointment and ran their time trial in the evening.  Both ran really well and it would have been great to see mix it up in the group. 
That night after our Buca Di Beppo catered dinner, we had Jenniffer Green '94, Rochele (Meyer) Miller '97, Brian Miller ‘98 speak to the team about their experiences as Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets.  They were able to shed some light on the history and tradition of the team and program and share some fantastic stories with the next generation.

Wednesday we had a medium long run a core session then lunch.  For our afternoon session I decided to focus on mental toughness.  A lot of people talk about how important having mental toughness is in athletics, including myself.  I preach being mentally tough all the time.  Over break I decided to be proactive about the subject and find a way for our group to get better at being mentally tough.  Just like being physically fit, you have to work at it in order to get better.  So I reached out to Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli who was the sports psych we used at Sacramento State.  She is an absolute rock star and helped numerous athletes while I was there get better at their mental game.  She recommended three books.  I purchased them immediately and wanted to use camp to start implementing the ideas from the first book.  We spent our afternoon meeting going over our strengths and weaknesses and settng up some exercises for them to continue to work on them on a daily basis.  This is a continual process we need to keep working on because this can take our program to the next level.   

Dr Leo Kormanik during his presentation

Our guest speak for the night was Dr. Leo Kormanik.  He spoke about injuries, how they happen, how to prevent them and what to do if you get one.  Our group took away quite a bit from his talk.  He even took some time to stick around and meet with a few kids about specific injuries after.  It was great to have someone with his knowledge and back ground as not only a doctor but also as a high level athlete.

Thursday was another recovery run and core circuit.  We spent our afternoon session continuing our mental toughness training.  Thursday night we have another great speaker, Spencer MacDonald from Humanex.  Earlier in the week we had each student athlete fill out a 60 question quiz, they had 40 seconds to answer each question and each question had four answers.  There was no wrong answer but each answer gave us what your strengths and weaknesses are.  From a coaching aspect we got a complete profile on each kid and what makes them tick.  We have some kids that are driven by trying to improve their times and better themselves on a day to day basis and other who flat out want to beat the person next to them and will do whatever it take in training to accomplish.  Neither one is bad, but as a coach I now know what buttons to push to motivate each individual and they are all a little different.  Spencer went through these profiles with the coaching staff and helped us understand what the results would mean in terms of what motivates each individual.  He then did an hour long presentation with the team and had them look at their strengths.  He divided them up into groups and showed them what each person’s strengths were so we would know who to turn to for different role of leadership within our team.  It was an extremely beneficial meeting for everyone.  Plus Spencer did a great job of making it a lot of fun with some interactive activities.
Spencer MacDonald From Humanex
After the Humanex presentation a group of the athletes went out to laser tag.  They had a discount night.  They team said they had a great time battling each other in the arena.
Team Instantly after a victory in Laser Tag
Friday workout, goals, All-American Steeple Chaser Matt Luck ‘90 came back to speak to our team.  He talked about how important a phone call can be and how it can change your life.  He also talked about being a family and helping your teammates.  It was a great finish to a wonderful week of speakers.
 
Matt Luck '90 talks about making a phone call



We ended camp officially after practice on Saturday practice.  I invited anyone who was sticking around Berea over to my house for chili. We played a few games of bowling on the wii and had some epic battles in connect 4.  It was good to have the kids over in a relaxed setting and have fun just spending time together doing something outside of running.
Phil Getting beat at Connect 4 again!
Group warming up for Sunday long run on the Tow path
Sunday long run we met at the rec center at 7:30am to load up the vans and head to Brecksville for a long run.  The kids love running on the Tow Path and we are incredibly fortunate that we are so close to a national park.  We wrapped up our run just as the cold front and snow started to blow in.  It was a great way to end a great week.

We are very excited to open up our season Friday at Mount Union with the OAC split meet.  Field events start at 4:00pm and running events start at 5:30.  I am excited to see where the group is.  We have a few kids that are ready to go after a great winter break of training.  This could be a very exciting season.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Recovery

We were fortunate enough to have Leo Kormanic come and speak to the team tonight. First off it was great to see him and catch up. It has been almost exactly 4 years since we last saw each other in Huston Texas at the Olympic trials for the marathon.

Second the message and information he delivered was great. He spoke about injuries, why they happen, what the root causes are, how to prevent them and what to do if you get them. He took time after to answer questions. What a great resource to have. He is doing some very high level stuff with the Olympic Training Center. We appreciated him taking time out of his busy schedule to come meet with our group.

On a personal level he had a lot of the same thoughts, ideas and terminology that I have and use. It made me very happy for our kids to hear the same things we say on a daily basis from one of the best physio's in the country.

This week of camp has been great and we still have a few more days to go. I am excited for where our program is heading.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We're goin streaking....

I currently have two running streaks going that I know of and am actively trying to keep alive.  I have run every day since September 14th of 2012 and I have broken 5:00.00 in a mile for 18 straight years.

The first streak started when I started working at Nebraska.  I realized quickly that my own running and training was going to have to take a back seat to the work that needed to be done to help the program be successful.  It takes a lot of time and energy to plan and impilment a recruit weekend around a football game for up to 16 prospective student athletes and their parents.  So while I was not able to get longer runs or workouts in the way that I felt I would need to compete at a high level, I did want to continue to run.  I knew if I didn't have some sort of goal it would be very easy to fall into the trap of "o I'll just take today off, I'll run tomorrow."  So I made the commitment to lace them up and head out the door every day and have followed through with that every day since.

The second streak was one that I had been doing and didn't even realize it.  When I moved to Sacramento, Scott Abbott, the distance coach prior to me at Sac St was talking about how he had to get ready to break 5 for the mile and how he had done it every year since is freshman year of high school.  I started to think back and realized that I had also covered a mile distance in sub 5 minutes since 1998 my junior year in high school.  Last year I had not done it through the year and December had arrived.  One day at lunch I decided to head out for a run, felt good and stepped on the track and ran 4:48.  This year was a similar situation.  December was here and I had not covered the distance in sub 5.  So Tuesday while on my morning run with Fred he told me we could run Wednesday morning but not Thursday, I figured that was my day.  I told a few of the kids on the team i was going to go for it. 

So yesterday at 4:00 I did a short warm up, a few strides, put my flats on and started off.  Goal was 73's which felt very comfortable, so I slowly cut down and the last 200 decided to let it rip and see what I could do.  I ended up running 4:42 and felt comfortable.  The streak is intact  I don't foresee 20 years being a difficulty, especially if Fred keeps meeting me for morning runs.

Does anyone else out there have any streaks of their own?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Time to get organized

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I struggle with organization.  I was always the kid at school that had loose papers all over the place in my binder and back pack, folded pieces of paper in my pocket, reminders and notes written on my hand.  I tried using planners but never was consistent with them.  I have tried making to do lists, but end up with more loose paper all over my desk, or a pile of paper with buried to do lists.  Two years ago over winter break I tried to spend some time each day reading and doing some "professional development."  I was reading an article on twitter by Ryan Holiday about a commonplace book.  I loved the idea, I got in my car and drove down to staples that morning and bought a stack of note cards a box to hold them in and some colored dividers and started my very own commonplace book.

My main Commonplace Box


At first I was not really sure where to start.  I started writing down quotes and lists of things I read I thought would be helpful.  As time went out I made more groups and it helped a ton with getting organized and me keeping all of the information I needed in one place.  I started writing down to do lists for the day, long term, for meet info etc...  It has been a huge help to me.  I like having hard copies of things I need and use.

Very quickly I found that while I was more organized, I was still struggling with To-Do lists.  They began to pile up and would get lost in the shuffle like my old to do lists and even though I was doing better, I still needed vast improvement on staying focused on what is really important right and what can wait till later.  I tried combining lists, moving items to long term to do and focusing on making better daily lists.

A few months back I watched a video on how to create a bullet journal.  I watched it, thought it was a cool idea, but didn't totally buy into it.  Plus I had already dedicated two years to my commonplace book, liked it and didn't want to abandon it.  Honestly I was not crazy about having a to do list and breaking it up with thoughts pages and having to catalogue entire note books.  I think it is much easier to write down thoughts on a card, lable it and store it with like idea cards.  I can always resort the cards and move them if I want.  It seemed easier than tearing out pages of a book and rebinding them.

So a few weeks ago the bullet journal video came back through my twitter feed.  I watch the video again, thought about it for a few minutes, watched the video again and decided that the bullet journal could be the solution to my to do list problems.  I went on Amazon and bought a journal.  A few days later it arrived and I set up my bullet journal. I have adapted my bullet journal  and just use it for my to do lists.  It has helped tremendously.  I find that I am able to do a much better job of staying focused on what has to get done and long term projects.

Bullet Journal and Commonplace book



Just thought I would share a little about how I stay on task.  These two things have made a huge impact for me.  Hope you can get some thoughts and ideas for yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Post season thoughts



It’s sad to say but the 2015 cross country season is in the can for the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets.  The end of the cross country season is always one of my favorite times of the year.  There is something riding on all of the meets.  We get to travel which is where a lot of my fondest memories as an athlete come from.  I get to see a lot of my fellow coaches that I don't get to see often, some of whom I have worked for in the past, some of whom I have coached in the past and some who I have raced against.  It is always good to get to catch up with those people.

Now it is time for me to sit back and reflect on what I feel we did well, what we did not do well and where we can get better.  This was definitely a year where I felt like I did a lot more correctly than incorrectly.  I looked over our training and make a few notes and tweak a few workouts in preparation for next year.  We will have a very different looking group coming into camp next year.  With a year of training in the same system for a full year and the adaptations that will come along with that, we will be able to handle larger volumes of work across the board.  We will also have a larger incoming freshman class and have some additional depth and talent added into the mix.  If we plan to take the next step and become a relevant program at both the conference and regional level we need to stay on the trajectory we are on and go into winter break training with a purpose and come back ready to rock for indoor and outdoor.  This track season we will find out if the current group really wants to do what it will take to become a legit program.  From what I have seen they are talking and acting like they do, but come January 9th when we line up for our time trails.

Recruiting has been going well.  I feel like we have had a lot of recruits walk away thinking we are a very good option.  I have found my grove in recruiting and feel I am connecting well with the kids I am talking to.  The ones that I don't, I cut ties and move on. We are doing a great job of presenting who we are, what we do, and where we are heading.  We will have a great recruiting class next year full of kids that are a good fit for Baldwin Wallace Cross Country and Track and Field.

On a personal note it is great to be back in Ohio, to be back in the OAC and to be working with Coach Cole.  I am in a much better place mentally and physically than I was a year ago.  I had a blast this fall working with this team.