Rick Karboviak believes that most high school running coaches in this country are training our kids incorrectly, and that it is hurting the sport. He believes that we need to do more to develop the next generation of runners, and provides some solutions and strategies to do so in his book, "Endure!"
This book is not for everyone. In fact, I think that its appeal will be for a very small segment of the running community. For that small segment, though, it is probably worth taking a look at given its low cost.
The book recommends that we take a different look at how we train our children, and offers up the experiences of the author as he has grown as both an athlete and as a coach. The book is divided into 7 sections.
Chapter 1: What this book is NOT
The book begins by pointing out that the author is not a marathoner or long distance runner. He is a 5k and 10k runner who trains kids to race between 3k and 5k. He does not believe in high mileage running for multisport children, and does not believe in blindly offering mileage charts without any strategy behind how to develop a proper training plan.
Chapter 2: Real-world discoveries
Rick believes that children these days (and Americans in general) have a problem with obesity and terms this the Play Station Generation. He also notices that some of the best runners in the world grow up in areas where there are a lot of hills and no transportation options beyond the pedestrian for most kids. Lacking a fitness base as children makes it more difficult for Americans to compete on the world stage as adults.
He also points out that most children are multisport athletes, and that cross country or track tend to be conditioning seasons for their other sports. These kids do not benefit from long, slow distance running because their sports do not involve a large component of aerobic conditioning. In fact, even the sport of cross country does not involve endurance running.
" I think the true cross-country racing style is not just some 'long endurance' event: it's a series of random sprints, surges, adjustments in pace, and adaptation to the environment they face, all put together in a set distance for a Race. "
Chapter 3: GPS Technology
The third chapter is devoted to GPS technology. He explains what they are, the basic differences between the different brands, and how to use it when coaching.
He would use the GPS tools to easily craft workouts and distances on the fly over varying terrains, and to help the kids maintain set paces during workouts. He also believes in training the kids to race in meters and notms for metric-measured races.
Measuring a course in kilometers instead of in miles gives the kids more feedback on how they are doing, and they get it earlier in the race than the kids who have to wait for the first mile to get to where their coaches are waiting for them. It also makes it easier to plan workouts and prevent overtraining the athletes.
Chapter 4: The Kettlebell
This chapter does not have a whole lot to it. Rick believes that strength training is an important part of a developing athlete's training regimen. I tend to agree. He also believes that the chaotic movements of kettlebells are a perfect complement to simulate cross country running. Kettlebell swings have the same caloric burn as running and are great for hill training in the weight room.
Chapter 5: Running workouts
In the fifth chapter, he describes the different types of workouts that he has his kids run, and why he develops those workouts the way that he does. His general plan is to include hill workouts, fartlek workouts, interval training, and long runs that are no farther than twice the race distance for a specific athlete.
Chapter 6: Strength workouts
The strength workouts in this chapter vary from pretty good to less than ideal. The descriptions for the kettlebell exercises vary quite a bit in quality and are not all complete. The body weight and the medicine ball exercises are all properly well described, however.
Chapter 7: Creating strategies
Rick believes that the strategy is more important than the racing plan. You need to find out the strengths and weaknesses of your runners and you need to build around that. You have to also make sure that your athletes understand how to race.
There are 3 steps to developing a strategy:
- Figure out the athlete's needs
- Figure out the athlete's conditioning levels.
- Plot out the training plans on a workout calendar.
He offers a typical workout calendar template that he developed at the beginning of a recent season and shows a chart graphing the racing performance through the season for his athletes.
He also offers suggestions on how to fit a strength component into your workout schedules and presents some example circuits that can be combined with groups of 15-30 kids.
Who will not benefit from this book?
Most endurance athletes are not going to find much that they can use in this book.
There are many better sources of information about how to implement strength workouts into your training regimen, and most experienced endurance athletes are not going to learn anything new in here that they can directly translate into their own training.
The strategies for bringing together a workout calendar are not going to translate for marathoners very well, and the author never pretends that they will. The book really is centered on young athletes that are running shorter races.
Who do I recommend this book for?
I think that for the low price, this book is worth picking up and looking at for any high school coaches. You may not be persuaded to change your training training philosophy based on what is in here, but there are a few good nuggets that would be very simple to implement into an existing training program. I also think that this book is useful for some ideas on how to implement GPS technology into a training plan.
By Blaine Moore
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