Monday, April 14, 2008

Over Raced

I recently had a conversation with a parent of a runner who is a sophomore. His concern was that his son was not performing to his potential. When asked what event he runs, he said he was a distance runner. I then asked if he runs the 2-mile, mile, or 800m.? He responded with "All of them." This response didn't shock me because most distance runners can run all three events. What surprised me was that he ran all three events at every meet, 4x800, 1600m., 3200m.. Seeing that he usually had a dual meet and invitational each week, I can understand why he wasn't performing well.

I believe that running so many races along with speed sessions during the week is overdoing it. It leads to burnout and/or injury. The sad part is when coaches do this just to get as many points as possible to do well in the meet. There is no regard for the runner's physical or mental state. The runner noted above competes in the south where the 2-mile is the last event. He is probably a 9:45 - 9:50 2-miler, but runs 10:20 - 10:40's. He's tired from the 4x800m. and 1600m. during the meet as well as the training leading up to the meet. There's no way he has a chance to run to his potential in the 2-mile. Will he get a chance to just run the 2-mile, run to his potential and feel good about himself as a runner? Probably not in this case because the team needs him in the other events for points. Pretty hard burden to put on a 16 year old if you ask me.

Although this is just one case, I believe it happens all over the country. Runners are over raced and taken advantage of. If they are extremely fast they are put in at least two events (2-mile, 1-mile) to get points in every meet they run. They are not trained to develop their talent and peak toward the end of the year at the "big meets," they are generally used until they slow down or get injured.

In this parents case, the best advice is to monitor his kids mind and body so he doesn't get injured and/or lose interest in running because he is not performing to his potential. Tough task to ask of a parent, isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your post. I am very concerned with this trend of high school coaches having their kids competing & training near collegiate levels with very little down time. It seems more schools are being very aggressive with their training programs. Win at all costs, right? Why can't some coaches see the bigger picture?

Thanks again for the great post!