Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Catching up with Maria Carrillo coach, Greg Fogg...

Today we chat with Maria Carrillo XC and TF coach, Greg Fogg.  Maria Carrillo has been one of the most consistently successful programs in the North Coast Section (NCS) for over ten years in Divisions 2 and 3.  Greg has been involved with the team as a parent, assistant coach and now head coach.  He's maintained the level of success that was started by Danny Aldridge (now coaching at Sonoma Academy).  Together they co-own Heart & Sole Sports, a local running store in Santa Rosa.  At last year's NCS MOC cross country meet, Maria Carrillo won the girls Division II race and finished in 2nd in the boys race.  MC is favored to win both races this coming Saturday as they try to add to their collection of already won 7 section titles.

1)  What sports did you play during your youth?
Not much in terms of organized sports during my elementary grade years; grew up on a dairy farm and had chores to keep up with before and after school.   Started playing youth football starting in 8th grade, then track in Jr. High.

2)  How did you get your start in running?  
At Comstock Jr. High, we had an amazing teacher named “Buzz” (really, I don’t know his first name) Cleek, who would hang around right after school and supervise games and sport activities, like indoor hockey, lacrosse, soccer, ultimate frisbee and some running.    Buzz was a super high-energy and very awesome guy who kept us adolescents pre-occupied after school.  I made new friends and joined the track team in 9th grade with Buzz and another local youth coaching great, Mr. Manny Tarango introducing me to the sport.   -I trained all summer for football my Sophomore year and started Piner High school really excited to be on the football team in High School (because it was more popular), but it didn’t quite turn out as expected, so I quit (OK, so I got kicked off) then all my friends convinced me to join the XC team that Fall and I just kept running XC/track from there.

3)  Where did you go to high school?  What were some of your highlights during high school?
Piner (Santa Rosa), then moved/transferred to Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park)   I was very fortunate to be part of the Jim Underhill experience from ’76-‘77.   I developed a real passion, identity and commitment for running and of course I loved competing, so I was steadily improving at Piner.   After moving from Santa Rosa, I finished my Junior/Senior years at Rancho Cotate and kept improving and got more attention there as the #1 runner, but really missed being part of that strong team at Piner.

4)  What about college?   Where did you go and highlights?
I moved around a lot in college; Santa Rosa Jr. College to Chico State (after a 3 day stint at San Diego State, longer story), then back to SRJC, then competed for the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).   I have lots of great experiences with the variety of teams during these years and great roommate stories that I’m sure you can’t publish on your blog.  I made new life-time friends at each college I attended, but best of all, I met my wife, Lisa while running at Bama.   Lisa was on the track/XC team as well (she was from New Jersey, so a bit out of place in Bama, just like me from Cali) and we got hitched right after she graduated, have had 4 kids and just celebrated 26 years of marriage.   In ’84 when I left Bama, I totally dropped running and shifted my focus to pursue a career back home at Hewlett Packard.

5)  Who were the most influential coaches for you as a runner and what did you learn from them?
I was truly blessed with more than a few amazing coaches over the years, including Coach Bill Lombardi/RCHS, Kurt Frietas/Chico and John Mitchell/Bama.   However, I believe Jim Underhill at Piner fueled the spark that Coach Cleek started in Jr. High and introduced me to what it really meant to work hard, true commitment and how rewarding it was to be a part of a special team.  The most profound influence for me during my running years was definitely from SRJC coach Pat Ryan.    –Coach Ryan was much more than a coach; he was more like a father, a mentor and sometimes guidance counselor or life-coach keeping me (and my knuckle-head room-mates) focused on maturing through my first two years in college; I sincerely believe I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Coach Ryan’s positive influence!    Most of the principles and values in my current coaching are deeply rooted to my experiences from Coach Underhill and Ryan.

6)  How did you get into coaching?  What was your first experience coaching, what sport did you coach and what did you learn from that experience?
My first experience was very typical, I started out coaching youth soccer and little league for my kids teams; my first lesson (and I believe it still applies today for High School kids) is just simply keep ‘em busy and keep it fun.   As the years went on, coaching my kids became the “highlight” of my day and I just kept going, despite my full-time job always getting in the way.   When my kids arrived at Maria Carrillo High School, I was lucky they choose to compete in XC and track and was fortunate Danny asked me to be involved.   My daughter, Leanne (MCHS in ’07), was my true inspiration to pursue coaching and still is to this day; her experience through running was significantly positive and that motivates me on a daily basis, hoping I can provide the same experience for others on our team today.    I was also lucky to have coached my son, Garrett in Pole Vault at MCHS, which was a very special experience for me; every time I show up for practice at MCHS, I’m reminded of these fond memories and will treasure them always.

7)  How long have you been coaching at Maria Carrillo and how long have you been the head coach?
This is my 6th season as a head MCHS Coach and was a Assistant with Danny Aldridge 3 years prior, helping out with both XC and track.    My philosophy for coaching distance runners was influenced heavily by observing Danny during my Asst. Coach years.   On the surface, Danny has a real laid-back style as a coach, but his influence to athletes he coaches is intense and has a very durable, lasting impact!   …Somehow, Danny establishes amazing, nurturing relationships with his athletes who are deeply inspired to be committed to the crazy, obsessive life-style of a distance runner.   I was very moved and inspired by the many athletes, having success running for Danny, having a lots of fun and making wonderful life-time memories in the process.   -I’m also lucky enough to be around a similar model coach with Doug Courtemarche from Santa Rosa High School.   Both Danny and Doug have demonstrated to me, the primary factor for a successful XC program is developing a positive environment where fun is a necessary daily component.   My expectations for each member of our team are simply, show up, work hard/have fun and be truly committed to the team’s success.

8)  Tell us a little about Danny Aldridge who you coached with at MC and now co-own Heart & Sole Sports with in Santa Rosa.  
Danny and I must have talked about opening a running store for 2 years before we actually opened up our store way back in ’07.   Despite the drop in the economy (that I swear happened the month after we opened?!) we’ve had some reasonable growth over the past 3 years and overall, have a very solid small business going.  This business has given both Danny and I an opportunity to be more involved in local running events and help to promote running within the community.   Heart & Sole Sports is a good “blend” between both Danny and myself, but with the recent demands of my job, family, coaching and trying to keep up with my ever-demanding 5 year old twin girls (Andi and Savannah), my time in the store this past year has been somewhat limited.   In this day and age of mega-huge stores and strip mall franchises, I believe Heart & Sole is a great local specialty running store with a “strong local vibe” so, support your locally owned specialty running store!

9)  What have been some of the highlights and accomplishments that you are most proud of as a coach at MC?
I’m proud we’ve kept the great tradition for MCHS XC going for sure.   But, more than that, I’m very proud we’ve had success as a balanced team, for both the guys and girls.   Our girls have enjoyed much success in previous years, but recently, I feel we have developed into a very balanced program with the boys improvement.   The boys have really come into their own this season and I believe they still have yet to run their best race together.   …More than just wins, I feel very satisfied at the end of our season, when kids and parents thank our Coaches for the positive experience we’ve provided them.   I always love it when an ex-athlete comes back to visit MCHS and drops-in on a practice and we reflect back on how positively profound their MCHS XC experience was; that’s very validating and keeps me coming back to coach.

10)  What do you feel have been some of the reasons for the success of the Maria Carrillo XC teams in the past decade?
First of all, we’re lucky to get a consistent crop of talent each year from Rincon Valley Middle School XC Coach Ian Myers.   Also, we have had a lot of success growing our roster ~10% each year so, we have good numbers with a combined roster of ~80 kids.  Next, I’m very lucky to have a very committed, very engaged Assistant Coach with Ruben DiRado; we collaborate on most workouts, he provides lots of inputs to the overall program and we refine and improve on our training each year.   …This year I believe the benefits of more refined, disciplined and consistent training are resulting in much faster times and consistent, bigger PRs across the entire roster.   Ruben’s specialty (along with helping to keep our environment fun and creative) is developing very precise and individualized pacing sheets based most recent performances, so we’re very fine-tuned from a physiological perspective.    Sheryl Harden is another addition to the MCHS XC Coaching staff for these past two years; she’s in charge of our core and cross training, which has become a consistent part of our training routine these past two years; I believe this activity is really helping to limit injuries and develop more all-around athletes.   With Ruben, Sheryl and myself, we try to share coaching responsibilities and collaborate as much as possible, bounce ideas off each other and also try to spread around our attention to maintain more interpersonal relationships with the kids; always a challenge with a large roster, but I think we’re doing a good job.   I also have several Parents as Assistant Coaches, one parent that is dedicated just for transportation, one parent for fund-raising; there really are a lot of people involved that are key to the program’s success!!!

11)  What are your expectations for your runners during the summer?  What about the running camp?
This activity has steadily grown/developed since I started as Head Coach; over the past few years it’s not mandatory to train over summer, but and I’ve created a structure for group runs to meet 3 days a week at our local Parks nearby (Howarth Park, Annadel State Park) with attendance ranging from 8 to 20+ kids depending on the day and summer vacations.   Very cool that we always get a mix of runners from other schools (everyone’s welcome) and I think it’s great that runners who compete against each other are actually very appreciative and comfortable training together.  Expectations from me during summer are still fairly low-key, but I try to emphasize more than anything,  consistency, consistency, consistency is the primary ingredient.   The goal of summer running always is to get in a solid endurance base so athletes can endure the rigors of more intense training during the season, so I promote getting as much time at real low-stress EZ pace long or “over-distance” runs.   Last few years, we’ve thrown in weekly Tempos during the last 5 weeks of summer, with a goal of going longer each week at the same  pace vs. faster, which kids seem to like a lot.  I call our camp, “one of the highlights of the season, before the season starts”  At one level, it’s just like any other camp; yeah, we go to Tahoe for 5 days, we camp out in tents, we have some team building games, we have a chubby bunny contest and lots of great runs finishing on the last day with an amazing ~12 mile run on the Tahoe Rim Trail from Kingsbury Grade to Spooner Lake.    I’m following the same basic structure Danny had when he was coaching (that I believed he may have leveraged from Doug Courtemarche’s camp) which is pretty much non-stop fun for all the kids.   …However, I believe one of the key components that make this camp so popular and such a “feel-good experience” is involving our alumni.    I especially value the alumni and other experienced runners share stories at campfires of their experiences and reminding new kids to the team to embrace these great times and to really enjoy the spirit of friendship and comradery of the team.   It’s also very satisfying to know quite a few alumni most are still running, not competitively, but just for fun and really enjoying it as more of a life-time style!

12)  What does a typical week look like for your team with a Saturday invitational during the majority of the xc season?
Same as most I’m sure but varies if we are going to target the Saturday race as a big race and back-off or work through it.   Typical routine: Mon = Intervals; Tue = EZ 1 hr. with strides + cross training; Wed = Tempo; Thu = LSD (Long Slow Distance) + cross training; Fri = EZ 45 min; Sat = Race; Sun = EZ 4-6 miles.    The more experience I get coaching, the more “disruptive” I find Saturday competitions!   So, we’ve become more selective as to what invites we go to over the past few years; I really like the training pattern with a dual/tri-meet on a Wed, treating those as a more controlled Interval workout and letting kids get their LSD day on Saturday and taking Sunday completely off.   …I also understand racing regularly is also a necessary component to maintain a successful program and oh yeah, the kids just love racing!

13)  What changes as you get closer to November and the section and state meets?
Tapering back to relieve athletes of the season’s cumulative stress, but we still want to preserve fitness and keep ‘em sharp, so we keep some intensity in our routine.  Total mileage volume is reduced with only a few Interval sessions in the last 3 weeks, but at reduced total volume and introducing more fast repetition with lots of recovery.    Also using higher frequency of tempo runs (kids love night tempos!) to reinforce confidence, pack running and it’s much less stressful on the legs!

14)  You have mentioned having a big time meet similar to Mt. SAC here in Northern California.  Here is your chance to sell it.  Go!
Between Danny, myself and Doug Courtemarche, we’ve been talking about this for the past 5 years!   …The idea is to have a venue similar to Mt. SAC but host somewhere “up here” in Nor Cal.   We’ve also talked about blending the Woodbridge night racing concept with the Mt. SAC venue.    At this point, I’m looking for others to validate if there is any interest from Bay Area schools to attend this event if we host this somewhere in Santa Rosa?    Also, anyone interested to help us co-host this event that has had experience with invites to share the workload at least for the first few years to help us get this off the ground?

15)  Anything else you would like to add?
Thank-you very much for the opportunity to share.    I truly admire your dedication and appreciate your support to our sport and running community.   …Best of luck to your team at State!

Thank you very much for your time!  AJC

7 comments:

Carrie Joseph said...

Coach Fogg demonstrates just how important it is to have balance in your approach to running (and life) in general. His teams are class acts both on and off the course, and their success raises the bar for all of us in Santa Rosa!

Andrew said...

I would love a Mt. Sac-like meet in NorCal!!

Steve Palladino said...

From day one that my daughter started training under Greg, it was clear to me that he is a father first and coach second. I felt like Greg looked out for my daughter like a father.
The kids in the MCHS XC program benefit from an expertly run program, but even more important, they are mentored with fatherly care.
Thanks, Greg.

Anonymous said...

Great idea to have a Mt Sac meet up in NorCal, but where to could it be held? The race track at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds?

Anonymous said...

I thought that the Stanford Invite was kind-of our NorCal equivalent??

Albert Caruana said...

I think we are talking about a meet in mid to late October around the same time as Mt. SAC.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on double wins at NCS! Phenom!

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