Monday, August 31, 2009

Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants

Interesting article in Sunday's New York Times about barefoot running.

How many teams or runners do some form of barefoot running during practice?
TODD BYERS was among more than 20,000 people running the San Francisco Marathon last month. Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, he might have blended in with the other runners, except for one glaring difference: he was barefoot.

Even in anything-goes San Francisco, his lack of footwear prompted curious stares. His photo was snapped, and he heard one runner grumble, “I just don’t want the guy without shoes to beat me.”

Mr. Byers, 46, a running coach and event manager from Long Beach, Calif., who clocked in at 4 hours 48 minutes, has run 75 marathons since 2004 in bare feet. “People are kind of weird about it,” he shrugs.

Maybe they shouldn’t be. Recent research suggests that for all their high-tech features, modern running shoes may not actually do much to improve a runner’s performance or prevent injuries. Some runners are convinced that they are better off with shoes that are little more than thin gloves for the feet — or with no shoes at all.

To read the rest of the article, go to the following link:
Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Boys' Norcal Pre-Season Rankings

The pre-season rankings this year are based on the rankings posted on by Richard Gonzalez. Feel free to comment below on teams that you feel should be ranked lower or higher or are not listed at all.

Mt. View CCS Division II
Oak Ridge SJS Division I
Jesuit SJS Division II
Davis Sr. SJS Division I
5) Castro Valley NCS Division I
6) Carlmont CCS Division I
7) Gunn CCS Division II
8) De La Salle NCS Division I
9) San Ramon Valley NCS Division I
10) Bellarmine CCS Division I

Honorable Mention (15 teams in alphabetical order)
Amador Valley NCS Division I
Aptos CCS Division III
Campolindo NCS Division III
College Park NCS Division II
Del Campo SJS Division II
El Camino SJS Division III
Enterprise NS Division IV
Fairfield SJS Division II
Las Lomas NCS Division III
Livermore NCS Division I
Los Gatos CCS Division II
Monte Vista NCS Division I
Palo Alto CCS Division II
Petaluma NCS Division III
Willow Glen CCS Division III

Next rankings will have the top 10 boys in Northern California. Feel free to start listing the runners who you feel belong on that list. Who is the runner to watch this year that will be a surprise to most?

Please include your name and team you are most closely associated with this coming season with your posts.

York HS coach Joe Newton

My first high school coaching job was in 1992 when I took over the San Mateo HS cross country team. I was following legendary SM coach Don Dooley (his star runner, Matt Guisto, was the '83 Kinney National Cross Country champion-when it was sponsored by Kinney shoes) who had sadly passed away the previous spring following a heart attack. I was 21 years old, suddenly in charge of 60 athletes devastated by the death of their beloved coach.

I applied for the job with the sole intention of gaining experience by going through the interview process. I was shocked when they offered me the job following my interview. In those days (the pre-internet era), if you wanted to find information about coaching, your choices were books and fellow coaches. Since I was just starting out in the coaching field, I did not know too many coaches. Fortunately for me, Don was quite a student of the sport and in the PE office, he had a great library of running books that included biographies (Peter Snell, Frank Shorter, Jim Ryan etc.) and many training books. The books that really caught my eyes were written by a not famous yet high school coach in Illinois named Joe Newton.

The three Newton books in the library were in chronological order "The Long Green Line", "Motivation...The Name of the Game" and "Running to the Top of the Mountain". I devoured all three books and still quote from them quite frequently to my current runners. You can see links below to all three books from

Newton's fame has grown even further since that time with the explosion of information on the internet. He is currently in this 50th year (50 years!!! how many people are at the same company for 50 years?) at York HS. He has won an amazing 26 state cross country titles. His '04 York team was the first Nike Team National champions and his team is the only team to qualify for every race since. He was the first high school coach to be named as a member of the Olympic coaching staff (In the 1988 Olympics, he was an assistant manager in charge of the marathon runners.) Just an unbelievable record for an amazing man who still attracts over 200 boys each year to his team. The man is 80 years old now!

He has also written another book, "Coaching Cross Country Successfully" which many of you have in your libraries. If you don't, link below. The Long Green Line, the documentary about Newton's '05 xc team made was released last year and if your team has not seen it, I would highly recommend you purchase the DVD.

Finally, if you haven't seen it already, check out the following interview with Mr. Newton which was posted on

Friday, August 28, 2009

Attitude by Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Photo of the Week

Josh Winfield, of Deer Valley High School, sprawls on the track in front of Newark Memorial's Andrew Akre after Winfield's first place finish in the boys 400 meter run at the North Coast Section track and field championships at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley. (from 2008)

Monday, August 24, 2009

"the atmosphere in most of the CCS is that cross-country is a P.E. class..."

Here is the entire quote which can be found along with the summary of the Bellarmine Bells at as part of the pre-season rankings by Rich Gonzalez.
"the atmosphere in most of the CCS is that cross-country is a P.E. class. Until that changes, most (CCS) teams will not be able to hang against the Southern Section in postseason."

It's interesting that a fellow coach would think that is the reason why the Central Coast Section is not able to compete favorably against the Southern Section teams. While there are some cross country teams that may have that mindset, I would contend that many of the coaches get the most out of their teams and do not just "roll out the ball" if we are going to use the PE analogy.

One of the main reasons that the CCS teams (as well as other sections) have a hard time competing with the SS teams is that the numbers just don't add up. If you look at the size of the teams in each division, SS teams (for the most part) have a larger pool of possible runners at their schools. A typical Division I team in CCS, NCS or SJS would be a Division II or III team in the SS. I know Mountain View coach Evan Smith, who is familiar with the SS, has addressed this fact before.

So with that in mind, how can the teams in Northern California compete with the teams from Southern California? Since there is not much we can do about the numbers of each division, let's focus on what we can control. First, coaches need to continue to strive to be better coaches. Attending clinics is a great way to learn about the latest methods of training as well network with fellow motivated coaches. Tim Hunter has a great clinic every June at San Ramon Valley and last year Chris Puppione and I hosted the 1st Annual Northern California coach's roundtable on the first Saturday in January. If you are willing to drive or fly to to the LA area, clinics take place during the summer as part of the LA84 Foundation coaching education. You are doing your kids a disservice if you are just repeating the same thing year after year.

Next, we have to change out mindset about the state meet. For many teams, qualifying to the state meet is the ultimate goal made at the beginning of the season. You see many athletes, coaches and parents jumping up and down at the section finals as their teams are announced as a state meet qualifyers. While this is certainly a great achievement, coaches and athletes have to take into account where they would like to finish as the state meet as well. You have qualified to the state meet, now what? Do you want to finish in the top 10? Top 5? Top 3? State championship? Where you want to finish at the state meet needs to be accounted for or else the runners will just be happy to get a free dinner in Fresno on Friday night.

Coaches need to beat the bushes and find those runners who do not know they are runners yet. Get them out for your team. Make cross country the cool sport at your school. Do your homework. How can your team get to the state meet? What do your runners need to run? What do they need to run to be competitive at the state meet? Take them to competitive invitationals. Challenge your runners. Raise the expectations. Don't be afraid to set lofty goals. Embrace being in a competitive league or section. Your runners will rise to the challenge.

I could go on (that quote really touched a nerve) about what else can be done to be competitive at the state meet but want to open it up to the coaches, athletes and parents that are reading this. How can teams in Northern California be more successful in Fresno? What can coaches do to help their teams run faster? What about the athletes? Parents?

By the way, the state meet qualifiers have been posted on the CIF website. There was only one change which affected the NorCal sections and that was mentioned earlier with CCS losing one spot in girls' Division IV. You can check out the rest of the numbers at the following link:

2009 Women's 1500m. final

Sunday, August 23, 2009

1500 bronze medalist Shannon Rowbury through the eyes of her HS coach, Andy Chan

Wow! Talk about a memorable day!

I assume most of you already know the good news that Shannon Rowbury won the bronze medal in the women's 1500 at the IAAF World Championships here in Berlin. It was a roller coaster of emotions. First there was her fall on Tuesday in the first round when she did not qualify and we had to wait some anxious hours until we got confirmation that she was advanced to the semi-final on appeal. Today there was another fall...but I am getting ahead of myself.

For the first 2 1/2 laps there was a lot of shoving but Shannon looked confident and well positioned. Her strong kick at Friday's semi-final gave me some great hope for how the final 200 might go. In fact this morning my text message to her was: "The Rowbury kick is there. The competition better watch out. Good luck. Love, Andy, Malinda, and Sherie." With a lap to go there was still a pretty good size pack but with about 350 meters to go the leaders started to separate and Shannon was in that lead group. I started thinking to myself, maybe this is her day. With 200 to go there were 5 of them battling for the medals. I didn't see it live but on replay it was pretty clear that Rodriguez from Spain pushed Burka from Ethiopia. Burka fell and Shannon had to dance around/over the fallen runner. With 100 to go it was Rodriguez, Jamal from Bahrain, Dobriskey from Great Britian, and Shannon. Shannon stayed close but crossed the finish line 4th. I was happy for her because it appeared that she ran the race she wanted to run and competed well, battling for a medal right up until the finish line.

Then the replay came up on the scoreboard and we realized that Rodriguez might be DQ'ed. None of the 1500 athletes took the ceremonial victory lap so we knew there was an appeal. I spent the next half hour watching the finish area through binocolars, hoping to see Shannon come running on to the track with a USA flag for a victory lap. Then Shannon's mom, Paula yelled down to me and gave me a thumbs up. Moments later the German man sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the scoreboard which showed the revised 1500 results with Shannon getting the bronze.

The next hour, waiting for the medal ceremony was weird. I don't think I believed it had happened. But all of a sudden there was Shannon on the podium getting her medal. I've been told that some combination of me, Malinda, and Sherie were on TV/ waving our Go Shannon banner.

After the medal ceremony I got a text from a friend of Shannon's congratulating me. That's when it hit me that this was really happening. I was shaking as I texted back to him. The people in the stands near us had figured out who we were so loudly cheering for and many of them took pictures of us with the banner and smiled or congratulated us. What a feeling to be in the stadium and watch it unfold when Shannon won her first World Championship medal.

It's 2:37am and we just got back to our apartment. We went to the Hilton to celebrate with Shannon, her parents, agents and several other close friends. It was pretty special to be there in person with her for this special evening. And I can't wait to show people the pictures and swag that we got! I like my Bolt Arms...but I love this Team USA jersey!


Shannon was in the middle to pack of the back for most of the race tonight. For the first 1400 meters I was somewhat worried that she was boxed in and didn't have good position. But she took care of business in the last 100 meters, powering up and showing her best kick so far this year. She finished 4th to qualify for the 1500 final on Sunday. Be sure to tune in on or NBC to see her go for a World Championship medal.

In other news today:
1. After our run today I did my striders on Jesse Owen Alley, in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium....very cool.
2. Malinda, Sherie, and I were holding an American flag during the medal ceremony for decathlete Trey Hardey. For a quick moment we were on the big screen while the national anthem played. Moments later the people sitting in front of us turned around and said they just got a call from home in Sweden and they were on Swedish TV because of us and our US flag. We got on the big screen again during Alison Felix's medal ceremony...Sherie had her camera out but couldn't get a picture taken before they changed shots. We are hoping to get on TV/big screen with our Go Shannon banner on Sunday.


Shannon fell in her race today and finished 11th in 4:10. It was looking pretty bad for the last few hours but I just got off the phone with someone and was told that the USA filed a protest and Shannon was moved on to the semi-final round on Friday. PHEW!


Top 20 male and female performances at the World Championships in Berlin:

Interesting to see all the events stacked against each other to find out the best performances overall.

Name Event Pos. Result Performance Score (Overall)


Usain Bolt 100m 1 9.58 1669
Usain Bolt 200m 1 19.19 1657
Jamaica 4x100m 1 37.31 1584
Tyson Gay 100m 2 9.71 1579
Ezekiel Kemboi 3000mSC 1 8:00.43 1560
Kenenisa Bekele 10000m 1 26:46.31 1548
Abel Kirui Marathon 1 2:06:55 1548
Christian Cantwell Shot Put 1 22.03 1542
Lashawn Merritt 400m 1 44.06 1542
Dwight Phillips Long Jump 1 8.54 1540
Phillips Idowu Triple Jump 1 17.73 1535
Sergey Kirdyapkin 50km Walk 1 3:38:35 1532
Trey Hardee Decathlon 1 8790 1531
Robert Harting Discus 1 69.43 1528
Kerron Clement 400m Hurdles 1 47.91 1527
Steven Hooker Pole Vault 1 5.90 1526
Ryan Braithwaite 110m Hurdles 1 13.14 1525
Valeriy Borchin 20km Walk 1 1:18:41 1523
Trinidad and Tobago 4x100m 2 37.62 1520
Alonso Edwards 200m 2 19.81 1518
Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong 3000mSC 2 8:00.89 1518
USA 4x400m 1 2:57.86 1518

Melaine Walker 400m Hurdles 1 52.42 1555
Shally-Ann Fraser 100m 1 10.73 1546
United States 4x400m 1 3:17.83 1543
Jessica Ennis Heptathlon 1 6731 1539
Blanka Vla i High Jump 1 2.04 1537
Sanya Richards 400m 1 49.00 1536
Caster Semenya 800m 1 1:55.45 1535
Allyson Felix 200m 1 22.02 1529
Jamaica 4x100m 1 42.06 1529
Anita Wlodarczyk Hammer Throw 1 77.96 1526
Marta Domínguez 3000mSC 1 9:07.32 1526
Brittney Reese Long 1 7.10 1520
Brigitte Ann Foster-Hylton 100m Hurdles 1 12.51 1514
Valerie Adams-Vili Shot Put 1 20.44 1512
Steffi Nerius Javelin Throw 1 67.90 1508
Kerron Stewart 100m 2 10.75 1502
Linet Chepkwemoi Masai 10000m 1 30:51.24 1501
Lashinda Demus 400m Hurdles 2 52.90 1497
Yargelis Savigne Triple Jump 1 14.95 1489
Shericka Williams 400m 2 49.32 1485

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Earlybird Invitational '09

Coaches go to and confirm your participation at 15th Annual Earlybird Invitational.

Meet director and North Monterey County HS coach Gus Ibarra will post a preview of the meet but needs to get confirmations from participating schools first.

You can look up all the meet info at

Any questions about the meet, please contact Coach Ibarra at

Friday, August 21, 2009



At any track meet, from age group meets to the Olympic Trials, if you hang around the coaches, you will hear them grumbling about athletes who did not do as well as expected in a race, because “They didn’t want it bad enough” or “Their head wasn’t in the race” or “They were afraid to hurt”.

There are occurrences where athletes do not perform as expected due to conditions over which their coaches have no control.

But, coaches have much more control over their athletes’ performances than they may be willing to admit. They design the season, the workouts, and the preparation for racing. Any time the athlete does not perform as expected, the coach needs to accept some if not most of the responsibility for the outcome. Coaches need to question what they did in preparing the athlete to determine what may have gone right and/or wrong.

The goal of this article is to assist coaches in beginning to ask the difficult questions concerning how successful the past season was, and what changes to make future seasons more successful.

Even after a successful season, the coach should always be looking to make the next season even more successful than the one before. For me, this means you need to be planning the entire season before hand and evaluating your daily workouts after they happen. The coach also should be evaluating the season as a whole and writing down any changes that need to be made for the next season.

Other questions include, was there too little work or too much work done to prepare the athlete for the conditions they met in the season or culminating race? Could the coach time the peaking period better? Did the coach enhance the athlete’s strengths and work on their weaknesses during the season? The list of questions is only limited by the imagination of the coach.

Each coach will also have to define how that success should be measured for each athlete. For some coaches, nothing less than a state championship team or individual defines success. Some coaches define success as having a larger team or having each person on the team set personal bests in all events.

The season should be your report card as a coach and you need to have markers which can help you to grade your performance at the end of the season.


    1. How satisfied overall were you with how your season went

      0-5 scale- 5=Best it could possibly be 0= Everything went badly

      2. What area(s), in your opinion, need the most improvement?

      a. Preplanning the season

      b. Communication with athletes

      c. Communication with other members of the staff

      d. Organization of Practices

      e. Preparation for Races

      f. Peaking at the right time

      g. Injuries and interruptions of the training during the season


1. Planning the Season

a. written overall plan

1) Enough detail?

2) Plan from the peak back?

3) How well did the plan cover changing circumstances?

    b. Individual Athletes Overall Plan

1) Goal sheets – How well did individual athletes meet their goals?

2) How well did the athletes set their goals?

3) Did you plan the correct work to achieve these goals?

4) Did the athletes do the work? If not, what interfered? 5) Does there need to be a modification on how goals are set?

6) What markers were used along the way so the coach and the athlete knew whether they were advancing toward the goals?

2. Communication with the Athlete

A. What conditions aided the communication between coach and athlete? E-mail? One on one? Confrontation?, third party?

B. Does your style of communication work with all of the athletes you coach? What could you have done to aid communication?

C. What effective methods did you use to communicate with those athletes who were not communicative?

D. What methods did you employ to get the athlete to “buy into” the training program? What seemed to work the best?

3. Communications with other staff members

A. What effective methods of communication did you use with staff?, B. If there were breakdowns in communicating with staff members, why did they occur? How can these be avoided in the future?

C. How effective were you at working with people whom you reported to? What could you have done to improve communication with these individuals?

4. Organization of Practices

A. Goals

1). Did each workout have a goal?

2). Was the goal of each workout appropriate for the athletes you coached?

3). Did the athlete understand the purpose of the workout? If not, what could you have done to improve this?

4). Were paces appropriate for each athlete to achieve his/her goals?

5). Is it possible to individualize enough to suit all of the needs of all of your athletes?

6). How did you evaluate the effectiveness of individual workouts?

7). Did you record enough information during workouts to be able to return and evaluate the workout at a later time? (Many times, our minds play tricks on us later concerning the details of a particular workout)

B. Warm-up

1) What were the goals of the warm up?

2) What changes if any, are necessary to achieve these goals?

3) Did you cover all elements of the warm up that needed to be covered? Warming the body for harder work, dynamics, drills, core exercises, strength building for different parts of the body, preparing the body for different kinds of workouts (long run, lactate, VO2 max,, anaerobic, sprint work)?

4) Were you happy with the time commitment to your warm up? Would you have liked it shorter? Longer?

C. Body of the workout –

1) Did each workout have a clearly stated goal?

2) Was the goal appropriate for each athlete you coach?

3) Did the athletes understand the purpose of the workout?

4) Were you able to explain the reason for the workout to the athlete?

5) Did you have enough variety of kinds of work for your athletes to achieve maximum success in their chosen event?

6) Did athletes get enough specific work to maximize their growth in their chosen events?

7) What kind of job did you do in choosing how much of each type of workout, the athletes needed.

8) Were paces appropriate for each athlete in the program? 9) Were you able to individualize enough to suit all of the needs of all your athletes?

10) Did you put ways of evaluating individual workouts into practice?

11) Did you write down what was done in workouts so you can return ands refer to individual workouts at a later time in the season and when you are doing your season re- evaluation? (Many times, our minds play tricks on us if we don’t write down as much detail as possible. Trying to remember what you did, a month after the workout is too late)

12) Did you also illicit information from your athletes after the workout and write their comments down for future reference.

13) Did you have enough markers during the season, so you can be constantly evaluating how the training plan is working?

14) Were your markers effective in evaluating progress during the season?

15) Did you have a mechanism for evaluating when it is necessary for making changes in a training plan and when you are just experiencing “coach’s panic”?

16). Weekly Workout Modifications

a. How often did you have to make modifications in your weekly plan?

b. What were the primary reasons for these modifications?

17). How often did you have modify your daily training plan?

a. What were the primary reasons for the daily modifications? 1). Athlete not hitting the proscribed paces

2). Weather conditions

3) Scheduling problems

4). Other factors

b. What components did you most often change? Speed, duration, Recovery time?

18) What compels you to change your season plan in the middle of a season?

19) Were the changes effective?

20) Were there athletes in the program that did not seem benefit from your plan?

21) How were paces and volumes determined for each athlete? Were they appropriate? 22) Are there athletes in the program who might need to be treated differently than the general plan which you are using for everyone else? Examples: really talented athlete, athlete with more fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers who need slower or faster work that you are currently providing.

23) Have you been gearing your workouts toward your “stars”, which means the lesser athletes are performing their races during the workouts, trying to keep up with the star, and then are not able to perform in the actual races?

D. Cool down

1) How satisfied were you with your cool down procedures?

2) What were the good things which you accomplished with your cool down?

3) What improvements would you make so your cool down accomplishes everything you want? Lowering the body temperature, stretching (this is the best time because this is the time when the muscles are still loose and supple from the workout), Core, strength for different body parts.

4) How good was the organization of the cool down? Everyone on their own, everyone cools down together? Coach controlled, athlete controlled?

5. Preparation for Races

A. Overall grade for athletes being prepared for races during the season –

0-5 scale 0=no preparation done with athletes to prepare them for races (just go out and race), 5=Did everything possible to prepare athletes for all races throughout the season.

B. Preparation for races – Early Season

1). Goal setting for individual races – did each race during the season have a specific purpose Related to the goals set out for the athlete?

2). Did the athlete participate in a variety of races during the season? 3). Was the method of goal setting effective? Coach directed, athlete directed, consultation between coach and athlete. Which method did you use?

4). Did your athlete achieve his or her goals?

5). If not, what may have prevented them from doing so?

6). How much did team considerations come into play when setting goals for your athletes?

7). Was there any other information which was important to planning next season’s goals which were not already covered?

8). What differences in race preparations exist in your program to separate early season, midseason and championship season races?

9). Is the number of planned races appropriate for the developmental level of the athlete?

10) How many high intensity races in a season?

11) How were they spaced?

12) Were there races used to teach tactics?

13) Were some of their races used as workouts?

6. Peaking at the Right Time-

A. In your opinion, what constitutes a successful “peak” for your athletes?

1). Doing well in the championship meet

a. Good placing

b. Any improvement in time over season best

c. All of the above

d. Meeting their season goal

B. In your opinion, what would be a disappointment for your peaking strategy.

a. Not placing as well in the championship as you thought they would

b. Equaling their best time but not beating it.

c. Not meeting their season goal.

d. Any of the above

C. Overall evaluation – How well did your athletes “peak” during the season?

0-5 Evaluation form.

0=Didn’t peak at all or actually ran worse than they had run before

5= Set incredible PR’s at every race distance at just the right time of the season


    1. My athletes all peaked at the right time and I could repeat the process with different athletes in a different set of circumstances.

      2. My success at peaking my athletes is based on the following factors.




      3. If I could improve my peaking process, I would add the following:




      4. My peaking process would have even more successful if I eliminated:




    E. I have no idea of how to peak my athletes but these are the things I did during the season.

    F. I don’t believe in peaking and just follow my plan to the end of the season

7. Injuries and Interruptions in Training During the Season

A. Injuries – What percentage of my athletes had injuries during the season? What types of injuries did the athlete have? Strains, pulls, joints, ligaments, tendons

In what parts of the body did these injuries most frequently occur?

1. Lower leg (foot, ankle)

2. Knee

3. Hip

4. Other

What may have caused them? (Growth in undeveloped athletes, overuse, too much too soon, too much intensity,

B. Sicknesses -

1. What part of the season did the sickness occur? Beginning, Middle, End.

2. Was there a change in training shortly before the sickness occurred?

C. Other training interruptions

1. Vacations

2. Activities which can divert training energy (band, school play, club sport, family obligations, weekend obligations )

I’m sure there are smarter coaches out there that can use this checklist as a jumping off point toward creating their own post season checklist and report card for how the season went. I am sure there are many areas I missed in creating this list. Each coach should feel free to create a list that works for you.

Being a coach encompasses many professions. You are part cop, psychologist, psychiatrist, mother, father, statistician, overseer, organizer, cheerleader, bus driver, teacher, doctor and Indian chief.

When evaluating your own performance, use the same skills you have used to coax the best performances out of your athletes. You treat them with respect, kindness, love and a view toward what is in the best interest of the athlete. When necessary, you boot them in the butt to get them to strive for that higher performance, but the good coach is always more positive than negative when dealing with athletes.

When you are evaluating your own performance, use these same criteria. Realize you probably did more things right than things you need to improve. Treat yourself with respect, love, kindness and caring.

In dealing with elite athletes, I have found them to be their own worst critics. Coaches are the same. When critiquing ourselves, it is important to be able to see areas we need to improve, but we also need to be able to celebrate all the good moves we made, the lives we changed, because we were in the right place at the right time, making the right decision so our athletes were able to achieve at their highest level possible.

Change what needs to change, so the next group will have the benefit of your expertise, but don’t lose the good parts of what made you a good coach before you did the evaluation.


Benson, Tony and Ray, Irv, Run With the Best, Tafnews Press, Mountain View, California, 2001

Martin, David and Coe, Peter, Training Distance Runners, Leisure Press, Champaign, Illinois, 1991

Daniels, Jack, Daniels’ Running Formula, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2005

Purdy, J. Gerry, Running Trax, Computerized Running Training Programs, Tafnews Press, Mountain View, California, 2002

Sandrock, Michael, Running Tough, 75 Challenging Training Runs, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2001

Bakoulis, Gordon and Karu, Candace, editors, The Running Times Guide to Breakthrough Running, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2000

Janssen, Peter, Lactate Threshold Training, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2001

Johnson, Jeff, Nike Farm Team Training Plans-1999-2000, published by author.

Daws, Ron, Running Your Best, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington Massachusetts, 1985

Osler, Tom, Serious Runner’s Handbook, World Publications, Inc., Mountain View, California, 1978

Rogers, Joseph L, Project Manager, USA Track and Field Coaching Manual, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2000.

Derse, Edward, Hansen, Jacqueline, Stolley, Skip, editors, AAF Track and Field Coaching Manual, Amateur Athletic Foundation, Los Angeles, California, 1995-2001.

Derse, Edward, Hansen, Jacqueline, Stolley, Skip, editors, AAF Cross Country Coaching Manual, Amateur Athletic Foundation, Los Angeles, California, 1995-2001.

Thank you to Al Berrin for the above contribution. Please feel free to offer your thoughts on his article. Do you evaluate your season once it's complete? How do you go about planning for the season ahead?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Westmoor HS Junior High School Meet

Please help pass the word to your local middle/junior high schools about the Middle School Ram Invitational at Westmoor HS. If teams and/or individuals are interested in participating, they should call Coach Dimaggio to let him know their intent to participate.
Dear Coach,

Westmoor High School would like to invite you and your team to participate in the Middle School Ram Invitational to be held Friday, September 25, 2009 at Westmoor High School.

The Westmoor course is 1.1 miles. The school is located on a hill and the course utilizes the terrain around our school. You can find a map of the course at:

4:00 PM 6th Grade Girls’ Race
4:20 PM 6th Grade Boys’ Race
4:40 PM 7th Grade Girls’ Race
5:00 PM 7th Grade Boys’ Race
5:20 PM 8th Grade Girls’ Race
5:40 PM 8th Grade Boys’ Race


Top 20 finishers in each race will receive medals. The individual winners of each race will also receive a plaque. Team plaques will be awarded to the winning teams of each race.

$4 individuals
$25 Team
$75 max

Directions to Westmoor High School
Westmoor High School is located in Daly City, California, just south of San Francisco

Coming from the south, take 280 headed north towards Daly City. Take the Pacifica-Mission St. turn-off, which is opposite Serramonte Shopping Center. As you come off the freeway, stay in the left hand lane going towards Pacifica. Then take Skyline Blvd. North(35). This exit is the second exit and is only about 1/4 mile from 280. Once on Skyline, take the first right at the stop light. This will be Westmoor Ave. Westmoor High School will be straight ahead approximately four blocks. Make a left at the last stop sign in front of the school and follow the road to the next stop sign. Make a right and go uphill to the back of the school parking lot.

Coming from the north, take 280 South towards Daly City. Take the Pacifica turn-off. Then take Skyline Blvd. North(35). This exit is the second exit and is only about 1/4 mile from 280. Once on Skyline, take the first right at the stop light. This will be Westmoor Ave. Westmoor High School will be straight ahead approximately four blocks. Make a left at the last stop sign in front of the school and follow the road to the next stop sign. Make a right and go uphill to the back of the school parking lot.

Thank you,

Cross Country Coach
Westmoor High School
Home-(650) 573-6290 (After 7p.m.)




Entries should be received at Westmoor High School, 131 Westmoor Ave., Daly City California 94015, no later than Tuesday, 9/22/09. If you have a problem, please call me.
Entering can by done by, (1) receipt of check, or (2) phone call to me to advise that you will be coming and bringing the check with you.

($2.00 PER RUNNER)

6th Grade Girls ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

6th Grade Boys ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

7th Grade Girls ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

7th Grade Boys ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

8th Grade Girls ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

8th Grade Boys ______________________ ¬¬¬_______

TOTALS ______________________ _______

You may enter as many runners as you want in any Division.

FEES- $2.00 - Per individual runner
$50.00 - Maximum

Make checks payable to the RAM TRACK CLUB.

Snacks, drinks and Ram Invitational T-Shirts will be available at the meet.

Mail entry form and check to: Ron DiMaggio
Cross Country Coach
Westmoor High School
131 Westmoor Avenue
Daly City, California 94015

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'09 CCS pre-season rankings courtesy of Doug Speck and

Any thoughts on the above rankings? Who is missing? Who should be ranked higher or lower? What team is going to be the biggest surprise in CCS for either boys and/or girls?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Photo of the Week

The picture above is courtesy of Jeffrey Deuel
"This is from the '09 EBAL F/S 3200 final at Granada. Race was at around 9pm, hence the flash blur and the cool sky..."

If you have a cool picture that you would like to contribute for photo of the week, please send to Please include when and where the picture took place.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Catching up with Lassen HS runner Tiffany Heflin...

Today we chat with one of the best runners in Northern California that you may not be aware of yet. Her name is Tiffany Heflin and she competes for Lassen HS (in Susanville) which is part of the Northern Section. You think you had to travel far to get to Mt. SAC last year? How does a 10 hour drive sound which is the amount of time it takes to go from Lassen HS to Mt. SAC? Heflin finished the '08 cross country season in fine fashion as she place 3rd in the Division IV race with a time of 18:27. Heflin's time was the 14th fastest out of all NorCal girls in any division. As she heads into her junior xc season, Heflin will definitely be a runner to watch.

1) How did you first get involved in running?
Where I live, in elementary school, they have cross country. My second grade teacher was talking about it to the class so I came home after school and asked my dad if I could do cross country.

2) What was the first sign for you that running is the best sport for you?
Well, when I was little, I always wanted to get better so I ran road races and this lady came up to my dad and told him I should do Junior Olympics and I think that is when everything sorta fell into place.

3) What is the hardest part of being a runner in the Northern Section?
The hardest part is that all the races are so far away. Also, my school doesn't really have anyone that can help me push myself so I'm basically alone 'til I get to races.

4) How has your dad helped support you with your running?
He has always been there for me. He spends so much money on new shoes and gas to get me to races that my team doesn't attend. He knows me the best when it comes to how I should run a race and how hard I need to push myself in practice.

5) What was your most memorable experience from the '08 cross country season?
Definitely state. There was a girl in my section (Michelle Johnson of West Valley HS) that was a senior and I had been trying to beat her all season. Every race I just kept getting closer and when state rolled around I finally got her.

6) Favorite XC meet? Favorite course? Favorite workout? Favorite run? Favorite competitor?
I'm going to say Mt. SAC is my favorite meet. There is so much going on and they are fast about getting the races going. My favorite course is definitely the state meet course. Hills are the best workout by far. I like runs on dirt trails. My favorite competitor is Michelle Johnson. She was a senior from the northern section and the few years I raced her I learned a lot about myself.

7) Describe what a typical week looks like for you during cross country in terms of training?
Well I run in the mornings and then some days in the afternoons we do really long runs or my coach will have us do pacing or speed work on the track. Then, we always have those killer hill days.

8) You finished 3rd last year in Division IV and are the 2nd fastest returner this year. What would a state championship mean to you?
I would love to be a state champion. It would definitely make all the training and pain worth it in the end.

9) What are your track PRs?
3000meters: 10:30, 3200meters: 11:48, 1500meters:4:53, 1600meters: 5:11, and 800meters: 2:26

10) How did you end up being a member of the Buffalo Chips Running Club?
Well I ran for the Silver State Striders out of Reno, Nevada first, but we were always really good friends with the Paddecks so when the Striders fell apart, I automatically went to the Buffalo Chips.

11) List your classes for this coming school year.
In order I have Honors English,Honors U.S. History, Spanish 3, Pre Calculus, Academic Tutor, AP Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology.

12) What has been the most important lesson you have learned from running?
The most important lesson I have learned from running is you have to be patient and let me tell you, I'm not the most patient person there is, but I'm getting a lot better at it.

Thank you very much for your time Tiffany! AJC

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interview with Maggie Vessey's coach on

Great interview with Maggie Vessey's coach by's Robert Johnson. It's a lengthy interview but well worth the read. The following is the lead up to the interview.

Brock is a graduate of Stanford University where he ran under legendary Stanford coach Payton Jordan Marshall Clark (Payton Jordan was the head of the program) and majored in Psychology. He also has a masters from UCSB in ergonomics or as he said, "I call it exercise physiology, the call it ergonomics." Brock placed 5th in the 1972 US Olympic Trials marathon. Professionally, he is best known for being the long-time coach at Santa Cruz High School, where he first starting coaching in 1974. From 1981 to 1997, Brock coached at Cabrillo College in the junior college ranks. Cabrillo dropped their track program and Brock refused to coach just cross country. He returned to Santa Cruz HS where he now coaches once again. Additionally, he coaches and is the general manager of the Santa Cruz track club. )

Greg Brock: The Man Who Always Expected Maggie Vessey To Be An 800 Meter Star

Photo to the left courtesy is

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Athlete and Coach Interview Suggestions...

Wanted to get your feedback on what athletes and/or coaches here in Northern California that you would like to see interviewed. I am also open to anybody else that you feel has made a contribution to Northern California Cross Country and/or Track and Field. Ideally, I would like to get a list of people that I have not interviewed already. Thank you in advance for your help.

Just as a reminder, here are athlete interviews that I have posted so far:

Here are the coach interviews:

Thanks to coach Jim Lynch of Petaluma and Charlie Avis of Palo Alto for taking the plunge into the interview arena with me and being the first coach and athlete interviews respectively.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Excellent blog entry about Grace Upshaw...

Grace Upshaw is the former Acalanes HS athlete who went on to compete in college at Oregon and later at California, Berkeley. She has been one of the most consistent long jumpers for the US in the past decade, qualifying for two Olympic teams ('04 and '08). She is also the younger sister of Joy Upshaw who coaches at Gunn HS and is still quite a competitor in the masters division. Joy's daughter (Sunny Margerum) is entering her senior year at Gunn HS as one of the top track and field athletes in CCS. Needless to say, quite the talented family.

The following is a blog post about Grace Upshaw by one of her competitors, Brianna Glenn. Very well written and hearthfelt piece.

I think it will hit home to many of you as your greatest competitor can eventually turn into a great friend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Track and Field World Championships Previews...

Want to know who are all the favorites that will be competing next week at the '09 version of the Track and Field World Championships in Berlin? Check out the following link courtesy of the IAAF website:

Looking forward to the Tyson Gay/Usain Bolt showdown we missed in Beijing. Let's see how the young American distance runners fare against the best in the world. What match-ups are you looking forward to seeing?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Photo of the Week

From the '09 CA State meet boys' 3200m. (Lots of Northern CA representatives up front).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Couple of updates about two North Bay running legends...

Thanks to Harry Skandera of Santa Rosa Christian for letting us know that Dan Aldridge is now coaching again at the high school level at Sonoma Academy.

Aldridge previously coached at Maria Carrillo HS where he raised the level of the Pumas to compete at the state level. Several of his outstanding runners included his own daughter, Jenny, who won the 2000 1600m. state meet final in 4:49.63. He's pictured in the photo below courtesy of with two of his former runners, Kristen Sanzari and Leanne Fogg. Dan was a great runner himself as he still holds the Petaluma HS record in the 800m. with a time of 1:49.21 (on dirt). He stepped down from his post at Maria Carrillo a few years ago to ignite his own running again as he approached his 50th birthday.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat mentioned his return to the hs coaching ranks in the following bit:


Former Maria Carrillo track and cross country coach Danny Aldridge will take over the cross country program at Sonoma Academy.

Following a college career at USC, Santa Rosa JC and San Luis Obispo, that included being named an NCAA All American at USC in 1976, a JC state champion in the 1,500 meters and a two-time national champ in the 1,500 at Cal Poly SLO, Aldridge also turned pro and ran in the World University Games.

Aldridge is an owner and manager at Heart and Sole running store in downtown Santa Rosa.

The other runner of prominence from the Santa Rosa area is Julia Stamps (pictured above with her daughter Ashlin thanks the SR Press Democrat). For those of you that remember Stamps, she had one of the finest high school running careers in the state of CA. Her times in hs included a 4:42.79 1600m. and a 10:12.20 3200m. She attended Stanford where she was a 6 time all-American. You can read more about Stamps in the following article in the SR PD:

New path leads Stamps in old direction

Friday, August 07, 2009

Northern Section Pre-Season Rankings...

Thanks to Scott Fairley (West Valley HS) and Jim Deaver (Enterprise) for the following rankings:

Domenic D'Acquisto (11) - Enterprise
Zach Kaylor (12) - Enterprise
Dan Parker (12) Chico
Daniel Johnson (10) University Prep
Justin Gibbs (12) Pleasant Valley

Pleasant Valley

Tiffanie Heflin (11) - Lassen
Cody Atkins (10) - Chico
Corissa Storms (11) - West Valley
Deleane Bartlett (11) - Enterprise
Stephanie Rasmussen (10) American Christian

Mt. Shasta
West Valley

An interview with Tiffany Heflin is coming up.

Please give your choices for top teams in Northern California (boys and girls). Once I get enough feedback from everybody, I will post the pre-season Northern California list.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All Stars Helping Kids - Teammates

It would be awesome if you had the chance to help spread the word about the USATF nominees for Jefferson Award for Public Service (Lauryn Williams, Sara/Ryan Hall, Lauren Fleshman). They are all doing a good job of getting the word out to their twitter feeds, etc, but the folks in the WTA have sent out stuff about the tennis nominees, the Raiders have publicized their guy, the Mavericks have publicized Dirk N, etc. Some sport specific publicity would be fantastic.

It is a prestigious award for public service, and (full disclosure) my husband runs the foundation that is helping get pro athletes from all sports nominated in a serious way for the first time. I, however, can pick sides! Check out the list - it is a good thing to have our tracksters alongside these names in the other big sports.

Just like the "last man in" vote for the All Star Game, it is all about the fan energy to pump up those vote totals!

Dena Evans

2009 NCS Division IV Pre-Season Rankings...

You might think I saved the best division for last but the truth of the matter is that this is always the most difficult division for me to rank. While Division IV in NCS may not be the toughest division, the teams and individuals in this division have certainly fared well at the state meet. In the past two years, St. Mary's Berkeley has collected 3 state meet plaques (2 for the girls and 1 for the boys). The Piedmont boys won the state championship in 2005 before the onslaught of Big Bear victories the next 3 years. This year, the NCS also returns 3 runners who finished in the top 10 in their respective races at the state meet (Dan Milechman of Tamalpais, Dan Maxwell of St. Mary's and Theresa Devine of Marin Catholic).

What makes this division tough to predict is the fluctuation of teams that move from either Division III or V. Some of the teams also have small rosters which make for some great teams one year and not so competitive teams the next. The other part that makes it difficult is that some of the teams compete in leagues whose results you rarely see. That is hopefully not the case anymore. At this point, I can only take history into account as well as the results from last year's meets to give you an idea of the contenders for this coming season.

So what that in mind, here are my predictions for this coming season. The favorite to win the boys' team title has to be St. Mary's Berkeley. They return one of the fastest runners in the state, Dan Maxwell, and 5 out of their top 7 from last year's NCS race. In the past three years, they have won NCS twice ('06 and '07) and finished 2nd last year by 1 point to Tamalpais HS. I am pretty sure they will be plenty motivated this year to reclaim the NCS crown.

That was the easy part. Now comes the guessing part. Last year's champions, Tamalpais, returns the best runner in this division, Dan Milechman, but most of last year's team is off to college. The 3rd place team, San Rafael HS, just missed the NCS title by 5 pts. (68 to 73). They return their top 2 runners, juniors to be Trevor Ehlenbach and Cameron Bronstein but lose graduated senior Brian Hernandez and their best freshman from last year, Tyler Browne, as he is transfering to Redwood HS. 4th place team, Justin Siena, loses their excellent seniors (Kevin Cardey, John Masyczek, Dan DeBleuw and Michael Bozzini) who excelled at both xc and track and field. 5th placer, Piedmont, has veteran coach Doyle O'Regan who keeps churning out good teams in this division. The wild card could be Sir Francis Drake which drops down from Division III and they had a solid group of underclassmen this year that could make an impact.

The favorite to win the individual crown is junior Dan Milechman of Tamalpais. He ran 16:20 as a 9th grader to finish 21st in the always tough Division III race. Last year, despite playing golf during the '08 spring, Milechman had a breakthrough season as he won the NCS title and then went on to finish 3rd. at the state meet. This past spring, Milechman put the golf bag away, ran track and qualified for the state meet in the 1600m. (4:20.36). His road to retaining his title will not be easy as Dan Maxwell of St. Mary's finished 2nd in the NCS race last year after leading most of the first 2 miles. Maxwell also ran well at the state meet, finishing 5th in 15:45, just 8 seconds behind Milechman. He continued his fine running this past track season finishing 8th in the ultra competitive NCS MOC final in the 3200m. running 9:27.13.

The favorite on the girls side is no stranger to success in this division. The Piedmont girls have finished in the top 4 every year since 2001 including titles in '01, '03 and '06. They return their top 5 runners and 6 out of their top 7 from last year's 2nd place team. They have two top 10 finishers from last year (Nicole Peterson and Jamie Kent) that will definitely put them in the hunt. Their main competition will be the two time defending champions, St. Mary's Berkeley, who also finished second at the state meet the past two years. They return two of the best runners in this division in Taylor Lawson and Alex Choy but will need to fill the holes left by their talented departing seniors.

The rest of the contending teams will include Moreau Catholic which returns it's top 3 runners, including number one runner Anika Adeni (4th placer last year at NCS MOC in 18:55). Tamalpais has a nice group of sophomores as well as their #2 runner from last season, state meet qualifier Monica Milstein. Sir Francis Drake will be a factor on the girls side as well as they returns their top 7 runners and veteran coach Bill Taylor is no stranger to success.

The favorite to win the girls' title will be Marin Catholic's Theresa Devine. She is the defending champion here as she won last year in 18:14. She finished 5th at last year's state meet in a very competitive race as the 2nd through 6th place runners were seperated by 5 seconds. Devine also ran track for the first time last year putting the soccer ball aside to focus on her running. Her competition will come from the two St. Mary's runners, Taylor Lawson and Alex Choy, Anika Adeni of Moreau Catholic, Nochelle Ozard of Fortuna as well as the two Piedmont runners, Nicole Peterson and Jamie Kent.

Division IV Boys (Top 3 Advance to state)
1) St. Mary's Berkeley-Looking for 3rd title in last 4 years.
2) Piedmont-5 out of top 7 back including top 2.
3) San Rafael-Finished here last year.
4) Tamalpais-Defending champions need young runners to step up.
5) Sir Francis Drake-Bill Taylor's 27th year at the helm of the boys.
On the bubble: Arcata, El Molino, Moreau Catholic

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 NCS meet time:
Dan Milechman (1) Tamalpais 15:18
Dan Maxwell (2) St. Mary's Berkeley 15:55
Trevor Ehlenbach (5) San Rafael 16:14
John Whitman (6) El Molino 16:14
Brian King (8) Cardinal Newman 16:22

Division IV Girls (Top 3 Advance to state)
1) Piedmont-6 out of 7 are back after 2nd place finish last year.
2) St. Mary's Berkeley-Two time defending champions.
3) Moreau Catholic-MC in first year of post Phil Wilder era.
4) Tamalpais-Milstein will lead the way.
5) Sir Francis Drake-Sleeper that could challenge state meet contenders.
One the bubble: Arcata, Terra Linda

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) & 2008 NCS meet time:
Theresa Devine (1) Marin Catholic 18:14
Taylor Lawson (2) St. Mary's Berkeley 18:51
Anika Adeni (4) Moreau Catholic 18:55
Alex Choy (6) St. Mary's Berkeley 19:10
Nochella Ozard (8) Fortuna 19:21

Let me know your thoughts. Did I miss anybody? Who is looking good this summer? Any freshmen that will have an impact in this division? Norcal rankings will be up next.

Maggie Vessey racing this Thursday in Los Gatos

Maggie Vessey (seen above following her victory at the Pre Classic this year) will be running a 400 at the Los Gatos All-comer this Thursday. This is your chance to watch a world class athlete run in her final tuneup before the World Championships begin on the 15th.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

2008-09 Participation Survey

The following link is from the California Interscholastic Federation website with participation numbers from every sport in our state. The survey was taken in 2009.

Interesting numbers to check out:

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Photo of the Week

From the 2009 CCS 3200m. final. In the picture you can see winner Lance Wolfsmith of Sobrato, 2nd placer Garrett Rowe of Mountain View, 3rd placer Philip MacQuitty of Palo Alto, 4th placer, Mitch Moriarty of Aptos, 5th placer Nohe Lema of Willow Glen (partially hidden) and 6th placer Paul Summers of Gunn. One of the better CCS 3200m. races as Summers recorded 9:13.68 to finish in 6th and 4 runners ran faster than the at large time (9:12.57).

If you have a cool picture from this past track and field season, send it my way at

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