Sunday, December 26, 2010

Catching up with JSerra coach, Martin Dugard

Today we chat with JSerra HS coach, Martin Dugard.  While he may be more well known for his numerous books including "Chasing Lance:  The 2005 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong's Ride of a Lifetime", Mr. Dugard has also made his mark in the CA high school coaching scene.  His girls won the Division IV state championship this past season following a second place finish in '09.  He got his start in running in the Sacramento area during junior high school years.  You can view a more complete bio on his blog at  

1)  What sports did you participate and compete in before and during high school?
I began running back when junior high schools had athletic programs, so I was able to get a great introduction to distance running when I ran 7th and 8th grade track and cross-country for Mitchell Junior H.S. in Rancho Cordova. Our coach's name was Al Withers, and he had a club program called Canadian Bacon that constituted our running between seasons. We did all the major races on the Sacramento road circuit. My family moved a lot in high school due to my dad's career, but everywhere we lived I was able to run track and cross-country. 

2)  Where did you run in high school and what were some of your accomplishments and highlights? 
9th grade: Mitchell Junior H.S. in Rancho Cordova. Finished 3rd or 4th (I can't remember in CIF and won the Cordova Invitational). Jesuit H.S. in Shreveport, Louisiana (self-coached because the school had no team Ran road races). 11th grade: Gwinn H.S. in upstate Michigan. Can't remember specific results, but I made Michigan's all-state team. 12th grade: Notre Dame H.S. in Riverside, California. Can't remember specific results, but I seem to remember a 3rd or 4th at Mt. SAC and an All-CIF ranking. 

3)  Tell us a little about your college running experience at Northern Michigan University. 
Hmmmm. Started off solidly enough, but the program was in transition and a new coach had been hired, replacing the guy who recruited me. I ran well enough, and made it to NCAA Regionals three years in a row, but didn't run up to my ability. I was so burned out after ten straight years of competing that I eventually stopped running altogether for five years. 

4)  You have written several books including "Chasing Lance" and "Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth".  What inspired you to write and your interests in the subjects you have covered in your books?
I got a corporate job right after college, but was miserable. At my wife's urging, I started writing small articles for running and triathlon publications in my spare time. Five years later I was able to quit the corporate world and write full time. "Surviving... " was my first book, and came about because I'd been covering adventure racing for awhile and knew the sport well enough to cobble together a book of my experiences. That led to my other books, all of which have the common theme of individuals striving to fulfill their potential and step beyond the mediocrity that so often envelops our lives. "Chasing Lance" was the culmination of that arc. I'd been covering the Tour de France since 1999 and wanted to tell the story of life at the Tour during Lance's last bike race -- or what was supposed to be his last bike race. Both those books are personal favorites. Coincidentally, "Surviving... " will be expanded and re-released on May 15. 

5)  You have competed in the Raid Gauloises.  For those not familiar with this race, can you please describe it. 
The Raid has changed over the years, but back when I raced it was a team adventure competition. Five-person teams, each having at least one woman, raced nonstop across some of the most grueling terrain on earth, using only non-motorized locomotion. I raced in Patagonia, Lesotho, and Ecuador. Some of the disciplines (they changed every year) were whitewater rafting, trail running, ocean kayaking, horseback riding, climbing and rappeling, and mountain biking. 

6)  Besides the Raid, what have been some of your athletic achievements as an adult? 
A bunch of marathons, triathlons, mud runs, mountain bike races, trail runs, and XTerra's. My favorite was Britain's Tough Guy race. Google it. It's insane.

7)  You have coached at JSerra HS for 6 years.  What led you to coaching at JS and what was the state of the cross country program when you took over? 
I'd always wanted to coach, and though I offered to work for free at my oldest son's high school, they weren't all that interested. I made the same offer to the A.D. at JSerra when my son transferred there after his freshman year. All I wanted to do was help, but it turned out they needed a head coach. I got the job. There wasn't a program at the time. The school was only in its second year. So everything we've done has been through trial and error, slowly building a program and becoming more competitive over the years. It really helps that we have an incredible trail network and an amazing numbers of great hills within a quarter-mile of the track. We almost never have to run on pavement. 

8)  What do you think have been the most important changes that you have made to the training plan that led the girls to their high state meet finishes the past two seasons? 
Without giving away too much, I've put more focus on mileage and rest. I spend a lot of time experimenting. Those free LA84 clinics are a treasure trove of coaching knowledge, and I go as often as I can. They're free, and invariably some of California's best coaches actually hand out their workout schedules. I have a binder full of workouts from all sorts of State Championship programs. 

Also, we have a very small program, with just 16 boys and girls. I can't afford for anyone to get injured. So we really stress ice baths, stretching and being proactive about injury. 

9)  What does a typical week look like for your team?  What are your team's key workouts? 
A long run, a hill session, some sort of fartlek workout, and a focus on making sure that even recovery days are run at a brisk pace. My favorite workout is from Joe Vigil, a 6 x 1-mile w/3' rest. The recovery stays the same throughout the season, but the pace gets faster as we move from base training into the championship phase. My boys and girls do almost identical workouts, although the boys run about 15 more miles per week. 

10)  Your girls won the Division IV state title going into the meet as the favorites.  What did you do as a coach to ease some of the pressure? What was the reaction of the team when it was confirmed that they had won?  
My girls are nails. If anything, they found ways to make me less nervous during the week. I gave everyone a job to do, and reminded them that we would win if they all did their jobs. For instance, my #6 girl had the tough job of trying to beat as many of the other teams' #4 girls as she possibly could. 

As for the reaction, during the race I was standing at the final turn, where there's just a half-mile left. I got so caught up yelling for my girls that I didn't see how the other teams were doing. Then, as I was jogging back to the finish area, I saw the La Reina coach being congratulated and overheard someone say that Flintridge Sacred Heart had won. I was devastated. Then, of course, came that awful fifteen minutes of waiting as they tabulate results. I was standing with the girls as we finally got the results sheet... man, what an amazing sensation. Someone took pictures of that moment, and I'm telling you that the looks of euphoria on my face and the team's is so genuine and so amazing. We'd been pointing toward state since practice started in July. To finally win, and then to step up onto that podium was such a sublime feeling.

11)  You have a book coming out in 2011 titled "To Be a Runner".  Brief description? 
It's a collection of running-related essays, written to inspire and also offer a few pointers. I don't write it from the point of view of a coach, but from that of someone who's been a runner for more than forty years. It's written for runners of all abilities, from beginner to competitive, and details everything from running with the bulls in Pamplona to buying a new pair of running shoes. Rodale is the publisher. They also publish Runner's World, so there will be a nice tie-in between my book and the magazine.

12)  Anything else you would like to add. 
Just that I need more runners! 

Thank you very much for your time Marty!  AJC

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