Friday, January 04, 2013

The 5th Annual NorCal Distance Coaches' Collaborative Roundtable

Just a reminder for the coaches attending tomorrow that the Roundtable will take place at Crystal Springs Uplands School from 9am to 3pm in the Gym classroom (only building on left side of the school).  
A Runner's Mind, 1199 Howard Ave. Burlingame CA 94010
The 5th Annual NorCal Distance Coaches' Collaborative Roundtable

Here is who is attending.
1. Chris Puppione-Healdsburg High School
2. Albert Caruana-Crystal Springs Uplands School
3. Jason Oswalt-Amador Valley
4. Tim Hunter-San Ramon Valley
5. Chris Williams-Dublin
6. Walt Lange-Jesuit
7. Craig Stern-Albany
8. Andrew Hutchinson-Sequoia
9. Josh Small-Valley Christian SJ
10. Noah Hinkston-Oakland Tech
11. Gaila Hinkston-Oakland Tech
12. Don Williams-Cornerstone
13. Pat LaFortune-Cardinal Newman
14. Dan Oren-Los Altos
15. Vince Sturgis-College Park
16. Ken Reeves-Former Nordhoff
17. Marty Beene-Alamada
18. Brad Alban-Miramonte
19. Jesse Shaw-Amador
20. Matt Tompkins-The King's Academy
21. John Hotchkiss-Mission San Jose
22. Peter Brewer-Northgate
23. Doug Chase-Scotts Valley
24. Jeffrey Gardiner Lick Wilmerding
25. Patrick McCrystle Bellarmine
26. Jack Coakley College Prep
27. Greg Fogg Maria Carrillo
28. Ruth Seabrook Northgate
29. Pierre Chan Mercy Burlingame
30. Peter Keys Arroyo
31. Ashley Relf Lick Wilmerding
32. Tony Fong St. Joseph Notre Dame
33. Mike Gomez Arroyo
34. Laura Brasfield Carlmont

Location:  Crystal Springs Uplands School
400 Uplands Drive
Hillsborough CA 94010

Date:  Saturday, January 5th, 2013
• Session I: 9am-12pm
• Lunch: 12pm-1pm
• Session II: 1pm-3pm

Roundtable Leaders
• Chris Puppione – Clinic Co-Director
o USATF Level III National Coach
• Albert Caruana – Clinic Co-Director
o Crystal Springs Uplands School
• Jason Oswalt – Clinic Co-Director
o Amador Valley High School

Roundtable Features
• Everyone is a clinician, everyone is a student.
• Roundtable topics selected by attendees in advance via email..
• All attendees receive “A Packet of Nuggets”—a compilation of coaching gems from each attending coach.
• Attendees will also receive a collection of training programs submitted by the other coaches in attendance.
• Cost for the roundtable discussion is FREE.
• Event is open to the first 30 coaches to register.

Contact Chris Puppione ( to register for the event, as well as to receive further information. This event is for HIGH SCHOOL COACHES ONLY.

Please contact Chris ASAP as spots are filling up fast. Some of the best coaches in California will be at this Roundtable. Don't miss out.


November 14, 2012

Dear Coaches,

Now that cross country season is almost in the books and the track and field season looms on the not-so-distant horizon, we would like to invite you to join us for a clinic unlike any other in the state of California.

On January 5th, 2013, we will be hosting The NorCal Distance Coaches Collaborative Roundtable in Hillsborough at Crystal Springs Uplands School. The event is scheduled to kick-off at 9am and will be attended by many of the finest coaches from our part of the state. This clinic is unique in format and conception.

Many of us have attended clinics over the years, and although we have been lucky enough to hear some great speakers, the part most of us look forward to is the aftermath—sitting around with your peers, swapping stories, discussing training ideas, asking questions, all while enjoying some good food and drink.

We have decided to get rid of the lectures and ditch the conventional while getting straight to the good stuff—some high-energy shop talk with some of our sport’s finest coaches in a relaxed environment full of friends and soon-to-be friends.  At this event, the attendees will choose the topics. Whether you want to rehash the last cross country season or talk about the track season ahead, you tell us and we will put it on the agenda.

1. Limited to the first 30 coaches to sign-up via email, this roundtable discussion is completely based on the contributions of all attendees. Here is how it works:

2. Coaches are asked to email Chris Puppione ( to sign-up for the event.

3. Upon receipt of your email, Chris will ask you to submit the following for the clinic by December 19, 2012:
a. Topics and ideas you would like to discuss or gain knowledge about at the clinic (training, recruiting, nutrition, state of the sport, etc.)
i. This is an absolute necessity, as these suggestions will function as our agenda for the day.
b. A 1-3 page installment (or “nugget of knowledge”) describing something you do with your athletes that you feel is key to your program’s success (i.e. a particular workout, coaching philosophy, mental training, etc.)
i. All coaches are expected to contribute with this—consider it as Part I of your entrance fee!
ii. These “nuggets” will be compiled and all attendees will receive the full collection of notes at the clinic in both print and digital formats.
c. A copy of your training plan and notes from the past cross country season or the upcoming track season.
i. This is Part II of your entrance fee, and coaches are to submit these so that they may be shared with other attendees for review, critique, and to foster discussion of training methods.
ii. These training programs will be sent out to all attendees in digital format, and you are asked to print them out prior to the roundtable and make notes on them for discussion purposes.
iii. By submitting your training ideas or plans in advance, you can have your season’s training discussed by some of our sport’s greatest coaches, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.
d. All submitted information must be sent in either MS Word or MS Excel docs so that they can be easily formatted for compilation.

4. A running tally of coaches who commit to attending the roundtable will be maintained on Albert’s website ( so everyone can prepare any specific questions that they may have for their fellow coaches.

5. Prior to the event, Chris and Albert will release a schedule that will outline the topics for the day so that each coach attending may come prepared to participate and contribute.

6. THERE ARE NO LECTURERS AT THIS EVENT. We are not presenting a seminar—this is an opportunity to expand the discussion and for everyone to be a student and a teacher.

7. Attending coaches are encouraged to bring any information they wish to discuss or share to the event. We will have overhead projectors, LCD projectors, as well as AV equipment—bring it all.

8. Also, we would like all coaches in attendance to bring their laptop computers with them, as we will be using internet connections to access information during discussion periods. Please be sure to have your flash drive or memory stick with you so you can steal/borrow info from other coaches.

9. Sign-in on January 5th will begin at 8:30am with the roundtable beginning promptly at 9am. We will section the day into topics picked by our attendees,

10. Break for lunch at noon, and then reconvene for further discussion starting at 1pm. The roundtable ends when either you go home or they kick us out of the building at 3pm.

11. While this is an open discussion, we have designated the following coaches as leaders for the event:
a. Chris Puppione, USATF Level III National Coach
b. Albert Caruana, Crystal Springs Uplands School
c. Jason Oswalt, Amador Valley High School

12. These coaches will act as guides for the discussion, keeping the roundtable focused while moving the group through the agenda and moderating input from all coaches. They will offer their insights as well, but they are not clinicians or panelists.

13. On the day of the event, all attending coaches will receive the following:
a. “A Packet of Nuggets”—a compilation of coaching gems from all attendees
b. A collection of all attendees training programs
c. Great conversation with amazing colleagues

It is our belief that this collaborative roundtable will be of great benefit for all coaches—rookies and veterans alike. Please join us for this amazing event by emailing your registration to Chris Puppione (

Be a part of the excitement—be a part of the conversation. Join us January 5, 2013 at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, CA for The 5th Annual NorCal Distance Coaches’ Collaborative Roundtable.

Yours in running,

Chris Puppione
Albert Caruana
Jason Oswalt


Anonymous said...

Something to talk about... even here is people are willing.

I'm old and stuck in my ways. I HATE drills. Hate, hate, hate them. I hated them as an athlete and I hate them as a coach. I would rather run more mileage than go through circuits. I can't fake it.

I'm old school. We run mileage and I think stretching is good. Outside of 1-2 stellar stars I believe the 70's had better runners and more depth than today with all the fancy training and drills and such.

So for an old dog like me who can't pretend to like the new age of training what are some little things I can do for my team that doesn't seem like circuits or drills?

Christopher R.V. Puppione said...

Come to the roundtable to discuss. It will be worth the time, I assure you.

phillip h said...

Search for drills and you will come up with Sprint Drills and Core work, Fads?

Here is an excerpt:

What drills are good for is dynamically warming up, maybe some coordination training, and some are easy intros to plyometrics. But, the point is, because drills are relatively new for distance runners, they are taken to the extreme. Coaches are going crazy copying other coaches or coming up with their own routines. When if you just step back for a minute look at some of the drills that are being done and how they are being taught, you’d quickly realize that what you are doing makes no sense at all if it is for running mechanics. How anyone thinks the B skip drill (the way most people do it) simulates running mechanics or improves mechanics in anyway is beyond me.

Make sure you also look at the article, 'The Old School Approach to Training'.


Athenian XC

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of coaches who are planning to come? Would like to see some of our local coaches and hear what they have to say. From the powerhouse schools like Campolindo, San Ramon, Maria Carillo, De La Salle to smaller schools like St. Marys, Universiy, Piner, Lick Wilmerding just to name a few who I would love to listen to what they have to say.

Christopher R.V. Puppione said...

Look at the past attendees and I believe you will see that this is a collective of the best coaches in our sport. As for the drills discussion, once again, come and see what we have to say. I think you will find that many people are not only performing drills and core work improperly, they are also doing them for the wrong reasons. Each have their place in any training program.

Coach Small said...

Just because it is "new" doesn't mean it is better and just because it worked in the "glory days" does it mean it is either.

A few current fads: stretching is bad, cross fit, etc.

Fads from the 90's: less is more

80's fads: long slow distance

Maybe drills will be that for us. But while youth become less and less active learning simple things like coordination (kids used to get that from playing outside) can't be a bad thing right? Of course the question for any coach is, what has the most bang for the buck? What can we do in the 2 hours a day to maximize development? Is it better to drill or run a few extra miles?

I've read research that supports both philosophies and certainly worth the discussion. One thing I do know is you can't fake it. Be who you are, buy in is perhaps the most valuable thing a coach can have in their program, and if your being fake the kids sniff it out real quick. Stay true to who you are.

Looking forward to this year's round table already.

Steve Palladino said...

In terms of Return on Investment, "drills" have to be near the bottom of the totem pole. Yet, they are (besides an easy ~20minute warm-up run and strides), one of the central components in the pre-race warm-up of most HS teams. Consequent to this approach, there is risk of deficiency in activation of the high-end enzyme/energy systems needed in a race of 5000m or less. In warm-up for a race of 5000m or less, why not open up those systems? Think about it - if you were doing 4-6x800m or 8x400m, which interval is your easiest to hit target pace? Certainly not this first one. Intervals after the first one are conducted with the higher end enzyme/energy systems more properly opened. Why "drills" are not replaced with 1-2x 300m @ race pace 10-15 minutes before race baffles me.

Anonymous said...

"Why "drills" are not replaced with 1-2x 300m @ race pace 10-15 minutes before race baffles me."

One reason could be that it would be very easy for excitable high school kids to run these way too fast, which would more than defeat the purpose.

By the way, many teams do finish their warmups with "long strides".

Steve Palladino said...

"One reason could be that it would be very easy for excitable high school kids to run these way too fast, which would more than defeat the purpose."
Hmmm....I'm going to give HSers (based on my interaction with Maria Carillo runners) a bit of credit and go out on a limb and guess that most HSers would be able to execute these properly.

Anonymous said...

One thing Magnus fails to touch on is that "drills" are not used for form but to warm up. Reading on most message boards the belief here is stretching breaks miscible fibers hurting performance. Doing drills correctly helps warm up and stretch muscles without stretching. Stretching is bad, drills are boring and not done correctly so it's a waste of time so where does that leave us? And doesn't even matter? I've run breakthrough races where I've sprinted to the line with a 10 min warm up because I'm late. I've had bad races with a full warmup. There's more going on here and I'd like to know what it is. And to anyone who thinks stretching is bad, don't ever get old. You'll wish you stretched more.

Anonymous said...

From what I saw at the state meet today drills are done entirely wrong and a waste of time. Stick to warm up, stretching and strides. The other stuff you're doing wrong does nothing for you kids. Hell, half these kids would be better off not even warming up and going to the start line. Even top teams got it wrong.

Coach Pup said...

Thus spake the worldly and knowledgeable Anonymous...yeah, you listen up to the faceless, nameless authority, kids.

Anonymous said...

Where is the leader of the Army?

Anonymous said...

no chuck's army?

Anonymous said...

He already knows everything why go?

Coach Rasmussen said...

Well, this post is coming in a couple months late, but just stumbled across this conversation, so what can I say?

Steve Palladino said, "...drills" have to be near the bottom of the totem pole. Yet...there is risk of deficiency in activation of the high-end enzyme/energy systems needed in a race of 5000m or less...Why "drills" are not replaced with 1-2x 300m @ race pace 10-15 minutes before race baffles me.?

I can't say anything about deficiency in activation of the high-end enzyme/energy systems needed, because I am just a KISS (keep it simple stupid) coach, but I can offer this.

I coach an extremely small group and I have noticed recently that we get about 50 to 60% into the running phase of the workout, after doing 45 minutes of our warm-up routines, and the kids are running faster.

So sticking to the KISS approach, I decide at our last meet, after they do their "drills" and after some strides, to simulate that mid-workout scenario and had them doing 150 to 200m strides at race pace. (I hadn't read these posts before, BTW.)

The result was every single kid running a PR. Now, was it because of that or did I just make them believe in what I had to say?

Side note: I had no problem with any being excitable and running too fast. I just told them what pace, and they did it.

I'll be doing the same at Saturday's meet.

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