In the Internet age, there is a lot of information out there regarding training and racing, and much of it is contradictory. For every source that insists that you have to run high mileage and race frequently to succeed, there’s another source that claims that you can run well by doing minimal mileage and infrequent racing. With so many opposing views floating around, it can be difficult for a runner, particularly an inexperienced runner, to know who to listen to.
My hope is that through this blog, I can help clear up some of the clutter, and provide a consistent, measured approach to help you get the most out of your training and racing. I bring something of a unique perspective to coaching, because I work both sides of the street.
As the coach of Pacers Running//GRC New Balance, I work with many national caliber athletes, including Frances Koons, who is planning to compete in her third Olympic Trials on the track this summer, and Kieran O’Connor, who placed 24th in the Olympic Trials Marathon on February 13. As coach of the Northern Virginia Running Club, I work with athletes of varying ability levels, from highly competitive local runners to beginners, and everything in between.
Because I understand what it takes to succeed at the highest level of the sport, and am also sensitive to the challenges and uncertainties facing novice runners, including limited time to train due to work and family commitments, I’m able to provide insight into many areas of interest and concern to members of the running community. My goal as a coach is to help every one of my runners, regardless of their ability level, to make the most of their talent, and to enjoy the sport. My goal for this blog is to help readers do the same.
The first topic, training in bad weather, is one that has come up frequently in the last few weeks. In my view, to properly prepare to race at any distance from the 800 meters to the marathon, it’s important to do some runs in weather conditions that are less than ideal. While it’s critical to exercise special care in the heat and when roads and trails are icy, running in most other adverse weather conditions (rain, cold, wind) is not going to place you in jeopardy of illness or injury, and doing the occasional run in the rain or the cold will improve your readiness to race.
Think of it this way – if you make it a practice to never run in the rain, how will you react if you wake up on race day to discover that it’s raining? On the other hand, if you’ve trained on some unpleasant cold or rainy days, when you start to hurt doing a race, you can draw upon the mental toughness you developed training in those nasty conditions, knowing that you’ve endured significant discomfort in training for the very purpose of allowing yourself to race well. There are days when running outside is simply not safe, and I’m not suggesting that you run outdoors in extreme weather. I am saying, however, that if you exercise common sense, heading outdoors on some days when it would be more comfortable to stay inside will help you to become a better runner.
Coach Jerry Alexander
Jerry is the coach of the Pacers Running//GRC New Balance race team, a group of mainly post-collegiate runners who pursue careers by day and train for PRs in the evenings. Team members train to run a variety of distances with Coach Jerry at the helm. Jerry also coaches at the Northern Virginia Running Club where he trains runners of all abilities. Before landing his coaching gigs, Jerry was a walk-on on the Columbia Cross Country and Track squad and continued running while in Law School at Vanderbilt where he broke the school record in steeplechase. When injury cut his own running career short he pursued coaching at Vanderbilt, the University of the District of Columbia, and American University. When not whipping his runners into shape, Jerry can be found hanging out with his wife Michelle, and Jacob, or working as a Trial Attorney at the United States Department of Justice.
If you have running questions Coach Jerry can answer for you in a future column send them along to [email protected]