Welcome to Episode 18 of the Final Surge Podcast. Our guest today is Steve Magness. Steve is a former high school prodigy, the author of the well-respected book The Science of Running and a coach at the University of Houston and to several professional runners. We talk about everything from training the extremes, race strategy and breaking through plateaus to tapering, psychology and racing.
Most of our listeners probably know who you are, but let’s give anyone who may not know your background some history. Can you tell us about how you got started running?
You made that huge jump your senior year. Can you tell us about that and what changes you made to have that breakthrough?
What was your training like your first three years of high school?
Your book the The Science of Running is one of those books that I think every coach, no matter how experienced, should have on their book shelf. But I understand you are working on a new book. What can we expect from that one?
You took over coaching at your alma mater the University of Houston a few years ago. As a college coach who is taking in high school runners, what are you noticing about the high school athletes you get as far as their training and what they may be lacking?
Let’s say you have a kid who has plateaued – a 4:30 miler. When he hits a level where he is no longer improving, is this when you need to change a stress?
When you have a group of 30-50 kids sometimes that balance is hard. What advice would you have for coaches with larger programs on what they should be looking for in each runner to see if the training needs to be changed up for some of these kids.
There is a debate among some in the high school distance ranks. The old ‘volume vs intensity’ debate. One argument is they are young so work on their speed development while the other camp feels that they should be working on their aerobic capacity and leave the speed for the next level. Of course, the truth as always is probably somewhere in the middle. But I think both camps work on both. The intensity camp may be more of a 35 mile a week program with 2-3 days of really intense work while the volume camp may be more 50-55 miles a week with a lot more tempo work. What advice would you have for high school runners and coaches?
How would you structure a week of workouts for a high school kid?
This is another question from a high school coach. Actually, the same question came in from two coaches. These coaches are getting ready to start prepping for their qualifying and state meets. They would like to know what percentage of volume do you cut back? When do you start that? When do you have your last, hardest workout of the season?
You have a podcast called The Magness and Marcus podcast, which as a coach is my favorite podcast because there is some talk about training, but a lot of talk about actual coaching. I’m curious, how much time do you guys spend talking coaching outside of that podcast?
When you are working with your mid-pack cross country runners, you are not talking to them about strategies to win a race, so what coaching advice are you giving them for a race plan? What does that conversation look like?
You have been coaching for a few years now at a very high level. If you could go back and give advice to yourself when you started coaching high school, what advice would you give a younger Steve?
One of your athletes, and one of our favorite Final Surge runners Neely Spence Gracey, is going to be running the NYC marathon here shortly. How is her training looking? (Listen to our podcast with Neely on Episode 9)
A question from Twitter: We have a listener who has been putting in great training over the last year with great training runs. But on race day they are having sub-par performances in the 10k-Marathon races. Occasionally they will have a good race so their fitness level is there, but they are just not racing well. I know it could be a lot of things, but can you give this runner some general areas to look into to race better?
Another question from Twitter: When you are looking at recruits, what are you looking for in an athlete?
Rapid Fire… 5 questions in under 1 minute
Favorite running book? – Once a Runner
Current trainers you are wearing? – Asics
Favorite race? – 1/2 Marathon
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? – Chocolate Milk
Your favorite piece of running equipment that is not your shoes? – Timex non-GPS watch
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