5 questions is back, and oh man, is this one a good one! For this weeks 5 questions segment, I got to interview none other than THE Dr. Jack Daniels! Jack is a world-class coach and exercise scientist, two-time Olympic medalist in the modern pentathlon, author of the Daniels' Running Formula, USTFCCCA Hall of Fame inductee, and has been named "The Worlds Best Running Coach" by Runners World magazine. He's coached seven athletes to the U.S. Olympic Team, 131 NCAA Division III All-Americans, 31 Individual NCAA Division III titles, and 8 team NCAA Division III titles. Whoa. That's quite the resume.
It's time to get your learn on! Without further ado, I'm honored to present 5 questions with Dr. Jack Daniels.
You earned the opportunity to compete as an Olympian, how do you feel your Olympic experience has influenced your coaching?
My Olympic experience led directly to my becoming a coach for the following reason – My Olympic sport was modern pentathlon, which involved cross country horseback riding, epee fencing, pistol shooting, swimming and cross country running. Among pentathletes I was ranked #1 in the world in riding, #3 in swimming, #8 in shooting, #11 in fencing and #24 in running (all of these in a field of 60 pentathletes at the Olympics). My goal was to become better at running, so I spent a year in Stockholm, Sweden studying sport and my dissertation was testing elite runners in the lab. I learned a great deal and got somewhat better (placed 14th in the run out of 50 at my final World Championships in Mexico City). I became pretty confident I could help other runners improve
You've influenced several generations of athletes and coaches over the course of your career, and your work has been instrumental in shaping how runners are coached at every level. What do you think your greatest contribution to the running community has been?
I like to think I have helped runners and coaches understand the benefits of different types of training; what takes place in the body based on intensity and duration of training runs.
What is the most common challenge that you run into with athletes that you coach, and how do you overcome it?
To teach them that working harder is not the only desirable approach. Rather, to understand proper speed, duration and benefits of various types of training.
What's one tip you would give to aspiring young coaches out there?
"Learn to understand the purpose of every workout that is prescribed and performed."
In as few words as possible, what is your coaching philosophy?
Understand the purpose of every workout. Treat each runner as an individual person. Teach each runner to learn to focus on the task at hand; you have no control over others in a race and they have no control over you.
Not only have I learned from my lab research, but from other runners, that there is not just 1 way that things need to be done. I coached a Freshman girl, who never ran more than 30 miles per week and she won DIII Cross Country nationals that year and that spring won DIII nationals in the 10K. Another DIII college girl I trained didn’t make my top 7 in cross country as a Freshman or Sophomore (her high-school best was a 2:39 800). I got her to do some new things during summer after Sophomore year and Fall of Jr year she placed 4th at XC nationals, won the indoor 1500 and outdoor 3000, and senior year won XC nationals, indoor 1500 and 5k and outdoor 3k and 10k. Then won Penn Relays in 10k (33:01) and beat the DI national record holder in that race (with a final 800 in that 10k of 2:31).
Thank you so much to Dr. Jack Daniels for taking the time to answer my questions for this humble little blog. It's always exciting when you get to learn a little from one of the most important minds in the coaching community. Also thanks to Brian Rosetti for hooking me up with the interview and supporting the blog.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of 5 questions! Thanks for reading!
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