Steve Scott "The Development of a World Class Miler by Coach Len Miller, Athletics International

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George Payan
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Steve Scott "The Development of a World Class Miler by Coach Len Miller, Athletics International

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Dear Coach George Payan,

Sorry these materials are so late in coming on Steve Scott. Hopefully there will be a few ideas of value to the readers. I might add that to develop a miler or 1500M runner, leg speed is the number one factor. Find a young man with leg speed and a body type enabling him to be a miler and then look for mental toughness and build stamina. You can develop and build stamina, but leg speed is a limiting factor. The greater the basic speed the more efficient "easy speed" is through the bulk of the 1500M race. Regarding training, just make the second half of every workout faster than the first half, and you will be assure the workout is sensible for the runner.

If you have specific problems or questions, don't hesitate to write and I will respond to the best of my Knowledge.
Sincerely,
Len Miller

The Development of Steve Scott, a World Class Miler

Len Miller: I first noticed Steve Scott in the Fall of his Senior year in high school. He had the eighth best time at the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational Meet. About three thousand runners participated. The course is grueling, hilly, extending physically and mentally for a young runner. The aptitude for endurance is a quality that must be present for a runner to become world class at one mile. Steve's last prep track season, ran 1:52.0 in the State half mile (800M) semi-finals. A second place finish in the finals. Not exactly an artistic effort. Boxed, breaking stride, running wide, but showing courage. I saw in this race the "heart" of a thoroughbred. This is a personal trait that must be tested periodically in practice and competition. A front runner will not make it to the top. Look for the guy who can find inspiration in an occasional defeat.

Pure speed: To be a world class runner you must ultimately be able to break fifty seconds in the quarter mile (400M). Steve, ran a 49.4 second 400M from the blocks in January at an all comers meet at U.C. Irvine his freshman year.

Steve, did not think about being a miler in high school, nor did he approach a high level of dedication. He proved to be a great competitor, and did what his coach asked of him when the two were together. But a coach can't be with his charge twenty four hours a day! A serious miler must learn to enjoy road running, challenge hills on a weekly basis, and log a minimum average weekly mileage of eighty plus miles, that is just a point of reference, the fact being that a miler can't do it on the track alone, or with just a token effort in developing a "base", keep in mind two things:

1) Steve averaged no more than sixty miles per week as a freshman at U.C. Irvine, approximately seventy miles per week as a sophomore, and seventy-five to eighty-five miles per week his junior and senior years. Now in his fifth year since high school graduation he is averaging eighty plus to one hundred plus miles, per week when he not facing serious competition. Steve has won the National AAU 1500M three years in a row, and in none of those years did his mileage increase, in the week of competition he did not exceed thirty miles.

2) When it is time for the big race, the physiological preparation is there or it is too late. You don't gain physically the last two weeks. You sharpen that speed and enhance that stamina which belongs to your miler, by increasing his rest increments (both by reducing mileage and eliminating morning runs giving that extra hour or two of sleep). But never forget, regardless of past successes, every athlete needs to have his confidence reinforced. There must be a "confidence" workout, during the last two weeks. Not too much quantity, but rather quality pace and minimal rest interval, with the athlete feeling comfortable, rhythmic, strong at the finish. Steve's "confidence" workout are on Wednesdays, during the AAU Championship week, Steve ran two sets of 300/400/300/400, with a 100m jog after each 300 and 400m. Steve would jog 400m after the set. He ran at 57 second 400 pace and ran his last 400 in 51.4 with a positive split (27.3, 24.1). He strive in all his workouts (if ten repetitions, the last five will be faster than the first five), and in the last repetition (if a 600, the last 300 will be faster than the first 300). In this way you build a positive habit, and a real basis for confidence in having a strong finish.

Even though Steve came to U.C. Irvine with the knowledge that he would become a miler, I had him run a lot of 800's his freshman year. Both coach and athlete must have patience. It is a fine line, challenging and yet not pushing for too much too soon. Steve ran cross country for us, starting as our seventh man and finishing as our first man. He did not distinguish himself in the Nationals however. I think it is beneficial for a developing miler to run competitive cross country, but not mandatory. There should be enough aptitude for distance running that your athlete can have reasonable competitive success.

Steve's Personal Records his freshman year was a 4:08.9 mile and 3:47.5 in the 1500. He won the NCAA Division II mile with a strong kick, I didn't feel he was ready for Division I, but we went to the National AAU Junior Meet. The first two runners made the U.S.A. team that would face the young Russians later in the Summer. This was Steve's primary goal his freshman year. He won his semi-final race, and led in the finals with 300 meters to go, Steve Lacy of Wisconsin came bye like Scott was running in combat boot, and Paul Buttermark took the coveted silver medal from Steve in the last 100 meters. The bonze medal was little consolation, it was a constant reminder of falling short of an important goal. I should mention the year before in the same meet Steve was blown away in the quarter finals of the 800 meter. The point I want to make is that he learned, and rededicated himself after each of these experiences. He told me on the plane ride back to California that he now understood the need for more miles and harder off track miles.

Let me make an important point least I forget. In the development of a miler the workload is the obvious dimension of training, but perhaps more important are the rest increments. Good sleeping habits are very important. Quality workouts on the track or road must be followed by least one day, and often two days of unwinding, easy running. As Steve matured and developed the capacity to give more in a workout session, I found he had to have two days of easy running prior to the next demanding workout. From the beginning I believe he should be really challenge in practice. Some of the other workouts are tough to be sure, but not to the extent that he has to come out to practice as emotionally up as he would be for a race. Many of Steve's quality workouts are every bit as exciting to me as his best races!

Weight Training: A miler must be strong. Some athletes have a great deal of natural strength, but even they can improve through weight training. For a young runner I believe in more repetitions and relatively light weight. My recommendation do half-squats, toe raisers clean and jerk, bench press, straight arm pullovers and dumbbell swings.

Periodically monitor speeds at varying distances, 400's, 800's, 3200's, 5000m, and 10,000 meter road runs or races. Improvement at any distance correlates to increased capability at the mile.

Workouts: How does the runner goes through the workout is more important than the workout schedule itself. Observe bio-rhythms, being under-control, finishing strong, be patient and don't rush progression. For each workout take into consideration climate, temperature, humidity and windy days. Every runner cannot be at his best at all times, maybe his bio-rhythms are down, back off if you have to, make every workout a positive experience.

Steve's workouts involve sets up to five, distance workouts ranging from 200 meters to 1200 meters. Rest intervals varying from a 100 meter jog to a 400 meter jog, rarely a walk. Pace starts at 63 to 65 second 400 pace for Steve in early December and progression according to what is comfortable. Your runner should start with what is comfortable for him (maybe 70 to 75 second 400's). We almost always finish with a hard but controlled 400 or 300 meter.

Steve's training year started approximately September 1, and consists of off the track running in September, October, and November, with at least one structured hill workout per week, one hard run often ten miles or more, and one quality fartlek of approximately ten miles. We call his easy runs "social," Steve started with 6:00 minute to 6:30 mile pace, latter he would run 5:40 to 5:15 mile pace.

We call December a transition month, Steve would workout on the track to get ready for the indoor season. If there is no indoor season, he would not be on the track until February. During indoor racing in January and February, Steve is on the track twice a week, one challenging and one light, for example 6x200's at race pace with 200 meter jog recovery. If there is no indoor racing in March and April, Steve is still off the track, similar to the Winter program, with more emphasis on weekend road racing.

April and May are quality outdoor season training months, with the workout schedule geared to peaking Steve for the National AAU Meet. June, July and August are competition months with the emphasis on competing, rest, and minimal mileage and interval work to sustain, but with no gain intended.

Workout schedules are prepared in increments of approximately three weeks and evaluated before going on. Your schedules should be developed according to your track and cross country seasons, and the primary goal for your runner. Examples of some of Steve's workouts in five years, rarely has he run exactly the same workout twice!

3x1200m 10 minutes rest interval. Coming off winter season of training two years ago Steve ran 3:02.9, 3:00.9, 2:56.5 on a Monday, that weekend following in San Diego he beat Eammon Coghlan and John Walker and ran 3:56.5.

10x400's w/ 300m jog rest interval (give your runner as much recovery as he needs) pace anywhere from 60.5 to 57.0

3(800m/400m) w/ 400m jog rest interval, 400m walk between sets. Pace 60.0 seconds 400m pace or less. This is a great confidence workout for Steve. 5(3x400m) w/ 200m jog rest interval, 300m walk between sets.

Breakdown or step up 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 600m, 700m, 800m. 200 to 400m jog rest interval; You can't develop workouts for your runner by going by the book. You must monitor the workout according to what is productive for your athlete each session.

4(500m/400m) 200m jog rest interval, 200m walk between sets.

This should give you an idea of how are workouts are structured. Keep in mind the distance of each interval, pace, and rest interval should be such that your runner is free of anxiety.

One last thought, The difference between a potential world class athlete and others is not how he responds to winning, but rather how he responds to losing! Steve has won many big races, established numerous personal records, and had a lot of success; but he has lost and been disappointed on many occasions too. He always responds with renewed dedication, attempting to learn from the "temporary setback."

Maybe the readers have the responsibility of developing the next "Steve Scott!" Don't let anybody limit your goals.

Make your luck good!
Coaching Steve Scott,
Coach Len Miller
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