For several years now I have had posted on my website the somewhat unique running program followed by Danny Henderson, Wheaton College, IU and AW in 1983-84.
There has been a fair amount of interest from folk's and I recently had the opportunity to speak with them.
I hope to add all of this and more to my website to elucidate.
A preview here:
SHORT REST INTERVAL TRAINING WITH DANNY HENDERSON 1983-1984
BOB HODGE Q&A with Jon Lederhouse and Danny Henderson
1. Jon, how was it that you came to be the track coach at Wheaton in 1983?
a. I was not actually connected with the Wheaton College track team in any formal way during the time Danny Henderson was a runner for Wheaton. However, because Danny had a knee injury during his fall sophomore season, I got to know him then as he participated in our swim workouts with the Wheaton College swim team (fall 1977) in order to keep Danny in fitness shape. This gave him an exposure to the short rest interval training methods employed by most every swim coach of that day.
2. Were your methods embraced by the team including Danny?
a. After Danny graduated, he continued to work for Wheaton College at our Central Stores department and continued running the AAU circuit as a post-grad. Since he had familiarity with me from his participating with the swim team, I asked if he would be interested in doing an experiment in running training using the short rest interval training we had done on swim team.
3. Danny, was there a major adjustment for you to adapt to Jon’s schedule?
a. Other than a completely different mindset and extremely painful sets, no adjustments whatsoever! All kidding aside, the short-rest interval training involved a very different way of thinking. At the end of a set, one was not even close to being recovered, but started the interval anyway. It was very effective at learning not to be intimidated by the pain of sustained intensity. I was initially convinced that Jon was going to kill me, but agreed to proceed with the “experiment” anyway.
b. Also, training and improving in a “broken down” state was a different way of thinking. I was always tired, but managed to improve. It was a bit nerve racking to back off of the training when it came time to taper because I had been able to improve with all of the hard work and didn’t want to stop.
c. The taper itself was a completely new experience. It was unknown territory for me, and Jon’s experience with the dynamics, such as initially feeling worse at the beginning of taper, were critical in overseeing and achieving the overall success.
4. Did you have any input for Jon?
a. Jon and I pretty much met in the middle as far as his coaching approach and my ability to learn that approach. I believe that part of what made his coaching so effective is that he simply did not know any better than to try and squeeze blood out of a turnip when he first started coaching me. The fundamental difference between running and swimming is that running is weight-bearing. The rate of fatigue is faster and the time duration that is possible is decreased (e.g. swimmers might train 4 hours a day but a runner would kill themselves trying to do that). In the end, he learned to adjust his workouts accordingly, and he also got me to work harder than I had thought that I was able to work. Jon’s expectations were high from the beginning, which is an essential component.
5. Were you ever a competitive swimmer?
a. Danny was not, but gained some exposure to it as noted above. I do understand that current USA Miler Alan Webb was a good age group swimmer in his younger days, so I would think it quite interesting to get his take on our running strategy.
6. Jon, were you familiar with any renowned running coaches, perhaps Igloi or Lydiard?
a. Although I was a successful high school and college swimmer and ultimately became a full-time swimming coach, my first athletic interest was in track and as a high schooler in the 60s I read about Jim Ryun’s high school and college coach and the training they had done and gainded familiarity over time with Lydiard’s LSD and also Zatopek’s training.
7. Jon, the idea of selecting a time that was to cover the interval and rest period, for example if the goal time for the 400 and rest were 90 seconds and the 400 were run in 70 the athlete would get 20 seconds rest. Did that come from swimming?
a. Yes, Exactly: The way I would interpret the history of swim training’s development is that originally swimmers and track runners trained in similar fashion using established work:rest ratios to create workout sets. So, regardless of whether it was a swimmer or runner, if they were to do some interval work, they might pick a 1:1 or 1:1/2 or 1:2 ratio and do their exercise bout, followed by the rest interval based upon that bout. In fact, when I was a high school swimmer in the 60s our coach followed that process and would have group A swimmers complete a swim repeat (say 100 yards), then group B would complete the same repeat, after which group A would swim again, hence a work:rest ratio of basically 1:1
b. However, since swim practices are significantly facility limited (you can fit only so many bodies into a lane of the pool), coaches modified their interval training for the sake of what I call “traffic management”. By switching from a standard work:rest ratio to a standard “sendoff” pattern, a coach could have a lot more kids swimming together in the same lane and avoid having the better swimmers in the lane catching up and running over the slower swimmers in the lane. Hence a coach would designate a sendoff time that would yield different work:rest ratios for the various skill levels of the swimmers in the lane, but which would provide an organized traffic pattern for workout swims.
c. So, whether for swimming or track, if you gave the athletes a sendoff of 2:00 in which to complete the exercise bout and have rest, the faster the bout were performed the more rest the athlete would have. A coach would then choose a sendoff that would yield the approximate work:rest ratio that he would like to have the athlete perform at.
d. What swimming coaches discovered as they used sendoffs as traffic management is that the sendoffs could be modified to “force” the athlete to work harder on the exercise bout by reducing the sendoff time. Hence, if an athlete completed an exercise bout in 80 seconds on a 2:00 sendoff, they received 40 seconds rest. If the coach wanted them to work harder than an 80 second bout effort, the sendoff (or interval) could be reduced to 1:30, forcing the athlete to do a 70 second effort in order to get a decent amount of rest. Thus the workouts for swimming became “interval” dominated in order to create harder efforts on the part of the training athletes and the focus became “short-rest” interval training.
e. With Danny, I used his track times as a predictor of what I thought his sendoffs could be based upon my swimmers times in similar events. I.E. a swimmer who could swim 400 meters in 4:10 could do 100 meter repeats in the pool on a 1:30 sendoff and hold about 65-70 seconds on those repeats. Since Danny could run under 4:10 in the 1600, I figured he could probably do 400 meter repeats on the track on a 1:30 sendoff, so that is the beginning interval that we started our track training with.
8. Danny, ever get tired of being on the track? I imagine these workouts seem to go by pretty quickly with the short recovery? You must have developed great focus.
a. One advantage of having Jon as a coach was his experience in designing creative workouts. One has to be creative in designing a variety of different workouts to keep swim practice interesting, and he brought this creativity to my track workouts. The total mileage of a track workout might be the same, but the games that were played to hit a certain pattern of send-offs would vary. I don’t remember ever having the same workout more than two times in a season.
b. Jon notes that Danny did the short-rest intervals on the track only on Tuesdays and Thursdays during his first season of training, and then we increased it to a MWF sequence during his second year.
9. Danny, what did you do over the summers when not at Wheaton and how was your running schedule before you worked with Jon?
a. My training basically lacked any consistent structure for my first couple of years out of college. In the spring/summer of 1982, just before Jon started coaching me in the summer of 1982, the U of Chicago coach, Ted Hayden, was coaching me to run the mile/1500. The workouts were much shorter duration and high intensity, for example 2x880 in 2:00 or 6x440 in 60. I ran my best 1500 (3:44) that season. When Jon began coaching me a little later that summer, the adjustment to the short rest interval training was huge!
10. Danny, what was it like at IU with Sam Bell? Did you discuss Jon’s training with Coach Bell?
a. Coach Bell’s training had pretty much of a middle distance focus. I went with the program and ran well my first year there. The issue with me is that I was genetically doomed to be an endurance athlete (i.e. all dark meat)! The middle distance training at Indiana had only limited specificity regarding my physiology. I never really discussed Jon’s approach much with Sam Bell simply because I believe that it would have been impossible to communicate such a different approach and to have him be open to it, no matter how valid the ideas. The Indiana program has a history of great runners, and Coach Bell was not about to change things based on the input of someone such as me!
b. One additional observation that has become apparent over the years is that Jon’s workouts had the specificity for a distance runner. All of training boils down to overload and specificity. The problem in running distance is not the distance of the race, but in running the distance fast. Conventional training seems to work on intensity or duration, but it’s sustaining the intensity for the duration that is the challenge. The short rest interval training worked very specifically on tools required to sustain the intensity over the duration of the race.
11. Danny, were you happy with your later career and why/when did you call it quits? Did you have an opportunity to run in Europe?
a. The training at Indiana was simply less effective since it was more middle distance focused and I was more of a distance runner. I ran in Europe and did okay. My fastest 5K was a 13:28 in Helsinki in 1985. My running became progressively worse until 1987 when I basically had a difficult time caring anymore. I was cut from Athletics West in 1987, began working with mentally handicapped adults that same year, and made a half hearted attempt to train for the trials in 1988. It was just too tough to do that type of work and to train at that level. Since then, both the desire and the ability to compete have sort of tapered off. I don’t miss the glory days. I feel like I sort of sacrificed my personhood and probably did emotional damage to compete at that level, and I just don’t miss it.
12. Danny, ever consider running the marathon?
a. Not seriously. I ran one in high school (2:53) and one in college (2:25) and those were enough. I was more of a track purist. As Jon mentioned below, I really had no desire to even move up to the 10K, much less the marathon!
b. Jon’s input is that he thinks Danny’s best event would have been a 10K race based upon his training performances, however Danny “loved” the 5K and maybe “tolerated” the 10K. Note that at the end of 1984 summer with limited training post Harry Jerome (Vancouver, BC) 5K of 13:24 and Prefontaine 10K of 28:02 in June, Danny ran an August road race 10K in 28:16
13. Jon, have you continued to work with runners or was that a one time deal?
a. One time it was, and good time indeed
I did have one other Wheaton College runner solicit my short-rest interval training method with him as a post grad in the late 80s, but I declined due to time limitations with my growing children. In the Spring 2000 track season I took over as interim head track coach position at Wheaton College due to the existing head coach needing to move mid-season. I worked primarily as an administrator in that head coach role due to the existing asst. coaches already being in place with their existing training strategies and not being very interested in trying short-rest intervals.