Wow, great article and great job by Mike/skinnbones. Kind of mind-boggling, 4:02.3 off of only two 400s. Sounds like he is prepared for a fantastic 2015.
I totally understand that Fisher and his coach aren't worried about times and don't particularly care about them much, but I can't really figure out why not.
Fisher wins everything in sight and barring injury, he's going to keep doing it for the rest of high school. Maybe, if he runs a 1:49 800 in a very high profile 800 race, some 800 specialist will finish ahead of him, but in his wheelhouse, the 1500-5000, no one is going to touch him--he races too smart and he's in too good shape when it counts to lose.
The only people Fisher is now competing against are long gone from high school and not yet in high school. Why not try for a place in history, or at least see what kind of absolute shape he's in at this point in his career. Why not shift focus to times? Even if he ran 3:59 or 8:35 on dead even splits and didn't have a patented kick or decisive move, he'd still almost certainly win, and would know without a doubt what time he was capable of hitting.
It is, of course, entirely up to Fisher. This isn't a weak era in high school running. If he doesn't improve on his PRs, but wins every high school race he bothers to run, he will still go down as one of the greatest high school runners ever. It's just that as a time-obsessed runner, I can't really fathom why someone so close to being able to set HSRs wouldn't want to.
I understand your point and it makes sense, but I don't think he "doesn't want to" set HSRs. Instead, I think (based on my understanding of the article linked above) he wants to stay with the philosophy that has allowed him to be healthy and improve- and that philosophy is not based on trying to run certain times, but is based on trying to develop the different "pieces" at the right time. If you start going after certain times, it can distract you from following the process that leads to optimal improvement.
Is Fisher's mileage (50 max) and speedwork (only 4 - 400's last year) under - estimated, because of soccer (6mi/match and plenty of speedwork) ?
I think it meant he only ran that many 400s all out, I do not think it meant he didn't do any 400s in training. Also speed work is a pretty loose term. Who knows what they mean by it. But yes Soccer probably did take its place in the past.
But. . . wrote:
If he doesn't improve on his PRs, but wins every high school race he bothers to run, he will still go down as one of the greatest high school runners ever.
To clarify—and I’m not speaking for Scannell or Fisher here—when they used the term “speedwork” in the interviews, they were generally referring to high velocity, near-100% effort repeats. They did plenty of pacework. Two of the four 400s that were referenced came after an 8 x 400 at pace (he doesn’t say what pace), then Grant was told he could hammer another four. He ran in the high 53-low 54 range on two of those, then Scannell stopped the workout.
Training volume did not increase significantly when Fisher dropped soccer. The main difference, according to Scannell, was that he was suddenly able to finish planned workouts. Last year, if they planned 8 x 1000 tempos, Scannell says it was rare to hit all 8, and he would often pull the plug after 6. This year Fisher has been nailing them all—the elimination of soccer (and whatever extra running he was doing in soccer games/practices)—has given him the recovery time he needs.
Finally, my personal opinion on Fisher not “chasing” records: in the U.S. in the last few decades we have trained a bazillion young men and women to chase records and PRs. At the higher levels, we teach them how to avoid competition and run behind rabbits. However, if our goal is to put runners in OG/WC finals and win medals, an emphasis on racing and competition is probably a lot more effective. With our current group of medalists—Manzano, Centrowitz, Simpson, et al—you are seeing real racers, not time trialers. I applaud any athlete who realizes that racing skills are crucial.
Lost my dashes...
To clarify (and I’m not speaking for Scannell or Fisher here) when they used the term “speedwork” in the interviews
It does make sense about Fisher not going for times. But in that case, I hope he does some very high profile rsces, even college or a pro race or two. He has nothing to gain from racing high school competition, but racing the big boys as a high schooler would be great preparation for his own professional career if that's what he chooses to do with his life.
I agree with everything except that last part
I think racing is important in HS, but I really enjoy HS kids going after records and set up time trials
Think of it like this, you can't go to the World Champs or Olympics unless you have the IAAF standard, it doesnt matter if you win the U.S. Champs, if you don't have a sub 27:45 in the men's 10k or a sub 15:18 in the women's 5k, then you cant go, so time still needs to be emphasized, cause there's not that many top HS'ers now that are going to go on to get those times...
Yes, Jenny Simpson, Leo Manzano, and Centro are all racers, but they're not going to outkick the world best running 4:04 and 3:35... Mary Cain, excellent racer, but at World's she only had a 4:04 PR in the 1500m final, ended up 10th, she couldn't contend in the last lap... The women that had 3:56-4:00 PR, the first 1100 didn't even faze them, so they could blaze a sub-60 last lap...
Jenny (3:57), Leo (3:30), Centro (3:31), already have the times down, now they can race, but they're in peak fitness right now, they're at the age where they aren't going to improve much, so since they already have the fast time, they race
This is what Grant and other HS need to do, go ahead and keep on improving in times while you can, and then when your PR is really good, racing will be a lot more easier...
I kind of enjoy the way indoors is set-up, top 16 (although I think it should be 24) times across the boards, people chasing fast times, then at NCAA, all these guys with the top PR's race...
When you are coaching a prodigy, it's good to have a plan, but you have to let things happen and then adjust. Who's to say that Fisher is not a 3:50 miler? You don't put limits on a prodigy.
His coach is basically saying "we plan to run fast and win a lot this outdoor season." Whether that turns out to be a 4:05 or a 3:52 remains to be seen. His coach gets it.
Maybe it was just how the piece was written but his coach seems to be arrogant and full of it.
Why are so many coaches like this now? They say that their training is old school, but also that there is no secret formula, but then say they detail and plan everything? Sounds like some fairly contradictory BS about training. I think their are a few ways to get the job done when you have talent like that.
But good for that coach--he is lucky to have a very talented high school runner. Talent makes the athlete first.
But. . . wrote:
I can't really fathom why someone so close to being able to set HSRs wouldn't want to.
That's the difference between Webb's and Rupp's careers.
So Scannell says he never gave Grant speedwork before because he wasn't ready for it, that he wouldn't be able to recover. So, how does a kid get ready for speedwork? How do you fix this problem of not being able to recover from it?
clearly you've never spent any significant time with Scannell, otherwise you'd well know that he's the furthest from arrogant.
Jeff, thanks a lot for posting further here, there's more than a few of us that really enjoy your articles, keep up the good work.
Thanks for clarifying the 'speed work' question. You're completely correct. We did a set of quarters at a controlled pace (very controlled) and then attempted to finish with 4 solid 400s. We got through two and quit. We attempted the same thing two weeks later and got the same result. Therefore, we quit at two once again.
And I am not opposed to discussing any training at all. The difficult part is that when someone says Grant did XXX today or did YYY today, people think he does that same workout a lot or that's all we do. So, I am careful not to discuss too many details about training WITHOUT having a discussion on the total program. That is what matters.
To answer the question on when an athlete is ready for speed work. For me, it's a V02 issue. Athletes can do speed work before they have a strong V02 but the recovery is too long (in my opinion). A hard session may take 3-4- days to recover from. So, we don't do it until we've done lots of aerobic work, lots of tempo work, and lots of V02 max sessions. And we're getting there now with Grant. And then, a session will only take two days recovery.
I tend to go by the 'little stress a lot of times' rule rather than really hard sessions. And again, things that work for our guys don't necessarily work for everyone.
The aerobic system takes years to develop. HS kids are not even close to being tapped out there. So, we build from Fr year to Sr year in doing ALL aerobic stuff to adding tempo, then hills, then V02 max stuff. I've found that hard short intervals work wonders on the short term but tend to cause injury in the long term.
so true skinn, so true. you can even look back on kennedy's training and see that, in the grand scheme of things, he really only had a "hard" workout once every two to three weeks. everything else was honestly probably easy for him (sure it would kill most mortals, but 10x1000 at 2:40 was prob just a gravy "get through to the next workout" type of workout), so the reality is that he never went to the well more than twice per month.
I see you as being even a tad more conservative than that with fisher, which makes all the sense in the world as a young lad. Jerry Schumacher was always on the prowl for kids who were "under" developed, rather than already running 80-100mwk and banging lots of workouts. there's a good reason for that.
keep up the good work and i hope you're as amused as I am by all the yahoo's talking about how "arrogant" that coach of fisher's is, haha
Good interview. I don't see why anyone would say his coach is arrogant.
When a coach gets talents like Fisher his only job is to not destroy him. (Which isn't an easy task.) I'm lukewarm about these extremely detailed preparations though. When the competition gets stiffer he can't prepare for everything. At that point he'll have to take control himself. But I guess his coach even prepares for that.