Video Analysis from Winter Training 2019

This video provides an assessment of form for most of the runners in Whisper’s Winter Training program. The video looks at runners, both from the side to assess lower body movement and the front to assess upper body movement. The videos were shot while doing up-tempo work, either intervals or strides, with the emphasis on foot strike during higher velocity work, which simulates racing paces and the bodily patterns during those intense times. We will watch this video at practice, then go to the track to apply what we have learned. We will aim to apply what we have gathered from the video analysis at each of the practices since watching ones self on the big screen can provide a profound learning opportunity.

"i need a friend."

Whisper staples, Kiley & Candi.

Running is a unique sport in that it requires a lot of self-inflicted misery, with the long-term desire of becoming faster.  Some people require a bit more patience in this pursuit than others, but in due time, improvement does happens.  If you delve deeper into why one would want to join a running program, or any program for that matter, there is reason to believe that most of the desire is rooted in the need for companionship and acceptance, more than the improvement of running itself.

An article from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships on the brains capacity for friendship estimates that the neocortex part of the brain has the volume and capacity for up to 150 friends, 50 good friends, and 1-5 really, really good friends.  An article from Psychology Today estimates that it takes approximately 50 hours for friendship bonds to be created, and up to 200 hours for a friendship to enter into the “best friend” classification.

From left: Grayson, Michael, Lauren, Maddy, Charlie, Maddy and Abi. 2018 Ultimook Middle School Champions.

The best phone calls and text messages received are ones in which a parent relays updates, conveying the emotional progress their child is making through their hard work at Whisper.  Are they happy?  Are they enjoying the training?  Are they growing?  These are the questions that are most paramount, well ahead of “Are they becoming faster?” 

Winter training has approximately 30 and 45 hours of training for high school and middle school runners, respectively.  Since most of this time is spent in the trenches, this means any remaining time is spent socializing during the team warm-up, team drills, cool-down, or during cross-training.  The effort for cultivating a fun, challenging, safe, and stimulating environment for youth runners to train are essential ingredients for relationships to be formed organically. 

Purposefully teaming children into pairs or groups is solely to promote socializing while training, with the underlying reason of making a friend.  If your child needs a friend, it is our goal to help them grow a friend, organically.  Please feel free to let Coach Dave know how things are progressing with your child’s emotional growth in the area of friendship, specifically their happiness and their desire for companionship.


“If you think time goes by fast, try running a marathon.”

Undoubtedly, the best sign I have ever read while racing a marathon.

At 4am I awoke from a deep slumber to an ever growing list of realistically unrealistic expectations, yet there I found myself without the necessary time in the day to complete all of the days tasks, so I did what most people do and I picked up my phone and checked my Instagram.  While scrolling through the endless Seinfeld memes and Farside comics my mind drifted back to the list of tasks.  So much to do, yet so little time. 

Just yesterday, or so it seems, we were running into the middle of the street in Reno, Nevada to take this photo.

Just yesterday, or so it seems, we were running into the middle of the street in Reno, Nevada to take this photo.

Following my IG fix, I began sifting through a dose of light research on the perspective of time.  The “speed of time” theories abound, from the Holiday Paradox and Forward Telescoping, to the Proportional Theory and, interestingly, the Body Temperature Theory.  Theories aside, the stress remained: How am I going to get my first core group of freshman (Whisper runners) to college?  Hardly fair to bear the responsibility alone, yet there I lie, now in a sweat, knowing these kids must do what I needed to do right then and there – get shit done!

Just 30 months ago, sweet Kiley was in the 7th grade and together we prepared her for running at the high school level.  Now to the present date and sticking to the Proportional Theory of time, she is three years away from high school graduation, which means the ratio of time we have before college is brief, and together, we must get shit done if she has a shot to compete at the next level.

Kiley is not alone in this approach.  My role, as I have welcomed, is to prepare middle school runners for high school running, and high school runners for college running.  Realistically, I do not expect all of my Whispers runners to run at the next level, whatever level that may be, but if they desire to do so, then I desire to help them achieve that goal. 

To say “Winter Training is going to be loaded with a foundational curriculum and miles of trials and intervals” would be a major understatement.  Whisper is a team.  An organic, fun, genuine, hardworking team.  Though the time will go fast, our moments together will be impactful and savored.

Final note: the person holding that sign was a teenager.


Junior Olympics - Reno!

The day was cold (low-30's), wet, muddy, hilly, and slick, making for perfect, albeit slow, conditions for an old school feel of a cross country race.  Most participants were 1-2 minutes off their personal best times, so this race was a testament to their fortitude and composure, in which we very fared well. Click here to check out the results from Nationals!

The latest video takes you through the 2018 year, starting on December 8 at the USATF XC Junior Olympic National race. Please enjoy!

Junior Olympics #ontonationals

The ideal weather made for near perfect conditions on a difficult Woodland Park course in Seattle, WA, as the runners of Whisper Running began their quest for their second consecutive trip to the USATF Junior Olympic National Cross Country Meet on December 8. Whisper was well represented, suiting up 41 runners at the Association/State meet, which is the first of three USATF cross-country meets. 33 of the 41 runners formed 5 teams - 11-12 boys, 11-12 girls, 13-14 boys, and two 13-14 girl teams, while 8 runners ran for Whisper individually. Of the 41 runners, there were 34 PR’s (Personal Records) and 3 SR’s (Season Records).

The Region Meet on 10/17 was held at Franklin Park in Yakima, WA, and included teams from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The weather was thought to be in the mid-30’s during morning hours, it turned out to be a beautiful day, - perfect XC conditions! Whisper brought 33 participants, forming 4 teams and 7 individuals (meaning they ran for Whisper, but did not score as part of a team of 5). At Regions, 27 of the runners had PR’s, while two had SR’s. 21 total runners advanced to Nationals. Of the 21 runners, 16 runners form two teams: the girls 11-12 and the girls 13-14.

Click here for the Association/State Meet (Seattle, WA) results from November 10.

Click here for the Regional Meet (Yakima, WA) results from November 17 held

Breathe, See, Run

A few short months ago, runners taking part in the Summer Training session lied down on the dance room floor and took part in what, for many, was their first experience at quieting the mind to focus on breathing, followed by a session of seeing with the mind’s eye.  We spent two cross-training practices performing this exercise called Visualization, all for the sake of learning how to relax on cue, seeing the field, and mentally rehearsing a future performance.

Fast forward to the present, with many runners nearing their seasons end and possibly competing in post-season races, seemingly right around the corner.  As the season crescendos to an end, we may find our stress levels heightening as well.  During these times of heightened anxiety, it’s important to find comfort and confidence in knowing how to quiet the mind, mentally rehearse a future performance, and emotionally harness our energy, saving that energy for our next race. 

The past few Whisper practices we have spent a fair amount of time practicing work in the starting box.  We’ve covered how to alternate runners so everyone gets a turn completing their strides while others save the starting box.  We’ve discussed varying intensities of the pre-race strides and how to form a strong front to assure everyone has their space.  One of the most important preparation discussions we have consistently had at recent practices is the importance of seeing the field.  Too often, young runners are unsure of what to do at the starting line, so many find themselves standing around getting cold, becoming intimidated, or side tracked with non-running related fidgets.  Instead of falling victim to these pitfalls, providing young runners with consistent activities that continue to prepare them for the event ahead can help reduce any perceived anxiety, harness their energy, and provide them with controllable actions to help prepare for what's to come. 

A bit of French, but the first 1:50 is really all you need.

In short, we divide in half with one group dashing from the starting line to perform their stride, then jogging back to the start and saving the box while the second group then performs a stride of their own.  Between the time everyone has completed one to two strides, until the starting official asks runners to line up at the start, lies the time of the unknown.  This is the space where I ask the runners to insert a degree of Visualization while scaling back the intensity of their strides to a mild, ankling pace.  Whether they stand at the front of the box or perform anklings, they're asked to imagine various points of the race, specifically imagining and rehearsing how they want to feel from the ground, up - foot strike, hip height, back posture, relaxed shoulders, etc.  

Parents may recall the movie Legend of Bagger Vance, starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron.  Plot aside, this movie provides excellent examples of Visualization and Focus Management.  The discussion around "seeing the field" and watching the final put illuminate along the green are my personal favorites, and they serve as clips that I share with my Sport Psychology classes.  To continue the teaching and learning of Visualization, check-out the videos and then share with your children if you feel it might help put their minds prior to the start of their performance.  With that said, it's important to practice anything prior to meets.  To do this, provide this activity as something they can choose to do at practice before interval repetitions to assure they are practicing this mental strategy, rather than winging it at the start of a big performance.  Most importantly, have fun with these mental tools.

Eat the Frog

Its presence can influence our lifestyle choices, impact decision making, and show us the pace at which life goes by.  It can lead to feelings of both incompetence or satisfaction, yet we know it’s our own self-doing.  It’s a trait, likely adopted from our parents, who learned it from their parents.  It’s Procrastination, or on the flip-side, Time Management.  

With the new academic school year set to begin, proper time management is one behavior we can encourage our children to attain right off the bat.  If your children are like mine, they’ll come home from school looking to express their enthusiasm about the first day of school.  To sustain this level of motivation and prepare for the academic year, getting organized from the start can set the tone for the days, weeks, and quarters to come. 

The following list of websites offer a fun way to promote the discussion around procrastination and time management: Eat the Frog, Time Management 101, and TED Talk with Tim Urban.  As you talk with your children about these traits, remember there is no genetic predisposition to good time management skills.  Instead, time management is a learned skill, one which needs honing and consistent short-term practices building long-term palpable accomplishments.

August Newsletter (main course)

With so many new faces this summer, I wanted to use this opportunity to give you the scoop as to how Whisper Running works on an annual basis. 

  • Runcard: Peak times for Whisper span nine weeks in the summer in preparation for cross-country and nine weeks in the winter in preparation for track. Once the nine-week sessions conclude, middle school and high school training begins, and their seasons are underway. During the non-peak seasons, September-December and March-May, Whisper offers the Runcard, which is a pay-as-you-go type of training system. Simply pay a fee ($125 during non-peak seasons) and get eight runs/workouts. Workouts are typically 60-90 minutes on non-meet days and are held at familiar locations (Pacific Park, Clark College/HBay, Shahala MS). This fall, Whisper Runcard workouts will be scheduled on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and some Saturday’s beginning August 27th.

  • XC Meets: The first meet of the season is September 1st at the Ultimook Race Nike Invitational in Tillamook, Oregon. This is a middle and high school meet, but Whisper will only suit up middle school participants for now. Most meets on the Whisper schedule do not conflict with the middle school practice or meet schedule, so local coaches typically support Whisper (or, frankly, have no clue the kids are even competing in the meets with Whisper). Check-out the meet schedule and see if it works for you. If your child would like to race with Whisper, there are a couple of things that need to be done: 1) Register with USATF. The cost is $20 and the process is fairly simply, yet will take a bit of time to fully complete. 2) 0\We have uniforms for $60 that we need to get fitted. If I do not have a singlet that fits, we can order more, but we need to do so quickly since the process takes about three weeks from order to arrival. That said, I have about 25 uniforms, so something should fit. 3) Finally, as long as you have an active Runcard, meet entries are free for your child.

  • Junior Olympics (USATF XC): The first race of the USATF Cross-Country season is Saturday, November 10 in Seattle, WA at Woodland Park. This is called the Association Meet and the top five teams, or 30 individuals qualify for the Regional Meet held on November 17th in Yakima, WA. The top 35 individuals and five teams qualify for the National Meet held in Reno, Nevada on December 8th. The experience to race in these meets is quite amazing for the kids, so it is my hope that yours will want to take part. Presently, we have 26 runners registered with the USATF (and a boys & girls 2004-2005 team), making them eligible to participate in the Association Meet on November 10th. Check-out the video created by Lindsay Owen, sister of Candi Owen, who was a participant on the National team last year, which took 13th in Tallahassee, Florida! Click on the respective links to see Team Whisper results from the 2017 Association, Region, and National meet!

So, again, welcome to Whisper!  I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with your child in helping them become better runners and citizens in the local community.  I can be reached most any time of day and it is always a true delight to hear from runners, or parents of runners, seeking assistance, advice, or information about running, racing, or Whisper. 

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Whisper XC Kickoff on Thursday, August 16th!

Vacation Running

One of my favorite things to do on vacation, no matter where I travel, is to explore by foot, aka, explore by running.  Whether traveling close to home in the Pacific NW, or further away in a foreign country, venturing by foot can provide a variety of sensorial input you'll remember forever.  The cobblestone streets in DC, the humidity and sun in the Dominican, and the Olympic Park in Munich are just a few fond memories I recall when thinking about running while on vacation. 

Within the nine weeks of Whisper Summer Training, most every runner is bound to miss a week or two for a family trip or summer camp.  There are many ways you can interpret these absences when it comes to gaining or losing fitness.  First, you could say the absence is fate and you need the time off from running for mental or physical healing - literally, no worries, the world still spins!  Second, you could aim for minimal running, maybe just a couple of runs while you are away - nothing too structured, just an easy 1-3 runs for 15-30 minutes.  Finally, you could have some fun with the planning of your runs by scoping out trails or routes in the area, contacting local coaches and inquiring about local running trails - if they reply, great, if they don't, then create your own trail.  The App Map My Run offers running routes which you can follow for simplicity. 

Whatever you choose, from the total vacation from running, to ensuring you will run, be sure to follow through with your intentions.  For those taking the hiatus from running, I applaud your strength!  For those planning to run, here are a couple of factors to ponder:

  • Safety - whether wild animals, or unsafe environments, be aware of your surroundings!  No headphones.
  • Partner up - take mom or dad with you on your run (they'll thank you later).
  • Don't take vacation training/running too serious.

For those seeking suggestions for training runs or wanting a structured plan, here is my usual advice: The main thing is to do just enough to continue building your endurance base, while not doing too much, nor losing your speed from track.  In short, you'll want to balance the distance with some tempos, Fartlek training, or speed.  The difference between tempos and Fartleks is that Fartleks lead to tempos.  Short leads to long.  Short intervals (Fartleks), that is, leads to longer intervals (tempos).  They are similar in that you'll warm-up for 10-15 minutes and cool-down for about 5-10 minutes, and what you do in the middle is the workout, but Fartleks are typically a couple of consecutive minutes of hard work (then an easy/medium recovery interval), whereas tempos are longer (5-15 minutes for most middle/high schoolers), with easy/medium recovery intervals in between.  Here is one example:

  • 15-minute warm-up, then 4, 3, 6, 3, 4, then 10-15 minutes of a cool-down.  The tempo/Fartlek work (hard work) was the 4 6 4, and the 3's were easy to medium.  For example, the 4-, 6-, and 4-minutes hard were at 3200m goal pace(ish), and the 3-minutes easy were just that - easy, but still jogging/running forward. 

If you're in shape, then it will be easy to distinguish the different paces.  If you are out of shape, then the intervals/Fartleks will likely merge into one pace, or at least feel like it.  The nice thing about this sort of workout is it is based off time, so you will know when it's over and you're not counting miles.  I like this sort of running when I'm less concerned with miles.  Also, you can run as few or as many hard intervals as you wish (1-5), for as long as you wish (1-5 minutes). 

How often you run while on vacation is another consideration.  For simplicity, definitely keep the running, both the number of days per week and the distance/time you run each workout, less than what you would do at home (at regular practices).  If you are training 5-6 day's per week, then plan for 3-4 runs while on vacation.  For example, if you're going to be gone Saturday to Saturday, plan for three runs  - Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - meanwhile designing a creative Fartlek/tempo workout for yourself.  

I want to remind vacationers that you're on vacation.  Enjoy it.  Stay away from track surfaces if you can and get lost on the local trails/roads - not "lost" literally, but a way of "vacationing from your vacation" - this provides a sense of normalcy and balance.  Again, you're on your vacation, so enjoy!  We can work when you return.