My good friend, and training partner for the past two years, Will Leer, just ran the world-lead 5000m time of 13m21s at the Mt SAC relays. This not only cut fifteen seconds off of his personal best, but showed he has a lot more in the tank, as he lead eight of the 12.5 laps – far from ideal for chasing fast times.
After two years living in Ann Arbor, and traveling with me to New Zealand during the Michigan winters, Will moved back to Los Angeles in September 2012 to be closer to his family, and the Californian sun. However, he did not leave our coach, Ron Warhurst. They have remained in daily contact via cell phone and email, using Ronnie’s unique charisma to keep Will motivated while training the majority of the time on his own.
Coach Warhurst now boasts the fastest 1500m and 5000m times in the world (albeit in this very young stage of the 2013 season). Will and I are having career winters and springs, but have not trained together for more than a week since July of 2012. Will has been focusing on high mileage, stints at altitude, and the U.S indoor season (which was capped off with his double U.S titles at the mile and 3000m), while I have been focused on moderate mileage, an emphasis on top-end sprinting speed, and outdoor racing down-under (which was capped off by my A standard qualifying run in Sydney).
Most elite coaching situations these days involve athletes moving to where their coach is located, and being part of a system, in which the coach has authority over the athlete (usually given by the sponsor who is paying both athlete and coach). Ron’s situation with Will and I is rather rare. He is our friend first and foremost, and any authority he has over our training and living decisions, is granted to him by us, and not our sponsors. Will and I are very stubborn athletes and want things done the way we deem right, and would struggle to operate in a system where we didn’t have a large say in daily decision making. Perhaps this is a major downfall, but it is part of our personalities nonetheless. For Ron to have two vastly different athletes running at their best says a lot about his ability to help the athlete, and not just find athletes to fit his system. There have been many who haven’t been able to withstand his demanding workouts, but right now he seems to be doing alright!
Thanks Ronnie. It has been a great past ten years, and I hope there will be many more to come.