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Q and A: My son doesn’t feel 100% — can you help me with any other advice? - NikeRunning.com

Published by
NikeTF.com - Nike High School Track and Field   Apr 23rd 2012, 5:04pm


My son is a sophomore in high school running varsity track and I think his coach is overworking him. He is 16, 5’8, weighing only 130 pounds. He is a 400m and 800m runner, with his best time being 50 sec in the 400m and 1:59 in the 800m. The current weekly training plan is a 10-mile run on Monday (track work), 4x1200 on Tuesday (track work), 16x100m on Wednesday, 6 mile tempo run on Thursday and then more mixed track work on Friday.

The past few weeks he has been suffering from dead legs. My son is getting upset and getting down on himself because his legs just won’t go early in the outdoor season and I can’t stand seeing him be down on himself!

Outside of running, I’ve been feeding him a healthy, well-balanced diet. I got him a massage on Wednesday. I’ve had the trainers put Kinetic tape on his hams and quads and we’ve been ice-bathing a few nights per week. He’s taken the last two weekends off from any running, although he’s been doing an easy elliptical workout at the gym.

He still doesn’t feel 100% — can you help me with any other advice? His 400x4 team is #1 in the region and he is stressing out about what is going on with the current state of his legs.

Help please!

- Worried Mom of a track runner


Hello Worried Mom.

I appreciate you taking the time to write. I'm sure it is difficult to find the balance between being concerned and being overbearing. Let me also say that I don't enjoy responding to emails that question the coaching of a high school coach. High school coaches are almost always overworked and under appreciated and they don't need someone like me second-guessing them. That said, if the training you've described is accurate, it does seem like it is missing the key component of any sound training system: recovery.

Now, let's be clear about something. From you email we don't know what the long-term training plan is for your son. Maybe the coach will be backing off this rhythm of workouts and start to follow a "hard day, easy day, hard day" rhythm that was popularized by Bill Bowerman (co-founder of Nike).  If so, then I can only guess that the coach is trying to callus the legs to intense training early in the season, but will then back off into rhythm that includes recovery days.

The other thing we have to be honest about is that tempo runs and 4 x 1,200m could be recovery days depending on how fast or slow they are run. I know college coaches that would use 16 x 100m on recovery days, yet I would assume that for your son this needs to be a faster paced day to get some 800m pace work in — otherwise this system looks more like 3,200m training rather than 400m/800m training.

Bottom line is this: Your son needs to trust his training to run to his potential and right now his legs feel dead. The famous coach Arthur Lydiard used to tell runners to expect quad soreness for the first two years of training. Thus, some leg soreness in the opening weeks of outdoor track are to be expected.  But if his legs are sore mid season and late season, then I think your son owes it to himself to tell his coach how he's feeling and to see what they can do to "freshen up" his legs. This is an art and coaches from high school to professional deal with this issue during the championship season.

Thanks for the email. I know your son will likely be nervous about talking to his coach, but at some point he needs to initiate some communication so that both your son and the coach work together the remainder of the outdoor season. 


*Coach Jay's advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

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