1. What would you say the 3 main keys to your teams successes have been?

Simply put, ‘success breeds success’ because baseline self-expectations are naturally higher. Though it can become a downfall if care is not taken, the demographics of a community of active, high-achieving families undoubtedly plays a huge role. Finally, consistent hard work (starting in the summer) coupled with precautions to keep kids healthy.

2. What is your basic philosophy on training ? (Run everyday a minimum of ? Hills are the Key? Mileage, mileage, mileage? Effort over pace?…etc)

Emphasize consistency with a balanced approach and a progression over time (years). Our environment (hills at altitude) impacts the training choices we have to make, so it is hard to call it a general ‘philosophy.’ For example, we don’t do long hill intervals anymore because they run hills daily. In fact, we seek out slight downhill grades to be able to up the intensity. However, a focus on more minutes at (~) lactate threshold has increased over the years.

3. Miles or minutes or both?

Almost entirely minutes, but this is mainly for ease of execution. The exception is threshold work, which could be either miles or minutes.

4. Effort training or Pace training? Does each have a place?

Both. Pace training is usually reserved for more ‘structured’ workouts: tempo paces, repetition work, intervals, etc., but even when we talk pace, we still emphasize ‘listening to their body.’

5. Focusing on the watch during a race…good?bad?not an issue?

We are not fans of kids focusing on the watch. We TRY to get them to ‘feel’ different paces through training.

Running the race vs racing the race. Is there a difference and if so, how do you get your kids there?

There is a big difference and observing races, you can see how much it is dictated by natural competitiveness/drive. It can be hard to change, but we work to motivate them to take personal risks. Motivations also vary between genders. For boys it feels as though we can ‘lay it out there’ more and tell them what exactly needs to be done ‘man for man’. For the girls, it is more about making them feel good about themselves and focusing on intermittent efforts vs. outcome. Of course there are always exceptions and individual attention goes a long way.

6. Trail running importance?

We can’t get off pavement without ‘trail running’ in Los Alamos. It’s a double-edged sword for us. Kids love it, we love it, but it’s hard to run fast or even reasonably fast. Paces are generally 1-2 minutes slower per mile than running on the roads. Again, we have to find balance. They would be really fit if we ran our trails all of the time, but not necessarily fast.

7. Solving the championship peak puzzle, what steps do you take or thoughts do you have to get your kids to have their best race at the right time?

Patience and erring on the side of caution during the months of September and October are critical for peaking in November. Though we have tweaked the general training plan over and over, the last two weeks of the season have seen only minor changes in 21 years.


1. What are the workout goals of your:

a. early season? Continue base work (which includes all elements of training, but more emphasis on basic endurance)

b. mid season? Transition to more of the volume at faster paces

c. late season? Maintain balanced hard training but extra emphasis on recovery

d. championship season? Sharpen (high intensity), drop in volume

2. What type of workouts would you define as a hard day ? a recovery day?

Hard day: tempo workouts, repetition work, intervals, speed, long runs (at strong pace). Medium day: a “normal” run day. Recovery day: very relaxed run, easy cross train session, or complete rest.

3. A lot of coaches talk about a ‘Hard/Easy” schedule. Is this your workout strategy?

In terms of specific types of training, we don’t go back-to-back, so yes. But, we may follow a short speed session with a medium aerobic effort.

4. Using the table below, what would be an example of your GENERAL hard/easy schedule, OR if that is not your training strategy, show how your GENERAL training schedule would look.








a.m. run with light tempo pickups, some strength

p.m. short speed or turnover focus, more strength

Steady run

Barefoot strides

‘Long’ Run (not jog!)

or structured threshold workout (progressing into long intervals throughout season)

Weights or body weight strength today or tomorrow

Steady/relaxed run or Cross train

Barefoot strides

20-40 minutes depending upon training group

4x200 at 1600 pace

Race day

Active recovery

(varies depending upon athlete; run, x-train, walk)

yoga encouraged

5. Race every meet? Thoughts and lessons learned?

Mostly. We sometimes have one meet where we ask the varsity to practice pack running for at least part of the race. Also, we have the luxury of having most of our varsity kids run a very hard ‘tempo’ at the district meet.

6. Is cross training used during your season? If so, how?

Pool workouts are scheduled every two weeks. It’s a combination of swimming, kick board, and water running. Other cross training days are scheduled based on an individual’s particular needs.

DO’S AND DONT’S FOR: (These are very quick hit answers as cues. You can elaborate if needed)

1. Running form:

a. DO – relax face and shoulders

b. DON’T- land out in front of body

2. Race day:

a. DO – be methodical

b. DON’T- over-think things

3. Racing:

a. DO – in XC, you either do or you don’t” – Margaret Wood; you run as hard as you can regardless of how you feel – that’s doing.

b. DON’T- give up

4. Summer training:

a. DO – run, consistency is the key to a happy November

b. DON’T- do nothing (any activity better than none)

5. Late season refinement:

a. DO – run hard, sharpening workouts with proper recovery

b. DON’T- do too much

6. Meet/race scheduling:

a. DO – take off weeks (ideally, we would race every other week)

b. DON’T- over-race

7. Injuries:

a. DO – cross train and rest if needed; address injuries immediately

b. DON’T- be hesitant to take a cautious approach

8. Team & individual motivation:

a. DO – run for something greater than yourself; focus on mind frame/effort/process

b. DON’T- focus on outcome


1. Differentiation? General goal miles or minutes for each season phase for a; 1) Beginning Runner (Female/Male), 2) Experienced runner (Female/Male), 3) Advanced Runner (Female/Male)

In May (with adjustments in August as needed), we put athletes in groups based on background, age, gender, and motivation/consistency. They work at percents of the following maximum weekly volumes of minutes*…

Group I (strongest boys with extensive background) 400 minutes

Group IIb (motivated boys with some background) 360

Group IIg (strong girls with extensive background) 320

Group III (largest group – most girls; many C-team boys) 280

Group IV (little endurance background; some sprint-type girls) 240

*minutes based on 6 days/week; 7th day is recovery run, x-train, walk, or complete rest

% of max volume run each week


(includes summer)









Groups I - III

Weekly step approach to max:



75- 90%



then repeat:




Repeated cycles of:

90% (possibly up to 100%)



Same pattern, but may decrease to ~85-88% if racing fatigue, etc.

After the last ‘regeneration’ week of 80%, we continue into a further taper of

~ 70%

~ 60%

(a little less cut back for lower mileage groups)

Group IV

More time at each new level

Same as above

Same as above

Down to ~70% for final race

2. What tells you that an athlete is ready for another level of training?

Training background, age, gender, injury/health history, individual’s motivation.

3. Speed Training? - when & how?

Ideally, speed is developed all year long with a different emphasis at different times of the year/season.

4. If you could schedule what would be your perfect last 2 weeks of training before State…give us a basic idea of what would it look like:









Barefoot Stride Circuit

2k Time Trial

4x~150m hill surges

(2 uphill, 2 downhill; very mild grade)

Run or pool

Barefoot Stride Circuit


Run plus 4x200m @ 1600m race pace



Shake out run or x-train









Barefoot Stride Circuit

4-5x600m on grass


Barefoot Stride Circuit

Run plus 4-6x200m @ 1600m race pace

Walk part of State course; run 20 minutes with last 3 at tempo.

6x100m strides


Shake out run or x-train

5. Favorite workout that you as a coach look forward to & why?

“Ski Hill” run (beautiful mountain trail run at 9000 ft.) or tempo workouts at “Sewer Road.”

6. Favorite workout your kids look forward to and why?

“Ski Hill” run… beautiful mountain trail run at 9000 ft.

7. Your favorite "go-to" specific course element workout for (pick 3) hills/start/passing/sharp turns/sand/downhill running……?

Downhill intervals (usually 800m to 1000m): slight downhill grade allows athletes to run faster than normal paces (sea level race pace) to counteract training at 7200 ft.

Varying-pace 2-lappers (~600m): athletes run a slightly faster lap, followed by a fast lap; next repeat is a fast lap, followed by a slightly faster lap, and so forth, simulates surging in races.

Speed work followed immediately by tempo: after completing a speed set (?x100m), athletes will immediately (<20 seconds) begin a tempo interval (800m), desensitizing fast start.

8. Explain your most beneficial recovery routine/technique after workouts?

Cooldown ASAP. Recovery food within 15-30 minutes. Elevate, stretch, and/or roll. Consistent sleep!

9. The 2 biggest mistakes you see runners making during training and solutions?

Training wise, possibly running outside an appropriate ‘zone’ – either pushing beyond what is needed for training effect, therefore overly fatiguing themselves, or ‘slogging’ non structured runs. But, the single biggest issue we see is not enough sleep. Giving them specifics on the how’s and why’s helps with training. The recovery piece is difficult if they don’t buy in and sometimes they learn the devastatingly hard way. But, we preach it constantly. Keeping their iron status up is hard while training at altitude over hills daily.


1. What technique do you use to inspire off-season commitment?

Summer Mileage Challenge – athletes submit weekly minutes and earn a ‘prize’ if they meet the summer mileage goal of their training group. Or simply draw on their own intrinsic motivation to reach higher levels of fitness and performance. Recognize kids who saw large improvements due to off-season work.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Somewhere someone is training when you are not. And when you race him, he will beat you.”

2. How do you beat the 3rd quarter lull (That time in the season when athletes may lose focus, motivation or get in a training rut?

Throughout the year (summer, early season, mid-season, etc.) we schedule “regeneration” weeks every 3rd or 4th week. A regeneration week is a cut back in volume (and sometimes intensity). We also may throw in a day or two off for them to choose to rest or run on their own, but encourage them to come back revitalized. Possibly a ‘fun’ practice day with games or relays, etc, but we don’t actually care for these too much J.

3. Your key team & individual motivational technique?

Stressing that every single athlete can have an impact regardless of ability and recognize any level of athlete who has seen improvement after hard work. Every single athlete has a responsibility to the program. What legacy do you want to leave? “ I may not make varsity, but I’ll make the varsity better.” - Tanner Johnson, JV runner. “Run for something greater than yourself.”


1. Two signs of overtraining and solutions?

Racing performance not matching training effort. Injuries that don’t ‘make sense.’ Number one, try to avoid through methodical training and preaching recovery (sleep, nutrition, etc). We make every effort to communicate with an athlete at the first sign of fatigue to determine what may be causing it and make adjustments as necessary (either them or us).

2. Two most common injuries to be aware of?

Patellar tendonitis? IT band syndrome?

Not an injury, but low iron!

3. Your favorite routine/exercises for injury prevention?

Jay Johnson’s myrtl routine (hip mobility/strength), barefoot drills, band walking, maintaining appropriate flexibility with post-workout or bedtime stretching

4. What are the most common red flags that tell you that an athlete needs days off?

Mainly observation of their workouts and diminishing mechanics, low numbers on their training logs, lack of emotional presence.

5. Alternative training through an injury or rest?

Depends on the extent of injury, but if injury allows for alternative training, we will definitely have a competitive athlete cross train. For newcomers who have less overall fitness, we may encourage rest days more often.

6. What determines when an athlete is ready to resume training after an injury?

Input from athletic trainer, physical therapist (one of our assistant coaches); depending upon the injury, pain-free walking and cross training.


Member-Spotlight Larry Chavez

davidNunezLarry Chavez is the 112th inductee into the NMAA Hall of Fame, with a career in education that spanned over 38 years. He devoted his entire career to the youth of New Mexico.....



Alum-Spotlight Anika Newell

christiangering Newell, a graduate from Highland High School and 3-time State Champion, has attended two Olympic games for team Canada.



NM-Spotlight Rachel Dincoff

lobos2ndFormer New Mexico State volunteer assistant track and field coach Rachel Dincoff reached the pinnacle of her event...



We are the NMTCCCA !!!

Begun in 1987 by a small group of visionaries with the goal of a NM Meet of Champions, as well as developing better communication and unification between all track and cross country coaches, the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association was born and has grown to what you see today. Our association has and must continue to be the guiding force for positive change and the protection of all aspects of New Mexico Track and Cross Country that we believe important to our athletes and our coaches. Changes are a part of life. We are our best "Advocates" for helping to direct that change in a positive and constructive way. We must continue to "Educate" our membership and give them the best tools for success. And, as a professional organization, we must "Celebrate" those successes, those stories, those special moments and actions that make our sports such wonderful tools in helping to mold the youth of New Mexico. We ARE the NMTCCCA !!!