About The Program
Hello, my name is Michael Atwood, and I am the Cross Country coach at the University of La Verne. My goal is to develop the University of La Verne Cross Country team into a competitive distance program. I see a NCAA Division III Championship team in the future of ULV Cross Country for both the Men’s and Women’s teams.
How to turn that Vision into reality:
The training style is adapted from New Zealand's Arthur Lydiard system to fit the US Collegiate season.
- Aerobic Conditioning (Summer months; develop endurance)
- Pre-Cross Country Phase (Pre-Season time trials and
Invitationals; transition toward race-specific workouts)
- Cross Country Phase (Invitationals, SCIAC Multi-Duals; training intensity increased with higher volume.)
- Championship Phase (SCIAC, West Region and NCAA Champs; race simulation workouts, volume decreased to mid-season levels.)
The phases are modeled after the “Diamond Model” as put forth by Scott Simmons and Will Freeman in their book Take The Lead: A Revolutionary Approach to Coaching Cross Country. In the Diamond Model (as opposed to the pyramid model), all components of training are progressed simultaneously.
To deliver individualized training and a competitive racing experience for the La Verne Cross Country student-athlete.
Each student-athlete brings their own experiences and history to the team. With those experiences come strengths and weaknesses. Through the guidance of the coach and the structure of the team, each individual's weaknesses can be developed into a new strength, and an existing strength can become capitalized to a personal quality. Additionally, individuals will work together as one unit working to achieve common goals.
We train in the one of the top locations in the United States, and most trails are within warm-up distance from the track. Marshall Canyon (considered the Magnolia Road of Southern California) is in the foothills of La Verne and we run our long runs along the canyon's trails. The trail-head is less than 2 miles from campus! Bonelli Park and Puddingstone lake is 1.5 miles south of campus and we run medium distance runs, tempo/ threshold runs, and mile repeats on the trails and lake's beaches. The La Verne track facility boasts an excellent grass infield as well as a steeplechase water pit. The grass is great for barefoot running, strides, and drills. The Steeplechase water jump pit allows for practice of the event anytime, year-round.
The training Principles may look familiar as they are adapted from the University of Oregon’s/ Pat Tyson’s training principles. The differences are that of teamwork and correct bio-mechanics which have been added, as they are team-focused, instead of individual-focused.
• Individuals working together as one unit is essential for an optimum training group
• While conflicts arise, they must be addressed quickly and appropriately in order to ensure an efficient ability to work together
• Each person can benefit from each other: there is a domino effect in training where the slowest runner can push the fastest runner.
• Make every effort to be courteous to your teammates
• A Cross Country team is as good as their number five, as great as their number seven, but powerful as ONE.
• Run with good mechanics—many injuries are due to poor posture.
• Sit tall when sitting, stand tall when standing so that you can run tall when running.
• Allow your body to function the way it was designed to function
Moderation and Patience:
• Time is in your favor: The body will adapt to just about anything…if you give it enough time, and you have to be patient!
• Make gradual changes in the proper phases
• Most change requires 3-6 weeks to be measurable
• Recognize 2-3 week delayed benefit rule (what you do today will benefit you in 2-3 weeks)
• Move from easier to more difficult
• Start with general stimuli and move toward more specific stimuli
• Do not skip any phase-the next training unit is based upon your progress in the previous phase
• Be ready to adapt to conditions of terrain, weather, level of competition, injuries, etc
• A given training effect can be achieved many ways
• The phases of training target specific energy and mechanical systems, specific to the race distances and conditions
• Recognize and evaluate the specific demands of the race and train those components
• Do not practice running slow…you might get good at it!
• At some point, race conditions must be experienced in practice
• This is the most specific kinds of training and comes in the last 4-6 weeks, to get the body adjusted and ready for the championship races.
• Find the race in EVERY workout and win it: if it’s a physical discomfort in a tempo run, push through it; if it’s a mental barrier in a recovery run, get over it. Practice mental toughness and confidence every time you run
The weather at La Verne is conducive for training, and we beat the heat by practicing in the morning. The winters are mild, but cool enough to toughen you up, and the summers are hot enough to prepare you for warm Cross Country races.
We typically attend between 7-8 races each season, including the NCAA Championships if the team or an individual qualifies. Most races are in Southern California, however we travel at least one race each year. Traveling typically involves the NCAA West Region Championships, and possibly other out-of-state races.
Rarely do we travel to train (because we don't have to!) When the option is open, we might run in nearby Chino Hills State Park, or Malibu Creek State Park for a change of scenery. However, many teams in Southern California drive for miles for the opportunity to run in La Verne. We walk out the front door!
At the beginning of each season, we have 4-5 days before school starts where the focus is building team chemistry, analyzing current fitness and creating a positive team foundation for the season. Running involves a 2 Mile time trial, a long run, watching a collegiate race (CSU Fullerton Invitational) and learning from it, as well as recovery runs and other workouts. Trips to the beach, scavenger hunts and other games are also played to develop team chemistry.
We host a handicapped race that the team runs at the end of the season, combining Thanksgiving and a season-concluding time trial on the same 2 Mile time trial loop at the beginning of the season. Times are based upon Conference and West Region Championship performances. The winner wins a turkey, 2nd place wins turkey gravy, and 3rd place wins turkey lunch meat.
4 M’s Expectations and policies:
Rules, aka the 4 m’s:
• Be at all Meals
• Be at all Meetings
• Display Modesty
• No Monkeying Around
Top 10 Expectations
• Follow the 4 M’s listed above. Excel in the
• Excel in the classroom.
• Compete in Track & Field.
• Work together as a team with a good attitude.
• Develop team goals and individual goals.
• Obedience and adherence to the guidelines and each workout’s objectives.
• Race; don’t just run blindly…be competitive!
• No multi-sport participation
• Become a student of the sport
• Have fun!
Policies: Courses of action taken that determine our decisions
***My goal is for each of you to be a part of the team. I understand that there are other commitments, such as work, class, family obligations, etc. I am a reasonable person, and I am sure we can find a compromise in order to avoid disciplinary actions.***
• Absent from a practice: Not
racing the next upcoming race
• Tardiness: Runner Report for the team
• 2 tardies: Count as 1 absent
• 2 absences: done for the season
Running Beyond Your La Verne Experience:
It is my hope that your running career will continue past the seasons spent here at University of La Verne. Each student-athlete is encouraged to continue training and racing, realizing that competition in such settings like the Olympic Trials are possible! In the same way, alumni are encouraged to attend practices, races and other team functions. Once a member of the La Verne Cross Country family, you are always a member!
The Next Step:
If you are interested in becoming a Cross Country Runner at the University of La Verne, please contact me!
Coach Michael Atwood
Head Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach
(909) 593-3511 extension 4667