In the fall of 2018, I started coaching Sean Napier. Sean came with a good background of solid running and workouts under his belt. At the time he had run around 19:10 for 5K, 38:54 for 10K, and 1:06:35 for 10 Miles at Cherry Blossom. He was determined to get better, and he was very motivated. However, he needed some structure as he got more into racing, and to also learn how to run the longer distances of half marathon and marathon. His first race I trained him for was the 2018 Richmond Half Marathon, where he ran a strong 1:25:58. Then, 2019 was a breakthrough year for Sean. He lowered his half marathon PR to 1:24:27 at the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. Then, in April, he ran 1:03:06 at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (9.96 miles), to beat his previous best by over 3 minutes. A few weeks later, he took a minute off his 10K time to run 37:55 at the Pikes Peek 10K. To finish the spring, he ran a PR at a small 2 mile race in 11:31. Over the summer, we extended from the spring to work on his speed and he was able to cut his mile time down to 5:11. Then in the fall, he made a big jump in the 5K by running a 17:45 at the blazing Clarendon Day 5K. His 6th PR of the year came at the Army Ten Miler, where he ran a 1:02:34, in which during the race he had to stop and stretch a tight hip flexor. Sean also finished his debut marathon in 2019, running 3:05 at the Philadelphia Marathon.
In 2019, Sean's performances enabled him to get onto the MCRRC racing team. These were some big jumps he made. There are several things that contributed to these improvements. He is super gritty and determined. Sean remained consistent throughout the year and was able to build into each cycle from his last, so he continued developing from previous gains. The biggest improvement I saw in him was the development of his workouts on the track and his aerobic capacity. Maximizing aerobic power can improve more quickly, while endurance takes longer. Endurance improves over a longer period of time, and as we age we get a lot better at it if we continue to train. After the marathon, Sean got a bit beat up and had to take some recovery time, but he is training well again this spring and doing solid workouts again. I think it is a good thing he can't race right now, as he needed some time to get back into training and rebuild himself for his next season. He does plan to do some time trials, but it isn't quite the same as racing. I definitely see Sean improving his 1 mile - 10K times, but as he ages he will get even stronger in the half marathon and marathon distances. Endurance improves over a longer period of time. It requires patience and persistence. I am confident Sean will make some big breakthroughs once the racing season resumes.
The summary of Sean's potential is that he is a long distance runner. Going less than 5K is going to be his hardest racing in a way. But we will work on that this summer and try to improve his mile time a bit more. I myself am not a miler, but getting my mile time down to 4:20 has helped me maximize the races I am much stronger and better at. So we need to work on our weak points - to a certain point, until it doesn't make sense to continue working in that section and move on to other things. That's my job. But on the other end, I have seen many runners do too much of one thing and not varying up the distances they focus on. Running a marathon every month in my opinion is not a good idea, unless you do ultra marathons and use marathons as long runs or workouts for your 50-100 mile race. But even then, you have to be careful. Sean is a very good example of someone who has worked on nearly every race distance. In fact, we might have overreached a bit by throwing in literally every distance during the entire 2019 year - anything from 1 mile to the marathon! The marathon I think he had just enough to get in a solid debut, but there is plenty more there. I think Sean's best strength is his determination to improve.
Sean's current PRs, all in 2019:
2 Mile: 11:31
10 Mile: 62:34
Half Marathon: 1:24:27