We receive lots of letters from parents, coaches and young athletes asking about how to train correctly and improve. The answers are always about having fun, being consistent over time and look for gradual improvement. It is important to understand the fundamental principles of training and think long term development.

Bill Bowerman, the late, great coach at the University of Oregon, devised The Three Cornerstones of Training and The Principles of Training which really lay out how to improve over time. Coach Bowerman is best known, perhaps, as the coach of Steve Prefontaine. He also coached dozens of other elite runners, including Alberto Salazar. Any training plan should fall within these guidelines.

Foundations of Training

The Three Cornerstones of Training
* Moderation
* Consistency
* Rest

The Principles of Training

Principle 1: Each person is an individual
Principle 2: Set reasonable (but challenging) goals
Principle 3: Have a master plan
Principle 4: Base the plan on event-specific abilities
Principle 5: Be flexible in the plan
Principle 6: Develop good mechanics
Principle 7: Variety is the spice of life
Principle 8: Follow the hard-easy approach
Principle 9: It is better to undertrain than to over train
Principle 10: Observe the rules of good nutrition
Principle 11: Use recreation for the whole person
Principle 12: Get enough rest

The Overriding Principle: Make It Fun
Reprinted, by permission, from W.J. Bowerman & W.H. Freeman, 1991,
High-performance training for track and field, 2nd ed. (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics), 4.

Fun First,
Coach Mick and John