The Program That Helped Create A State Champion (Part 1)

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The Program That Helped Create A State Champion (Part 1)

I was in the process of prepping another blog post for you guys when I ran into one of my former athletes, Aziza Ayoub, at the Central District cross country meet.  Aziza is now a sophomore at The Ohio State University running track.

Before that, she ran at Jonathan Alder and part of the reason she was at Districts so she could cheer on her old high school.  I believe both boys and girls won the team title this past weekend.

Aziza was a state champion in the 800M both her junior year and senior year.  The interesting thing is that she didn’t start running the 800M consistently until her junior year.  She considered herself a 400M runner.

I was asking about Aziza’s current strength program and workouts and she mentioned how she felt we had really prepared her for the weight room in college.  Typically, most collegiate strength coaches feel that freshmen coming in have no clue what they are doing when they lift.  And most of the time they are right.

Aziza through our training had a good base developed and felt she could have been pushed more in the weight room last year.

What I thought I’d do is discuss Aziza’s time with us and what we did with her program to help her not only win the state title twice in the 800M, but also a National Junior Olympic title as well.

Today’s post will be part one consisting of her freshman and sophomore year.  Next week, we will discuss her transition to the 800M and how we altered the program to accommodate her abilities and training.

As I mentioned, Aziza came to us as a 400M runner.  She loved the 400M and had just qualified for the state meet as a freshman, but did not make the finals.  She was determined as ever to get there as a sophomore.

She played basketball in the winter and was going to do soccer in the fall for the very first time.  Normally, I am all for kids playing multiple sports, but I actually discouraged Aziza from playing soccer.

She had never played before (in organized soccer) and with her talent it wasn’t worth the risk of getting hurt.  Plus, we could use the extra months to train free from having her energy zapped from playing a sport.

She ignored me and said she’d continue to train throughout the entire year.  Didn’t matter if she had practices or games, she would make time to train to get better for track.

What we focused on first with Aziza was her running mechanics.  Her form was rough and she had no posterior action.  We had to change that around to get her running more efficiently with form drills and posterior strengthening.  Once we could do that, we could start doing plyos and acceleration drills to see how it was holding.

No more than 2 months into our session, she contacted me that she had gotten hurt in soccer.  Some type of stress fracture in her foot, so she ended up being in a boot for about 8 weeks I believe.  She continued to come to her training sessions focusing on core, upper body, and some posterior flexion that wouldn’t put stress on her foot.

She was full go by December.  We did two days dedicated to speed development finishing with some leg and core strengthening and 1 day of total body lifting.  We taught her cleans and jerks to help with the fast twitch fibers and varying squats were thrown in as well.

To help with the posterior chain, we did a lot of single leg curls.  Even though they were lying down and some experts would want to do something on her feet, I wanted to focus on just getting those hammies stronger.  We also taught her glute ham raises which helped a lot.  Once they were stronger, we then could apply them to her running.

Ultimately, Aziza got a lot more explosive improving her vertical from 20.7” to 26.3” and her broad jump from 7’ 4” to 7’ 10”.  This was all in about 6 months with a 2 month hiatus for her injury.  Her 10 and 20 yard dashes dropped .13 secs and .20 secs respectively.

But, how would it translate on the track?

Her form was a lot better with her hamstrings and glutes firing a lot more efficiently.  Consequently, she did make it to the state meet again in the 400M capturing 5th place as a sophomore.  Her time dropped from a PR her freshman year of 58.58 to a PR her sophomore year of 56.81.

A real huge improvement for that type of race.  But Aziza still wasn’t satisfied and as she looked towards her junior year, she was thinking about changing events.  Being a state champion was her ultimate goal, so how would my staff have to adjust our training to help her get there?

That is what you will find out next week.

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