Today I have the pleasure of introducing a great coaching friend Darren Flowers. Darren and I competed against each other in the South Central Region for the past 10 years while he was the head coach of Cross Country and Track and Field at West Texas A&M; but now I get to watch from afar as he is in the NCAA Division I ranks with the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.
Darren is a student of the sport and is always up for a great conversation about training our athletes…from the mental to the physical. This is another great interview where you can see his passion for building relationships and coaching through those relationships.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
1. How long have you been at UTRGV and what is your official role/title?
I’m the head track and field/cross country coach and I’m in my first year here at UTRGV after spending 10 years at West Texas A&M University.
2. What is your educational background?
I have a Master’s in Business from West Texas A&M and my undergrad was in Business Management at the University of Tulsa/Kaplan University.
3. What is your running background?
I actually came from a sprints background where I ran the 100/200 and 300 hurdles in middle school and high school and then went on to play football at the University of Tulsa.
I had some opportunities to run in college, but chose football at the time. During my time there, I really missed track and field and got involved in a running club in the summers in Oklahoma City and starting running and training for middle distances 800/1500 and also running road races.
I’ve always been interested in human performance, but I really became fascinated and gravitated towards middle and long distance running…although not very good at it! From there I got involved coaching track and cross country at the junior high and high school level…that’s really where it all started.
4. If you had to sum up your coaching philosophy, what would it be?
Coach the person not the event or desired outcome. Every person brings a wealth of knowledge, talent and experience that I can learn and grow from as a coach. I feel it my responsibility to give the athlete enough space to test the limitlessness of their potential opposed to me telling them the “right” and “wrong” way to train. I feel when this relationship is established, you quickly learn if the student’s intentions are serious and you also give them the space to take risks, fail and learn.
5. What is your favorite XC workout?
Anyone who has ever run for me can attest that I have a few sessions that have been foundational for me as a coach in cross country:
– Progressive Long Run
– Long Broken Tempo Work either hilly or flat (6-10 Miles)
– 40-50min Fartlek (1on/1off or 2on/1 off)
– 4-6xMile Cutdowns (3min rest) w/Speed Mixed In (300’s or 400’s)
6. What is your favorite Track workout for a 1500/5k kid?
There is one staple session I have done for years about 9-10 days out from a major 1500m. 5-6x1k Cutdowns w/3min rest The last rep has fast last 400m – Girls breaking 70 seconds/Boys breaking 60 seconds. We usually start around 5k pace and cutdown by 2-3 seconds per k. It’s been a great session for building confidence going into a big race.
7. What’s the most challenging part of your job as a college coach?
The most challenging part of college coaching is getting over competition and the outcomes when everything in society, culture and even the profession screams the opposite.
8. What’s the most enjoyable part of your job as a college coach?
The beauty and art of coaching is about exploring the limitlessness of the human mind and body.
9. Favorite coaching memory?
Holding a stopwatch, blowing a whistle, interaction and immersion…any day I can do this is my favorite.