Learning From the Greats — John McDonnell

John McDonnell happens to carry the title of ‘The Most Successful Coach in NCAA History” and that’s because he won 40 NCAA Championships in his illustrious career, including 11 straight NCAA Indoor TEAM Championships.

Can you imagine winning the NCAA Championships for 11 years straight…you want to talk about dynasty? That’s dominance.

If you have not read John’s biography, then I highly suggest you do. I think it’s a great read for aspiring coaches, fans of track and cross country, or anyone who just loves reading great stories of triumph and hard work!

One of the things that I take away from John’s book is how he was able to adapt and evolve his training through the years. He notes that when he first started coaching he was having his guys run 100-120 miles per week…he just wanted to work them hard. Then, as the years progressed and his teams improved he realized that a steady diet of 70-90 miles per week with good quality was just what the doctor ordered.

No matter the assignment, he was able to bring out the best in his athletes and always had them ready when it counted most…the NCAA Championships.

So, what’s the lesson here? Don’t do something just because you believe it’s working harder. And don’t do something just because that’s what you’ve always done. Adapt. Evolve. Analyze. And always be improving!


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