ETA Coach LLC is a greater Philadelphia area-based endurance coaching company that is dedicated to helping clients worldwide and of all ability achieve excellence in endurance athletics, nutrition, fitness, and health through the application of the latest scientifically-validated and evidence-based training methods.”(Kilderry, 2014) Jason is the owner and head coach of ETA Coach LLC and has been for 10 years. Jason is a unique type of coach in that he does extensive research in order to help an individual achieve their highest potential. The adaptive theory of training style reflects that “one style of training does not fit all” is the reality of the ETA coaching method.
Jason is a USA Level 1 triathlon and track and field certified coach as well as a National Strength and Conditioning Association strength and conditioning specialist. Jason is well known for his dedication in participating and coaching in endurance sports. Started running for fun in high school, soon changed into a competitive runner in college, which included an upgrade to triathlons while in college. Jason’s athletic experience served as an on the job training education that fueled his interest in training theory, which motivated him to acquire a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Bachelors was not enough information and to continue his excellence in training theory Jason is pursuing two masters degrees.
Determination to bring excellence to the training field is strengthen by another fact in Jason’s life which concerns his health. Jason was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) earlier in life resulting in a major impact on his own performance in sports. The disease progressed and after 11 surgeries and a kidney transplant Jason is determined to not let this affliction beat him, but to strengthen him. The ultimate conclusion of this disease has focused his attention on helping others achieve their dreams in athletics.
Jason has many networks and affiliations that help to strengthen his endurance coaching company one of which is our own Road Runners Club of Woodbury. I recently had the privilege to interview this amazing coach, and I would like to share the conversation with you.
Interview with Coach Jason Kilderry:
John: Jason, your coaching philosophy not only involves experience, but a constant research on physiology and biomechanics. Can you talk about this extensive research of knowledge verses the ex-elite runner coach who uses illogical training methods?
Jason: Anyone in the health and sports field must always be on the top of their game when it comes to the latest in sport science, sports medicine, and health related research. New research constantly gives us different ways to look at an athlete’s physiology or biomechanics. This just aids in “cooking” the athlete so to speak. I tell each and every athlete that I coach that nothing happens overnight. When they sign on I don’t have a recipe that works well for them yet. It’s through extensive analyzing of their past training, racing, and nutritional habits that myself or assistant coaches can start to see what makes the athlete tick and what training they respond best to. Every athlete responds differently to training and that’s what makes my job so fun. The goal is trying to find out the best way to “cook” or train each athlete the most effectively, precisely and safely.
John: I am a fan of overload training (high volume running), heavy miles mixed with specific endurance training. Is this too much all the time?
Jason: Every person is different. A more seasoned athlete needs to run a lot more. From a musculoskeletal stand point, the body has to be able to handle that volume. Intensity distribution amongst newbie to elite and everyone in between is going to be very different. Most seasoned runners need the high volume at points, but as well as a good mixture of high intensity.
John: You mentioned the genetic gift. Do you need to have the genetic gift of running in order to ever compete at the highest (elite) level?
Jason: Genetics plays a huge part for sure. As I always say you are blessed with what mom and dad gave you! There is a great book called “The Sports Gene”, by David Epstein that looks at a variety of athletes and individuals and how genetics plays a role in their success and how in some cases it may not. Yes, no question you need good genetics to play at the top level. There are certain characteristics that athletes have that contribute to their success. That being said we all have an inherent ability, you can get better.
John: Talk a little on the principle of VO2 max relationship to training and getting faster.
Jason: VO2 is simply the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exhaustive exercise. “VO2 peak” is a better term, because it refers to the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume in any sport at any time based on your current fitness level. In untrained people you can often see huge increases in VO2 max, but the more trained you are the harder it is to raise. It’s all about the pumping capacity of the heart. Often paces, power, or velocities at VO2 are often neglected in athletes training. Can’t stress enough that your training physiology is a continuum and you need to train at all intensities from low end to high end.
John: Talk about your philosophy of training faster and shorter at high intensity.
Jason: You need to look at the race you are training for and start with general training and work your way towards specific training that will mimic the paces you will see on race day. You can’t train at one pace all the time. If you run at an easy pace all the time you will get better, but your gains will be on the slower end, especially if you’re seasoned. Eventually you need to change something. You either need to increase the amount of running you are doing or incorporate some intensity. I often find athletes from 18 to 70 neglect the very high end intensities like velocity at Vo2 max or even faster. It never hurts to throw in a cycle of training with these intensities, because this will only make you faster. For example your easy pace may be 9min/mile, but if you spend a cycle training at harder intensities there is a good chance that easier pace would be a little lower for you. On the other end of the spectrum, you could run just at 9min/mile pace and you would still make gains, but in most cases the gains will not be made as quickly.
John: All coaches are looking for the perfectly balanced training plan, which you stated “targets multiple physiological systems” Please talk about this.
Jason: My philosophy is finding out where the athlete is weak. This can simply be done by looking at old training logs and races. Further detail can be found by doing some basic field testing as well. Once you have some base line data, planning a few cycles out that reflect training different physiological intensities leading to the race. In many cases taking the general to specific approach works well. For example if your marathon is 6 months out spend the first 6 weeks focusing on 5k based intensities, then next on 10k based intensities, and the next 6 on half marathon based intensities and the last 6 on specific marathon paces. This is general example, but I think you see what I’m getting at.
John: I am a nutrition nut, and a fan of heavy consumption of fruits and veggies. Please talk about your nutrition plan for your athletes.
Jason: I promote fruits and veggies, which brings a variety of carbohydrates and nutrients into the athletes eating habits. We need a mix of good stuff, nuts bring your necessary fats as well as fish oil. Need lots of fiber from grains. Protein is important and meat plays a big part of that. Stay with a variety of meat fish, lean steak, turkey, chicken. We tend to over emphasize our protein intake, so be careful of that. Most protein supplementing Americans eat 4 x the amount of protein they actually need. Last but not least stay away from processed food as much as possible and stick to whole foods.
John: I recently wrote a piece on rest and the importance of this as a major element of the athletes training. What is your thought on rest?
Jason: Rest plays a huge part in an athlete’s training. First of all we need to focus on increasing our training load in small increments. Not necessary have schedule rest days, but take the rest when you need it. Training in small doses your body responds and recovers quickly. When you increase in huge increments it’s a much slower process. Sleep is a very important ingredient. The proper amount of sleep is at least 7 plus hours a night.
John: This last question is my staple, a brand new runner comes to you and says I want to start running and eventually do a 5k. How do you respond?
Jason: Walk before you run. Think in long terms and respect the run. Take it slowly, respect it and train. Most importantly, enjoy the sport and be injury free.
“We believe all athletes are capable of making gains, regardless of perceived ability.”(Kilderry) This quote sums up the training philosophy of Jason Kilderry, and the paradigm on which he lives. The experience one gets when attending Jason’s seminars is a presence of sharp focus on the strong training principle. There is no fooling around when it comes to applying correct training principles with Jason. The opportunity to work with Jason as your coach will yield an excellent athletic result in the event that you are training. Beginning with an end in mind is the mental model principle, which is applied by Jason relating to every sporting event. Every runner is different and coaches need to acknowledge this when applying the correct adaptive training philosophy. As Jason said it best “One size does not fit all”.
We are fortunate to have this extremely important well thought out interview with Jason. Thank you very much, Jason Kilderry.
Source-Kilderry, Jason, 2014 retrieved from www.etacoach.com. Endurance, Training, Achievement.