Lucie Beatrix interviews world-class coach Brad Hudson.
I got a chance to catch up with one of the most reputable running coaches in the industry, Brad Hudson, of Hudson Elite; an Olympic Development running group in Boulder, CO. Hudson is the author of “Run Faster,” a best-selling training handbook, offering world-class guidance. His coaching has taken athletes to events ranging from local and national championship races and the Olympic Trials to the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games.
A Day in the Life
For Hudson, a typical day starts before sunrise. Upon waking up at 4:30 a.m., he works on his athletes’ training plans. At 8:30 he heads to coach his morning group of runners. He then does some more planning until coaching the afternoon training session around 3:30. Between coaching and planning runs, he also finds time to work on his next training book. By 8 p.m., it’s lights out.
When it comes to working with elite runners, I wanted to know what kind of lessons Coach Hudson has learned from his hardworking athletes. “They’re like everyone else, except much faster!,” he says. “It’s a fine line between what you know they need and what they think they need— it’s very individual. And you can never underestimate what motivates them.”
When Coach Hudson broke down a typical week of training, I learned that he has his runners go through a few different phases, depending on where an athlete may be in the course of achieving their running goals.
First, there’s an intro to training, which consists of 2 to 6 weeks. Then fundamental work happens for a period of 8 to 24 weeks. Things become more specialized for 4 to 5 weeks until the training in the last 6 to 8 weeks is fine-tuned and becomes very specific.
(ph. cred: Instagram @coach___hudson)
Coach Hudson pairs his athletes to train with one another. He explains that this depends on which phase they are in, as well as what they are working towards. Typically, the 1500m runner and marathoner can run together for part of their fundamental phase, with quality base training for the marathoner. There is some customization involved in tweaking the training plans here and there for each runner and then, Hudson says, “It becomes a game of what they need.”
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As for fuel, Hudson Elite runners are starting to work with a nutritionist to help zero in on what each runner may need in terms of micro- and macronutrient intake. Instead of the idea that there’s one standard runner diet that works for everyone, it’s more about what someone feels good on and works for them.
I wanted to know Hudson’s thoughts on the concept of “race weight,” or the notion that runners race faster, lighter. He explained that while one is shooting for world-class performance, body weight must be low— and that’s simply a reality in the world of elite racing. But, this does not include “doing dumb, drastic stuff, but rather being conscious. Most elite runners do have low BMIs, and for some, this takes extreme discipline.”
He suggests that it’s something to approach by working with a nutritionist, and adopting a “sound diet, with enough calories to train and stay healthy as well as reach a goal weight, at peak. You can’t always be at peak body weight.”
“Check body fat and shoot for realistic goals,” he adds. “Not everyone can be world class— but you can make better performances with individual tweaking.”
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As an avid winter treadmill runner myself, I wondered what Coach Hudson had to say about taking things from outdoors to indoors. He isn’t as against the ‘mill, as I might have predicted, but rather says that it can be a useful tool for most training— aside from specific speed work— if running outside isn’t an option. If he had to pick, the Woodway is his treadmill of choice.
As for hopes and dreams leading up to Tokyo 2020, Coach Hudson wants to continue bettering his group. “1) More athletes chose Boulder to come train and the sport grows. 2) U.S. distance running continues on its upward trajectory, 3) We fight the corruption and doping in the sport.”
(ph. credit: @coach___hudson)
So, who in the running world does Coach Hudson regard as some of his personal favorite runners?
“Geb (Haile Gebrselassie), and (Kenenisa) Bekele— both for what they accomplished and how they have affected the sport, including their longevity and how long they remained on top, as well as the diversity of their events from 1500m to the Marathon,” he says. “There’s also Meb Keflezighi, who has demonstrated the same— with remaining power.”
He is also fascinated by one of the first females to dominate in running, Joanie Benoit, who was the American Olympic marathoner who took home gold in ‘84, the first year that women were allowed to compete in the sport. Hudson also describes how another record-breaking female legend, Paula Radcliffe, showed “what’s possible when you commit to something… completely.”
As a coach, Hudson looks to Renato Canova, who has helped foster world-record holders, as well as to Alberto Salazar for “pushing the envelope and making running much more professional and up-to-date with other pro sports: Scientifically, and lifestyle, looking for improvements in all facets: training, recovery, diet, sleep, mental performance— and to keep pushing boundaries.”
While those are some of the people in the running community that Coach Hudson has been greatly inspired by, I have drawn great enthusiasm for running from some of what’s been shared in Hudson’s social media presence, which depicts the daily activities of his team as they train in real time. Observing these other magnificent runners via the Instgram posts by Coach Hudson and Hudson Elite, often ignites and invigorates me in my own running practice.
That’s one of my favorite things about running: There’s always someone out there from whom I can extract motivation from, on the long hilly road chasing the dream.
(ph. credit: @coach___hudson)