Friday, September 25, 2009

Q&A with Derick Williamson

This past week I had the opportunity to talk with Derick Williamson about the development of his new running program, Durata. If you are looking for a specialized run program read on.

What does Durata mean?
Durata is Italian for Endurance.

What time do they start?
6:30am on Tuesdays and Fridays.

When does it officially start?
We will officially start on October 13th and go all the way through the Austin Marathon/Half Marathon.

Where does it start?
Jack & Adam’s Bicycles, 1210 Barton Springs Rd.

Will the workouts always start from Jack & Adam's?
Yes! Jack and Adam’s offers a perfect spot to meet for workouts as we can access a variety of terrain such as the trail, the Austin High track, Zilker and even hills. So we’ll be able to maximize workout potential and variety.

Can anyone join?
Absolutely, this program is open to everyone.

Who will be coaching workouts?
I will be the lead coach for the workouts but Kelly will also be there to help from time to time as well as some other notable athletes that we work with from the Austin endurance community.

Do you have to have a run background?
A run background is not necessary. In fact that’s what’s unique about our program. We’ve worked with first timers all the way up to Olympic Marathon trials athletes so no matter what level runner you are we can make you better. Our training approach also reduces injury potential and greatly enhances your ability to reach your running potential.

If I am training throughout the year for specific tri's can I still join?
This is a perfect opportunity for triathletes to have a structured run focus throughout the fall/winter months. Significant fitness gains can be made and plateaus can be broken during a block such as this that will not only improve their run split but also enhance their cycling fitness.

What makes Durata different from other training groups?
Endurance athletes often have to choose between the quality of an individualized training program that produces optimal results or group training that offers camaraderie but limits personal development. We’ve had tremendous success with our individual training programs and so we wanted to bring that expertise, experience and education to a collective setting.

Our collective setting offers training and progression that is designed for the individual, not the group, this leads to better results and less potential for injury. Many training groups focus too much on the track or speed work too early without adequately preparing the athlete to tolerate such intense workouts this is why many runners (and triathletes) end up injured and not performing to their potential. We do not avoid these key workouts but we do take a different approach making sure the training is broken up into phases that enhance important developmental components over an appropriate time course.

Durata collective setting sessions are designed so that athletes can focus on their own workout for the day, but with the ability to pair up with other runners that have similar workouts and paces. They’ll also get valuable guidance from the coach pre and post workout.

Will there always be a coach on sight?
Yes, there will always be a coach, but another unique component of our training program is that athletes will have slightly different workout s based on their individual rate of progression and their goals.

Is it year round?
Durata will be offering different Collective Training programs throughout the year synchronous to the local competitive/race seasons. This particular program will run through the Austin Marathon in February.

Is there an athlete cap?
Yes. This program offers a high level of attention and interaction, with that, we have a limit of 20. This allows us to give each individual athlete the attention and quality coaching that will produce the greatest results. It should be noted that these sessions are open to all current Durata athletes at no fee.

How many times per week does the group meet?
We will me 2x/wk on Tuesdays and Fridays, but you’ll also have the chance to meet other runners of similar ability and that gives you an opportunity to have training buddies for some of your other runs throughout the week.

Will there be coaching for cross training aspects of running?
This program will be focused solely on running.

Is there testing involved? What kind? How often?
Yes, this program will incorporate field testing (a workout to be done on the track or trail) at the onset and periodically through the program. It’s crucial to gather this data so that you are running at training paces that are consistent with your current level of fitness. It’s also critical to repeat the testing throughout the program so that you can monitor and track your progression in fitness as well as update your training ranges as you get faster. This testing not only gives you your own unique training paces but also helps us establish realistic race paces and projected times.

What if I am not able to run high mileage?
That’s OK, every athlete is different. This is a way the Durata program differs from others. We take your current training as well as historical training into account before giving you a schedule and having you do workouts. It’s irresponsible as a coach to put someone into a training program without an understanding of their training history, this leads to injury and sub-optimal performances. For some athletes higher mileage is appropriate but for others it is not and is in fact counter productive. We take great care to make sure an athlete’s mileage is matched to ability level, goals and athletic development.

If you build people from low mileage to high what is your belief on the maximum tolerable miles (i.e. range) for an athlete?
Again, this is different for all athletes and comes down to what works best for the individual athlete. There is certainly a point of diminishing returns with mileage; a point in which the fitness gains plateau or are greatly reduced but that the potential for injury and burn out begins to creep up. We assess each athlete and make sure their training for the marathon or half marathon is progressive in a way that ensures they get the necessary workouts in for success but do not over do it, arriving at the start line healthy and confident.

What is your background?
I have been coaching professionally since 2003. I worked as a Pro coach for Carmichael Training Systems before moving to Austin to pursue my graduate degree in Sports Science and Nutrition. I was a NCAA Div 1 distance runner and continue to run at a competitive level including a win at the ’07 Austin Half Marathon among other local races. I addition to running I compete as an elite triathlete. But I am most proud of my accomplishments as a coach including several Olympic Trials Qualifiers, an IAAF cross country world championship qualifier, multiple cycling and triathlon national champions, an ITU Paralympic world champion and Ironman World Champion, consulting with many of Austin’s elite triathletes and working with athletes of every level to realize athletic goals that they thought were only a dream.

What is your coaching philosophy (okay broad question so if you want to focus on one aspect of your belief system that you are really including in the training or you believe the most about)?
My coaching philosophy is grounded the fundamentals of physiology and the science of the sport. Workouts, training blocks and training cycles should incorporate 4 distinct components: Overload, Recovery, Progression and Adaptation. Each of these is intertwined and you cannot have one without the other. Training data for each athlete must be collected and implemented into an individual approach. This ensures workouts and progression is consistent with an individual rate of development and goal track. Phases of training must be developed so that an athlete progresses at a rate that is consistent with physiological adaptation, if you progress to fast injury and burn out occur, to slow and you do not gain optimal results. It is an approach that involves quite a bit of planning and tailoring to the individual but it also yields much more optimal results.

I am a firm believer that each workout should have a purpose that goes back to those 4 components, if your coach can not explain to you what the specific purpose of the workout is then your wasting your time and you should find another coach.

In addition to the physiological side of training there is also a huge psychological component to performing your best and taking on new and exciting challenges that can sometime seem daunting. My coaching and athletic experience as well as my education offers me a distinct advantage in being able to motivate and empower athletes keeping them on track for their goals. I also have a degree in nutrition so I can offer objective feedback and recommendations for the nutritional aspect.

Finally I believe that each athlete is different and should be treated as such; this is a big reason for forming the Durata Collective Setting program. I have seen too many athletes not reach their goals, stagnate, go through the viscous injury cycle (get injured because of improper training, get healthy, then get injured again, over and over) and eventually reduce their expectations because they are training ineffectively. My goal is to show athletes that there is an alternative approach that leads to them reaching their true potential.

What would a sample workout or week be like?
A sample day might be as follows:
6:00am: meet and briefly discuss the goals and purpose of the morning’s workout and answer and questions
6:10: subdivide into small groups that have similar workouts and pacing for the day.
6:10-6:25: Warm up on the Town Lake trail.
6:25 on, would be the Main set workout: i.e. 2x2mi Tempo Run with 3min Recovery on the trail (pacing based on your field test results).
Followed by a cool down and report your splits/results and feedback to the coach.

Is it month to month, pay in full ahead of time?
We offer both. It is highly recommended that you participate in all 4 months of the training, from October-February but you can choose to go month to month provided there is room. The cost is $125/mo or if you sign up for all four months in advance there is a discounted rate of $450 for the entire program.

How do I join?
You can join by going Here: or if you’d like more information email me at

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