Brad Hudson has an incredible background as a runner and as a longtime coach, including former coach to one of America’s top runners, Dathan Ritzenhein. Brad was nice enough to share some tips on running with Teach to Run readers. Brad continues to coach today and has decades of experiences with runners of all abilities, including some of the best in the world.
Mark Eichenlaub: You have accomplished a lot as a runner and coach. Can you tell us about the start of your running career? I remember hearing an interview you did with (I believe) Competitor.com about running a marathon in high school. Is that correct?
Brad Hudson: I started running with the Mine Mountain Road Dept. at age 11. Mark Wetmore, the current C.U. coach, was in charge of it. I was running over 100 miles a week before high school. I ran my first marathon at age 12 in 2:50 in Gettysburg and ran 2:17 just after my 19th birthday in Chicago.
M.E.: Wow, those are some amazing accomplishments! What kind of race times were you running at such a young age at the shorter distances?
B.H.: I ran 29:36 and 48:55 for miles in high school on the roads! I had the H.S. Vancortland Park 2.5 record for quite a few years.
M.E.: Can you walk us through the rest of your running all the way up to today?
I ran at the University of Oregon after high school and ran 28:58 (10k) and 13:54 (5k) then went on to run 2:13:23 (marathon), won the Columbus Marathon 1992-1993 and the Detroit 1996 marathon.
Can you talk about who your greatest influence was when you were running?
(Arthur) Lydiard of course but also Alberto Salazar and especially Mark Nenow, John Gregorek and George Malley. I was a strength-based runner and still believe that philosophy today! Bob Kennedy and Todd Williams back in my day brought a change to the sport, showing a change in the sport of professionalism. Seeing Joan Benoit win the first ever women’s marathon are things that I won’t forget.
You wrote “Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon: How to be Your Own Best Coach” with Matt Fitzgerald (who has also agreed to do an interview with this site). Can you talk to us about how that process started and ended? A published book (a very good book that I own).
Matt Fitzgerald approached me about a book and we spoke on the phone many hours. He did an amazing job putting the book together!
I remember reading in your book first about “hill sprints.” Can you tell us where you got these and if they’ve always been part of your coaching arsenal or when you added them and why?
When I first started coaching I was looking for a safe way to use the C.P. system, other than plyometrics, and help with fast-twitch fibers. Specific strength. I actually got these from Owen Anderson and by using them myself. I was doing them on grass but with Canova’s influence I moved these to harder ground. When I first started coaching I literally read everything I could and to me these are the most efficient and safest way of improving speed and preventing injury while bringing a different system in to training.
Your style of coaching has been referred to as “starting with the extremes” (endurance and raw speed) during base training and work towards more specific race pace as you get closer to a target race. Would you say this is accurate? Would you say that is still your philosophy?
I am a strength-oriented coach but I include very aerobic stuff, long runs with progressions and sprints (hills) at all times! It is accurate that the goal is to keep getting stronger every year, every season and every phase of training even while developing Specific Endurance!
Can you talk about some of the top athletes you currently work with and have worked with in the past. What has that been like?
Steve Slattery, Shayne Culpepper, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jorge Torres, James Carney, Benita willis, Jason Hartmann are Sarah Schwald are some athletes I have worked with in the past. I am now working with (Fernando) Cabada, Carlos Trujillo, Adriana Pirtea, Adrienne Herzog, Mike Sayenko, Zach Hine, Molly Pritz….. Many more. I hope I have learned from all of them.
What do you think of the rise of American running over the past number of years after a long time drought on the world class scene?
It has been great and I have seen this coming since 2000. U.S. athletes have been training much more professionally with more volume and more intensity. The professional side has changed and so has the training. U.S. athletes are training in groups with coaches and being influenced globally, seeing what other athletes are doing through the internet. Also the value of U.S. athletes running Boston, New York and especially the NYRRC giving support and opportunity to U.S. athletes!
If you were to be put in touch with a very beginning runner, what advice would you give to them to make the most efficient use of their time, both for just gaining general fitness, getting faster, and possibly just losing weight.
I think first and foremost get them to enjoy the sport! Find out what motivates them!
Where do you see the sport of distance running going forward, perhaps in the next Olympics and beyond?
I think that road running is getting bigger and bigger! The Olympics are great but it is obvious that the best athletes have gone to the marathon and half-marathons where there is more money and more opportunity. I think the U.S. is getting closer! Galen Rupp winning a medal in the 10 km (In the recent Olympics) is definitely a big milestone. I see so many youth coaches and youth runners training so much smarter and I believe we will continue to make progress against Kenya and Ethiopia. What we need now is a male and female to win a major marathon again! Like Meb did! I believe it will have a huge impact. We need Kara, Shalane, Ryan, Dathan, Chris Derrick to not just be contenders but win NYC, London and Boston. I believe it can change the sport by making it much bigger in the U.S. For the races and the sponsors.
What are some underutilized tools (nutrition, injury prevention, footwear, etc.) in your opinion?
Nutrition of course. Supplements and using the many different types of foot wear and blood tests every couple of months are probably the most under-valued tools. Also, I think that athletes are being very professional in how they live their lives. Nutrition, naps, physical therapy, sprint drills, etc…..
What is your take on the use of altitude as a training tool?
I love altitude but I am still looking for a sea-level location. I like mixing the two and using sea-level in the last few weeks before a marathon.
Can you talk about the influence of Renato Canova on your coaching and running in general?
Canova, to me, is the most knowledgeable coach when it comes to world-class running. I think he has opened the eyes of many on the training methods of many of the world’s top runners. He is the one person I have met that really knew training. Many years of experience at the top. First, with the top Italians but now also the top Kenyans who have been dominating the sport. I think with the internet it has opened up the training of world-class athletes and that has made our college programs better as well. Canova was a great mentor for me personally. I came from a professional way of coaching, not from college and I was never an asst. coach, so he has helped me tremendously and has impacted running a lot more than people will say!
What is your favorite running distance as either a spectator or runner and why?
I like all distances.
Thank you so much Brad!
What else would YOU like to know from one of the top coaches in the world about training?
What training tips do you practice that you believe others overlook?
Who has been your biggest running influence(s)?