I first met Jim Cornell in Lake Placid some years ago at the Connecticut speed skating association Christmas Camp. We quickly became friends (skating in screaming blizzards can accelerate the process of getting to know someone), and he is someone whom I have come to respect deeply, as a skater, as a coach with the Rochester speedskating team, and as an allaround excellent fellow.
Jim recently was honored as US Speedskating’s Volunteer Coach of the Year, he also had an article published about him in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. I am going to be adding short and sweet interviews to this blog, I call them “Zen 10 questions” and Jim seemed an ideal choice for the first one!
It is an honor to be interviewed on the Andrew Love blog. We have had many interesting speedskating related conversations in Lake Placid.
1. What world class speed skater would you someday like to have dinner with? What kind of questions would you ask them?
Eric Heiden. How did you get started in speedskating? What motivated you to endure the rigors of high intensity training? What was it like traveling the world speedskating at such a young age?
2. Your skaters talk of “The Plan” that you have spent over 200 hours developing, I have seen it, in its phone-book sized binder, and it’s more complicated & detailed than some national team annual plans I have seen. Can you describe it for all those in internet-land?
“The Plan” is a year long periodization road map. It consists of a few interactive spreadsheets (described below) that can be customized on an individualized basis.
1. The yearly planner – the big picture of competitions, training sessions, workloads, year end summaries and graphs which are used to view all the periodization cycle parameters.
2. Weekly workouts - detail customizable workouts. These are sent out in monthly blocks.
3. Personal summary page – charting of personal performance, physical and emotional ratings, heart rate, body weight and body fat. This let you see overtraining and under training trends.
3. Describe some of the improvements skaters following “the Plan” have had? Are you modifying it this year?:
This year we had great success with the plan and it is the first year we used it. Here are the highlights:
1. Marty Medina national short track gold medalist masters 30-39.
2. Craig Pielechowski national short track gold medalist masters 60-69.
3. Mike Burdekin national short track gold medalist juvenile.
4. Many personal bests. Personally, I took 3 seconds off of both my 500 short track and long track times. In my 1500M long track I took 10 seconds off.
There were several changes this year:
1. I created a training diary that has emotional and physical rating scales, meal entry and workout entry. At the USS spring board meeting Jen Rodriguez saw it on a table and liked it, so I gave her a copy to use. Also, the short track team in Marquett are receiving copies.
2. More performance testing. Our cycle is 4 weeks. Week 1 is recovery (easy) Week 4 is the toughest. It is in week 4 that our workouts become tests. We do strength, speed, power, agility, vo2max, aerobic and anaerobic tests over the course of the week. The test results are recorded and tracked for each individual.
4. Do you have anything readers can download to read more about the plan?
Every year our team gets together for a presentation which covers the upcoming year of training. It covers what is periodization training, what types of training sessions we do. Everything from training, recovery to nutrition is covered. This year’s presentation can be downloaded by your readers. (the 8.5 mb powerpoint will be downloaded directly by clicking here).
5. Most coaches hung up their own blades long ago. You still compete, and compete very well! You won the Jack Shea Sprints in Lake Placid as well as taking 3rd overall in the Season ice marathon series Is it hard to skate as well as coach? Or are there benefits? (the pic is Jim leading the pack at US ice Marathon National champs, 50k is a looooong race).
It is hard to skate and coach at the same time. I am lucky that Rochester has many coaches so I do not have to do keep an eye on everyone all the time. There are benefits to coaching. The process of breaking down the speedskating technique into small parts for teaching purposes has helped me understand technique more.
6. You were named US Speedskating’s Volunteer Coach of the Year this year. Where were you when you found out? What was your immediate reaction?
I was at work when I got an email from USS congratulating me on being nominated volunteer coach of the year. They needed a picture of me ASAP. My immediate reaction was, “Is this some sort of a joke?” I did not tell anybody until it was put on the USS website. Then I knew it was for real.
7. What has been your happiest moment, as a coach? How about as a skater?
As a coach, wining the volunteer coach of the year was awesome.
As a skater, I don’t have a happiest moment, but feeling the speed coming out of a corner always makes me happy.
8. Paul Marchese once said to me “dryland is the brussel sprouts of your training diet”. Do you agree? What do you think he means?
I totally agree! I think he means that you may not like it, but it is good for you.
Another dryland quote I like is from Pat Maxwell. He said “A breakthrough season starts with a breakthrough summer.”
9. Tell us something surprising about you or your life, that those of us who might have met you through skating would never have suspected:
I received my pilots license at the age of sixteen and retired from flying at the age of 22.
10. Haiku Round Speed Questions
1. Awesome training book?
Periodization of strength by Tudor Bompa
2. Best Coach you know?
3. Ideal post-marathon meal?
4. What movie do you never tire of seeing?
5. What do you skate on?
Viking for long track and SS for short
6. Really expensive habit you wish you could afford?
world traveling 10 months a year
7. Biggest influence on your life?
Speedskating and all those involved
8. 2 Internet sites you visit all the time?
rochesterspeedskating.org & CNN.com
9. Do you think America fundamentally divided between “red states” & “blue states”?
10. How about a quote you find motivating?
Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
Thanks Jim! it was great chatting and I look forward to crossing paths with you this year!
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