Matt McClintock is one of the latest coaches to become VDOT Certified by Dr. Jack Daniels. He recently published his coaching profile and training products on the VDOT Marketplace. Matt was an All-American at Purdue University, where he earned a B.S. in Movement and Sport Science. He now runs professionally for Reebok ZAP Fitness, a non-profit training center for Olympic hopefuls, in North Carolina.

VDOT O2: When did it all start and how did you become so dedicated to the sport of running?

Matt: I began running in middle school. I always loved sports and competed in everything I could, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. However, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I really started to get serious about training. Once I saw that hard work paying off through PR’s and winning races, I was bitten by the running bug!

VDOT O2: What are your biggest challenges training as a pro athlete?

Matt: There are no distractions now, no class to focus on, no paper to write, etc. Running is a job now and that pressure, knowing that your performance is directly related to your ability to provide for your family, can be tough to cope with. Having a close-knit team like we do at ZAP Fitness has been a lifesaver in that respect, because regardless of what happens in a given workout or a race you still have people who care about you as a person, not just a runner.

VDOT O2: What were some of the key difference makers in your recent progress as an athlete?

Matt: One big difference was simply slowing down my easy days and listening to my body. In college I had a habit of going out and running most of my easy days too hard and never recovering. Your body improves through a cycle of stress (workouts) and recovery. By cutting out the recovery portion you are losing half the battle in improving.

VDOT O2: Name one coach and how they helped influence your career.

Matt: My high school coach, Bob Hagopian. I think the biggest way he helped me was by not pushing me until I decided I wanted to really pursue running. I feel like a lot of times high school coaches see talent in their athletes and push them to the point that the sport stops becoming fun. Bob knew I was talented, but he let me figure out when I was ready to push myself.

VDOT O2: Why did you want to get into coaching and what do you love most about it?

Matt: Coaching has always been a career I wanted to pursue after I was done running and the VDOT O2 Marketplace was a great way for me to enter coaching while still running. I have always been passionate about running to the extent that I can’t see myself involved in a field outside of the sport. Coaching gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on new runners just like so many people had on me when I was just starting out!

VDOT O2: What’s your general coaching philosophy?

Matt: I have two major beliefs in my coaching philosophy:

  1. Aerobic development is the most beneficial form of training any runner can do, especially someone who is new to the sport. Safely increasing total volume and workouts based around threshold and marathon stimulus are the bulk of the workouts I prescribe my athletes. Intervals and faster paces are used more as race sharpening, especially over longer distances. Workouts surrounding aerobic development generally offer the most in terms of risk/reward, meaning they are associated with lower rates of injury while still providing the stress required to move the body forward in it’s running development.
  2. I believe that rest and recovery are keys to any successful athlete. The body improves off a cycle of stress and recovery meaning appropriate recovery is as important to a successful training plan as any workout. Consistency is the most important key to improving in running, and that means being able to train consistently, day after day. It doesn’t matter how great of shape you are in if you can only go 3 months without being sidelined for a month. My training philosophy seeks to allow my athletes that training consistency by balancing training stress with recovery.

VDOT O2: What do you like about the VDOT methodology?

Matt: Dr. Jack Daniels, creator of the VDOT system, was revolutionary in the way that he was able to capture every major area of training inside a simple methodology. One of the hardest things for any athlete, and that includes someone like myself who has been training and competing for over a decade, is determining where there fitness lies within a given training cycle. By combining all components that make up the ability to achieve a given time (VO2max and Efficiency), Daniels effectively allows an athlete a snapshot of their fitness at any given time.

Matt McClintock was a 9-time State Champion in high school. He went on to become an All-American at Purdue University where he earned a B.S. in Movement and Sport Science. He now runs professionally as a member of the Reebok ZAP Fitness Elite Team. Since joining the team he has placed in the top 10 at four USATF Championships events. Learn more about Matt’s coaching services and connect with him on the VDOT Marketplace.