Peter Callahan – State Champion Miler


Approximately eight years I had the opportunity to consult for one year with North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois. Patrick McHugh, the Athletic Director brought me in three different times during the year to do staff development and work on up grading their physical education and athletic program. Patrick is also the track coach and as you know track and field is my passion so we connected because of our mutual interest. We speak and correspond on a regular basis, in fact Patrick will be attending the Apprentorship program. Two years ago Patrick told about a boy who had come out from basketball and run some great times as a freshman. The way Patrick spoke about this boy and the times the young man ran with no background intrigued me. He played basketball again his sophomore year and ended up 2nd in the state in the mile. This year he decided to not play basketball because of a recurring foot problem aggravated by planting and cutting. Up to this time the young man had probably never run over thirty miles a week. The traditional approach would have been to take advantage of the opportunity of no basketball and pile on the miles. Patrick and I talked about it and my advice to him was train him like an athlete not a distance runner. So they did. He did tons of circuit work modeled after the Seb Coe workouts from the 1980’s. I will have to check with Patrick but I do not think ne ever exceeded thirty miles in a week. Oh by the way North Shore does not have a track. Actually a great advantage because the majority of the stress workouts were done on grass. Here is Patrick’s description of the race: “The pace in the 1600m goes out slow. Everyone looks for Thompson or Peter to take the lead and neither of them want it. Thompson eventually takes the lead and coast through 400m in 66 and then hits 800m at 2:15. Peter is right on his shoulder. Sure enough he starts moving with 600m to go and Thompson starts opening up a gap. Peter hits 1200m at 3:22 about 5m back but Thompson is starting to increase his lead. Peter struggled in the Prelims from 1200m to 1400m against a weaker opponent so this was the point of the race I was most worried about. Coming onto the back stretch Thompson had increased his lead to 10m and seemed to be starting to pull away. About halfway down the back stretch the lead stopped increasing. Peter started slowly closing the gap. He hit the 1400m mark at 3:52.9 and then really started moving. He caught Thompson with 100m to go and flew by him. The announcer described the race this way “and with a tremendous burst of speed, Callahan has taken the lead!” Peter runs a 27.4 last 200m and a 58.2 last 400m and wins by 2 seconds. I haven’t seen a much better finish by any high school kid ever.”
Congratulations to Peter and Patrick- Tremendous accomplishment and a great illustration of following the functional path.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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