Dr. Damion Dunlap is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Florida State University (FSU) Panama City, pastor of Truth Fellowship Community Church in Panama City Beach, and head coach of the Bay Blaze Track and Field Club. Damion is also the proud husband of Tracy Dunlap and father of five pretty cool kiddos.
I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many athletes over the past ten years in soccer, basketball, and track and field, but I’ve never had an athlete push me to learn more than Rory Claussen. Rory, who has since moved away with her family, was not content just to compete and improve—she wanted to be the best. As a coach, I quickly realized that my experience alone wasn’t going to be enough to help her achieve her goals. It was my desire to learn and grow alongside my athletes that led me to Coach Greg McMillan and his book “You (Only Faster).”
Greg McMillan is not only an exercise physiologist and USATF-certified coach, he is also one of America’s best-known distance-running coaches and has trained athletes of all ages and abilities over a career spanning more than two decades. “You (Only Faster)” introduces the key principles he used in developing training plans for more than 10,000 Boston Marathon qualifiers, 12 national champions, and athletes in six world championships. With masterful explanations, the book is an amazing guide for coaches and runners who want to develop custom training plans for athletes with various goals.
What I love most about “You (Only Faster)” is that Coach McMillan embraces the “if you teach a person to fish” principle. Instead of simply providing a few cookie-cutter plans, he explains in depth how to assess athletes’ strengths and weaknesses and how to develop a custom plan for them based on their goals and level of commitment. Coach McMillan also emphasizes that athletes should listen to their bodies and provides smart strategies to adapt workouts based on these perceptions while still keeping the key goals in mind. These principles not only help athletes improve over time but also help to keep them healthy.
In the year after reading this book and implementing these principles, Rory was able to win the FSU Invitational Middle School Cross Country Championship as a sixth-grader and hasn’t looked back. Now, as a high school freshman, she runs a 5K in less than 20 minutes. I’ve been asked more times than I can count what a person can do to train for a 5K, 10K, or marathon, and every single time, I find myself referencing Coach McMillan’s book or using his online training calculator to help point them in the right direction.
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