Danny Mackey, Coach, Brooks Beasts, The RBR Interview, by Larry Eder

Updated February 26, 2014 by editor.

I was heading up to my hotel room at the Lenox, the day before the New Balance Grand Prix, when I saw three guys, all dressed up in Brooks gear. I asked them if they were with the Brooks Beasts, and one of them said, " I am their coach, Danny Mackey." 

It was a quick intro, but that afternoon, on my walk around the Boston Commons, I observed Danny running with two of his 800 meter runners: a shake out run and nice conversation in the new snow and sun. 

Danny Mackey, Brooks Beasts TC coach, 
from Brooks Running

Danny Mackey is the coach of the Brooks Beasts, the club that Brooks started to support elite athlete development in their corporate home town, Seattle. Danny agreed to an interview with RunBlogRun. You will find it below. 

Danny Mackey is an example of the quality of men and women that we have in coaching in our sport across the country. His interview has something for everyone. 

Garrett Heath and Erica Moore, BRS_5010-1024x683.jpg

Garrett Heath and Erica Moore recently joined the Brooks Beasts in January 2014,

from Brooks Running

RunBlogRun, # 1. What do you love about coaching athletics?

Danny Mackey:  I love the objectivity and intensity of the sport. There are politics like any other sport, but athletics is as raw as sports gets, you simply line people up and see who is faster. Everyone has access to running, which is one reason why it is so intense. Everything I do in the planning stages, from nutrition to weights to drills to the running, they all matter when .01 of a second can decide a race.


RunBlogRun, # 2. What was the biggest lesson you have learnt about coaching?

Danny Mackey: I have patience and trust the talent level of the athletes. They need to train hard, but if they are not responding to a training load or start showing fatigue, we back off and have let their talent and work ethic show in races.


Brooks Beast Track Club, 

from Brooks Running


RunBlogRun, # 3. If you were talking to a room of high school coaches, what would you say about  coaching?

Danny Mackey: I just gave a presentation last week to high school coaches and I started off by saying "I focus everything around the athletes. It is their career and they are the ones that have to execute on the track so the sport is about them, not me." 


RunBlogRun, # 4. If you were talking to a group of college coaches, what would say is your biggest change in your coaching approach?

Danny Mackey: I listen to the athletes and change our plan quicker than I thought I would have before working with the Beasts. I am a lot more fluid and acute with the day-to-day workouts. We have a big picture plan and that trickles down to the months and weeks in the phase, but on a single day, I adjust based on how the athletes look and what they say.


The Brooks Beasts,

from Brooks Running 

RunBlogRun, # 5. Tell us about the Brooks Beasts?

Danny Mackey: The Brooks Beasts started in 2013 and we are based out of Seattle. We are focused on being the premier track team in the world and take a "team" approach versus a "training group." The Beasts also have responsibilities off the track by motivating kids to be fans of the sport and inspiring health and fitness within the Seattle community.

RunBlogRun, # 6. You are working with athletes who are emerging and established, different approaches?

Danny Mackey: I have an individual plan for the athletes based off their goals and current state. But, no, my approach is very similar in terms of the basic principles I have for coaching. Focus on the athlete and mold my understanding of physiology and biomechanics around the athlete.


 Katie Mackey, Rieti 2013, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RunBlogRun, # 7.  Katie Mackey has done tremendously, may we ask, how do you coach your wife or a family member?

Danny Mackey: Katie is a special athlete. She is now just starting to show how gifted she is and I think within the next year or two she will be top 8 in the world. I coach Katie just like I coach everyone else on the Beasts. Sure, I'm a little more comfortable around her, but my job is to be objective and honest regardless. If not, I am doing her a disservice. Plus, the Beasts are so tight knit I handle them the same.


Nick Symmonds joined the Brooks Beasts in January 2014, 

photo by PhotoRun.net


RunBlogRun, # 8. How often do you see your athletes?

Danny Mackey: Six or seven days a week.


RunBlogRun, # 9. Your training philosophy?

Danny Mackey: I believe in periodization. We change our training significantly from October to December to April to July.  The aerobic system is the foundation but chaining their stimulus through different sessions and ancillary exercises is essential. I also lean on physiology and biomechanics to drive some of my discussions. But, like I mentioned, I believe in the team approach.


 The Brooks Beasts, 

photo by Brooks Running

RunBlogRun, # 10. What are, in your eyes, key elements in buildup period?

Danny Mackey: Our aerobic tempo runs, weight training and circuit drills. I try and build up the aerobic system and the muscular system.


 Garrett Heath, 2014 USA Indoor, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RunBlogRun, # 11. Do your athletes work out together?

Danny Mackey: Yes, every day.


 Erica Moore, USA Indoors, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RunBlogRun, # 12. What would you suggest as a basic program for a new high school coach working with boys trying to run 4:30and girls trying to run 5:20 or better for the mile? 

Danny Mackey: That is a hard question to answer because there are so many great resources out there. But, if I had to put my 2 cents in there, a basic program would incorporate a short speed session (like 200-400 w/ full recovery @ race pace or faster), 1 VO2 max sessions (like 600-1000k at near 2 mile pace), 1 tempo run (3-4 miles @ 25 seconds slower than 5k race pace), 1 long tempo 5-6 miles @ a heart rate of 155ish and 2 long runs over a 14 day period.  Also, during those 14 days I would have 4 days that are very, very easy recovery days.


RunBlogRun, # 13. What track spikes do your team use?

Danny Mackey: The Wire 3 and the 2 ELMN8.  The Wire is more of a 1500-oup spike and the 2 ELMN8  is more of a 1500-on-down spike. I've worked at quite a few companies in the industry, and I would put the new Brooks spikes up against the top competition shoes out there. The product team is really getting dialed in with making top-notch product.


 Gabrielle Grunewald winning 3,000m at 2014 USA Indoors, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RunBlogRun, # 14. Do you have your elite athletes train in spikes or flats?

Danny Mackey: Both. A majority of the time they are in flats because there is a little more protection, but sometimes if they are really hitting race specific times, then they spike up.


Cas Loxsom, 2014 USA Indoor, 

photo by PhotoRun.net


RunBlogRun, # 15. If you had a chance to speak to the 1.4 million high schoolers in track and xc in US, what would you tell them about pursuing their goals and challenges? 

Danny Mackey: Focus on community to surround yourself with- find people that would love to see you succeed and want to help you. We have a greater purpose to living beyond only pursuing our own goals, and even though they are a priority, you will lose a part of the joy of succeeding and make it a lot harder on yourself if you choose to go alone. Also, our lives are not controlled by just fate, so don't believe that things just happen you don't have a say in the outcome.  


Gabrielle Grunewald winning the 3,000m at the USA Indoors, 

photo by PhotoRun.net 

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