Jeff Benjamin interviews Carl Lewis on his new training program, ” The Perfect Method.”
By Jeff Benjamin
Carl Lewis has always possessed a strong mind and a strong body. The Greatest Olympic competitor of them all used qualities such as goal-setting, drive and desire to amass nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight golds throughout an illustrious career.
Even now Lewis, who was in NYC last month to be honored by USA Track & Field with the “Legend Award” still possesses those championship qualities.
And let’s not forget the focus either!
“I really want to get Americans back on the top podiums again,” said Lewis, who nowadays, is the assistant track and field coach at the University of Houston, and also works at his alma mater under his old friend and teammate Head Coach Leroy Burrell, himself a former world record holder at 100 meters. These days Lewis hopes to see his Houston Cougars continue to rise to the top. “But we are developing over the long term,” Lewis emphasized. “We’re not in the business of time chasing, that will take care of itself.” Just last year Cameron Burrell ran a 9.93 100 meters, besting his father/coach’s best career time. “We also have Elijah Hall and John Lewis, who we feel is developing as well…We’re really building a solid post-Collegiate team.”
Lewis also values the importance of an education for his athletes. “My biggest regret was not staying at Houston for 4 years,” said Lewis, who went into the Word-Class Track and Field world and then on to athletic immortality. “I wish Coach Tellez and my parents had said “Finish!”
“But that’s the catch-22.”
Lewis is now a proponent of the full college experience. “When we recruit, we emphasize that the primary goal is to get a degree,” said Lewis. “Look at Elijah Hall and Cameron Burrell–Elijah has 3 kids and is getting his degree in May and he could’ve left.”
Hall, who made last years’ world championship team at 200 meters got that taste of the World-Class environment, replete with race promoters, agents and cash. “But he said, “I’m going to get my degree for my children,” said Lewis, who also noted the same temptation felt by Cameron Burrell. “They’re great role models,” said Lewis. “They show, especially to the freshman, that they’ve learned how to manage their life and that college builds a brand for themselves.” Lewis also heaped praise on one of Oregon’s greatest Runners. “Just look at (Ed) Cheserek!”, said Lewis of the multi-NCAA Championship Medal Winner.
“He gets the importance of commitment.”
While very content with his collegiate coaching (“I’m very fortunate”), Lewis still felt he could offer more. “As I began to coach, I saw many kids come to me with a lack of fundamentals,” said Lewis, lamenting how Phys Ed/Gym classes from the elementary right through high school is not emphasized throughout the country as it once was. “There’s no PE in school where the old track coach would be the teacher of the class.”
That has led Lewis sometimes to play a little catch-up with recruits. “Modifying techniques is what I call it,” said Lewis, emphasizing how the step counting for jumpers, rhythm drills and leg lifting are all part of his parcel for greatness.
And let’s not forget the focus. “No earphones, modify technique, no distractions and a full warmup with no distractions,” said Lewis, who noted these habits at times are forced upon his freshmen. “It is a challenge to get the kids to it, otherwise the focus is lost,” said Lewis.
Still not satisfied, Lewis has now looked to offer his ideas and training concepts outside of the College scene. “I remember driving one day and seeing this woman jogging,” said Lewis, who noted her form. “Her arms were railing all over and she had no form of any good biomechanics whatsoever.”
This observation led Lewis to an idea. “With the internet’s ability to literally reach more people than ever before, why not offer Sprinters, Runners and Field athletes a place where I can get involved with their training and use the new medium to teach fundamentals?”
“That’s how “The Perfect Method” was born!”