Jeff Benjamin, Elle Purrier St. Pierre, Mark Coogan, Heather MacLean, photo by Jeff Benjamin
I have been looking forward to this interview. Mark Coogan is a wonderful coach, and watching his athletes excel is a natural evolution. Mark gets it, hard work, focused hard work, with good recovery is key. Elle and Heather are savvy racers. Thanks to Jeff Benjamin for this interview!
Stepping Stones To The Top For New Balance Elite Coach Mark Coogan & His Charges!
By Jeff Benjamin
The New Balance Elite squad and Coach mark Coogan had a solid showing last week in Belgrade at the World Indoor Championships, led by the team’s Elle Purrier, who earned a silver in the 3000 meters, the first world-Level Medal for the club!
Teammate Heather MacLean also qualified for the final of the 1500 meters, where she finished 7th in her first-ever World Championship race.
For Coach Coogan, this is not unfamiliar territory as the former Olympian and World Championship competitor has successfully risen to the top of the World Coaching ranks.
Here’s Coach Coogan in his own words from today!
1) How are you, Elle, and Heather doing post champs & with rear viewing now almost a week old – can you describe your assessments of their races?
“They both ran great. Obviously, Elle taking silver is a big deal and she is tough as nails. I really thought going into the meet she could win the race. She’s that good.
Heather keeps getting better every day. That was a good run for her. The sky is the limit for Heather. Top 7 in the world is a great accomplishment for her but she knows she could have done a little better. She’s happy but not satisfied with Belgrade.”
2) Did the training for this indoor WC differ from the way you had them train in past years’ winter months?
“We did the exact same training pretty much. The only difference was sometimes it’s tough to get on a track during Covid.”
Elle Purrier St. Pierre, photo by Jeff Benjamin
3) Are there certain training methods from coaches of the past which have influenced you today?
“I have been so lucky to be around the best in the business from Bob Sevene, Ray Treacy, Mark Plaatjes, Arturo Barrios and Steve Jones. They all have taught me so much. They all taught me being diligent and consistent in training is the key. There are no special workouts.”
4) How does your experience as a former world-class athlete help in developing your runners?
“It totally helps because I know how tough it is and how intense competing can be on their level. I also know the world doesn’t change if a race doesn’t go as planned so it’s not the end of the world.”
5) One would obviously think that the goals for Elle and Heather will be the USATF nationals and World Champs in Eugene – are there any other plans for fast racing being planned in the Spring?
“The goal is making the team and then competing for a global medal at the worlds.”
6) Who are other New Balance runners on your squad we should be looking out for?
“We had 2 others run at world indoors. Síofra Cleirigh Buttner
and Julie Anne Staehli. Síofra ran the 800 and Julie Anne ran the 3k with Elle. Millie Paladino on the team ran 31:19 in a 10k on the track a few weeks ago.”
Heather MacLean, photo by Jeff Benjamin
7) How cool is it to have a New Balance Indoor Facility in Boston?
“It’s really exciting. It’s absolutely the nicest indoor facility in the world. It is something I’m proud of saying it’s my team’s home track. “Soon records will be set on this track.”
8) Are there any break times for Elle and Heather this week or is it just going back into training?
“We are all taking the next couple of weeks down.”
9) The big question on everyone’s mind is – Is Elle a 1500 Miler or a 5K runner and how do you balance that?
“Elle is just a great runner. She can be whatever she wants. We do train more like a 5k runner who races 1500. I’m a big strength guy and it seems to work well for her. She will probably run the 1500 at worlds this summer.”
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