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Adams State’s Secret Weapon

Damon Martin has coached Adams State University to 23 national titles in track and field and cross-country. Here are the numbers behind his success.

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Alot of NCAA Division I schools have tried to pry coach Damon Martin out of Alamosa—and for good reason. In 27 years at Adams State University (ASU), he has led the school’s cross-country and track and field teams to 23 NCAA Division II national titles. But Martin, 52, refuses to budge. “When you’re wanted, you’re needed, and you’re appreciated,” Martin says, “there’s not much more in life you can ask for.” While some successful coaches are of the insanely intense, chair-throwing persuasion, Martin is laid-back. “He is the best one-on-one motivator I’ve ever seen,” says ASU athletic director Larry Mortensen. “He doesn’t do it by being threatening, he does it out of love.… [The kids will] run through a wall for Damon—because they love him and because he loves them.” The Grizzlies finish their regular season this month before chasing another cross-country title (or two) in November. If these numbers are any predictor, that should pose no problem at all.

7,544 ft: Alamosa’s elevation. At that height, a person’s maximum oxygen consumption decreases by around 8.5 percent—which means Adams State runners are less likely to huff and puff when they race closer to sea level.

1992: The year the ASU men finished first through fifth (each team counts only five runners’ scores) at the D-II men’s cross-country championship. It remains the only time an NCAA cross-country team has ever posted a perfect score.

7: Consecutive years (including the 2014-15 academic year) Adams State has been named the NCAA D-II Men’s Program of the Year. In 2014, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, which awards the prize, officially named it after Martin.

986: Number of times ASU runners have been named All-Americans under Martin, a two-time All-American middle-distance runner himself at the University of Arkansas at Monticello in the early ’80s.

9: Consecutive D-II national titles won by the ASU women’s cross-country team from 1991 to 1999. The team then won seven in a row from 2003 to 2009.

4:01.27: The fastest recorded mile run in Colorado. The runner: ASU’s Tabor Stevens, a Cañon City native who posted the time in April 2014 at the La Junta Tiger Relays.

5: Sports halls of fame into which Martin has been inducted. The most recent honor came in April when he entered the Colorado Running Hall of Fame.

28: D-I schools the Grizzlies men beat the last time they ran against teams from the top division in collegiate athletics (at the 2014 Paul Short Run, hosted by Lehigh University). Only two teams—the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Guelph in Canada—ran faster than Adams State.


5280.com Exclusive: Go from zero to 10K by following Martin’s eight-week training program specifically designed for newbies.*

Sunday: A timed run at an easy pace to loosen your muscles.

Week One: 30 minutes; Week Two: 35 minutes; Weeks Three and Four: 40 minutes; Weeks Five and Six: 45 minutes; Week Seven: 40 minutes; Week Eight: Recover from Saturday’s 10K run

Monday: Rest. It’s not lazy, it’s just good health. Your muscles heal and build during recovery days. Without them, you may not see sustained improvement.

Tuesday: Take an easy run; you can pick up the pace toward the end if you’re feeling good.

Weeks One and Two: Two miles; Week Three: 2.5 miles; Week Four: Three miles; Week Five: 3.5 miles; Week Six: Four miles; Week Seven: 4.5 miles; Week Eight: three miles

Wednesday: Reduce the pounding on your body by cross-training.

Bike, swim, use the elliptical machine, etc., for 35 to 45 minutes at an easy to moderate pace. If your body is screaming for an extra day off, today is the day. Week Eight: Rest day

Thursday: Follow the same regimen as Tuesdays.

Weeks One, Four, and Eight: Two miles; Weeks Two and Three: 2.5 miles; Week Five: Three miles; Week Six: 3.5 miles; Week Seven: Four miles

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Extend your range with a long run.

Week One: Three miles; Weeks Two and Three: 3.5 miles; Week Four: Four miles; Week Five: 4.5 miles; Week Six: Five miles; Week Seven: Six miles; Week Eight: 10K (or 6.2 miles)

*Make sure you can safely run for 20 consecutive minutes, four days a week before starting this program.

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