As promised in Tuesday's Fan Mailbag, here's a follow-up on the Texans' running program under first-year head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright.
This was the original question from Houston Texans Message Board user "D Frank":
*Hey Nick, a lot of interviews from our players latly been talking about Ray Wright's workouts they all mention more running, any details on the running drills?
Wright was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss the team's running program. Here is a transcript of our conversation.
Ray, earlier this offseason, a lot of players commented that they liked some of the new things about the team's running program. Did you make it more competitive?"One thing we did is we went from a two-day running program to a three-day running program. The competitive differences are we did a lot of teams. We split the guys up in teams, and we had them run against each other. Say there are 30 guys outside and we were doing sled races, we'd split 'em up in three teams of 10 and they would race against each other. If we were doing change-of-direction runs, we might split them into two teams, so that would be two teams of 15. And the winners get off reps for the next set or they may get to finish faster, and the losers have extra, so we competed like that. That was probably what some of the players were talking about when they were saying it was more competitive."
How did that added competitiveness improve the running program?"It added a little more fun to the monotony of just going out and giving them 10 100's. It just added to the excitement. I let them pick teams sometimes; that was always interesting. So it just added a competitive element to it that wasn't there before."
Why did you decide to go from two days to three?"We had a lot of guys that were running extra on their own, so I thought if they were already doing that, we might as well have everybody do it. So we just added a third day and we ran Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays."
When exactly does the running program take place with respect to OTAs and mini-camp?"We had six weeks before OTAs and we've had four weeks after. So we've had 10 weeks of the lifting and running program."
How long are you and the players out on the field for each running session?"We're probably out there anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on what we have scheduled for that day."
And what's the general routine out there?"The run changes each day; it's different each day. But every Tuesday is always a straight line run, more of a distance day. Wednesday is always a sled or a sand day, and Thursday is always a change-of-direction, short burst day, more football-related drills."
What other elements are different about this program than in the past?"The outdoor running was different; we changed most of the runs. We kept a few of them, but for the most part, the running was different. What they ran was different, as well as the competition. The sand was new this year. The sleds were new additions to the running."
What do you think about the results so far?
"I don't know; we'll see when we start. Football shape is so different than just actually going out there and running. You're adding (football) gear, a mouthpiece, coaches yelling at you, anxiety levels are higher. So I would suspect that it wouldn't matter what we ran – two days, three days, four days. That first week of two-a-days, everyone's tired, and that's because you can't simulate football unless you play football. I know that I was able to see guys compete. I think it's good to compete year 'round in the running, and so we wanted to keep that alive all the way through the year as opposed to just having them compete in practice."
For more on the Texans' strength and conditioning program, here's an interview with Wright from March in which he discusses the philosophy behind his new program. And you can get a first-hand account of a Ray Wright workout in this story/video with Texans quarterback Dan Orlovsky and former (we miss her already) Texans TV reporter Brooke Bentley.