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July 28, 2013

Around the Horn with Scott McGrath

Andover’s Scott McGrath has only been in the region a few years, but his impact on the running community makes it seem much longer.

A fine runner in his own right, the 26-year-old McGrath — who runs for the Whirlaway Racing Team — has won the Boston Prep 16-Miler in Derry the last two years and has a top marathon time of 2:39. But the UNH graduate is making more of a name for himself as a running coach.

McGrath joined the Merrimack Valley Striders as a youth coach and was soon promoted to a full-time assistant, largely working with the scholarship program. He also started his own running program at Bradford Christian Academy, where he is a teacher. Previously, he coached at the Hopkinton (N.H.) Middle School.

He recently took a group of students from Bradford on a hiking and canoeing expedition in the Adirondacks. When he returned, we caught up with him to go Around the Horn.

Why did you get into coaching?

“Pretty much just to help out kids who had no exposure to running. I found out I liked it.”

Do you have a general coaching philosophy about running?

“It depends on the athlete and what their goals are. But the staple of my philosophy is running form and technique. A leading misconception is that people run how they run and you can’t change it. You can change it and many times you should.”

What coach was most influential in developing your coaching philosophy?

“My high school coach (at Con-Val High School), Scott Jenkins, was a huge proponent of building core strength. His steadfast approach to training and speed development have stuck with me.

“But Robert Hoppler (at UNH) also had a big impact on me. He always said that runners are athletes so they should live like athletes as far as conditioning, discipline, nutrition and things like that. It’s become the core of my philosophy.”

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