EDINBURG — Years before becoming UTRGV’s cross country and track and field head coach in 2017, Darren Flowers toured the United States as a musician, playing folk rock and bluegrass.
Now, he can add published author to his resume.
Flowers, who is in his third year at UTRGV and in his 15th year coaching overall, recently released his first book titled “The /// Method: A Simple Training Method for Developing Middle Distance Runners.”
Pronounced “The 3 Method,” Flowers’ first official adventure into the writing world features knowledge he’s gained as a long-time NCAA track and field and cross country coach with an expertise in middle-distance running.
On a bus ride home last fall, Flowers started thinking about the yearly coaching journals he keeps and presentations he’s made over the years and decided to put it in a book.
“I keep journals for every year and I go back and look at those journals and try to find trends. I just started coming across this trend for the last five or 10 years, with training middle-distance runners in particular 800-meter runners, I found the same pattern over and over,” Flowers said. “We’ve had a lot of success here in the 800 and even with our long sprinters in the 400 meter and with the 1500 meter. I decided I’m going to take all this information I’ve gathered in my last 15 years of coaching and put it in a book.”
In the book, Flowers breaks down a method he’s discovered to work for him and his athletes through his years at West Texas A&M and now at UTRGV.
“The /// Method, I just found a lot of patterns where everything I used was in multiples of three or divided up in three, sets of three, to get these kids to where they can build their workouts. Those are some of the things I observed over the years, and that’s how it kind of came together. I just started writing it late fall, and within two or three months, I had it all together,” he said.
One week before his book was released, Flowers’ method proved it works.
At the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in late February, UTRGV’s Max Carmona won gold in the men’s 800-meter run with a personal record time of 1:52.3, the second-best mark in program history. Then, Kyra Keurentjes earned a silver medal in the women’s 800 with a time of 2:16.395.
Flowers said he wrote the book to help build the running and coaching community.
“I just wanted to share my knowledge and experience with young coaches out there and other coaches trying to get into the field and develop their level of coaching. I think if we help each other as coaches, whether it be in football, basketball, track, whatever, we build our profession and we build our community, and ultimately, we build our sport,” he said.
Flowers’ book is written not just for collegiate athletes, he wrote it with middle-school runners and professional runners in mind. In the Rio Grande Valley, a region that’s produced a number of outstanding middle- and long-distance runners, he feels it could further advance the track and field talent in South Texas.
“The cool thing for the Rio Grande Valley is those events, in particular, are very strong, so I think it’s for coaches that are either maybe looking for a new way to mix up the training or just getting into the sport, or even some of the runners that just want to improve. I think it’s a huge thing for them because there’s so much talent here and I think it would be a way to develop some of that young talent,” Flowers said.
With his first book under his belt, Flowers isn’t finished. He’s in the process of writing his first children’s book with an illustrator involved.
Flowers said he’s about 30% of the way through the children’s book, which will follow two small but mighty citrus fruit characters overcoming challenges while promoting healthy eating. Flowers’ children, Leah and Koen, who are 6 and 3 years old, helped create the characters one day while drawing faces on oranges.
“With the help of my two kids, we came up with two characters named ‘Clem and Tang,’ and the idea is to promote healthy eating through the books with fruits and vegetables, but to also show kids that they can overcome challenges even if they’re very small,” Flowers said. “We’re talking about a little tangerine overcoming very big challenges, and that was kind of the idea behind it. The characters rarely win, but they keep coming back and keep trying.”
While diving into writing children’s books, Flowers will also be reading them.
On Monday, UTRGV Athletics launched ‘Story Time with the Vaqueros’, a weekly web series that features coaches and staff reading children’s books. Each week, a new video will be posted to the UTRGV Athletics’ social media channels. All videos can be viewed at GoUTRGV.com/StoryTime.
The first video featured men’s basketball head coach Lew Hill with his daughter, Elle, reading ‘The Dinosaur Who Lived in My Back Yard’. Next week’s video will feature Flowers reading ‘Ten Apples Up On Top’ by Dr. Seuss.
His book, ‘The /// Method: A Simple Training Method for Developing Middle Distance Runners’ can be purchased for Kindle at Amazon.com for just $2.99.