Runnin' Devil Style

June 20, 2001

Note: Every Wednesday, I'll be writing a regular column about my experience as a Sun Devil Cross Country and Track runner. In each article, I'll attempt to bring you a first-hand account of what it's like to be a Sun Devil Student-Athlete and to run for one of the top programs in the country. Last week, I shared with you the importance that summer training has on our team's success. So, in this installment, I'll take a closer look at what exactly our summer training consists of.

Last week, I talked a lot about summer training and the effects it has on our team's upcoming season. In terms of cross country, this training is an intangible part of our success. It provides the base for future competitions, the foundation that our fitness level and racing performances are built upon. More than anything, though, the summer is a time when we return to the basics. There are no magic formulas or fancy tricks to becoming a better runner- the key ingredient lies in simply running!

As in any training program, there are many steps that must be taken in order to reach a desired goal. While it is sometimes tempting to skip steps along the way, it is important to be consistent. In running, it can be especially tempting to increase mileage too quickly. (Trust me on this- I've tried it and it's only gotten me injured). A person who is running 10 miles a week cannot just expect to jump to 50 miles a week without serious setbacks. The main thing to remember is that you're not always going to see immediate results. Improvement will come with time and effort.

Typically, after track season ends (and it varies depending on whether you run in the pac-10 championships and nationals) our team takes a little bit of down time. Since we train and compete year-round, this time is very important. It gives our bodies a chance to recover and our minds a chance to rejuvenate.

When we do return to running, we start out at about half our average weekly mileage, slowly working back up to full strength. However, this increase is a gradual process, increasing only about five miles each week. In the summer, we also start out running only five days a week, moving to six days and finally seven days a week by summer's end.

One aspect of our training that varies individually is weekly mileage. Both the guys and girls teams race different distances (the guys- 10,000m and the girls- 6,000m), so our training schedule varies accordingly. In addition, each runner's training depends upon their fitness level. Fitness level is related to a number of factors such as years running, skill level, and injuries sustained. Usually, our schedule allows for a range of about 20 miles in weekly mileage. For example, the schedule might say to run anywhere from 50-70 miles on the girl's side or 65-85 miles on the guy's side (towards the end of the summer). It is up to each individual runner and Coach Drenth to decide where in that range they fall.

Besides running, we focus on a number of little things to improve our performance and enhance our training. By little things, I do not mean things that are inconsequential. In reality, it is these drills and exercises that make the extra bit of difference between being good and great! Every week, we do a series of plyometric drills that work on form, jumping, and quickness, as well as general strengthening exercises that use only our bodies as a form of resistance. These exercises are a take-off of traditional sit-ups, lunges, and pushups. They are also quite challenging! Several times a week we also do strides, which are a series of short accelerations on the track (100m). And like most sports, we do the traditional weight lifting and stretching (with special emphasis on stretching).

Overall, the summer training program is great preparation for the upcoming season. Not only does it get us in shape for the intense workouts the fall begins, it instills in us the confidence necessary to burn the competition. So, as you proceed in your own program, I urge you be consistent and be patient, but most of all, to have a plan, have fun, and expect great results!

A little bit about me:
In the fall, I'll begin my sophomore year academically and my freshman year athletically (You may ask how I'm in two years at one time. Well, this past year I was red-shirted in order to preserve four years of my eligibility. Basically, this means that I ran in a limited number of events and did not represent ASU in competition). My primary event during track was the 1500m. I have lived in Tempe now for the past nine years and am a graduate of Corona del Sol High School. At ASU, I am majoring in broadcast journalism, with plans to become a news anchor or sports reporter in the future.

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