>Coaching Cross Country

>An article I wrote for the high school newspaper about our Cross Country team: (I’ve removed the last names of the team members)

The Aztec Cross Country team started practicing in July, when the temperatures are over 110 degrees. Because a cross country race is three miles long, the team builds up their endurance and stamina by increasing their running mileage up to eight to 10 miles. That is all at one time. In order to beat the heat practice starts really early all summer long. While the rest of the high school is enjoying their summer break by sleeping until noon, cross country runners rise at 5:00 am, run for a couple hours, do some drills, and strength work. Most will admit that a nap is involved sometime after that.
In order to build strength for running, hill training is incorporated into the workouts.  For example, one day the team will run to the top of the Bump and Grind. On another day, they will run from College of the Desert up to the Palm Desert cross. One of the favorite workouts consists of hill repeats in the “Valley of the Champions.” A favorite of the coaches, anyway.
As the season approaches, speed training is incorporated into the workouts. This can be 800 meter repeats on the track, or an interval workout on the roads. They basically consist of the runners pushing themselves as hard as they can for the given distance. It is very, very hard.

Another important aspect of cross country training in the desert, is to incorporate some heat training.  After all, the first DVL meet is held in mid-September, when temperatures can hit 110 at race time. So, practice is moved to the afternoon, and, slowly at first, the team becomes adapted to the desert heat.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand how cross country teams score. It is not as simple as win/lose. Three all league meets are held. This year, all seven teams in the DVL compete against each other at each meet. The races are scored by adding up the numbers of the placement of the first five runners. 
In addition to the three league meets, the team travels every Saturday to a variety of “invitational” meets and competes against schools from all over the country. On October 23, the Aztecs will participate in the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational, the biggest cross country meet in the US and will compete against the best high school athletes in the country.

This year, the boys’ varsity team consists of captain Connor, who has been putting up some impressive numbers this year, setting a personal best time, and finishing sixth overall at the first DVL meet. Co-captain Sanket has been setting personal records as well. Other returning varsity runners include Jordan J., Luke, and Blake. Jordan R., is a promising newcomer who has already taken minutes off his race time. Jerry, Matt, Stefan, Chris, and Nick have had solid performances which point to a promising future for the team.
The girls’ varsity team is captained by Alex, who also leads the Aztec girls on the field. She has taken minutes off her race times from last year and finished 9th overall in the first DVL meet. Returning runner Jazmine has been impressive as well, improving her times from last year. Newcomers Ana and Morgan improve at each race, and they are supported by Taryn, Joelle, Raquel, and Tessa.

 

Our High School is proud to host the second DVL meet on October 13. We will be racing at Civic Center Park and we hope that you will come out and support the team and your school.
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