Friday, July 9, 2021

You have the answer

 At last evening's Strength and Conditioning session we had 20 student-athletes, the best number thus far two weeks into our summer conditioning program.  It was great to hear about your group runs and team building.  I can't help but be confident this year will be rewarding for a great group of kids and the coaching staff.  The enthusiasm of our athletes is infectious and I left WHRHS thinking each year here has proven to be better than the last and this year promises to be no different.  I am truly blessed for this opportunity.  

Last night I was asked by one of the athletes, "What is our team culture?"  And frankly I was unable to respond immediately.  First, I wasn't quite sure why the question was asked, and later learned it came out of the Captain's Council meeting.  Second, I had no idea how to answer the question without putting some thought into it.  After many years of working in both the public and private sectors I am familiar with "culture" in the workplace.  I've always thought of it in terms of values, expectations, work environment and the like.  But how is that defined in a high school cross country team?  So this morning I put together a list of possible "culture" traits.  The words that came to mind?

Core Values

Behaviors/Beliefs

Ambition

Initiative

Goal setting

Improvement 

Opportunity

Celebrate achievements

Friendly

Intense

Logic/Common Sense

Honesty

One for All/All for One

Can that be condensed into a simply defined team "culture"?  I don't know and honestly, I don't think I want to try.  Much of what we all hope to accomplish is far greater than a single statement or concept.  Every element I can come up with is important to our team "culture." And I'm certain each of you can add to that list.  So my long winded, verbose response (aren't they all?) to the question of "What is our team culture?" is that you must define your own culture.  And more importantly, you must bring that to the team.   

In the business world I've always felt it was primarily the employees and not necessarily management that ultimately determined success or failure.  And so it is with a high school cross country team.  The coaching staff doesn't run a single competitive mile.  You run them all.  Each of you knows what it is that makes you good at what you do.  Share that with a teammate.  Help your teammate achieve his or her potential and help guide them toward success. That will serve to enhance our team "culture" certainly.  My final addition to that list, and perhaps the best thing any of us can do as a teammate?

encouragement
[inˈkərijmənt, enˈkərijmənt]
NOUN
  1. the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.
    "thank you for all your support and encouragement"
    synonyms:
    heartening · cheering · cheering up · buoying up · pepping up · uplifting · inspiration · rallying · motivation · incitement · stimulation · animation · invigoration · invigorating · 
    • persuasion to do or to continue something.
      "incentives and encouragement to play sports"
    • the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state, or belief.
      "the encouragement of foreign investment"


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Avoiding injuries

Some of the things we're doing this summer include weight training and slow, easy runs during June and July.  The emphasis is on safety and healthy conditioning as our Fall XC season approaches.  This morning I read an interesting article, in support of our approach which can be found at the following link:

https://www.runnersworld.com/advanced/a20851661/5-common-aches-from-the-first-week-of-cross-country/

Shin splints, runner's knee, thigh pain, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis can all be avoided or at least diminished greatly by following the program we've embarked upon. At last evening's strength and conditioning session, which included core and weight training, we again had 17 boys and girls who understand a slow buildup in mileage and weight training will prepare them for the fall.  For those kids there will be no "break in" or "ramp up" period in August and September.  They will be ready to compete at Martha's Vineyard having already worked through the discomfort that comes with starting a training program.  Why?  Because completion of the summer training program insures the athlete will be ready for the harder workouts when we start competition, and there will be little or no threat of injury because those athletes took advantage of this time to run and lift.  I strongly urge others to do the same.  We are there Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 4:00.  ALL are welcome to join us.  Putting off  your conditioning until the start of the season puts you weeks behind those already training.  An informal poll last night indicated those in attendance are putting in the suggested miles each day as well.  Some workouts are planned for the group in August, and they'll be ready for competition when it gets started.  For those who have not yet begun training, take heart.  Start now and you too will be ready when we convene August 23rd.  For those planning to start his/her program August 23rd, and we have those every year, you'll have every opportunity as well.  But as we saw last year, you may not be ready to perform to your capabilities until the season is about to end.  Avoid the disappointment.  Cross country is, as they say, a summer sport played out in the fall.

Congratulations to those who participated in the 4th of July Hingham Road Race.  Some WH alums were among the top 10 finishers while Myah and Savannah Kamperides, along with Alex Keheyias had impressive performances.  Each of our current student-athletes ran a smart race at a pace which took into consideration his/her current fitness levels.  I'm betting had this been a 4th of September road race following two months of summer training they would have performed even better.  

Preparation.  There is no substitute.  As fast or athletic as you are, or believe yourself to be, you only scratch the surface at the outset of a training program. Get out there.  Today.

ADDENDUM

Need additional motivation?  First look at our dual meet schedule:

9/9 vs. Quincy/North Quincy

9/14 @ Marshfield

9/21 @ Silver Lake

9/28 vs. Plymouth North

10/5 @ Hingham

10/13 vs. Duxbury

Do you really think you'll be in competition condition in 17 days (August 23 - September 9)?  The Mayo Clinic suggests you'll need 7 weeks . . .



Friday, July 2, 2021

Dealing with those Aches and Pains

When you're as old as I am, part of the routine in waking up each day includes dealing with muscle pain and soreness.  Following yesterday's weight room workout I suspect at least 17 hearty souls woke up with the same experience this morning.  Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is a common occurrence after exercise and indicates your muscles are getting stronger.  When you begin weight training, just as when you began running, you encounter muscle pain caused by your new regimen.  You remember; the difficulty in walking down stairs, walking across the room after sitting for a time, and even the discomfort of raising out of your chair all accompanied your first attempt at running.  The upper body discomfort you're experiencing now is similarly your body's adapting to the new stressor.  And it may linger for a couple of days.  In fact, we introduced weight training last evening with the thought in mind that you've got a four day recovery period until Tuesday, our next gathering.

Medical experts will tell you DOMS is perfectly normal and accompanies unaccustomed physical activity. Also, it is actually a mild muscle strain creating microscopic damage to the muscle tissue, hence the aches.  But your body will adapt.  The next time we hit the weight room there will be less damage, less soreness, and faster recovery.  

How to deal with it today?  Well, most of you are familiar with pain sensations in your legs following a hard race or a long run.  Similar remedies exist for upper body DOMS.  Specifically, rest, anti-inflammatories, massage, ice and stretching will help.  

You all have the advantage of youth and fitness.  You should not be discouraged by soreness.  Just as you did when you began running, you'll see both short and long term progress in the weight room.  We understand upper body DOMS is an entirely new sensation for you.  But when you went from running 10 minute miles to 9, 8 or even lower you saw the pain fade and even disappear.  It works the same way in the weight room.  Its called conditioning.

Take it easy over the next few days.  Get some easy running in.  You'll be surprised at how quickly the upper body aches fade while you're putting the lower body muscles to the task.  And keep in mind that your competition is in all probability putting forth the same effort.  He or she will be ready when it is time to measure the results of your training.  Make a commitment to preparation.  Encourage ALL your teammates to do the same.  We'll see you Tuesday for Core @ 4.

Enjoy your 4th!




Thursday, July 1, 2021

Preparation and Summer Training

This year we're returning to basics.  Those things that worked decades ago, have been tweaked over time, but still, when it comes down to it, provide all that is necessary to tap into that potential you have.  One doesn't have to be a running aficionado to understand establishing or building a base during the summer months is a prerequisite to performing well in competition come fall.  And there are countless books and articles detailing the benefits and methods of weight training for runners for strength and injury prevention.  Initially anyway, these will be our focus.  Easy miles and strength training.  Nothing fancy. Old school.  Some of you have to be asking yourselves, what changes are being made?  It sounds the same as in years past.  Essentially, it is.

Last year, both our teams finished strong at the end of the year and remarkably had nearly ZERO injuries.  We started practice every day with a warmup that was somewhat intense and finished with core training nearly every day as well.  We ran a greater percentage of our miles on soft surfaces and limited hill workouts on pavement.  Long runs were held a majority of the time on soft surfaces as well.  This year will be quite similar.  The idea is to get you ready and keep you healthy while providing opportunity for improvement and success, particularly during the competition phase of the XC season.  Nothing magical.  Just hard work on your part.

On Tuesday we had 15 athletes attend our weight room session, Each completed a series of exercises for upper, core and lower body strength.  We didn't overdo it, but it provided a starting point for those completing the simple routine.  There will be a little more confidence the next time.  A little more weight the time after that.  And so on.  A gradual buildup.

Following the weight training session we spoke about the gradual mileage buildup.  Some of you have asked for individual training plans similar to last year.  This year we will generalize by saying that for the first 4-5 weeks we want you to run nothing but easy miles at conversational pace.  Of course, we encourage group runs and are very happy with the nine member group that has been out mornings this week. Knowing them, conversational pace is a must, they're all chatterboxes!  But, seriously, we are encouraging experienced Juniors and Seniors to buildup over the next 4-5 weeks to 30 easy miles per week.  6 days, 5 miles per day. We'd like to see our experienced Sophomores buildup to 24 miles, or 6 days and 4 miles per day, over the same 4-5 weeks.  Experienced incoming Freshmen, 18-20 miles, that is 3 or just a tad more miles 6 days per week.  Inexperienced Freshmen and new runners we ask start at 2 miles per day, 6 days per week.  It is important to understand these miles should be completed at a comfortable pace.  There are no races in July, simply preparation for those in September.  Run easy.  Run comfortably.  Establish your base. Injury free.  On August 1, we'll evaluate where you are and make individual recommendations for the weeks preceding the official start of our season, August 23rd. 

Today (Thursday) we will again hold a weight training session for those who can make it.  The plan is to move to some more traditional free weight exercises with the primary focus on upper body strength. 4-5 basic exercises which can be completed quickly and are extremely effective for arms, shoulders and chest muscles.  Following that we'll find a shady spot on campus to conduct a brief session of traditional core training exercises.  It will be fun, I promise.  These sessions are intended to educate and supplement your preparation for your primary fall sport.  Anybody is welcome, so bring a friend. If any XC athletes have questions concerning the summer program please let me know by email at stevegeo@post.harvard.edu  or by text at 781-367-8487 (leave your name.)  And don't forget about our summer track and field clinics.  Information can be found at whathletics.com under Summer Clinics.

  

Monday, June 28, 2021

Off and running!

Spring Track competition concluded this past Saturday with a couple of terrific performances by Junior MVP April Keyes at the All-State Meet held in Norwell.  And yesterday, along with my grandson, we did our annual cleanup of the turf, track and the storage facility by our start/finish line.  Everything is now as we found it earlier this year when the Fall 2 season got under way.  That said, it is now . . . at last . . . Cross Country season!  And it gets under way formally on Tuesday evening (that's tomorrow kids) with Core at 4.  Strength and Conditioning.  

Most of you  have taken the past week+ off and are now ready for the adventure that is Cross Country.  I've heard from some requesting summer training plans.  Be patient, those will be available tomorrow at 4:00 for those who attend (it is voluntary, as you know).  Others will be contacted as we prepare for what we know will be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.  Coach S, Coach Coletti and I are pumped for your breakout season.  PREPARATION is the key as you know.  BASE TRAINING over the first few weeks with gradual progression in mileage and pace.   WORKOUTS will be an essential element in this summers training, with HILL RUNS, TEMPO RUNS, and INTERVAL training mixed in along the way.  We also hope to return to WEIGHT TRAINING on a regular basis to keep you strong and more importantly, healthy.  

We have quite a few returning veterans and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we add more to our numbers.  Whether they be incoming Freshmen or others seeking a new and invigorating activity, we are ready to welcome them all.  Anybody reading this should include recruiting as part of their summer XC preparation.  Don't be discouraged when somebody tells you running is "too much work" or it is "too hard."  After all, it can be at times.  You know that.  But focus instead on the rewards running offers.  If you need help in explaining those rewards take a look at the article at the link:

https://runrepeat.com/what-running-does-to-your-body 

After reading that I wish I could get out there on a long run myself!!

OK . . . now that I'm back in the blog/social media scene (I'll be respectful, I promise) you'll want to check back regularly for more Distance Running/XC news, along with T&F items that arise along the way.  And coincidentally there is some news on that front.  As you know, we are holding Track and Field Clinics this summer.  We will be holding a meeting soon for those of you who will be part of what we hope will ultimately be a successful summer tradition.  More information on the summer clinic can be found at the following link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iTne-CMbOH742_rRI5NSqBinjzlKKfc4/view

If you know somebody who might have an interest, please let them know we're here.  We have a great week planned for each session.  Registration can also be made on the whathletics.com site.  

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions please don't hesitate to respond in this forum or contact me via email at stevegeo@post.harvard.edu or by text at 781-367-8487. Be sure to identify yourself in any text message.  

Can't wait to get started. Chomping at the bit.  I'm OFF and you need to start RUNNING  . . . See you all very soon!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Winter/Fall 2 Track and Field

 Below you'll find the agenda from last evening's Zoom meeting.  Coach S and I ENCOURAGE questions and look forward to hearing from anybody unable to attend the meeting.

Season begins February 22 and ends April 25
Experienced Coaching staff
Head Coaches: Steve George and Steve Schlicting
Assistant Coaches: Samantha Richner and Kim Coletti
Communication: Text Coach George at 781 367 8487 Coach Schlicting 617 543 5945
Email Coach Schlicting at saschlic@hotmail.com Coach George stevegeo@comcast.net
it's important that athletes communicate via text when they can't be at practice
Other communication:
Twitter: Steve Schlicting @ SchlictingSteve
Facebook: whitman hanson cross country and track and field
Blog: wh cross country blog
WH Athletics
Practice:
Practice begins at 2:30 athletes can wait in Cafe doing homework until we start
We practice outside this season . Athletes should dress appropriately(layer) hats and gloves
Masks are required.
Practices start at 2:30 and will end about 4:00 PM Monday – Friday Saturdays 10 AM-11:30

 The Patriot League is currently working out the details of outdoor competition.

Our team objectives:
Provide consistent daily training aimed at improving speed, endurance, strength, coordination and confidence.
Provide a supportive team experience
Instill a sense of commitment, work ethic and recognize achievement





Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Casting a long shadow . . .

It's been a couple of weeks since the last blog entry, but that doesn't mean distance running hasn't been on my mind.  In fact, it has been at the forefront.  I made an honest effort to organize something for you distance kids, but the rules apparently provide no available options.  Trust me when I say I tried.  The MSTCA has scheduled a series of track events at Wheaton College which I am happy about.  The events provide goals and opportunities for you, in a safe environment based on what I've seen.  Of course, I tried to enter the venue last weekend and was turned away.  No coaches or chaperones allowed.  Only athletes and officials could enter.  I was forced to watch a grainy youtube feed from the parking lot.  I'm OK with that, it's not about me.  And safe health for us all is a primary concern and consideration.  Unfortunately, it means if you run, I can't watch from the sideline.  So with the winter season starting sometime at or near the end of February, our paths may not cross for some time.  I would say to all of you, that if you have a specific goal, for example the 2 Mile at Wheaton on December 19, let me know, I'm happy to make training suggestions.  For those of you who don't have specific goals beyond running in February, my suggestion would be to simply maintain that base you established in the fall and interject some workouts in February specific to your event.  If you have the equipment or opportunity, add some consistent weight training to your regimen.  Consistency in running and weight training is essential to maximize their benefits and to unlock and maximize your potential.  Indoor Captains (Isabelle Amado, Myah Kamperides, Hailey Minicucci, Liam Cafferty, Theo Kamperides and Graham Stewart) are excellent sources for training information.  All are seasoned veterans and can offer suggestions on preparing for our season.  The entire coaching staff is willing to offer encouragement and suggestions while we all miss working directly with you.  I know one coach who is chomping at the bit to get his COVID 19 vaccine and get back to work. For the first time I'm grateful for being an old guy with a co-morbidity!


And while rules preclude our exerting any influence on you to train or prepare, we all hope that the absence of our "casting a long shadow" during formal practices, will be replaced by your own desire to prepare, improve and look forward to a great season.  You may occasionally see me on my daily walk at the school, Southfield/Union Point, or Burrage where I took the picture above recently.  I'd love to see all of you out there running.

Back soon with more . . .