Friday, August 17, 2018

Your assignment this weekend . . .

1.  Begin a conscious effort to hydrate.  You don't hydrate properly if you wake up next Thursday and drink a bottle of water before practice.  Hydration starts today and continues every day during the season.  I can't stress the importance of this as we begin training.

2.  Check those running shoes.  When I was running I would rotate several pairs of shoes and discard them after 200-300 miles.  If your shoes are worn, torn, have holes in the sole or the insole it may be time for a new pair.  Don't be surprised if you go through two-three pairs during the season.  Two if you use them exclusively in practice and meets.  Three if you wear them outside of XC.  My experience is that worn shoes and the resultant bad alignment cause the most injuries in our sport.

3.  Plan what to wear.  It's all about comfort.  Over the years I know I've lost a few pints of blood because I wore shorts that chafed my thighs or have worn cotton shirts on humid or warm days.  Today there are many more options that will keep you cool and comfortable.

4.  Do you have a stop watch?  I just checked Amazon and there are no fewer than 10 watches that will do the trick for less than $15.00.  Watches are not mandatory but they are extremely useful.  Just ask one of your more experienced teammates.

5.  Last but not least . . . take the time to listen to Admiral McRaven's speech which I've been referencing the past several weeks (landlubbers will understand it too.)  You can find it on youtube .  Its 19 minutes long.  I know how busy you are keeping up with snapchat and Instagram but it is worth your while.  Point 8 of 10 - the Admiral speaks about the SEALs night time, under water, 2 mile swim in which the object is to swim to an anchored ship and reach its keel (the lowest point and centerline of a ship's hull.)   It is extremely difficult at its conclusion because the ship itself will block all light from reaching the swimmer and he must navigate that portion of the swim in total darkness.  This, as you might imagine, causes confusion and for some panic.  It is imperative the swimmer maintain his/her composure and summon every ounce of inner strength available while performing this task.  The point McRaven says is that in order to change the world you must be your best "in the darkest moments."  Often times a task may seem impossible, but with a little faith in yourself and with your best effort you can persist through the hardest of times. For those of you who are not fully prepared for practice, you will want to stop along the way.  Push through that temptation.  Try to continue to run, or simply jog, until the next scheduled stop.  You may be amazed at what you can do . . .

No more core at four.  The Wednesday youth series has ended.  It has been a terrific summer and I've enjoyed being at every core session and every Wednesday kids meet.  I look forward to being at every practice this fall.  I am sincerely hoping we have numerous commitment awards to hand out at year end (to those who have perfect practice and scheduled meet attendance.)  I hope you're ready!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

One week from NOW

your first practice of the season will be "in the books."  If you've been attending the "core at four" sessions you probably know what to expect.

Coaches and Captains Introduction

When you arrive you will be given an index card and a pen or pencil.  You will be asked to provide the following:

Summer Training:
       Type: (Running, Cross Training, etc.)
       How Often:
       Longest Summer Run:
       Pace of your Longest Summer Run:
       Mileage in each of the past 4 weeks:    
       Racing Experience: (Newcomers only)
       Individual Goal for the Season:
       Team Goal for the Season:

Team Warm-up

Familiarizing you with our XC course - Everybody will be jogging our entire 3.1 mile course in segments of approximately .5-.75 miles.  Between segments we will have discussion and some core training.  We fully expect a number of groups will result during this practice.  You will only be asked to run comfortably, and frankly we have NO time expectations for you.  We will however observe everybody and should be able to create training groups almost immediately for subsequent practices.


Our initial practice should go about two hours and begins PROMPTLY at 8:00AM.

Day 2 workouts will be dictated by what we see on Day 1.  We know we can expect that a group of what we will call for now, Varsity runners, will have their own workout.  This group will consist of those we feel are ready for the rigors of distance running based on our observations and (1) current conditioning, (2) summer training, (3) experience.  This will, in all likelihood be a relatively small group  based on the foregoing.   Others will remain on school grounds, again familiarizing themselves with our course with stops as needed.  Decisions on whether an athlete should run with the "Varsity" athletes will be made on an ongoing basis by those coaches working with this group.  The idea and our hope is that all these athletes will work hard to "move up" for as long as it takes.

I'm getting close to finishing all the talking points of Admiral McRaven's commencement speech (look to previous entries if this is lost on you), but his 7th means of "changing the world" is illustrated in the example he gives of night swims in the ocean during SEAL training.  The trainees are warned that the waters are infested with dangerous sharks and if a trainee comes in contact with one, he/she should STAND YOUR GROUND, don't swim away, and if the shark comes toward you give it a direct hit to the snout and it will back down from you.  McRaven pointedly suggests you steer clear of sharks and those who would bring you down.  You will have already taken a step in this direction by joining this team. Cross Country is, fortunately, replete with good kids who are good students.  But going forward from this point, my suggestion would be to perform YOUR best.  Encourage others, but don't limit yourself or your goals by what others are doing.  I can assure you the starting quarterback on the football team won't make errant passes in order to help the second string player move up.  Likewise you should be working to remain in or replace somebody in that top group.

(Final) Core at four . . .

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Crunch time

Coincidentally  . . .  Core at four!

Actually, the Athletic Director sent out lists of those who had signed up for each sport and I was very surprised that the only names on the list are as follows:

Boys 9 -  Carron, Caterer, George, Masone
        10 - Amado, Anderson, Bergin, Cafferty, Donecki, Hughes, Hutchco, Lindsay,
               McCarthy, Meade, O'Brien, Savicke, Siders. Uva
        11 - Avery, Hanley, Solari
        12 - Schraut

Girls 9 - Boulger, Flynn, Walton
        10 - Bourgelas, Haboub, Newman, N. Rooney
        11 - Balfe, Boss, Jacobs, Navicky, Ryan
        12 - Hunt, M. Rooney

If YOU are planning to practice on August 23rd then you MUST register via the Parental Permission Slip found on the  website.  Please note that you must also have a current (they expire after 13 months) physical on file with the school nurse.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday - August 9, 2018

Positive?  Negative?  Neutral?  Words that describe things like atoms, charges, integers, feedback and words themselves.  One such word is ambivalence , which broadly defined implies mixed emotions about something.  With that word in mind I offer the following video:

My ambivalence, that is my mixed emotions, in posting the video stems from the hope I have that you will be ready for Day 1, August 23rd and that you won't feel the need to watch the video (although the breathing exercises are instructional for every ability level.)  But I am also aware that some of you have not yet started to run. Perhaps the video will somehow motivate you to put one foot in front of the other now rather than later!

At this time, ALL of you should be considering, if not establishing, your GOALS for the upcoming season.  On Day 1 you will be asked about them.  You will also be asked about your summer training.  Your responses will help the coaching staff create the running groups and workouts early on.  While you are contemplating your goals, we are going through our own checklist.  Practice times, uniforms, emergency procedures and expectations.  Yes, EXPECTATIONS!  That discussion starts today!

I speak with many of you often during the summer.  I pick up on things.  Whether at summer core training or our youth running series, you talk about running.  You also make reference occasionally to those teammates you know are NOT training.  This is YOUR team.  YOU should want results.  Good results.  I am judged by my superiors on your improvement, not necessarily wins and losses.  If you all show up as 10 minute milers and become 8 minute milers by season's end, I can point to the improvement you've made as a positive.  Here's where MY ambivalence kicks in however.  I'm not satisfied with a team of 8 minute milers. And neither are you.  I want our teams to succeed.  Yes, I want you to win.  We can't do that if half the talent is home playing video games all summer or at the beach working on a tan. OUR job is to motivate those kids to work hard, reach their potential and help our teams succeed.  Sure, the training YOU are doing now will go a long way in your individual success this year.  But wouldn't the experience be more satisfying by winning as well?  Today I'm asking you to get out for your run, but before you do that take a moment and remind that teammate who you know is not as diligent as you to GET OUT THERE.  Maybe even ask that they join you!  Right now that tops my list of expectations . . .

Core at four.  See you there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Two Weeks . . . actually 14 days and a wake up,

until we get underway.  This morning I even went over the possibilities in our Patriot League Dual Meet with Hanover.  I handicapped results using previous years times /distances/etc.  Suffice it to say, I hope you're getting ready.  Hanover lost one runner in its "Top 7" and that was #7 on the Boys side.  1-6 for the Hanover Boys are back, 1-7 for the Hanover Girls!  A formidable opponent indeed.

Over the past several weeks I've alluded to Admiral McRaven's motivational speech which is again linked in the foregoing.  I won't bore you again with the background.  Either you've seen it or you haven't.  But his 6th point  (at about the 11 minute mark) suggesting changes happen with a different approach is a relevant one.  McRaven spoke about the Navy SEAL 25 obstacle course which included a 200 foot "slide for life." The trainees all hung from the rope and worked their way down hand-over-hand except one resourceful guy whose thinking was "outside the box" and who took this approach (and in doing so easily beat his competition.)

This is relevant inasmuch as this year's in-season training will look demonstrably different than what you've seen in past years. The changes will be seen more by those at the "front of the pack" I'd have to say.  In most training or educational environments you'll notice that often times things are slowed down a little bit allowing those that need a little extra time to catch up.  This year there will be not only the establishment of "groups' based on conditioning/experience/ability, but very different training plans for each group.

Hindsight being 20-20, I've come to realize that I may have held a runner or two back in years past.  Despite every good intention ( i.e. to avoid injury and/or burnout) I realize that with different forms of training the same injury free environment can be accomplished while at the same time improving running results.  I have begun to think outside "the box" that has been my training plan for years.  If you hope to be a part of that, get to work.  I certainly plan to . . .


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

TUESDAY - August 7, 2018

Alright already . . . let's get going!  It seems like it will never get here for me and I am anxious to get things started.  The practice schedule is as follows:

Thursday August 23 @ 8:00AM on the WHRHS Track
Friday August 24 @ 8:00AM on the WHRHS Track
Saturday August 25 @ 8:30AM at Burrage Pond, 15 Hawks Avenue, Hanson
Monday August 27 @ 8:00AM on the WHRHS Track (5K Time Trial to be held on the W-H Course)
Tuesday August 28 @ 8:00AM on the WHRHS Track

Practices thereafter (on school days) will begin at 2:30 on the WHRHS Track

At this point we have only a partial schedule for meets which looks like this:
Sat 9/8 @ Martha's Vineyard Invitational - (limited roster)
Wed 9/12 @ Hanover 
Sat 9/15 Big Wave Invitational, Lakeville (limited roster)
Tue 9/18 @ Duxbury
Tue 9/25 Plymouth North at W-H
Tue 10/9 Silver Lake at W-H
Sat 10/20 Catholic Memorial Invitational, Franklin Park (limited roster)

There will be another 3-4 Patriot League dual/Championship Meets.  We'll keep you updated!
Two more Wednesday youth meets, this week and next.  The program has been a success thus far and we are hoping to close out the series with two great nights on the Track.  Your help is again requested AND appreciated.
Core at four resumes today.  We hope to see you there!  Last week with the hot weather we worked in the shade.  It looks like more of the same for this evening.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday - August 2, 2018

Hot and Humid today.  Please be careful if you're planning to train.  Dress comfortably, hydrate before, during and following your run.  If at all possible run a flat, shady route (The bike trail between Abington and Hanover, for example.)  If you have a treadmill at home, today may be the day to use it.

One of the athletes asked about using a treadmill versus running on the road or trails.  The subject came up when the athlete experienced knee pain and I learned most of his workouts were done on a treadmill. The following excerpt from may interest you . . .

Indoor Versus Outdoor Running: The Differences

While there are treadmill benefits to boast of, there are still key differences runners need to be aware of between indoor and outdoor running.

Hamstrings: Because a machine powers the treadmill belt, the mechanics of your running stride differ when you run outside. When running on the treadmill, you use your quads to push off. But, unlike outdoor running, where you would typically rely on your hamstrings to finish the stride cycle and lift your leg behind you, the propulsion of the belt does much of that work for you. This means your hamstrings aren't firing as much and don't get worked running inside as they would outside. The extra effort demanded of your quads is also a factor to keep in mind.

Terrain: Or more correctly, the lack thereof. "Something that I try and keep in mind is that the treadmill is really consistent and even, but outside things are constantly changing. Each change takes energy and thought, so I remind myself not to zone out while outside and especially on trails, where a bad footfall can mean stitches and a new tooth," says the author. 

My take?  By all means, use a treadmill OCCASIONALLY when circumstances legitimately keep you indoors, but preferably you want to be outdoors where you can switch up the terrain and utilize and strengthen all the muscles you'll need for competition.  The repetitiveness of a treadmill will either result in injury or the over/under use of muscles/tendons and ligaments you'll need to develop and strengthen.

THANKS again to those who helped out at last evening's Youth Track sessions.  We heard a lot of nice things about the program and it works well because of you kids.  One of the student-athletes worked 57 hours during the past week on a physically demanding job (I can help you with that wage claim if you didn't get OT!) but showed up ready to work last night.  I am continually impressed by things you guys do for our program and I am lucky and proud to be a part of it.

Core at four today . . . Hot and Humid.  My plan is for nothing but core training in the shade of the large tree.  I hope to see you there.