01-07-2015

Running Tips: What I Learned From My XC Team

My cross-country season ended in October, and somehow I haven’t written a post about it yet…well here it is!

As some of you may know, this year was my first season coaching the XC team at the community college I work at. I loved it and am so excited for next season to start. I had a group of hard working students who really showed me what it means to be passionate about running. I learned a few things from them that I wanted to share with you. Perhaps it will inspire you as well!

Running Tips
Commit. 100%. No brainer right? Well, I know that I haven’t committed 100% to my running. I know I have more to give, especially if I want better results. My students showed up to practice every day and worked hard. They pushed their limits and committed to the team. Even though we didn’t have a full team, and couldn’t compete as a team, they were all there each day and pushed each other. Despite having school work, exams, jobs, being tired, etc. they showed up and put in the work. I can certainly take that lesson and apply it to my own life.

Even if you’re a beginner, don’t doubt yourself. I have a couple of runners who had never ran competitively before. One who had never really ran period! And you know what, they were just as committed as those who ran throughout high school. They hung in with the other runners and worked just as hard. Don’t doubt yourself as a runner just because “you just started.” We’re all runners no matter what level. We can all relate to the pain, the daily grind, the muscle fatigue. These students weren’t afraid to ask the others questions about how to get stronger and faster (harder, better, faster, stronger? lol). If you’re just starting out, learn from other runners – don’t be afraid to ask questions! We’re a friendly bunch who love to talk about running…amiright? :)

Strength train. You know what my team loved (and wanted) to do that other teams didn’t? Lift. Other coaches were shocked when I told them my team would ASK me to go to the weight room after practice to lift. You should be doing this too! I know that lifting can fall to the wayside when you’re training for an event…it’s happened to me plenty of times (and I’m paying for it today because I’m SO SORE from Monday’s workout still). You’re passionate about running and getting faster; be just as passionate about strength training to get you even faster.

Don’t be afraid of the rain. Like me :) My runners had no issue running in the rain…some even liked it! As Coach Marc would always say…it’s just water. I just hate my shoes getting wet! But when you have to get the miles in, you gotta do what you gotta do. They ran rain or shine, and we only postponed practice once due to weather because it was lightning out. I’m going to take my own advice and do more running outside this month/winter…yes it’s cold but I need to buck up (and layer up) and just do it!

Know when to stop. One of my runners had a knee and hip issue that would crop up every once in a while. I remember specifically one day we were doing a track workout. He loved “Track Tuesdays” and would always push himself. But after the first rep, his hip got really tight and he could barely walk. I knew that he wanted to continue, but he said, “Coach I’m going to sit out a few reps and stretch.” How many times have you wanted to keep going despite your body saying no? There is a fine line between a little muscle fatigue and injury. If something is bothering you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stop the run or workout, stretch, foam roll, and if it doesn’t go away call it a day. Would you rather miss a few miles or a whole season?

My team was awesome…such a great group of students to kick off my inaugural season. I can only hope to continue it next season!

Do you run outside no matter what? How do you motivate yourself to do that?

Did you run XC in middle school/high school/college?

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08-07-2014

My First XC Practice (as a coach)

Some of you may or may not know this, but I will be coaching the men’s and women’s Cross Country team at a community college in New Jersey this fall. It’s our inaugural season and I’m so excited for it…and nervous!

We had our first practice on Tuesday and I was really anxious the night before. Would they respect me as a coach? Like me? What workout should I have them do? What if I suck as a coach?? All of these things were running through my mind.

We started practice at 8 am and I finally decided what I was going to have them do: 400 meter repeats.

They had said they’d been practicing over the summer so I wanted to see where they were at. They actually did very well and I’m excited to see what this season holds. I gave them time based on the top 10 times at last year’s region meet (big meet of the season), and they were running a bit below those averages – so I think that’s a good sign, right?!

We only have two men and two women right now, but I think that once the semester starts and more students are on campus that a few more will join. I like our little group and I could tell they are passionate about running. One of the girls is running the Philly Marathon and the Runner’s World Half Marathon hat trick challenge (5k, 10, half marathon) – I was like “good for you!”

That first practice made me feel more comfortable in the coaching role, and also reminded me why I love what I do.

I went back to grad school to get my Master’s in Student Affairs. I knew that I wanted to work within a university, and this job working within a community college has been perfect for me. I love what I do and I love working with students on a regular basis – even if they do initially ask if I’m a student when they first meet me :)

We actually have our second practice this morning! We’ll be doing an easy 3-4 miles and then some lifting. That’s another thing one of the girls said, “Can we please lift too, I love lifting.” That’s my kind of team!

Fellow coaches & those who have been coached – please leave me any tips you have or workout ideas…and comments about what makes a good coach – thank  you!

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