By Valeria Mejia @VALMEJIA
Las Positas-Chabot College Cross-country team is ranked 3rd in Northern California and 9th in the state. While the rest of you are seeking shelter from the 90 plus degree weather to stay cool, these runners are out in that heat. No matter the weather, this teams dedication to running has no stop button.
The team practices six days a week. They run up to 80 miles a week. When they compete in races, it could take place over grass, mud, dirt trails, rocky areas, water and hills.
It seems punishing at times to put the body through such a rigorous course and it can bring mental and physical pain but with the right techniques and the right nutrition it is possible to obtain.
Zach Connelly a freshman runner, began running in 7th grade and competing his freshman year of high school.
“The hardest thing about running cross country is a mix between mental and physical pain,” Connelly said. “When you run, your mind sometimes is telling you to quit and other times it’s saying why do I even do this. On the physical side running everyday could take a lot out of you and racing leaves you pretty tired.”
Having the right nutrition and right warm ups is key. Even if a runner doesn’t come in first, their body will be feeling good and thanking it for the prep done beforehand.
Kyle Robinson, assistant coach last year for the team took over for Steve Navarro this year. Both take nutrition very seriously when it comes to their runners and preparing them for a meet. Robinson emphasizes how important it is to be well nourished when being a runner.
“I really stress hydration and nutrition with them,” he said. “When we’re training we’re not going to get a maximum outcome if they’re not physically prepared. Along with being physically prepared comes having the fuel and the hydration to allow them to perform at their highest.”
Another element to training is to not overdo it before a race. Finding the right balance that works for the athlete’s body can be different for each of them. It’s preferred to do something light before a race and not waste all your energy on the pre-workout. David Yeshiwas, another freshmen runner for the LPC-CC Cross-country team began running in elementary school. He has had some time to figure out what works best for him when it comes to running.
“ The way I prepare for a long run isn’t the same way I would warm up for a hard workout,” he said. “For the long run I’ll just do a five minute jog and maybe a few drills. I don’t like to run at threshold pace for a long run because that isn’t what we’re specifically aiming for.”
Conserving energy before and at the beginning of the race is crucial. While some pace themselves and prepare for an all out burst of speed at the end of the race, some waste it at the beginning.
“A lot of the time we have the freshman just go way too hard in the first half of the race and then they just fall apart,” Robinson said.
The structure of the practices stays the same throughout the weeks and various prepping exercises are put into place.
One main thing the team focuses on is running trails and mountains. This gets the runners prepared for the races and helps them get familiar with running in high altitudes.
The preparation takes a lot out of the runners but they feel they do it for a reason.
“My body after a race for the most part feels pretty exhausted,” Connelly said. “But mentally I feel really good knowing that I just ran a race to the best of my ability.”