Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Summer school

Cross country team arleady back in action

June 8, 2006

It is early Thursday morning, but the sun's up and already piercing through the trees, illuminating what hours ago was a dark and dank path through the forested hills north of Eudora.

Summer is less than a week old for all who whisk through overhanging branches, and even newer for a few, but that does little to slow the pace of the Eudora cross country team.

The first meet is three whole months away. Official practices can't start for two months and the sure-to-be chilly mornings that will mark the regional and state cross country meets might as well exist in another dimension.

Last week's cross country camp was about team building, stereotype snuffing and a healthy first step, Eudora cross country coach Paul Boone said.

"This a key of our offseason workout program," Boone said. "It's totally voluntary, but the kids expect to do well, and you can't start the week of cross country and expect to perform at a great level.

Cross country camp, you ask?

Yeah, cross country camp -- and it wasn't heated lectures about the "one foot in front of the other" theory or coma-inducing 20-mile runs either. Boone and assistant coach Dan Kuhlman demonstrated as much while standing atop a hill with Thursday's 19 runners.

A simple jog, down through the trees and out by a small creek on Ken Waldock's farm? Not in the least bit.

"You should be thinking 400 meters ahead of you," Boone said later, regurgitating the days lesson. "At the top of that hill there's a nice little downhill, then you have that creek, a hairpin turn to the right, then the left. If some person is a few meters ahead of you, you should be thinking 'what should I do to place myself in a good spot around those curves?'"

Three messages rung loud as the team toiled up and down the hilly trail.

The first -- a point made even clearer given the camps' proximity to the season's first race -- be prepared to control what is controllable.

Be it as hands on as the course advice dished out atop the hill, as hard as eating healthy three times every day or as simple as grabbing a full night's sleep every night, controlling everything that can be controlled can pay off, Boone said.

He said the early-summer workout camp is but a piece to a year-round regimen that transforms eager freshmen-to-be into state champions. The camp emphasized many of the basic strategies of championship running, provided newcomers with the bedrock for a healthy schedule and helped returning veterans pick up where they never really left off.

We can't control the weather. We can't control the course and we can't control our competition," Boone said, "but we can control our nutrition. We can control our hydration and our mental and our physical approach."

Second is monitoring the uncontrollable factors and learning to take advantage whenever possible. It's where race strategies tailored to a particular course or a particular weather condition fit in.

"It's understanding 'Hey, this is what I have to work with and this is how I'm going to use it to my benefit,'" Boone said.

Finally, the camp emphasized confidence, and not just in one's self -- "Being confident in your training, confident in your teammates and confident in the knowledge that you've done the things that are necessary to achieve," Boone said.

The team mapped out the course to start the morning, deciding which strategies were best for which parts. Then all 19 runners ran the two-mile loop once, hard.

Finally, the team gathered back together at the starting point and enjoyed popsicles and Frisbee.

Popsicles and Frisbee leading to confidence in one's team?

Yeah, Boone said, adding that it really is what Eudora cross country is all about.

"A lot of it is team building," Boone said. "It's more than just going out and hammering it every day. A big part of this week is dispelling myths.

"It is a great time and unfortunately, even adults, the only experiences they've had with running are negative. My goal for these kids is to get them to experience the kind of experiences the kids had last week at state track and the kind of experiences we had at state cross country -- the stuff you'll never forget."

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