During the summer, top cross country runners waste no time getting to work.
Preparing for the fall season starts months earlier. Many cross country runners are also distance runners during the outdoor track and field season. When that season ends, the next begins — even if there are a few months in between competitions.
Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg gives her runners packets when the school year ends in June with suggested workouts that they can follow for five or six days a week.
“Usually, by the Fourth of July, we meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and it’s really casual,” Cullenberg said. “We’ve been doing that for years, and it’s a lot easier to come out and run when you know others are, too.”
Leavitt senior Logan Ouellette, last year’s Class B cross country state runner-up, spoke with new head coach Jenniffer Perron in the spring, and she supplied him with a training schedule.
“I am really excited,” Ouellette said. “We have a new coach and she wants to be really aggressive with this program, and I am really excited for that, too.”
Payton Bell, a senior at Edward Little, has been in contact with the Red Eddies’ new cross country coach, Katie Byrne, all summer as she’s gears up for her final high school cross country season.
Athletes go about their summer different ways, due to schedules and interests, but they all have the fall season in mind.
RUNNING, BIKES AND BOARDS
Ouellette said he runs around 25 to 30 miles per week.
He started each week with a long run on Monday. These initially are about 5 miles long and by the end of the summer reach about 9 miles.
Ouellette cross-trained on Tuesdays then went back to interval runs on Wednesdays. He cross-trained again on Thursdays before doing longer interval runs on Fridays. On weekends he did whatever he wanted, either a cross-training session or a run.
“I would bike, hike, I would do stand-up paddle boarding and sometimes hit the rowing machines,” Ouellette said. “I would also, if I was on the board, surf as well. I think it helps a lot with endurance as well as giving your body a break from running. I got to enjoy some more things like surfing and mountain biking. It was good to get off my feet but still enjoy those things over the summer.”
Mt. Blue senior twins Nora and Henri McCourt both made sure they got runs in, but this summer they also were into mountain biking, hiking and roller skiing to practice for the Nordic ski season.
Henri said he averaged 20 to 30 miles of running per week, while Nora was in the 15- to 20-mile range.
“I was running a lot, but I really like mountain biking, so I did some bike races,” Henri McCourt said. “I also did some roller skiing. I was pretty busy, lots of traveling to see family and go to camps. I was able to attend some summer practices, but had to miss some. I worked at a mountain bike camp for two weeks, which, for those two weeks I was still doing a bit of running in the morning and evening, but that was two weeks of lots and lots of biking.”
Nora McCourt also rode her mountain bike often, and it proved helpful during a road race this summer.
“They work on their quads a lot when they’re working hills, and just the technical part of it, confidence-wise, it helps,” Cullenberg said. “I was talking to Nora about running, and she did a 10K in New Hampshire and she was talking about a downhill and how she loved how the footing wasn’t great. If you can go in with the confidence that the footing isn’t great then you’re already a step ahead.”
Cyrus Evans, a Mt. Blue senior, and Bell of Edward Little focused primarily on running this summer.
Evans said he tried to reach 40 miles a week, while Bell said she was around 25 to 30. Bell suffered a knee injury suffered during the Bradbury Scuffle 6-mile race in early July, but she worked through it and maintained her goal continued of putting in base miles in preparation for the season.
“During the summer I like just doing base miles,” Bell said. “Usually, it’s like 30 miles per week and I just run easy. Maybe once every other week I’ll have a fast tempo run or a track workout, but usually I am just trying to get miles in.”
Byrne added that Bell, the seventh-place finisher at the Class A championship a year ago, works full-time and sometimes misses practices over the summer, but the Eddies’ new coach said she never had to worry about Bell not doing her workouts at another time.
Same with Evans, who traveled this summer, visiting colleges and going to road races. He didn’t miss many practices, but when he did, he still got his runs in.
Along with following Cullenberg’s running plan, Evans, who placed 17th at last year’s Class A championship meet, also focused on weight training this summer.
“Training-wise I have been with the team three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, doing routine practices,” Evans said. “It ranges from a few miles to long runs. Personally, I have been doing a lot of college trips and doing some small-town races. That’s been my summer, lately. Those have been great and I’ve been improving my times from the beginning of the season last year. I am a low-mileage runner, so I usually don’t go over 50, and 40 is usually the mark I want to hit.”
Cullenberg has noticed the work paying off for Evans, who arrived at Mt. Blue last summer from Nevada.
“I feel like where he’s at right now; from where he was last year at this point, he’s already running faster,” Cullenberg said. “He has a better base because he’s not in the thick of a move.”