The 2018 Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta Tiger cross country teams like to run, so much so that they’ve asked to run more than scheduled, head coach Dale Henrich said.
“We used to have kids that are in cross country to get in shape for another sport, now we have kids in cross country because they like to run and compete,” Henrich said.
With a full week of practice the week of Sept. 17, Henrich had a plan to cut the miles to run toward the end of the week, so runners weren’t sore for the Milaca Mega Meet Saturday, Sept. 22.
“The distance changes with the courses we run during the week,” Henrich said of practice workouts. “Since we only had one meet on Saturday, the plan was to take it easy and run shorter distances starting Wednesday, but some of the kids were wanted to run extra miles, so we changed the plan.”
Some Tigers run even more than that by doing individual workouts at home. On average, the Tiger cross country teams run anywhere from 20 to 25 miles in any given week, including practice, warm ups, races, and cool downs.
“Just to get the base mileage that I want, I hit around 50, 60 miles per week,” Stewart said, basically doubling what the team does in practice.
Ben Hernandez and Solomon Johnson also run outside of practice, but not nearly as much.
“I usually do run more on my own during the summer, but during the season I try to cut down a little bit. On average, probably 15 to 20 (miles) during the week during the season,” Hernandez said.
“I try to do three to five (miles) out of practice two to three (days per week),” Johnson said. “I don’t want to push it too much out of practice especially on the longer weeks because we already do quite a bit in practice and get a lot of mileage in. I don’t want to degrade my body too much and not give it enough time to rest. No more injuries.”
“I run occasionally outside of practice, but more so during the summer,” Katya Lackey added.
The team members have seen the results of running.
“Every since my injury by in sophomore year, I’ve felt like I’ve had something to prove,” Johnson said of his motivation to improve.
“I just really wanted to get onto varsity,” Lackey said on her improvement this season. “This is my first year on varsity, and I know that if I don’t run good, I’m not going to be on varsity. I’m basically just trying to not be (the seventh runner on the team), so that I won’t get off of varsity.”
“My first race was really bad. Running a really slow race the first meet of the year motivated me to do better,” Malory Anderson said. “I (have been) running with Crystal (Nohl) and we just stick together and push each other and pushing each other makes us go faster.”
“If the younger kids see you working hard, they are going to work harder and that really motivates me personally,” Hernandez said.
The runners often need more than scenery to pass the time while running.
“I started to listening to music more often because I think it’s boring to run when you’re by yourself, I absolutely hate it,” Hernandez said. “Pump up songs, from Drake, there’s also this Latin artist J Balvin. He’s my favorite go-to artist.”
“It’s weird to say but I’m thinking about running and my goals for the season and what I’m going to have to do to achieve them,” Stewart said. “A lot of times I’ll zone out for a mile. It’s weird to think you can just zone out for a couple minutes but it definitely happens when you’re running.”
“It depends on the day. Sometimes I have a song in my head that I just keep playing over and over. I try to focus on my breathing, that usually helps keep my pace,” Johnson said.
“There was one day where we sang. It was like a five mile run and we were all singing Taylor Swift, it was great,” Johnson added. “Mostly the songs are in my head or I just try to stay focused on running.”
Each runner has a different pace and a route they prefer, but all need shoes.
“I go through shoes probably every couple months now,” Stewart said. “At least probably four or five pairs a year.”
“I do go through quite a few shoes,” Johnson said. “I’ve actually gone through more shoes this season than any other season. I’m on my second pair of shoes and second pair of spikes this season from the start of practice (in August) to now.”
Ben Hernandez, Malory Anderson and Katya Lackey say they only use one pair then have a back up, if the shoes get too worn out.
“I usually stay with one pair for the season,” Hernandez said. “They wear a little bit, but I’m not running enough miles to go through more.”
“Not really,” Lackey said. “I have two pairs currently. I just wear one pair and if I break this pair or their wet or something, I’ll wear the other pair.”
“My shoes that I’m wearing right now are my main shoes and I got them last season,” Anderson said. “For spikes, maybe every two years I’ll get a new pair just because they lose their support after a while and they are already not supportive.”
The right mindset has contributed to the success that the Tigers have seen so far this season. The hope is that the attitude and improvement will continue.
“With the mentality we have this year, we’re trying to get to state as a team,” Johnson said. “If we keep working on pushing harder with those workouts that might happen.”