Summer Training, Week 7: August 22nd-August 28th
This week marked the beginning of team practices for the Germantown Friends School XC Team, starting every day at 10:00. Though we have been practicing together all summer, and running in groups on as many days as possible, Monday was the first official team practice of the season, and I was very satisfied with the team's turnout. Though we did have a few freshmen athletes show up last week at Hawk Harrier XC Camp, the majority did not join us until Monday, so this week was a great opportunity to get a first read on the incoming talent, as well as an understanding of what they are going to bring to the team this year. We have almost every varsity athlete back from last year's roster, as well as a bunch of new faces who joined the team in the off-season, so our squad is looking stronger than ever, and I can't wait to see us in action. In this week's training, I focused on giving my body ample time to recover from the hard efforts of last week, and I adjusted my schedule to accommodate the first real workouts of the season. All the work so far this summer has led me to this point in my fitness, and now it's time to focus and prep my body for the upcoming races.
Saturday, August 22nd: Off day today. It's been some time since I took a strict recovery day, and after Hawk Harrier the whole team was feeling sore and beaten up, so we all took the day off to cash in on the work we completed, and to let our bodies rebuild themselves. It's taken me years to appreciate days like this, and it still feels slightly against my nature to be idle for a day, but I know how critical it is to relax and recover regularly.
Sunday, August 23rd: With the option to either recover again today or go out for a moderate effort, I opted for the harder option, since yesterday's recovery left me feeling entirely fresh. After starting off slowly to develop a rhythm, I hit my stride travelling across the Ben Franklin Bridge, and carried that momentum on the way back into Philadelphia, where I cruised at an average of 6:20/mile pace for 54 minutes. There were a few miles at 5:50/mile pace by the end, which feels increasingly easier as I get stronger and continue to develop my fitness. The run was a success because my heart rate never got out of zone, even on the long hills. This shows that I had control over the pace and my body throughout the effort. Afterwards I lingered outside to stretch and walked around my city, since the weather was phenomenal.
Monday, August 24th: Today was the official beginning of team practices at my school, and we had a huge turnout for the first team run. After an opening speech from our head coach Rob Hewitt and an introduction to all of the new kids, we learned the new dynamic stretching routine, and divided into groups for our first run of the season. I started off with my teammate Grayson Hepp, a senior mid-distance runner who ran with me on all of our relays last year, and our coach Phil Celona, who himself is pursuing racing goals equal to my own. After a few miles with both of them, I progressed into my own pace and finished the remainder of my 35 minutes on the Wissahickon trails before ending at school for our post-run exercises. First, the team completed a long set of medball core exercises, working the muscles throughout our bodies for strength and good posture, and then we learned a set of exercises to strengthen our feet and ankles. This is a new piece of my team's workout rotation, to prepare us for the difficult trails and courses, and hopefully to prevent any sprained ankles this fall.
Pictured: Hurdle mobility drills from the first day of practice. Photo from @GFStrackXC
Tuesday, August 25th: Is there any better way to spend your birthday than running a low-mod effort on the trails? Not many come to my mind… I started today at an easy pace, and progressed through the first 15 minutes until I began cruising at a moderate rate, where I kept my tempo calm and I focused on staying as relaxed as possible, with an eye towards my form. I took this one by myself along the Manayunk Tow Path, and flipped it once I reached 28 minutes, so I could make it back to campus for our team drills afterwards. In total, the run took about 53 minutes, at 7:01/mile pace. After getting back, I did our updated hurdle mobility circuit, complete with integrated medball work, for hip strengthening. For the first time this season, the weather was reminiscent of a fall day, and I could feel the autumn breeze beginning to roll into Philly.
Wednesday, August 26th: Today at school we did our first workout of the season, a cycle of repeat 800's starting slowly and descending in pace, until we reached our physical capacity. With the exception of a few difficult long runs at Hawk Harrier, this was the first real difficult day I've had since the end of our outdoor season, and it felt fantastic to be cranking again. I wanted to use today to test my exertion ability, and also to see if I've still kept a competitive edge, despite the fact that we've focused on training this summer, instead of racing. The plan was to continuously test my lactate levels throughout the effort after every piece, in order to measure how efficiently I'm working, and to identify any areas where I need to fix my fitness. The workout went entirely as planned, and I hit all of my splits up through my final piece, so I walked away from this one feeling satisfied with where I am right now. My testing came back very positively, and it showed that I have made progress in leaps and bounds since the last time I tested. There were also a lot of excellent workouts for my teammates, and my coach was thrilled with where we are right now. I talked with many of the guys on the team, and it seemed as though everyone felt proud of their efforts, much like I was. We'll have to wait until the first race to see if today's efforts will translate into a competitive situation, but I feel confident that when we take the line for the first time, all of our athletes will be ready to drop some serious times.
Pictured: Working out on the GFS Track. Photo by Shannon Grady
Thursday, August 27th: After the difficulty of yesterday's workout, I decided to take today much easier, so I went out with my fellow captain Grayson Hepp on a new trail, and we took it pretty easy for 35 minutes through the winding paths of the Wissahickon. We spent the whole run talking about the team this year, and what expectations we have for the season, which was a great opportunity for us to put words to what we've been thinking, as well as discuss our impressions after the first few days of team practice. Once we made it back to campus, we rejoined the rest of the team again for a 15 minute session of medball core exercises, with an emphasis on balance and posture, and then we completed a full circuit of foot strengthening exercises in our team's sand pits on the track. After stretching, I felt as though most of the fatigue from yesterday's workout was out of my legs, so I'm looking forward to coming back tomorrow for another good workout.
Friday, August 28th: Today our team divided up, and we each completed a run/workout that fit with our goals for the end of this week of training. My group, the boys on the team who are looking to compete at Nike Cross-Regionals, ran over to Secret Training Base (STB), our training loop through the woods where we do most workouts in the XC season, and completed a full dynamic warm-up before launching into our training for the day. My workout consisted of 10 x 300 meters, run at 4:28/mile pace each, with a minute of jogging in between pieces as my recovery. I felt strong through to the end, even if I had some difficulty hitting my splits in the middle portion, and I completed the whole workout within the speed range my coach had suggested. Considering the workout was on winding, wooded trails, and I did it all in my trainers instead of spikes, I felt satisfied with the results. Some members of the team had to fight through today to complete the work, but we all finished strongly, and jogged as a group back to our track, where we did our Plyometrics/MT Series work together and finished the day with a stretch.
Weekly Total Mileage: 44.3 miles