Cross country is not a sport for the faint of heart. It is a true test of the human body and how much pain it can handle.
The men and women of cross country train year round with no breaks. Track season just ended, and most of the runners took only a week off before hitting the miles again.
At the moment, the team does not have a head coach and is doing all of its training on its own, with no guidance. However, these student-athletes know what needs to be done in the offseason to ensure a good regular season.
The athletics department has selected a few candidates for head coach and is now in the final stage of the selection process.
“We were told that we would find out on Aug. 1,” said Tony Crisofulli, the soon-to-be sophomore who took seventh in Junior Nationals at the end of June.
The men’s team is running somewhere between 60–95 miles a week, which is between 9–13.5 miles a day. The women’s team is running about 45–60 miles a week as well.
The teams have been training with longer base runs, which create a huge window to improve as the season progresses.
Tempo runs are also essential to a distance runner in the offseason, and the team is doing about one tempo run a week to improve on its fitness. A tempo run is a run at a shorter distance than normal but at a much faster pace, which should put the runner at a steady aerobic threshold.
Lifting and muscle strength are also important, but less so than the base phase and tempo runs. The team also does a few strides a couple times a week to get a little speed and work their fast-twitch muscles. This is very important because when the season approaches and the team starts doing intervals, it won’t be such a huge shock to their bodies.
The team members are training at different times in different places to focus on their individual regimens. Crisofulli is training at altitude and is putting in some major mileage up at 9,000 feet in Colorado.
A few of the runners are training with some team members from past years and have a good group that runs in the evening. Others run in the morning to avoid the heat.
As a team, the Vikings are in one of the hardest conferences in the nation. The Big Sky is notorious for producing some of the best distance runners in the nation, as well as some of the best overall teams.
“We will be better as a team this year compared to last year,” Crisofulli said. “Last year we had no direction and were not sure who the head coach was going to be.”
The Vikings are working harder than ever and should make vast improvements from last year’s campaign.
The team’s first race will most likely be at the end of August in North Portland, when the University of Portland hosts a little rust buster of a meet.
Also, a trip down to Bush Park for the Willamette Invitational will likely be on the schedule, as it is the biggest cross country race on the West Coast. Over 1,500 runners will be attending this race from across the Northwest and the nation.
The cross country team will be looking to make some noise this fall and establish itself once again as an up-and-coming program.