MMS Cross Country team prepares for new season
It’s time to get ready for another season of fun and fitness with the MMS Cross Country team. Coach Jason Winesburg shares the following message to help get you moving!
Dear Potential Runners and Parents of Potential Runners,
Membership for the Cross Country Running Team is open to all current MMS students in sixth through eighth grades. As the MMS Lightning, we compete in local meets with other middle schools. However, participating in the competitive meets is not a necessary part of being a member of our team, and we have fun every week just being outside and pushing ourselves and our teammates to their capabilities at practice. I aim to make the team more of a social experience this year, as well, with parties and events to bring us closer as a group.
I would love to see everyone participate on our running team, if at all possible. Running is amazing for students both as a primary sport and as an auxiliary sport, building cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance. Running can easily become a life-long habit, effective for keeping a healthy body weight and maintaining muscle mass throughout adulthood and even into old age. The sport of running requires minimal equipment and easily conforms to a busy lifestyle, unlike many sports which fall away after high school or college without continual investment. It can be taken as far as a participant wants, and can easily be a social pursuit or a very individual activity.
The lessons of running are important ones for a middle school age student. Success in running is directly linked to the amount of effort put in, and, more importantly, the consistency of that effort. Children of this age often become locked into thinking they are “not good” at something—art, sports, math, writing—when the only real different between them and their “more talented” peers is a few months of consistent practice. Cross-country running is a sport that rewards self-honesty and self-awareness, and the best runners become masters at evaluating their own individual progress over time.
Please be thinking about what the most convenient days for after-school practice would be for you/your child, and let me know if possible. We will practice at least two times a week at school, and research has suggested that it is ideal to practice 2-5 times a week to make continuous progress. I will choose the practice days for us that allow as many of our students to participate as possible. There will be a small initial fee to cover meet entry costs and uniforms, and students will need to have a form signed by their doctor.
If you want to get started early—and of course you do—I have some suggestions for some summer training.
Don’t worry overmuch about special running shoes. Good, comfortable sneakers will be fine. Middle school runs are 3K (about 2 miles) and the relatively short distances are easy enough on the feet.
Get a timer to time your running intervals. This is the one I use and it works well, though it is large and clunky.
This is another popular one:
Drink water before and after running, the body runs poorly when dehydrated. Again, middle school runs are not long enough to really worry about diminished electrolytes through sweating; simple water is just fine.
If you haven’t run before, don’t give up after a few rough runs, as each week will be easier than the last. Most people get some muscle soreness (DOMS) on muscles they don’t use often, and this will pop up about 24 hours after the first few runs. This is a good sign and shows you did good work! Things like ibuprofen help with DOMS if it bothers you. Runners will sometimes experience a “side-stitch” as well, which is a sharper pain in the abdomen during running. The cause of this is not completely known, but it typically becomes less and less frequent with more training and can often be alleviated by a short rest.
Get ready to run
I have used the following simple training schedule to rebuild my running endurance several times in my life, and it always works well for me. The idea is to gradually increase your time running until you can manage the longer distances without stopping, and then work on building speed once you have the endurance down. We will work on speed at school with pre-workout drills.
Practices 1-3: Run 4 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 4-6: Run 5 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 7-9: Run 6 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 10-11: Run 7 minutes / walk 4 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 12-13: Run 8 minutes / walk 3 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 14-15: Run 9 minutes / walk 2 minutes – repeat 5 times
Practices 16-17: Run 10 minutes / walk 1 minute – repeat 5 times
Practice 18: Run 15 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 30 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 15 minutes
Practice 19: Run 20 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 10 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 30 minutes
Practice 20 and on: Run 25 minutes / walk 5 minutes / run 20 minutes / walk 10 minutes
With the dedication to practice four times a week, just about any adult or child can build to running the middle school distances in about a month! This will work for parents, too!
Of course, I am neither a medical nor an athletic professional, so take all advice above with a grain of salt (free electrolytes!). Still, it should get you ready for when school starts. There will be a meeting with parents about cross-country once school begins, and I’m looking forward to helping build a strong year for our team!
Upper Elementary Guide and Cross-Country Running Coach