Boys long-distance track runners prepare for meets


Coach Polly Canfield

Long distance runners warm up to run with stretching exercises. Sophomore Max Bremec said, “This year, we’ve gotten outside faster because of the good weather.”

Josie Pickerill, Guest Writer

As the track season now nears the end of April, the long distance-runners on the boys team are ready for the rest of their season because of all their off-season preparation.

Polly Canfield, who coaches the long-distance runners, believes the track off-season is important, as it focuses on keeping the runners’ bodies healthy and prepared for the season. She said, “We have an indoor track season [that is not OHSAA sanctioned] that’s growing in popularity, but not all runners participate. Some people’s off-season is swimming, wrestling, or another sport.”

Since the runners place large amounts of strain on their bodies, Canfield pays close attention to potential injuries and the runners’ health. She said, “You have the kids that aren’t running, even if they are swimming or doing something else, they’re not necessarily running, so that takes an extra toll on your body. There is a big difference between soreness and potential injury, but sometimes that becomes a fine line.”

Due to the lack of participation in field events this season, Canfield has noticed some long-distance runners have to take time out of their practices to train for such events and risk injury. She said, “Long jump makes me nervous because of the pounding in the sand and the jumping, so you have to make sure that [the runners] get extra recovery there.”

Sophomore indoor and outdoor track long-distance runner Ryan Nemeth has enjoyed preparing for the season by doing group runs with his teammates. He said, “We run together so we can race each other to push one another to go faster. This helps make our workouts more effective.”

Another sophomore long-distance runner, Max Bremec, gets ready for the season by trying to simulate races on his runs. He said, “You run a mile or half a mile at either race pace or race pace plus thirty seconds. They help me personally, and I think everyone else, because you’re running mileage, but you’re also preparing for meets and race pace.”

The long-distance runners engage in plyometric workouts, and Nemeth finds that they prepare the runners for unexpected situations during races. He said, “Plyometrics allow us to use different muscle systems that we don’t use during the rest of the week. We do rug pulls, squat jumps, split jumps, jumping jacks, line jumps, [and] things like that. We also do stationary [exercises], such as steps and stepovers.”

According to Bremec, the late winter and early spring weather allowed the runners to become used to the outdoor running conditions prior to running in meets. He said, “We’ve been outside a lot compared to last year. For example, [last year] we couldn’t train outside because the weather was bad, and we couldn’t get a feel for the track.”

Canfield has learned over the years how to protect her runners from injury, so the in-season practice schedule is quite structured around meeets. She said, “Depending on whether we have a Friday or Saturday meet, Monday is a workout day, Tuesday is a pre-meet day, Wednesdays are our conference meets, and Thursday can vary depending on what’s coming up. If it’s a Saturday meet, we’ll run them a little harder on Thursday, but if it’s a Friday meet, we back off.”

Nemeth believes one challenge the runners face is the unpredictable weather that sometimes prevents them from training on the outdoor track. He said, “The indoor track is painful to run on, and it’s very small. The outdoor track has the actual dimensions that you would run on for the meets, and it’s a better surface to run on because it is padded. The indoor track is concrete, so the padding [on the outdoor track] helps as well.”

The season looks promising in the eyes of the runners. Bremec said, “We’ve got good distance runners coming in from the freshman class and the veterans. The freshmen are a good addition and keep adding to our success.”

The boys compete again this Wednesday at Chardon, then return home this Friday to host Eastlake North.