Battle-Hardened Running Teams on Track for Success
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Managing Sports Editor
After three weeks of grueling two-a-day workouts in punishing conditions — either outside in frigid, bone-chilling temperatures, or in the cramped confines of the Cage — the Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track teams appear ready for a strong second half of the season.

While most students relaxed at home during the winter break, runners on the Track team were waking up at the crack of dawn — 7:30 AM — and pushing themselves to the brink of exhaustion every weekday. The team plowed through two training sessions per day: a 7:30 morning workout, and a second afternoon practice at 3:30 PM. Distance runners supplemented their long outdoor runs — which combined up to 50-80 miles per week (or roughly seven to 11 miles per day) — with blistering interval workouts in the Cage. The sprinters endured through a mix of weight-lifting sessions, tempo repetitions, and quick speed intervals to develop acceleration.

“Our bodies were tired and broken down from double day sessions,” Women’s co-Captain Christina Wong ’11 said.

The main purpose of interterm training is to prepare runners for the big-season meets in February and March; the vigorous, sometimes excruciating schedule is designed to improve endurance and strength in the long term, even when short-run performances might suffer due to workout-related fatigue. Given the exhausting nature of interterm sessions, the recent January meets functioned mainly as “tune-up” practice events.

Despite the struggles with sore, weary muscles, both teams excelled in meets at Brandeis and Wesleyan over the interterm break. At Brandeis ten days ago, the women’s team emerged victorious out of a five-team field, while the men’s squad earned a second place result. At last weekend’s non-scoring Wesleyan meet, the Jeffs particularly dominated the middle- and long- distance events, with Amherst men taking first place in the 600, 800, and 1000m races and the women securing top finishes in the 1000, 1600, and 5000m.

“The benefits of interterm tend to manifest themselves later in the season,” Men’s co-Captain Andre Gary ’11 said, “but the past two meets have been phenomenal in terms of competing.”

While the workouts were physically demanding (and not always fun), runners said that interterm training helped enhance team chemistry by uniting everyone under a shared experience.

“This year’s interterm training has been the best that us seniors have ever experienced. Not only have we pushed ourselves passed our perceived thresholds, but we have also really come together as a team,” Gary said. “We train together, we compete together, we win together, and we lose together.”

“We’ve been working on being more supportive of each other and bonding more closely as a team, because with everyone competing in different events, track and field tends to be a more disjointed team sport than cross-country, for example,” Wong said.

Running is a tough sport in itself, but becomes even more of a challenge in uncomfortable weather or other adverse conditions. Subzero temperatures are hardly appealing, but even indoors — in the relatively warm Cage — the sharp turns of the rubberized track can aggravate runners’ leg joints, particularly in the knees. The tight corners “put more pressure on our legs, which leads to a greater chance of injury,” Wong said. “I can feel the effect of Cage workouts on my legs already.”

Other runners found a more positive spin to the Cage’s unforgiving surface, saying that the imperfect conditions have improved the team’s resilience and toughness. “We have found that training in the cage just makes us a more close knit team,” Gary said. “If you can train in the cage, you can run well anywhere.”

The runners also have to deal with the rubber track’s awkward 170-meter length. Since indoor tracks are typically 200 meters long, most interval workouts come in units of 200 meters. The irregular length of the Cage track complicates workouts since distances (such as 400, 800, 1200 meters) become more difficult to measure.

For example, “instead of doing 4 laps for an 800m interval, we’ll have to run 5 laps and change, stopping at some random point around the Cage. It makes it hard to keep track of where we’re supposed to stop for each interval, since there’s a different stopping point for each distance,” Wong said.

At Wesleyan, the Men’s squad enjoyed a series of fantastic finishes from the long-distance and middle-distance units. The Jeffs throttled the competition in the 800-meter (half-mile) race, with Steven Corsello ’11, Matt Melton ’14, and Tommy Moore ’11 capturing the top three spots. Ben Scheetz ’12 won the 600 meter race with a blistering time of 1:21. Will Yochum ’11 and Patrick Grimes ’13 took the first two spots in the 1000 meter race with times of 2:28 and 2:34, respectively.

Jack Seaver ’11 shattered his personal record in the 3000 meter race by 23 seconds, finishing in fourth place with a time of 9:07. Andrew Erskine ’13 also set a personal best in the 1-mile event, racing to a 4:27 mark — three seconds better than his previous individual record.

Stacked with elite distance runners, the Jeffs won the Distance Medley event (with 400, 800, 1200, then 1600 meter intervals) with a time of 10:20, beating their exhausted second-place opponents by 35 seconds. Amherst fell agonizingly short of capturing the 4x400 relay, however, losing to Rhode Island College by a mere .47 seconds.

On the women’s side, Eliza Schalch ’12 earned first place in the 1000 meter race (3:08), while sophomores Lauren Almeida and Keri Lambert captured the top two spots in the 1-mile race with times of 5:19 and 5:20, respectively. Ali Simeone ’13 won the women’s 5,000-meter run in 18:14, while first-years Angie Epifano and Tori Sosnowski took second (18:17) and third place (18:23), respectively.

The Jeffs will compete at the Boston Indoor Games — the team’s first big meet of the season — this upcoming weekend. After a series of “warm-up” meets during interterm, the Jeffs are entering the meat of their schedule. The upcoming calendar features a series of large competitive meets, with the New England DIII Championships scheduled on February 18th.

“Right now we’re looking to carry the momentum from interterm into the rest of the semester, stay healthy, and set personal records,” co-captain Susan Wasserman ’11 said.

“Our ultimate goal is to have as much of the team as possible competing through the championship season and send a group to Nationals” by mid-March, Wasserman said.

Issue 12, Submitted 2011-01-26 22:49:53