First, congratulations to the University of Colorado Men’s who finished third yesterday at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Check out Daniel Petty‘s article for more details. I’m fortunate to have had the top three scores – Richard Medina, Joe Boshard and Andy Wacker – work at the Boulder Running Camps as counselors; they’re great guys and I’m really happy for them.
There’s something in Daniel’s article that I think is important for coaches and athletes to understand. Coach Mark Wetmore said of the women’s team:
“Honestly, this year, we gambled a little bit and focused on the conference championship more than usual,” Wetmore said. “It was the first year in the Pac-12 and CU wanted to have an impact. In the case of our younger women, they already had raced hard at our conference meet and were a little over the hump.”
Here’s a coach who knows when the athletes are going to run their best; it’s calculated and to a large extent, it’s controlled. Sounds simple, but it’s actually very difficult. Many teams and many runners train hard all the time, running a nice race here and there, yet they can’t “call their shot” and run their best on a specific date. But this is the point of training – to be able to run your best on a specific date (and at a specific distance) – and I think it’s important for coaches and athletes to go back and analyze their training to see if they’re running their best when when they want to. Again, simple concept – run your best on the day you’ve chosen as “the big day” – but much easier said than done.
The other thing that I though I should share is this question that Daniel sent me via twitter.
@coachjayjohnson: Reader asked me why women run 6K and men run 10K in #NCAAXC. Do you know why the divide still exists?
I responded with:
@danielpetty politics that havent changed. Favors schools with strong middle distance as you can see with the top four. Sexist? Maybe.
It is a bit odd, isn’t it, that there is such a big difference in the length of the race? And while my wife, who was an All-American in cross country at Georgetown, is very happy with yesterday’s outcome (Georgetown – ranked number one at the start of the season, yet never won a meet until yesterday – won it’s first NCAA title), there is little doubt in my mind 6k cross country is a completely different beast than 10k cross country. Both challenging, both aerobic, but 10k training is much different than 6k training, the same way 5k training is different than 10k training.
If you have 15-20 minutes check out these two workouts (from 2006 and 2009 respectively) and you’ll see what I mean.
University of Colorado
University of Washington
I love both workouts. Gold Hill is a wonderful place to get a great aerobic stimulus. Conversely, I love Coach Metcalf’s replication of the race – get out hard, maintain, finish strong. And to be sure, Colorado does workouts similar to the Washington workout and Washington no doubt does long runs. But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s interesting that women only run 6k at the NCAA level while men run 67% longer…which is a big difference, a difference that would likely force female athletes at their coaches to re-evaluate their training. And in a day and age of blogging and tweeting I’m surprised more adult female runners don’t ask the same question that was posed to Daniel – “Why do the women run so much shorter than the men at the NCAA Championships?”
Just a question and you may or may not be interested in discussing it. If you are, comment below and I’ll add my thoughts. Again, congratulations to the CU men – a well deserved trophy to a group of men that having been training extremely hard.