The COVID-19 pandemic has affected — for lack of a better word — everything.
So, it should come as no surprise that it has changed the way that the Michigan cross country teams practice.
The training cycle for a typical fall cross country season goes as follows: recover for a few weeks after the conclusion of the spring track season, start training by building up a mileage base, introduce more strenuous workouts as the summer progresses and taper — decrease their mileage, decrease the strenuous workouts, etc — near the end of the season to prepare for championship races. But most of the progress happens during those three months when the sun shines the longest because once competition starts athletes have to start thinking about keeping their legs fresh.
It’s easy to see why a fall without competition could make for an interesting proposition to men’s cross country coach Kevin Sullivan and women’s cross country coach Mike McGuire to redesign their schedules.
“Coach Sullivan and I bounced a lot of things off each other,” McGuire said. “He still coaches just the men and I coach just the women, but we respect each other’s input.”
What Sullivan and McGuire have come up with is a flexible schedule, one where they can do things that couldn’t be done under a normal season. Without competition, runners can train harder into the fall rather than easing up. Some are taking this opportunity to increase their mileage, some are taking this time to experiment with harder long runs and some are simply using it to make sure that their body is fully recovered from a hard workout before they hit the next. The overarching theme is flexibility.
It’s a plan that has the athletes excited.
“I think Mike, our coach, has really emphasized that we’re looking at this as a glass half full kinda thing, and being glad that we have each other,” fifth-year senior Maddy Trevisan said. “Everyone has been super dedicated and motivated even though we don’t have races right now. We’re all just committed to getting better.”
That positivity on display from Trevisan has helped the team deal with the disappointment of the postponement of the fall season. The sense of community and being together was a main theme that she emphasized when talking about the season — or lack thereof.
The runners have elevated their training in a way that they didn’t think was possible during a global pandemic. While the lack of competition is not ideal for the team, the Wolverines have found a way to make something work.
“We’re really lucky that our coach has kinda laid out an awesome plan from now until we can race again,” Trevisan said. “So whenever we do get word that we can step on the track that we can step on the track and put on our spikes again, we’re ready.”
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