As the cross country season draws closer to an end, the No. 24 Michigan women’s cross country team finds itself trying to earn a top spot in the Big Ten. The runners have had to adjust to the training that is required during the postseason, and it has been quite an adjustment for some of the younger runners.
Each day, the harriers run about eight to 10 miles and a total of about 50 or 60 miles every week. Now, with the Big Ten Championships just a few days away, they are expected to run these miles even harder than they did in previous weeks. To prevent his runners from “burning themselves out,” Michigan coach Mike McGuire plans to decrease the mileage this week as well as the speed at which they run.
The runners have no specific diet that they follow, but McGuire expects that they stay well hydrated and consume plenty of carbohydrates, which gives runners the stamina to consistently run the entire race and enough energy to finish strong. The team has a pasta dinner the night before each meet so that they take in a fair amount of carbohydrates for the race.
When it comes to rest, McGuire hopes that his runners get about eight hours of sleep each night but he also understands that they have academic commitments that might prevent that from happening.
“Ideally, you’d like them to get eight hours,” McGuire said. “But it really depends on what they’re doing academically.
“We’re capable, if we bring our ‘A-game,’ to win it. We need to do what we’ve been doing all year, and that’s running in groups. We’re anxious to get down there and get into it.”
Meanwhile, some of the younger runners have been trying their hardest to earn a top spot for next year’s team. Friday at the Eastern Michigan University Classic, freshman Jennifer Leichtman finished the 5,000-meter race in ninth place with a personal best time of 19:35, 32 seconds better than their previous best. The other runner for the Wolverines, sophomore Erica Flannery, finished 13th with a personal best time of 20:08.