The new school year in South Florida has begun and along with it has come the start of fall sports – most importantly high school Cross Country! Yes, it is my second year coaching the Spanish River Community High School boys and girls cross country teams and I’m thrilled! With a year under my belt, I’m more ready than ever to join with head coach Rick Rothman in helping the teams achieve more than they did last year.
With that, I wanted to share some tips to get you, your child or your runner ready for the new school year and season. Here they are:
1. Hydrate. This is so important – especially in South Florida where the temperature regularly climbs into the 90s and the sun is blazing exactly when the kids are running – after school at around 3pm. Experts recommend upwards of 8 cups of water a day for a regular person; imagine what they’d recommend for a high schooler running in the heat and sun for 60 minutes plus a day! They’d recommend quite a few more…
2. Stretch, ice, rest. While we require that our athletes run during the summer to build a base for the season, some do not – and most who do are not running at the high intensity that they will run at during the season. That means – there is a lot of new stress on the legs, feet, knees, ankles and body in general. Take care of your body. Rest when necessary. Ice when sore. And stretch. I personally go for massages and acupuncture when I need a fix. And in between, you’ll often find me in an ice bath or Espsom salt bath. Either one will benefit you and your body!
3. Eat healthy. It’s critical that both male and female cross country runners eat enough and eat healthy. The Spanish River team reaches upwards of 40 miles a week of running…That’s a lot of calorie burning! And that means, your growing kids need to replace those calories with healthy proteins, carbs and fats. As Coach Rothman has always said, “If you have a race horse – what will you feed it? The best of oats, right? So do the same with your body.” Remember, when we are training and running and racing, we are machines.
4. Listen to your body. If something is hurting and it’s not a simple ache and pain, tell your coach, tell your parent, tell the athletic trainer. Don’t wait until the injury becomes something much worse. Tackle it while it is still small and while there is still time to fix and/or heal it. Remember, high school sports seasons are short. An injury in September can keep you out of competition for two to three months – which covers the entire season.
5. Be a good teammate. Motivate your teammates, cheer them, and push yourself to stay up with them and/or lead them to great things. I attribute my high school running success to just that…as a freshman, I forced myself to stay up with my older teammates and ultimately that made me better. And then when I was a junior and senior, I did the same – I motivated my teammates to stay up with me during long runs. It will make you a better runner and person; and it will make your team better – which at the end of the day – is the biggest goal of Cross Country. You need five (or more) great runners to win!
Those are just a few quick tips. What are yours for your fellow cross country runners this year?! I’d be curious to hear.