Tag Archives: high school

Footlocker Cross Country National Championships 2012

The national championships of high school cross country took place today in San Diego, CA. The best 40 girls and best 40 boys from across the country who individually qualified through their respective regional meets raced hard! It was truly inspiring to watch and I recommend everyone watch the taped web casts from the event. You see it all: hard racing, endurance, mental strategy, toughness and speed. Often these races show us who the future stars of cross country and track and field will be.

2012 Footlocker Cross Country National High School Champions!

Congratulations to the winners as well as everyone who qualified. Learn more about the event here.

Perfectionism: The Double-edged Sword

Every once in a while I come upon really insightful and interesting case studies and white papers that touch on a nerve, get me thinking, compel me to share the piece with others…And here is another one straight from the University of South Florida’s “The Counseling Center for Human Development.” (Circa 2000.) Enjoy – and let me know if you recognize someone while reading this. Potentially yourself? Your spouse? Your child? I know I sure did…not mentioning any names!

Ask yourself while reading this piece – if you do relate…what can you personally do to grow? Put a little less pressure and stress on yourself? Enjoy life a little more? And probably even succeed at a faster and greater (and more enjoyable rate)…

Perfectionism: The Double-edged Sword

Do you push yourself to be the “best?” The best student, greek, athlete or friend. Do you get upset with yourself when you’re anything less? While we all strive toward excellence, some individuals have a great difficulty accepting a personal role of less than “number one.” These people are considered perfectionists.

Many college (and high school) students are perfectionists. To these students, obtaining a “B” is considered a failure. (Not being the best on their team…not being the best in their class…all failures.) They are unwilling to accept an “average” performance or role, because to them, “average” equals “second-rate.”

Perfectionism is not the healthy pursuit of excellence, as most people tend to believe, but rather it is the compulsive striving toward unrealistic goals, declares psychiatrist David Burns. “Setting high personal standards and goals, and working hard to attain them is appropriate,” he says. “However, perfectionists set excessively high goals and strive compulsively to achieve them, punishing themselves for mistakes and lowering self-esteem because they can’t reach these impossibly high goals.”

Perfectionists believe compulsive striving is necessary for success. Aiming to be the “best” all the time virtually guarantees feelings of failure, however. In fact, studies suggest that perfectionists are often less productive and successful, and experience more stress and anxiety than their co-workers/students/teammates. For perfectionists, who measure worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishments, this vicious cycle is self-perpetuating and self-defeating…

So what’s the answer? First of all, be aware of the difference between setting high personal standards and perfectionism. Setting high standards involves the pursuit of success and realistic goals, while perfectionism involves setting impossibly high goals (all the time) and is motivated by the fear of failure.

Second, learn to focus on your successes rather than perceived failures. Perfectionists typically view success as an “avoidance of failure” and as a result rarely gain satisfaction from their achievements.

And finally, your worth as a person is not determined solely by your accomplishments. Feelings of self-worth are also affected by such factors as interpersonal relationships, physical health and appearance, spiritual beliefs and emotional well-being. Perfectionists often focus on only one area of their life to the exclusion of others.

10 Steps to Overcome Perfectionism

A Distance Runner’s Strength

On Monday afternoon, one of our runners – a senior girl – did something she had never done before. She won a major high school cross country invitational race. To make it even more special, it was our own school hosted Spanish River Invitational. The girl is Ellyn and her win was extra special for a number of reasons.

Ellyn had a rough year last year (as she admits to during a PB Post and Sun-Sentinel interview which I’ve included below). Nearly six-feet tall as a 17 year old and running over 35 miles per week, Ellyn had trouble keeping her body at a solid and strong weight. As a result, her junior cross country season ended early and the damage was tough for her to handle. However, rather than falling in the win or wilting under the stress and pressure, Ellyn did something we could all take a lesson from…

Ellyn spent her junior track season building up strength. Then she spent this past summer building up distance and base endurance. And at just her second real meet of the 2012 High School Cross Country season, she won. She won with a strong, gutsy performance. And all who watched were just as impressed as those who know her and her story well.

Distance running is tough. Cross Country and Track are two of the hardest sports. There is no coasting, there is no cheating, there is no “just getting by.” You feed your body poorly – you’ll eventually do poorly. You skip your runs, it will show in your meet performance. Similarly, you put in the work and you take care of yourself – and your body will reward you. Our sport is sorta like life. And when you have champions like Ellyn break through and take a big step in the right direction of their personal journey, you can’t help but be proud!

Read the full article from yesterday’s paper (following Monday’s win by Ellyn). Also congrats to the entire Girls Cross Country team that won the overall team title at the 2012 Spanish River Invitational.

 

An Oxymoron? Good Pain

I read this great piece in Women’s Running Magazine on good pain verses bad pain and had to share it with my own readers! I’ve been talking a lot about these two and how a runner needs to understand the difference in order to push themselves to improve but know when to back off.

At the start of every high school cross country season, you get a lot of new runners to the sport that have never pushed their bodies like this before. What 15 year old (before they join a cross country team) has ever run a 35-plus mile week before? Done mile repeats at tempo pace (six times in a row)? And then followed it all up with 25 hill climbs on a massive trash mountain? I bet very few…

And as a result, these new runners push themselves (like they should) and feel the lactic acid build up in the legs, the pain in their muscles, the trouble catching their breathe, and so on. This is all “good pain” as we call it. It’s the stuff that makes you better – that is if you push through it.

However, at the same time, some runners feel different pains – pulls in their hamstrings, sore knees, shin splints, and serious trouble catching their breathe to the point of hyperventilation…These are what we call “bad pain” in some cases. (I’d say shin splints are a bad pain – but one that us runners know we have to push through…and keep running – on the grass or softer surfaces whenever possible.)

I tell my students all the time – know your body. Don’t quit a workout for “good pain” because then you’ll never reach your potential. At the same time, tell us (your coaches) when you have bad pain so that we can adjust if necessary. And by adjust I mean – send you to the pool or bike for a workout; and in worse cases, send you to the doctor to get checked out.

Anyway – here’s the article…and let me know what “good pain” feels like to you!?

Womens Running: The Difference Between Good and Bad Pain

Coach Rick Rothman Named 2012 National Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year

I am so very proud to announce that my high school coach, my mentor and my friend Coach Rick Rothman, has been named the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) 2012 National Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year. The award, which was bestowed upon him last night in Fargo, ND, celebrates Coach Rothman’s three decades of commitment to the sport, his athletes and running in general. I can speak from experience and say that Coach Rothman deserves this award more than anyone else. His dedication to his runners is unparalleled. We (I include myself in this sentiment) are and always will be his first priority. I truly believe he helped mold me into the runner I was (back in high school and that I’ve always continued to strive to be) and the person I am. Thank you Coach Rothman from the bottom of my heart!

Read the full article that I wrote about him for the West Palm Beach Running & Fitness Examiner here. And please share around. He deserves not only the award but all the recognition that comes with it as well!

A Former HS Standout Returning To The National Stage

A fantastic read from Running Times Magazine about former Florida High School standout Mason Cathey and her return to the national (and potential world) stage. I found out that Mason was training for the Olympics a few months back and was truly inspired to hear about her journey back to competitive running/racing. She was a star in high school and someone I competed against every so often. (She was in a smaller A so I did not see her as often as you would think.) She went to the University of Florida and did not live up to her own expectations (I am sure) nor others…But after college, she began coaching at a few colleges and saw that she could train with her team of runners, and do well. She also apparently still had the bug. She has since competed along side of some of the best out there today…and I will be rooting for her at the USA trials in the 3K Steeplechase in June. Good luck!

Read the Running Times article here: Vaulting Onto the National Stage

And here is a small excerpt from the actual article if my lead-in wasn’t enough!

“My first sighting of Mason Cathey is burned on my retina like a sunspot. It was February of 1997, and it was my first day as volunteer pole vault coach at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. I was standing near the first turn of the track when this spry, blonde,14-year old girl raced by. What stood out about her—other than the fact she was 50 meters ahead of everyone else—was her form. Most girls, for whatever reason, waddle when they run—their arms swing across their body instead of forward—but not Mason. Her running stride was more like Bob Hayes, with the powerful hip torque, equating to a stride length that was not indicative of her 5’ 6” height.”

The Road Warriors

Brandon Mercado is one of the kids on the Spanish River Cross Country and Track teams that I’ve truly enjoyed coaching. He is not only a dedicated runner, but a great, kind and respectful kid. He and his best friend Ramiro Melendez or “Romo” that I have also gotten to know this year have been working toward a huge goal – an 1800 mile run from Florida to Michigan. Their story is inspirational and I am proud to be a witness to it.

Please find a fantastic article from the Palm Beach Post, which features the boys, their mentor Brian Thomas and much more! Enjoy and thanks to the Palm Beach Post and Willie Howard for writing such a worthy piece.

Palm Beach County Road Warriors to run 1,800 miles to raise money for colon cancer patients

Photo from Palm Beach Post; Damon Higgins

By Willie Howard, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Two former Okeeheelee Middle School students, their track coach and three other members of the Road Warriors running team are preparing to run 1,800 miles from Greenacres to Michigan in June to raise money for colon cancer patients.

The two former Okeeheelee Middle students, Brandon Mercado and Ramiro Melendez, persuaded their coach and science teacher, Brian Thomas, to organize the long-distance run after hearing of a charity run from Michigan to St. Augustine that Thomas did in 2002.

Mercado and Melendez have since become competitive runners for their high school teams. Both are graduating this month, one of Thomas’ prerequisites for participating in the multi-state run.

“We stuck with it and showed him passion,” said Mercado, 18, who ran track and cross country for Spanish River High School and wants to become a physical therapist.

The other members of the Road Warriors team are Stephanie Schreiber, Thomas’ friend from Michigan; Ricky Montez of Palm Beach Gardens; and Mattie Maley of Lantana.

Thomas and members of the Road Warriors team will present their story to the Wellness Promotion Task Force at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Palm Beach County School District headquarters .

“This shows how passionate teachers influence our children,” said Paula Triana, co-chair of the Wellness Promotion Task Force. “He goes above and beyond.”

Okeeheelee Middle Principal David Samore said Thomas and other male teachers serve as mentors for boys at the school through a program called Bridges.

“There is no question in my mind that Brian Thomas is a life-changer for some kids,” Samore said. “This is a man who will put himself out there if the cause is a worthy effort.”

The Road Warriors plan to begin their run at Okeeheelee Middle on the morning of June 9.

They’re using their website, roadwarriorscorp.org, to raise money for the 1,800-mile trip and for the Colon Cancer Alliance, which uses donations to help patients with expenses as well as prevention awareness.

So far, they’ve raised $7,500 from private donations and the sale of T-shirts and wrist bands.

Running as a relay team, the Road Warriors plan to average 80 miles a day while moving north through eight states to their destination in Thomas’ hometown of Lake Orion, Mich.

They hope to arrive by June 30 and will post updates on Facebook along the way.

Okeeheelee Middle student Tyler Monsour is selling bracelets and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Road Warriors – an example of the ripple effect the run is having on Okeeheelee students.

Mercado and Melendez – who ran for Palm Beach Central – chose to support the colon cancer organization with donations raised through the long-distance run after seeing Okeeheelee Middle librarian Julie Greene recover from stage-3 colon cancer and start running half-marathons six months later.

“Brian and his young Road Warriors were always there with messages that helped me through training for my first half marathons,” Greene wrote in a letter on the Road Warriors’ website. “When I found out they planned on running from Florida to Michigan to raise money for colon cancer, I was honored.”

Florida Track & Field State Championships

Boca Raton News May 15, 1999: Florida High School Track & Field State Championship Meet Preview

Wow. It’s an amazing feeling to be back! It’s been 12 years since I was at the Florida High School Track & Field State Championships and it is great to be back! The energy of the fans and crowd, the friendliness of the officials, the enthusiasm of the parents and coaches, and of course the impressiveness and drive of the athletes is unmatched in my mind.

I am of course back now in a different position than I was 12 years ago but enjoying the experience nonetheless. Last time I was an athlete. In 1999, a two-time state champion in the 1600 and 3200 meter races; in 2000, a defending state champion (I didn’t repeat but did okay in the final races, medaling in both). This time around I am a coach. Coach to a high school senior, Nick, who is competing in tonight’s large school division 3200 meter race.

The experience and energy of the atmosphere here is the same – it’s excitement, it’s passion and it’s great athletics that I’m honored to be a part of! It truly makes you want to be better, work harder, and race more. I personally think this meet is going to serve as a great kick-off for a long summer of training and mileage. Because if seeing one female athlete (high school senior) race and WIN the 1600, 800 and 3200 (in amazing times) all in one night doesn’t get your heart pumping and wanting to compete, run, and win…than few other things will!

You can meet some of these same athletes at FLRunners.com, and see their amazing races, post-race interviews, etc. I think you’ll be motivated to be the best athlete you can be just the same…