By Claire Webster
Whether they’re on the course or at practice, cross country runners are running, because running is life.
Cross country practices occur at Bellbrook’s course behind Bell Creek Intermediate, or they go to Beavercreek to run on bike paths. “On the other days, we meet near the stadium and run to various places nearby like the middle school, downtown, or the course,” sophomore Makayla Skinner said.
“At practice, we follow a training plan to get them in shape and to help them improve their 5K times at every race. Some practices are about running for mileage so they go for runs that average about 3-5 miles, but sometimes up to 7-8 miles. Other days, I give each runner paces based on their PR (personal record) and they do more speed work. Each runner’s workout is individualized to her ability and speed,” Coach Herlihy said.
Skinner also emphasizes how cross country gets ready for a meet. “Each week at practice we really work on things we will need for the upcoming race. For example, if the course for our next race is hilly, we will practice a lot on hills,” she said. The runners also stretch during practice, and go to the weight room Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on strengthening their cores. Meets occur every Saturday for the entirety of the season, August to October.
As runners race their way across the course to the finish line, they encourage each other so they can do better and improve. “Every runner starts the season in a different place. Some are more in shape, some faster,” Coach Herlihy said. “I start by encouraging each runner to set personal goals for themselves based on where they are at. I ask them what they would like to accomplish this season and then we talk about what we can do to get them there.”
The team works together to improve. “We encourage each other to run in faster groups for faster times during practices to get better,” sophomore Connor Spriggs said.
The cross country team is regularly conditioning, both during and between seasons. “The beginning of the season is always the hardest because we are trying to get in shape. I remind them that the harder they work, the easier it will get every day! Then as the season goes on, I remind them of their goals and do what I can to help them get there. On those harder days, I try to stay super positive so that they do not get down on themselves!” Coach Herlihy said.
Bellbrook’s Women’s team placed 3rd at SWBL meet with senior Emily Crane placing 3rd overall. The Men’s team was 2nd at the SWBL meet, where state-qualifier junior Mikuya Ford placed 4th.