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Herget Middle School Cross Country

1. What is Cross Country?

Cross country is a popular sport that involves running on a course that may consist of grass, mud, trees, and water. The IESA has stated that middle school athletes, both boys and girls, run a two-mile course during their meets, although there are occasionally meets where seventh graders run 1.5 miles. Boys and girls normally do not run in the same race, but some meets such as Tiger Trails combine boys and girls at the same grade level.

Scoring in cross country is different from many sports since the lowest score wins. A team consists of seven runners with the top five scoring points for their team. Points are earned based on the place earned, so if the top five runners for a team finished in 1st, 5th, 10th, 14th, and 20th the team would have scored 50 points. The 6th and 7th runners are important in case of a tie and they can also hurt another team's score by beating their top five runners.

Although the top seven runners are important in cross country, most cross country meets feature an open race that allows any number of participants. There are no cuts in cross country, so if you show up to practice and follow all team and school rules, you will be able to run in the meets.

2. Can Athletes Particiapte in Two Fall Sports?

We do allow athletes to participate in cross country in addition to another sport as long as the other sport is not a Herget sport.  Communication is the key!  Please see a coach, so we can work out a schedule that is good for everyone.

3. When/Where are Practices?

Cross country practice is daily from 4:00-5:30.  We will meet "down by the tree" located at the northwest corner of the Herget property.  Saturday practice times will vary, but we will meet on the outside basketball court right off the circle drive.

4. Can Parents Take Athletes Home After a Meet?

Yes.  At away meets, you will need to check out with a coach before leaving.  However at home meets, you aren't required to check out, but it's appreciated.

With that being said, we encourage all our runners to stay until the end of the meet to cheer on teammates.  Team chemistry is an important part of cross country, and we want all of our runners to feel supported.

5. What Equipment is Necessary?

A good pair of shoes is the most important item a cross country runner needs. Do not simply buy the most expensive pair you can find, however, since you need a type of shoe that best fits your feet and running style. If you don't know what type of shoes to buy you need to go to a running store since they will know the difference and generally have a better selection than the general sporting goods stores.  Some good stores to try in the area are:

Runners should never run in cross trainers or basketball shoes. Running with improper shoes can quickly lead to an injury. Running shoes at the middle school level will probably last a year, and should be replaced after that amount of time to prevent injury.

Other Required Equipment

  • Comfortable Running Clothes (Shirts, Shorts, Pants, Socks)
  • Water Bottle

Optional Equipment

  • Spikes (Shoes that can be purchased at any of the stores listed above)
  • Foam Roller, Lacrosse Ball, and/or Massage Stick
  • Watch (As of the 2015 season, watches can be worn during races)
  • Sweatband
  • Sunscreen
  • Warm Clothes (Wear these if you have a long car ride home or on cold days)

6. What Does all That XC Terminology Mean?

Cross Country - Team sport involving running over varied terrain

False Start - Runner leaving the starting line early.

Fartlek – AKA intervals: Varying pace faster and slower over a distance.

Finish Chute - Roped off area at the finish used to arrange runners in order of finish

Invitational - A meet between a multiple number of teams that have been invited to attend.

Pack - Team members racing in close proximity.

PB – Personal Best

PR - Personal Record

Race Course - The route for runners in cross country

Runner - A person who works hard everyday to reach his/her running goals.

Scoring – First five places form a team added together. The low score wins.

Spikes - Racing shoes with metal elements in the soles.

Strides - Short sprints during warm-ups and warm-downs.

Surge - A tactical quick increase in speed during a race.

Team Box - A section on the starting line designated for each team.

Varsity - Runners designated as the top 7 on a team.

Warm down - Exercises by which the body begins to recover from a hard practice or meet.

Warm up - Exercise by which the body prepares to race.

Winner - A runner who is not afraid to fail by laying it on the line.

7. What Are The Three phases of XC Training?

Phase 1 – Base Building

The goal of base training is to develop a runner’s aerobic potential before implementing anaerobic training in the form of interval work.  This is where our summer endurance program comes into play.  We will be doing lots of slow easy miles with occasional fartlek runs and stride outs at the end of practice.  The goal is to get our bodies adapted to stresses of logging many miles while building up our aerobic capacity.    

Phase 2 – Competition Training

In phase 2, the first two-thirds of our cross country season are the training and competing season. Maintaining our base is #1. Working on hill repeats, intervals (repeats of one-quarter to one mile), and lactic threshold training (runs of 3 to 5 miles at a set pace, normally 80-85% of race pace). We will be running in weekday meets and early season invitationals. We will never exceed 30% of our weekly mileage with speed work. If we are running 25 miles per week, no more than 7.5 miles of speed work.  You have to understand that the body will only handle so much stress and must have some rest. In this part of our season you must use your races as workouts -- and learn each mile (2) and the finish (one-tenth) to become a better runner. Anyone can go out and run a fast first mile, but if you can’t finish you will not be successful.

Phase 3 – Championship and Peaking

Phase 3 is comprised of the big races leading to the end of your season – Troy, Tiger Trails, and City. At this time you are fine tuning all of the hard work from the past 12 weeks. You’re still training hard, but now your focus is speed and recovery. After any repeat you must have full recovery. Your lactic threshold runs are fine tuned and closely watched by us coaches. You should never add any new workouts or crazy things you read about or hear about others doing. The weather is a factor, so dress accordingly. Sleep is crucial. Each race brings much stress to your body, both mentally and physically, because each race could be your last. Never look ahead -- plan one week and one race at a time.  We will lower our weekly mileage about 5 to 7% per week. Also, we will lower our speed work to about 10% of our weekly mileage. Lactic threshold runs will be no longer than 3 miles. Repeats must have a full recovery. If we did a 800 in 3:30, we will rest for 3:30. You’re working on speed. Everything you do two days before a big race is the most important – Rest, eat, visualize. If you follow these little things, big things will happen.

8. What Can I do About a Nagging Injury?

During the cross country season everyone will feel sore at one point or another. It's a difficult sport and you will be using your muscles in new ways so soreness can be expected at times. Normal soreness means your muscles are rebuilding and gaining strength. We highly recommend purchasing a foam roller, lacrosse ball, and/or massage stick to massage sore muscles. While a professional massage of the sore muscles would be the best option, it is too expensive for most at the middle school level. A foam roller, lacrosse ball, or massage stick is a decent substitute for a massage.

Ice can also help for sore muscles and other injuries.  We recommend athletes put ice on injury/sore area right after practice.  Twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off is recommended.

9. How are Captains Chosen?

Our team usually consists of over 60 runners, so its important we have quality captains to make sure things run smoothly.  Captains are the leaders of the team and are expected to be quality role models for our younger athletes.  They will help lead stretches, make sure equipment is put away, and help out wherever else needed.  Captains are chosen by coaches at the end of the year for the following season.

10. What is Endurance Camp?

West Aurora Endurance Camp (formerly Herget Cross Country Camp) is a summer camp run by coach Banholzer and Butcher. The West Aurora Endurance Camp will provide participants with guided distance training, based on the ability of each individual. In no way is experience or talent a prerequisite for the camp. Training will include a variety of workouts, each of which will take into account the capabilities of the athlete.

Participation in endurance camp is highly recommended for cross country athletes! If you want to run your absolute best in the upcoming cross country season, laying down a conditioning base by doing extensive cross country training in the summer is essential. Without it, you will not run anywhere near your full potential in the upcoming season.