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Track: Irish ready for the great indoors

Aaron Sant-Miller | Monday, December 3, 2012

Every December, Notre Dame student transition between seasons and semesters. But one group of Notre Dame student athletes experience a unique transition – from outdoor competition on the cross-country course to indoor competition in the Loftus Sports Center.

“It’s really a quick turnaround,” junior Martin Grady said. “Pretty much we had a one down week to go home for Thanksgiving break, but then we got right back to school and had to get right back to work.”

“It’s very short. For anybody competing through nationals, it’s a very short turnaround,” senior Rebecca Tracy said. “Most people can get up to a month off, but it’s a very short turnaround with regards to training.”

This short turnaround can present numerous challenges for the runners, both Tracy and Grady said. The cross country season is a grueling few months.

“For some people, the cross country season really beats them up. You start training for cross country as early as July and you put in high mileage all the way through November,” Tracy said. “There is not a lot of time to rest your body or take care of any nagging injuries.”

Pure rest isn’t the solution either, Grady said. Runners need to find a happy medium between rest and conditioning.

“It’s hard because a lot of kids start to get injured when they stop running and then start up again,” Grady said. “The challenge is staying in good shape, while allowing yourself to get the much needed rest.”

Luckily for many of the cross country runners transitioning to indoor track, the first few meets are less demanding and less important, which allow for some of the runners to take them a bit easier, Grady said.

“As it works out, the early meets aren’t too serious,” Grady said. “The meets definitely build as the season goes on, but, at first, the meets aren’t too tough. They are almost more inter-squad stuff than anything else. But they get harder as we go.”

Yet, the track season is innately different, making for a tough transition, Tracy said. Still, these changes can come with some exciting elements.

“For me, when you start running shorter distances, you feel like you want to go fast, which is very different,” Tracy said. “Also, track is exciting in its own right because you get to watch so many people compete in what they are specialized most in, including the sprinters and field athletes.”

Some of the differences are not absolutely positive, Tracy said, as some aspects of cross country are especially strong.

“Cross country has a great team atmosphere,” Tracy said. “Everything you do is for the other people out on the course with you. During track, that atmosphere kind of goes away a bit.”

Grady said some prefer the greater division of the track team.

Yet, there are positives to the greater segmentation of the track team Grady said.

“It’s kind of cool that the distance guys, then, only run with a group of eight guys. We do a lot together that helps us get a lot closer,” Grady said. “On the whole, cross country is a team sport so you feel close then, but the smaller groups help build on those relationships.”

The Irish runners will make their big move indoors Friday, when they host the Blue & Gold Invitational at the Loftus Sports Center. The competition kicks off at 5 p.m.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at [email protected]