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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

A run through cross country’s day: In their running shoes

Members+on+the+men%26%238217%3Bs+cross+country+team+run+90+to+100+miles+each+week.
By Kathryn Perez

Members on the men’s cross country team run 90 to 100 miles each week.

Some cross country runners match the driving distance between College Station and Houston each week while balancing studies.
“Balance is tough on athletes who are trying to hit 90 to 100 miles per week with proper recovery time, but then you have to commit time to school,” said Cameron Villarreal, mechanical engineering sophomore and number one runner for the men’s team. “Test weeks are really tough, and then on weeks when you have a lot of projects to do, stuff tends to pile up, but the whole goal is working on time-management skills.”
On top of the pressure from midterms and projects, the Aggies are preparing for their chance to qualify for nationals at the South Central Regional on Nov. 11. They hope to improve on the men’s second place and women’s eighth-place finish at the SEC Championships last week.
A typical day of practice for a cross country runner begins before sunrise and is filled with enough activities to last until sunset. From early-morning runs and multiple back-to-back classes, to lifting weights and studying, cross country can be grueling, but Karis Jochen, business junior and number one runner on the women’s team, said if a person enjoys what they do, they’re able  to find the time to get things done.
“I know for me the running and school help balance each other out,” Jochen said. “When you are around your teammates
and around your friends, you get the social aspect. Those are the people that make you wake up and go to practice everyday and you know they will be there for you.”
The runners set their alarms for around 5:45 a.m., eat a morning snack and then head to practice at 6:30 a.m. Prior to the workout, the team gathers at the track and field complex to discuss the ensuing run. Next, they either run the workout on the track, on the cross country course or on a dirt road 10 minutes off campus.
Alex Riba, a management junior and third on the men’s team, said workouts vary by day and by a runner’s ability. Morning runs however follow a weekly pattern.
Riba said Monday is an easy workout with a 60-minute run with sprint drills, followed by a more intense workout Tuesday. Wednesday’s practice consists of an MLR, or medium long run. Riba said MLR is exactly what it sounds like — the team runs at a moderate pace for 80 to 90 minutes.
The team’s longest run is on Sundays, and lasts about 120 minutes. However, the team’s training intensity is modified if a meet is scheduled for Friday or Saturday.
After practice ends between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., athletes lift weights before class, and again in the afternoon. Arin Rice, an environmental studies sophomore, said cross country emphasizes endurance lifting — low weight and high repetitions.
“The team lifts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Rice said. “We typically start out stretching, then lead into core workouts. Then we focus on endurance lifting to prevent injuries and help our form when running.”
Most runners eat at the athletic nutrition center after their weight training. Next, they attend class in the morning and afternoon and eat lunch between classes.
For most of the athletes, time outside of practice and class is spent going to office hours, studying, eating or sleeping. Most of the men run again in the afternoon whereas the women tend to run lower mileage, not requiring a second run.
Villarreal said the second run in the afternoon helps shake out their legs and gets more miles in without placing undue stress on the body.
In the evening, most eat a dinner at the Nutrition Center consisting of carbs, protein and fruit. After dinner, athletes study or have free time until they shut the lights off around 10 p.m. to repeat the cycle. Haley Deakins, a geology junior and fourth on the women’s team, said cross country is tough, yet fulfilling.
“You don’t really have much down time but it is rewarding because you get to become really close friends with people on the team,” Deakins said. “I am just really grateful I have the opportunity to compete for A&M.”
Austin Wells, a supply chain management junior and second for the Aggies, said the team is extremely close and the team chemistry helps them run well together.
“It’s a really close group,” Wells said. “All the guys are my best friends and it makes it fun and easier being around people you enjoy.”

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