Breaking News
Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Cross-country athletes share the ins and outs of hardcore training lifestyle

cross countryIt takes a lot more than nice, long legs to become a great runner. Lots of time and dedication from runners and their coaches are just part of what it takes to make an outstanding cross-country athlete.

It’s safe to say Chico State’s cross-country athletes have put in the work to make their teams excel. Both the men’s and women’s teams have finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships in the past 10 years and are currently ranked fourth and fifth in the nation, respectively.

But this type of success doesn’t happen by chance. Off-season training is essential to the success of the team, and cross-country rewards hard work and dedication, said head coach Gary Towne. Lazy athletes learn early on that they’re either in the wrong sport or that they’re competing for the wrong team.

These runners don’t have the luxury of being lazy, acting reckless or eating anything whenever they please. They don’t have a strict diet to follow, but they have to be aware of what they consume.

“I eat about 3,000, probably closer to 4,000 calories a day,” said cross-country runner Tommy McGuan, as he ate a bowl of spaghetti. “Being a runner, you use a lot of iron, so I focus on getting a good amount of iron. I do have a sweet tooth though, so I’ll walk over and get some ice cream once in a while.”

In addition to eating well, a healthy sleeping schedule is important.

“During the school year, practice starts at 7 a.m.,” McGuan said. “I like to wake up an hour before I run, have a cup of coffee and stretch. I’m usually asleep by 10 p.m.”

McGuan also said he runs about 80 miles a week. The team meets in the morning and again at 2 p.m. The runners usually cover 16 miles at the beginning of the week and 10 miles each day after.

“One of my favorite workouts, as well as the coach’s, are long tempos,” he said. “It’s basically going at a consistent pace for a long amount of time. Not fast, but hard enough to where at the end of it we’re pretty tired.”

Jordan Walsh, who runs for the women’s team, prefers short-distance sprints while training.

“As much as I hate them, my favorite workout is the 400 repeats because I get to go fast and it’s exciting to notch down the pace with my teammates,” Walsh said.

There’s no secret or single workout that makes a successful athlete, Towne said.

“A big point that I make to the team at camp is that our success and development is a combination of many things and not just doing a few things really well,” Towne said. “When we focus on consistency in different areas we become much stronger athletes.”

Both McGuan and Walsh know how to keep themselves motivated during the off-season, especially when some of their non-runner friends are doing the exact opposite.

“If I ever feel like I don’t want to run that day, I think of my team and how much they mean to me,” Walsh said. “We’re all like a family and even though you’re tired, sometimes you just have to do what’s best for the team.”

Surrounding yourself with motivated people is important, McGuan said.

“I know what my goals are and I have my own expectations and try to not let what other people do get in my way,” he said. “I focus on my main goal, which is running healthy.”

This year, Chico State might have its best cross-country team ever, Towne said. Some strong runners on the women’s cross-country team graduated, but there are many great runners returning. After many summer months of off-season training, there is plenty of potential for doing something big this year.


Thembiso Mawema can be reached at [email protected] or @thembii_ on Twitter.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Orion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *