Temple runners transition to spring track season

Temple University Women’s Cross Country switched their training to transition from the cross country season into winter and spring track.

Track training focuses on enhancing quick-twitch muscles throughout the body while cross country focuses more on building stamina. | TEMPLE ATHLETICS / COURTESY

When Temple runner Laura Nicholson rounded the final bend at the 2022 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, in University Park, Pennsylvania, the senior knew she needed to transition to winter track in just two weeks. 

After the fall cross country season, all nine runners on the Temple Women’s Cross Country team shifted their focus to track. The runners are advised to rest for 14 days after running almost daily since June, but with a mid-November finish to the cross country season, they were quickly ushered into winter track training. 

“For cross country, it’s all about building a base and the longer kind of runs,” said cross country assistant coach Charlotte Imer. “The duration of the runs are increased and the intensity during preseason isn’t too high. However, the frequency is high because they are running everyday, which is more volume compared to track.”

Although many people believe cross country and track are very similar, they’re two completely different sports. 

Track training focuses on enhancing quick-twitch muscles throughout the body while cross country focuses more on building stamina, mainly because of the difference in distances between the two sports. While cross country consists of a six-kilometer run, track typically includes shorter races, creating different mental approaches. 

“The first couple of seconds or a couple 100 meters of the [cross country] race don’t really matter that much because the race is so long,” Nicholson said. “I like to take the attitude ‘It’s not over until it’s over,’ because you have to keep working the whole way through because it’s about 20 minutes of running. You just need to try and keep moving forward the whole time and keep picking off bodies.”

The cross country team runs longer intervals nearly every day with short 45 to 90 seconds of rest in between reps. Track runners do not run every day, but when they do, the training consists of high intensity workouts with longer breaks in between. 

“We just need to make sure we do it safely because once you start bringing the intensity up, the chances for injury and stuff increase,” Imer said. “Also, changing from soft surfaces to hard surfaces and running in spikes versus shoes in cross country.” 

Both teams lift twice weekly during their respective seasons, following strength and conditioning coach Kristen Cole’s professional program. On the first day, the team focuses on using resistance bands and higher weights with less reps; the second day consists of less weight and higher reps. 

Freshman Elvira Bredin ran track last summer and needed to shift to running cross country when she arrived at Temple in August. The change drastically impacted her cardio and stamina levels.

“So I came from track season to cross country season here in the fall,” said Bredin, who is from Sweden. “I just started to run longer intervals and started to run more and I started to be able to run for a longer time than I did in the summer.”

Whether the athletes are competing in cross country or track season, their training in each sport helps them become better runners. 

Nicholson and Bredin finished third and eighth in the Women’s 1 Mile Run at the AAC Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, last winter track season. The season as a whole took place from Dec. 3 to Feb. 25. 

While the athletes may be pivoting between sports, they’ll need to concentrate on the physical adaptations required to succeed. The different training methods help the athletes improve their overall running ability.

“They’re really complementary to each other,” Imer said. “But, they need to be treated as different sports in a way because going from a 6000 meter race versus an 800 is working with very different energy systems.”

The Temple Track and Field outdoor season begins on Thursday at the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina.

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