Brief AJ Update

The District Cross Country Championships are this Saturday. AJ will be running on a course she ran back in September, going 21:50 on a hilly course and finishing 15/250. The competition will not be stiff in terms of teams qualifying for the State Championship next Saturday, so there is some pressure but not a great deal. Her team should qualify easily (top 2 teams).

We are tapering her resistance training to more basic work and keeping things quick and fast. I watched her run last Friday, where she had a great 21:04 time on a tough course and finished 26/120+ girls (30 teams) with both 3A and 4A schools competing. AJ's school is 3A, meaning it is a smaller school. As a freshman, she ran that particular course in 24:00+; last year she ran it in 22:30. So she's making some great progress overall in her development as a runner.

During the race I was able to see her go by 4 or 5 times and it seemed like her stride was a bit too long and her stride frequency a bit slow. It did not seem like she was effectively using the elastic energy of her lower extremities. During our meeting on Sunday we worked a bit on the treadmill (it was raining) and talked about shortening her stride a bit and increasing the rate of turnover. I am not a fan of the high speed treadmill magicians, but in this case, the treadmill forced AJ to pick up her pace and she could not overstride due to the design of the treadmill. Needless to say, she confessed to really disliking treadmills! She emailed me to say she tried her new technique in practice with some 200/400 intervals and managed to up her pace, while remaining comfortable and without any increase in perceived exertion.

I've encouraged her to experiment and push her psychological envelope a bit. I'm certain she has the cardiovascular engine to go faster; she just needs to become more efficient and utilize the new strength/power she has to make those legs cycle more effectively rather than pull her along. It is somewhat late in the season to make changes, but as long as she is comfortable I think they are for the better. We'll see what happens on Saturday!


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