What's Cross Country?

Cross Country Nuts and Bolts

What is it?

Cross Country is a running sport for all ages. It is different from other running sports in that races take place over natural terrain. Courses may include, but are not limited to grass, trails, hills, dirt, mud, gravel, puddles, bark, crushed lime, tree roots, and trees.

What distance is run?

In Hamilton County, middle schools run 3000 meters (1.89 miles). In Indiana, high schools run 5000 meters (3.1 miles).

What's a good time?

For 3000 meters a good time differs by gender. For boys anything under 11:30 is a good time. In the past we have had five runners on one team with times under 10:30. For girls anything under 12:30 is considered good. During the 2003 season our number one girl ran 10:47 to become the first female to break 11:00 in our school's history. We have since added a second girl to break that mark.

With all of this said, a good time is difficult to judge. Not all of us are granted great running talent. The best way to judge a good time is to base it on your training and improvement. For example, we've seen students drop six and seven minutes off of their first time trial and not break 13:00. That is viewed as great success! (an additional note; 2004 saw an individual drop 9:30 off her time) Times are important for individual runners to use as a measuring stick with themselves.

How are races grouped?

All races are grouped by gender. Any student in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade can compete in our races. Boys race against boys and girls race against girls. At Fall Creek Valley Invitational races are further divided into grade level races. For example there is a race for sixth grade boys as well as for eighth grade girls.

What's a finish chute?

A finishing chute is setup at the finish line of a race. It is usually about twenty yards in length and trimmed with flags. It's designed to help keep finishers in correct order until names, finish places, ribbons, and scores are being tallied.

Why craft sticks?

Craft sticks are handed out to finishing athletes with their place number written on it. We collect the sticks as finishers move to the end of the chute.

How are meets scored?

Meets are scored a little differently than most sports. Teams are trying to score as LOW a score as possible. Fifteen (15) points is the lowest a team may score. Runners are awarded points based on their finishing place. The first place runner scores one point (1). The second place runner scores two points (2). The seventh place runner scores seven (7) points. Hopefully you're seeing the scoring trend. There are some catches to all of this, though. Teams are allowed to score only seven runners. Once a team has had its seven scorers cross the line no other runners on that team will score points. The first five runners compile the team's score, but their sixth and seventh runners still act as "pushers" by holding point values from other teams. Runners will be recognized for finishing in those spots, but no score will be assigned to them. Look at an example below.

Communication

How do I contact a coach?

Coach Kenney is the key contact. Here are the ways to communicate with him:

School Phone:  571-4450 ext. 6783; please leave a name, phone number, and a brief message about your call.

School Email: skenney@ccs.k12.in.us

Notes through your child: Notes may always be sent with your child to Coach Kenney. There are more details under the heading:  What are note procedures?

What's the voicemail used for?

The voicemail is accessed by:

Dialing 571-4450; when prompted for a box dial 61112. This will take you to the Cross Country box.

This box will have up-to-date information about practices and meets. If inclement weather is in the area and practice or a meet has been affected, this box will provide answers you will need to make appropriate arrangements.

Additionally, we use the voicemail box to notify parents when we are leaving an away meet for home. For example, if we are returning from Fall Creek Valley, a coach will call the voicemail box and leave a message indicating our expected return time. This helps parents to arrive on time for pickup without waiting endlessly for the team to arrive.

What are note procedures?

>Notes are a critical form of communication. Students are busy with many activities in their day. Doctors' appointments, church commitments, and family emergencies are events that everyone must work around. If a student must miss practice or a meet, the coaching staff needs to receive a note (this can be an email) from a parent/guardian. There are also rare instances that a student needs to be picked up from an away meet. Anytime this occurs the coaching staff (to Mr. Kenney's attention) needs to receive the note one day prior to the meet. If the situation is an emergency, we can certainly handle this as it occurs. Emails and phone messages left by a parent are also accepted.

Training

What to do about injuries?

Injuries can be common especially for students new to running. The most important step is communicate with someone who has knowledge. Please see a coach if a problem exists. The coaching staff will help evaluate the level of need. The school's trainer is also willing and able to work with student athletes. There is a protocol that we follow to protect against severe damage being done. The first line of defense is to CONTACT someone with EXPERT knowledge. The people mentioned above are great sources to START with. Beyond these contacts doctors are the next in line.

Keeping the aforementioned information in mind here are some very basic rules to follow:

Heating sore muscles and joints after workouts is generally DISCOURAGED. That includes hot tubs and heating pads alike. Ice is generally the best route to go, but keep in mind there is a limit. Keep the icing time at 15 - 20 minutes, and contact an EXPERT if it continues for several practices/days. It also helps to elevate the body part that is being iced. The goal here is to keep inflammation to a minimum.

There are also some stretches that can be used to strength and prevent injuries to certain parts of the body. This is probably not the best forum to discuss all of them. Please consult with your coaches.

What kinds of workouts do we have?

Workouts consist of a warmup (approximately a 1/2 mile), full team stretching, situps and pushups, planks, and then a regular workout.

Workouts can be from as little as 1 1/2 miles to nearly 5 miles in length. Here's a list of different runs we utilize:

Neighborhood runs
Relays
Move-up (once referred to as Indian runs) in groups of 5 - 8
Whistle drill (run with a partner at an easy pace; pickup the pace when you hear the whistle)
Badger repeats (speed work at Badger field; approx. 600 meters in length)
Fartlek (strange Swedish word) basically similar to whistle drill, but has more structure
Sharks and Minnows (huge game of group tag)
Ultimate Frisbee
Strideouts

How are practices organized?

Practices are organized into three to four groups. Generally one coach leads a group. Groups are based strictly on ability and experience in running. Coaches work to keep groups similar. Movement between groups does and is expected to happen. For example, Joe maybe working with group 3 on Monday for a two mile run. On Wednesday he may feel strong enough to work with group 2 during a speed workout. In this manner everyone is working with a "safe" core group of similar runners. Coaches' expectations for each group are based on that group's experience and desire for that day. There are many members of the team that like having tough workouts numerous times in a week. Others prefer a lighter schedule. We have a place for everyone.

Nutrition

What kinds of meals do I need to eat?

Generally the meals that are served at home are great! No one is world-renowned professional athlete at this level, so we don't need to get into specific weights, measures, vitamins, minerals, or supplements here. Keep your meals balanced. Don't skip the vegetables, milk, or fruit. Even if you can't stand certain ones, have a small helping. Just think of it as avoiding a confrontation at the dinner table while contributing to a better body.

What role does water play?

Hands down water is the best liquid to drink. We haven't had any Olympic athletes or professional runners on our team EVER!! Water is important in regulating body temperature. The body's muscles produce much heat while running. It is critical to replace those fluids. Get in the habit of having water at regular intervals throughout the day. This is true during cool or even cold weather. It is especially important to hydrate often during warm or hot days, though. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrating. Make it a habit. This is not to say that sports drinks are bad, but they shouldn't replace water at the top of the list.

To carb or not to carb?

Carbohydrates are GREAT!!!! They are a must for all athletes. These compounds are what give you most of your energy to train and compete. With that said let's be smart about this: There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. You need to find good sources of carbohydrates. Avoid simple sugars; keep them to a minimum. These are found in most of our processed foods. Here are some common ones:

Candy, potato chips, pastries, box dinners, Enriched anything, and soda.

Natural grains, fresh fruits and vegetables are the way to go. See Kinds of Meals above.

Keep your eating habits balanced. Too much of anything can usually be bad. Mom and Dad can be very helpful in this area too. Ask them for their thoughts.

Being middle school students, you shouldn't be consuming a low carb or no carb diet unless a physician or dietician is helping to manage this. If this does apply, please speak with our trainer and/or a coach.

Miscellaneous

What equipment is needed?

One of the least expensive sports, Cross Country requires a pair of running shoes, shorts, socks, and t-shirt. On cooler days a sweatshirt and/or sweatpants may be desired, but it's up to the individual. There are several running specialty stores in our area that are very reputable.

What's varsity and what's reserve?

Varsity is made up of the top seven runners for each team. This is nearly exclusively based upon times. There are exceptions to this, and coaches use their best discretion in making final decisions. Anyone who does not run as a varsity runner is considered reserve (or sometimes junior varsity).

What if I have a conflict with a meet or practice?

Contact a coach. Also see Note Procedures.

Am I issued a uniform or do I buy one?

The school issues you a uniform. Please care for it as they must last us several seasons before we are able to purchase new ones. Always wash them in cold water! We also offer several spirit wear or team gear at the beginning of the season. This is at your discretion to purchase. We encourage everyone to get a t-shirt, but it's NOT MANDATORY!

How can parents be involved in our team?

Parents can help in the following ways:

Work the HOME MEETS (scoring, timing, handing out ribbons, handing out blow pops, contribute blow pops)
CHEER everyone along
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