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Looking for Advice for My HS Track/CC Athlete Daughter

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I'm hoping some of y'all might have some advice for my daughter J who is a HS senior and is very frustrated with her performance in comparison to her CC/track teammates. Here is what she wrote for y'all:

I'm frustrated because even though I've got bigger muscles, I can lift more, and I try harder, I am slower at both sprints and at distance events. I do cross country (PR 4K 20:19, 5K 29:34, 10K 68:46) and track, but in track I do short sprints (200, p.r. 31.5s) and triple jump (28'3"). A lot of the girls around me slack off in workouts, including upper varsity, which is very frustrating because they don't try as hard and still do better. I'm 5'6" tall (66 inches) with a 29" inseam, which means my legs are 7% shorter than the average for females my height(1). I weigh, on a given day, between 135-145 pounds. Is it because I do such different events that I stink at both? Is it a mental block? Am I just inefficient? Could it be medicines I take? (Citalopram, Trazodone, Vitamin D, Multivitamin, Omeprazole, currently on courses of Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen) I tend to not drink enough water- is that making me slow? What is it?

1) I used this formula from : 1) Take your height in inches. 2) Multiply your height by .453, and call this number X (the average leg length for your height). (45.3% was calculated by factoring that the average woman of 64" has 29" legs according to a study done by Wroclaw University). 3) Measure your inseam. 4) Divide your inseam by X, and this will give the percentage of how much longer/shorter your legs are. Example, if your legs are 30" and X is 29", you would get 1.034, which means your legs are 3.4% longer than average.
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    In addition to all the good comments others have offered, it occurs to me that your daughter may be working TOO hard and suffering from over training, one the symptoms of which is performance that falls off. Improvement actually happens during recovery, not during exercise. If you are always tired and not recovered, you can't achieve your full potential. You might want to encourage her to read about over training syndrome.

    Has she talked to the cross-country coach about this? I would encourage that, too.
    1884 days ago
  • PORGY_58
    Mary ... please pass to your daughter:

    Being healthy, strong, and fit both physically and mentally are key to whom you will become long after high school. Stop comparing yourself to the other girls and concentrate on the sport or sports that you enjoy the most. It sounds like you are already building a good strong core and this will take you further than those girls who do not put in the time and effort that you do. Be proud of who you are ...

    Short distances are the stepping stones for faster, longer distances. Use them as such and stop worrying about being the fastest in all events. There is nothing wrong with you, so stop focusing on the things you cannot change ... work on the things you can. Certain forms of exercise can elongate your muscles making them more limber/pliable e.g., ballet, pilates, yoga, stretching warm muscles (never cold). Work with your coach to see what he/she may suggest.

    But, more importantly, it sounds like you have a structured program that will carry you through life ... applying this same type of structure to school and eventually your career are key to being the best you can be.

    When I read your note, I thought to myself, "this young lady has the stamina and power to do great things" ... and, one of the things that came to mind was that with your power and, yes, speed you would be great for the heptathlon: 100-meter run, discus, pole vault, javelin and 400-meter run on day one; 100-meter hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump and 1500 on day two. (Note that I did shot, discus & the 4X400 metre relay in track and field).

    Of course, you may not be offered this sport in high school (many colleges offer it as a part of their track and field program), but you most likely have some of the events offered to you that you may concentrate on now.

    Regardless of what you choose to do ... enjoy yourself. Stop trying to find fault where this is none. There is nothing wrong with you. You can do whatever your mind and heart lets you do. You may not get the blue ribbon, but you will know that you did your best ... so, stand up straight, look your self-doubt in the eye, and tell it to talk to your hand!
    1889 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/26/2013 6:17:22 PM
    This is a tough question....

    As an adult, I can compete against myself, by trying to improve some facet of my training and, thus, my running. I would like to give her the advice to just compete against herself. But in high school and college - one is competing against others.

    We are each made differently. What makes each of us who and how we are is so very complex. I've read many times that some runners are much better at certain distances. Even an Olympian or other elite runner that wins a gold medal at one distance would not place at all at other distances. Their body make up is "happier" with certain distances. They have specific training for specific distances. They are not good at all distances.

    Know that the adaptations a body needs to make in order to run faster do not happen overnight. Months - years of specific adaptive training is needed.

    Tell your daughter not to get discouraged.

    Character is more important than winning.
    Hard work is a great asset.

    One more thought.... my granddaughter is on the cross country team for her college. The university has more than one team. The team that travels around the country and the team that travels around the state. My granddaughter is on the state team, but still loves it.

    You can enjoy many, many things in life without being the best (fastest).

    This might not be what your daughter wants to hear. Most of us on Spark are not running coaches, but simply run because we love to run.
    1890 days ago
    All three of my daughers ran cross country and 2 of them did track also. They were fast when they were freshmen and sophmores, but when girls develop that seems to be when they slow down - even though they were strong. My oldest ran varsity cross country until her senior year, when she slowed down. She still runs long distances, but enjoys doing half marathons now. But she runs for herself, not a coach. Best of luck to your daughter!
    1891 days ago
    Toughy, we all have a certain potential and we can only work to approach that. You'd think that with a coach and all her training would be good, if she put effort behind it. At 5' 3" myself I can't say much about height and leg length. The only thing you can play with is weight. At least for distance event the fast people tend to be light . Not everyone can reach that light weight and be healthy. She might do better concentrating on distance or sprints. The are different.
    1891 days ago
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