Friday, August 31, 2012

Excercise Science behind our Training

Some of you have asked more about the concepts behind our training.  For example...
  • Why do we do the types of workouts that we do? 
  • How do you set the targets for pace, duration, and recovery?
Follow these links to understand more on the science behind the workouts:
Please feel free to talk the coaches if you are interested in knowing more!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deadline for Apparel Orders Extended until Friday, Aug 31

Last chance to order sweatshirts, hats or team t-shirts. Sweatshirts are hooded, black with "MCHS Cross Country" on the left chest in green & gold, and diagonal gold paw prints across the back. Zip-up style is $30, and pullover style is $25. Black baseball hats with XC logo are $15.

Team T-shirts are FREE for runners, but available for parents for $15. If you paid for a t-shirt for your runner, you can ask for a refund or change the size to an Adult size & show your team spirit at meets! Contact Jennifer Jensen with orders or changes or questions. H: 539-4431, C: 478-2006.


Welcome to MCHS Cross Country! -- The Basics

Following is a summary of information that may be a useful introduction for families that are new to the cross country program at Maria Carrillo.

Maria Carrillo Cross Country Basics:

Team Philosophy:
High School sports should be fun and rewarding for student athletes across a wide spectrum of ability! The coaches’ goal is to create an environment where each individual is valued and respected, each participant is committed to the success and well-being of the team, and where the consistency and quality of training commonly results in significant individual improvement and team competitive success.

We welcome any student athlete that is willing to make the commitment to consistently work toward our common goals, regardless of fitness or ability. However, we also want to respect the competitive aspects of our sport and we require our athletes to achieve a minimum fitness level prior to allowing them to represent MCHS in competition. Our minimum fitness standard is currently 14:00 for 2 miles on the track for boys, 16:30 for girls. In our experience, these goals can eventually be achieved by almost every able-bodied teenager who is willing to go through the effort of getting in shape. We love to help them get there and will provide the support and opportunity if they are willing to stick with it!

The coaches will devote most of their attention recognizing effort and relative improvement, no matter whether the athlete finishes first or last. The fastest runners already get automatic recognition for finishing at the top and getting awards! We want to encourage our future fast runners and to build a supportive team culture by focusing on the process of getting better, no matter where you happen to rank today.

Benefits of cross country:
for a few, competitive running is an activity they will be able to pursue in college, and their cross country accomplishments might help as part of their college entry process. For the vast majority, the benefits of participating on our team are developing transferable life skills in a supportive environment: life-long fitness, goal setting, teamwork, pushing through personal boundaries, and developing great friendships.

Our training is designed to allow our athletes to achieve their best in a 3 mile race. This generally involves three principal modes of conditioning – (1) cardiovascular conditioning, (2) endurance or blood-lactate threshold training, and (3) speed repetition or running economy training.

Cardiovascular training is meant to result in adaptations which will improve athlete’s ability to deliver and use more oxygen in their major running muscles (measured by VO2 max). This training mostly involves longer, sustained running at a relatively comfortable pace.

Endurance or lactate threshold training is designed to improve the body’s ability to clear blood-lactate at extended levels of high intensity effort (sustaining effort near VO2 max) This training will involve running some form of intervals at somewhat higher intensity (either on trails, on hills, or on the track) with short recoveries.

Finally, speed repetition/running economy involves shorter but fast running intervals, technique drills, and strength circuit conditioning. The goal of this type of training is to adapt the athlete’s neuro-muscular systems to be able to run at racing speeds with greatest efficiency.

We tend to design each practice to emphasize one of these components, and will generally alternate emphasis so we are not doing the same type of conditioning on successive days. We will change the mix of training, duration, and intensity depending on the athlete’s needs and where we are in the season. Since we have over 80 runners at various levels of fitness and ability training each day, we will generally break into groups targeting a range of duration and intensity to optimize each athlete’s training.

There is a fourth critical element of training that we sprinkle throughout – perhaps the most important of all - we call it fun and good cheer! We try to complete some serious workouts with as much goofiness and humor as we can!

After-school workouts generally last 2 hours – this includes travel up to and back from Annadel or Howarth Park on days when we don’t practice at school. We also ask runners to join with a few friends to complete one long run on their own over the weekend. Depending on the runner this should be at least 40 minutes of continuous easy running and somewhat longer for more mature and experienced athletes.

Total weekly mileage will vary greatly by athlete. Novice runners that have never trained for distance running may start out running perhaps less than 20 miles per week while a very few juniors and seniors that have been running year round through their high school career might be in the mid to high 40's a week at some points in the season. In all cases, we seek to match the duration and intensity of training to the runner's fitness and current needs (ie, "more" is not always better -- we are looking for the optimal level of stimulus that allows the athlete to get faster without risking getting injured, worn out, or sick).

: High School competition will range between 2 and 3.1 mile courses. Some competitions will involve many teams (invitationals, championship meets), while others will include perhaps 4 to 6 teams (interlocks), and others will have just 2 or 3 teams (league dual or tri meets). The larger invitationals might offer special races by grade (an “only freshman” race, for example) while the smaller competitions might offer only Junior Varsity (JV) and Varsity divisions.

We usually schedule around 12 competitions per season, but the coaches will focus on certain meets for the various training groups within the team. In other words, each runner is only looking to run “their very fastest” at a few meets. We will use the other meets to practice certain racing specific skills or hold some runners out of some meets altogether. The general focus is to allow each runner to achieve their best at the very end of the season.

Team Scoring
: XC is like golf in that a lower score is better! In most competitions, a team’s score is determined by the sum of the place finishes of the team’s top 5 runners, although some special meets will use the top 3 or 4 runners. Example – a team that has their top runners finish 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th would score 22 points (1+3+4+6+8 =22 – good enough to win any meet!)

Varsity and Junior Varsity
: Some competitions limit participation to only 7 varsity runners, others allow us to enter more than 7 in a varsity race. In the past, we have typically designated our top 9 or 10 or so runners as Varsity. Most meets will offer Varsity and JV races. A few meets like Stanford Invitational and post season meets like NCS and State are limited only to 7 varsity athletes. The North Bay League offers a league championship meet for Varsity (top 7) and JV divisions – so everyone is expected to participate.

We will award varsity letters to any boy that runs 16:59 at the Spring Lake course and any girl that runs 20:59 or faster, regardless of their overall ranking on the team.

We take great pride in our Junior Varsity program. The JV provides a developmental opportunity for future varsity runners and a place to participate for all athletes who achieve our fitness standards. The top JV athletes at MCHS would typically be Varsity athletes at most other local high schools. In 2009, our boys JV team was faster than all but 5 other Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County high schools’ Varsity teams, and our girls were faster than all but 4 other's Varsity teams! From the look of things so far this year, the 2012 JV teams may do even better...!

MCHS Competitive Legacy

We’ve managed to win some cool stuff while we were having all this fun! In fact, the Cross Country team has arguably been the most successful sports team in Maria Carrillo’s short 16 year history. Here is a brief rundown of the "brag sheet"…


  • North Bay League Team Champions - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
  • Individual NBL Champions - Jordan Kinley, 1999, 2001; Ryan Aldridge, 2005; Nate Huckaba, 2007
  • North Bay League JV Team Champions - 2004 through 2012
  • North Coast Section Team Champions – 2005 (Div 2); 2006 (Div 3); 2nd place 2003, 2007, 2011
  • Individual NCS Champion – Steve Laurie, 1997, 1998
  • California State Championships (Team) - 7th Div III '07, 11th III '06, 12th III '04, 13th II '03, 17th II '05 , 21st II '11
  • North Bay League Team Champions - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Individual NBL Champions – Amy Robinson, 2002; Kristen Sanzari, 2004; Jacqui Wentz, 2005; Leanne Fogg, 2006; Lauren Curtin, 2007
  • North Bay League JV Team Champions - 2003 through 2012
  • North Coast Section Team Champions – 2005 (Div 2); 2004, 2008, 2009 (Div 3); 2011 (Div 2); 2nd 2001, 2006, 2007 
  • Individual NCS Champions – Jenny Aldridge 1999,2000, 2001; Jacqui Wentz, 2005; Lauren Curtin, 2007
  • California State Championships (Team) - 2nd Div II '04, 3rd III '06, 3rd III '08, 4th III '07, 5th II '01, 7th II '05, 8th III '00, 12th II '11, 15th II '02, 15th II '03, 15th III '09.
You can see a more detailed results summary by clicking here.

Each year we look forward to the challenge of adding our mark to this legacy - come and join us!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week 2 Update + 24 Hr Run-a-thon on August 25

The nice momentum we established in week #1 has carried over to week #2!  Following are some highlights:

* Roster: we now have a roster of 80! Here are some interesting facts
  • For the first time ever, we have more girls than boys (41 v 39!!)  A typical ratio in the past was 2/3 boys to 1/3 girls.
  • We have 50 underclassmen (9th and 10th graders) - of those, 27 are freshman! Way to go!
  • Most common boys names: Colin (2), Ryan (2), Jake/Jacob (2), Anthony/Antoine (2)
  • Most common girls names Sophia (2), Kelly (2), Allie/Allison (2), Clare/Claire/Clara (4)
  • Mixed category: Jackson/Jack/Jackie, Sam/Samantha, Eva/Evan
* New Runners - new members are doing a good job of jumping in.  We are adjusting workouts for most "newbies" for the first 3 to 4 weeks of the season.  It is most critical for novice runners to be able to comfortably run without stopping for at least 30 minutes before advancing to some of the other workout elements. While our experienced athletes are doing intervals or tempo runs, we may have newcomers do continuous long runs.  On other days, everyone joins together on long runs or in cross training.

* Fitness Standards:  we do not cut athletes from the team, but we require athletes to meet a fitness standard prior to allowing them to wear the MCHS jersey in competition.
  • The standard is 14:00 for two miles for Boys and 16:30 for Girls.  We will issue competition jerseys once athletes are able to meet this requirement.
  • Reasoning: competition poses an additional set of physical and psychological hurdles for young athletes. While we believe there is certainly benefit to adapting to these challenges, we would prefer not to introduce these until the athlete has achieved a sufficient foundation of fitness.
  • We believe everyone on our roster will be able to meet this requirement (if not immediately, then soon) if they maintain consistency in their training.
  • We will provide periodic opportunities to meet the fitness standard as we go along.  For the first few weeks, this will typically happen on Fridays.  We have about 22 athletes that have just recently joined that are seeking to meet the standard this Friday.
* Parent Meeting - thanks to all who turned out for the parent's meeting on August 22 - a very healthy participation!  The parents/families are really the backbone of the team - none of this could happen without your support!  For those who could not attend, it was a chance to meet the coaches, to hear about our team philosopy and a few rules, talked about team apparel, to see our (many) NBL, NCS, and State pennants, and to enlist our parents help with transportation to the park, pasta feeds, and fundraisers.  See the agenda here.  If you have any questions, reply to the email version of this post, or get in touch with one of the coaches directly.

*Varsity Letters:  At the parents meeting Greg explained that only the top seven runners are allowed to participate as Varsity in some meets like Stanford Invitational, Rough Rider, NBL, NCS, and State.  However, recognizing that we have many more athletes on our team that are functioning at a varsity level (ie, would be varsity at almost all other high schools in Sonoma County), we will award Varsity blocks to all boys that run 16:59 or faster at the Spring Lake 3 mile course this year, and all girls that run 20:59 or faster.

* Pre-season Rankings: has picked both our girls and boys teams as their pre-season favorites to win the North Coast Section Division 2 titles.  Our take: that's nice that we should be in the mix, but there are still 12 weeks between now and NCS, and we need to make the most of each day between now and then to be ready to be at our best. You can see where we've finished in previous years by clicking here.

* 24 Hour Run-a-thon!!:  is scheduled from 8AM this Saturday, 8/25 to 8AM Sunday, 8/26 at the MCHS track.  This is our principal fundraising event.  Funds go to meet entry fees, for team shirts (for athletes to keep - not uniforms), for training equipment, and to offset the cost of some limited overnight travel expenses.  We have distributed pledge sheets to the runners and have assigned each class responsibility for several 2 hour blocks.  Come out and watch us "run with scissors!" (...and bring snacks!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Parent Communication Meeting - August 22

Reminder that Parent Meeting is scheduled for August 22 at 5:30pm.
Meeting will be at the WEST bleachers at the MCHS football field and should last about 1 hour.

See Meeting Agenda Here

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Pumas are Off And Running!: Week 1 Update

We've had a great first week back together on campus!  Here are a few highlights:

* We have an "official" roster of 60 student-athletes at this point.  We are aware of at least another dozen that intend to join but still need to obtain their athletic clearance plus we expect some more new joiners next week after school begins.

* A great turnout by the freshman class - looks like we have about 25 freshman so far!  WELCOME to MCHS!

* Workouts - we've introduced the full variety of workouts this week - on Monday we did a fartlek / interval session at Rincon Valley Park, on Tuesday we did an easy 40-60 minute run; on Wednesday we did a 20 or 25 minute long cut-down tempo session on the track plus cross training session, and on Thursday another 40-70 minute long run at Annadel (thanks to all the parent volunteers that helped with transportation!).

* Calibrating Workouts for Individuals:  A major part of what the coaches are doing this week is getting familiar with our new members and assessing the current fitness of all of our runners.  It's very important for us to put each person in a situation where they can succeed and improve at their fastest rate.  The best way for us to do this is to tailor and adjust each workout to best match their current level of fitness. We then create smaller training groups for runners at similar levels.

There are two primary ways we will assess fitness.  The primary way is to have runners execute a "test effort."  This may entail running 2 miles on the track for time.  We can use this result as a baseline from which to establish their training targets for other workouts. A secondary way is to have the runner measure their heart rate during and after different types of efforts.  We can use this information to confirm that the relative intensity of a practice element is optimized to reach our training goals - not too easy or too hard.

As a result, it is imperative that each runner wears a standard athletic wristwatch (with stopwatch function) to practice.  They will often be lost (figuratively!) without one.  We strongly encourage kids that have GPS watches with heart monitors (which are an excellent training tool) to bring them to practice and use them.  We will teach them how to get full benefit from these gizmos.

*Time Management - this year we are stressing using our time effiiciently -starting with beginning on time and moving through the workouts quickly.  Additionally, we are continuing to implement workout "modules" - these are building blocks that we will re-use in practices over the season.  This will reduce the amount of time required repeating and clarifying instructions.  So far we see it working.  Workouts are finishing on time and almost everyone has done a great job of being on time and listening carefully in our first few days!

*Newcomers - as hoped for, we continue to get a healthy number of "new runners" turning out for cross country.  The first three weeks are a challenging time for them: running for much longer than they are accustomed, getting to know new teammates, and learning a new "training language."  The coaches are paying careful attention to these "newbies" in order to encourage them and to bring them along at the appropriate rate.  We promise them that the soreness and misery they are experiencing will get much better after three weeks - if they stick with it!   Week number four is like walking out of gloomy fog and into glorious sunshine!

Gobs and Oodles of Important Info Posted on the Blog

We post tons of useful info on our blog.  You can reference most of these items by following one of the  "Useful Shortcuts" links in the upper right margin. Here are just SOME of the things that you can find:

Under the Calendars and Schedules shortcut
Under the Other Links shortcut


Sunday, August 12, 2012

1st Day of MCHS XC Practice Tomorrow!


Hey!   ...Have you checked out all the new information posted on our Blog Useful Shortcuts?    


Practice Schedule for the Season (meet at MCHS Track) 5 days/wk:

Monday = 3:00 - 4:45
Tuesday-Friday = 3:30 - 5:15 or 5:30

Note: You must have your Athletic Packet completed (including Sports Physical) and get a white clearance slip from the Athletic Directors to give to MCHS XC Coaches BEFORE YOU CAN PRACTICE!  -If you STILL don't have your Sports Physical and your appointment is weeks away, try scheduling an appointment with Dr. Ty Affleck of Santa Rosa Family Sports Medicine (707) 546-9400.

Other important Dates coming up: 

Tuesday, 8/14 10:00-Noon = Volunteers needed for Freshman Sign-ups!

Wednesday, 8/22 5:30 = Parent Team Meeting

Saturday, 8/25 starting 8AM = 24 Hour Run-A-Thon and Rummage Sale Fundraiser 

Note: Yard Sale Donations Needed by Aug. 25:
  • We'll take just about anything that's in working order
  • No clothing except jackets, sweatshirts, jeans, shoes
  • No large appliances or TVs.  Furniture OK!
  • Tell your non-cross-country friends and relatives to donate too!
  • Also need volunteers to work short shifts on Aug.25 between 8am-3pm
  • We can pick up!   Call Jennifer Jensen (478-2006) or Melanie Bartlett (799-7306) for pickup or to volunteer.
If you need additional information regarding MCHS XC, contact Head Coach Greg Fogg
call or text Cell: (707) 291-2967

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spooner Times 2012 - wow!

We had over 70 runners on Spooner on Monday morning, August 6.
This year's effort was easily the most impressive ever - from top to bottom!
Well done to everyone who met the challenge!
This year the names inscribed on the Spoon for huge improvements/noteworthy efforts were:
Ryan Anderson, Shannon Palladino, Sam Perry, Cecilia Avelar, and Jordan Scobey - congratulations!

More Pics from Spooner

Spooner Summit - elev 8800' - 7 mile point in run!



Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Camp Photos

(click on photos to see larger versions)

Dear Mom and Dad,
Here we are at Running Camp!

Getting ready for technique drills and cross training!

Lake Tahoe - awesome!

Girl vs Wild:  Shannon Palladino catches a fish barehanded!

Camp Prizes (Car not included)

Nick and James check out the camp schwag. 

Game winners got to pick out what they wanted.  "Do you happen have to have those shorts in a men's medium?"

Blog Archive