Winter training producing improved results for women's track


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For Midwesterners, this year’s winter weather may not be out of the ordinary — snow, freezing temperatures, and ice have mapped out the forecast.

Maneuvering around it, however, never becomes less tricky.

This can be especially true for the Iowa women’s track and field distance runners, who faced some weather-related difficulties over winter-break while training.

Lack of plowing was the main reason athletes were forced to take their training inside, but head coach Layne Anderson said the individual training the long-distance runners put in over winter break was still solid.

“I felt like all the feedback I was getting was very positive,” he said.

Distance runners are most accustomed to running outside, so none of them want to be stuck inside on a treadmill.

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Some made it through the time at home without any setbacks. Others were not so fortunate.

McKenzie Melander, a junior from Apple Valley, Minn., was one of the athletes who faced weather-related setbacks. Minnesota has been hit with one of its snowiest winters in years.

“It was challenging at times to get somewhere that was plowed,” she said.

Melander said she had to complete two of her workouts on the treadmill, as well as a few other easy runs.

Anderson said he was pleased that those who faced setbacks were able to adapt to them and improvise.

Returning to Iowa City marked the start of the regular season for the Hawkeyes with the Iowa Open on Jan. 15. This weekend, they will travel to Minneapolis for the Gold Country Classic. The following weekend, the team will travel to Arkansas for the Razorback Invitational.

Anderson said the goal of the training over winter break was to keep the fitness base the group had established.

Junior Betsy Flood said the workouts helped the Hawkeyes build strength and endurance. As the biggest chunk of the indoor season approaches in the next couple of weeks before the Big Ten championships, the distance runners can get back into group training and begin to push their fitness levels higher to prepare for tougher races.

“No matter how well you train, the one thing you can’t train is race fitness,” Anderson said.

The upcoming weeks begins the process of the athletes becoming “race sharp,” as Anderson said.

They will also complete speed work to prepare for their upcoming meets.

Looking at the results from the Iowa Open and looking ahead, the Hawkeyes were most pleased that they saw the work they put in over winter break carry over to the results at the Iowa Open. Senior Amanda Hardesty said the work will also be beneficial down the road during longer races.

“We all ran faster times than we did the previous year [at the Iowa Open], so that’s a good sign,” she said.

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