Iowa track camp emphasizes fitness, nutrition

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Nutrition, hydration, and weight training.

These were the three things that Terry Noonan, the Iowa director of athletics training services, emphasized to the kids attending the Iowa track and field and cross-country camps on Wednesday afternoon.

Fifty boys and girls, ranging in age from 10 to 18, are attending this year’s camp, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday. Both the Iowa men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country coaches host the camp and give instruction through various workout and training exercises.

In between a morning and evening workout session, the campers gathered in the women’s track and cross-country teams’ locker room as Noonan discussed the importance of training away from the track or distance course.

“If you can get them to understand [the importance] at this age, and they follow it, then I’m reducing the amount of work I have to do at [the college] level,” Noonan said. “The hardest thing [to get them to understand] is that they need to take the time beforehand to hydrate. It’s no different than taking time before [performing] to stretch.”

Noonan had the campers perform leg exercises to show how important it is to focus on weight training and not just running.

Iowa men’s track and field head coach Larry Wieczorek gave a brief talk about the types of injuries and workouts his athletes go through.

“There are a lot of illegal performance-enhancing drugs out there,” Wieczorek told the group at the conclusion of Noonan’s talk. “But there are also better, natural performance-enhancing drugs — like sleep and eating right.”

Wieczorek, who has been with the Iowa program for 24 years, said he hopes these camps can be about more than just track and field or cross-country.

Campers have the option of traveling back and forth to Iowa City each day or staying overnight in the residence halls.

“Some of these kids, maybe they haven’t been away from home that much,” Wieczorek said. “Now, they’re staying in a college dorm, staying on a college campus, and meeting new people. We’ve gotten good feedback over the years from parents and kids about the experience.”

When they are on the track, they’ve been kept busy with workouts similar to those the Iowa athletes perform. But that doesn’t mean the camp is producing college talent right away.

“In five days, we don’t make somebody a great athlete,” Wieczorek said. “We don’t really actually train them, and some of them have different levels of ability. So we hope they leave with some ideas, [and] some techniques that they can work on when they get home.”

Campers were broken up by their individual event areas and then received instruction from event-specific coaches.

“[The] No. 1 [priority] is, I want them to have fun,” said Iowa assistant coach Joey Woody, who is working primarily with campers in hurdles. “Hopefully, they make some good improvements — not only so they improve here, but build on when they go back home and have some things they can work on.”

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