Women’s track preps for the elements

BY KATRINA DO | APRIL 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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April showers bring May flowers, but not before it hinders the outdoor track and field teams first.

On a rainy day, the track teams combine athletes of almost every event, whether exclusively indoors or outdoors, to practice under the same roof.

“We improvise and do the best we can to match [the events] as much as possible,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “You have to make the best of what you’ve got.”

The discus, hammer, and javelin throw are exclusively outdoor events, though it isn’t impossible to practice them indoors. The throwers, limited with the amount of space provided at the indoor track facility, still manage to put in a good practice by throwing equipment into a net.

The women’s relay teams have also learned to adapt to the rain and indoor practice.

“It’s a little more difficult, but we’re still able to get the passes down and get the work done,” freshman Brittany Brown said.

However, the rain doesn’t always force practice inside.

While the rest of their teammates are staying dry at practice, the distance runners usually stick to their outdoor running routine— which isn’t a factor of strength or talent, but a matter of the culture of the specific event.

Sprinters are focused on instant speed, constantly on their toes, so they are more prone to injury when the weather doesn’t cooperate. On the other hand, distance runners are centered on more long-term endurance, and the weather isn’t regarded as a major issue.  

“It’s definitely harder when you’re balancing elements and trying to run,” sophomore Grace Haerr said. “But we’ll still run if [the temperature] is below zero.”

The unpredictable Iowa weather causes the team to improvise in other areas, as well, such as travel.

Warmer areas are typically the ideal spot for outdoor track meets. Since the outdoor track and field season began, the Hawkeyes have traveled across the country to compete in Arizona, Arkansas, and California.

Last weekend, the squad’s journey to the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., began at 7 a.m. on Thursday and ended late Sunday night; the amount of time dedicated to travel sometimes leads to stress and fatigue. 

“We’ve had a couple of weekends where we’ve gotten home late or in the wee hours of the morning, so we rest athletes by leaving them home during certain meets,” Anderson said. “We try to pick and choose where we can take advantage of opportunities to rest and recover.”

Although the inconstant weather of the Midwest often forces the team to think strategically, it could be seen as a blessing in disguise.

“Iowa weather makes you stronger when you’re competing against schools that always get warm weather,” Haerr said.

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