by Neechi Marupa-Ombima '20
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to run a track meet the week before exams through a small blizzard? It’s not very pleasant, I can assure you. While winter track may not be one of the most recognized or popular winter sports on the Close, we definitely put in some hard work. Life as a winter track athlete can actually be quite challenging, as we are one of the few winter sports teams that practice outside no matter the weather. We run through rain, snow, heavy wind, or whatever the unpredictable D.C. weather throws at us, this last week being a rare exception.
One thing I especially appreciate about track as a sport is the specialization, and the winter track team does a great job of emulating that. At the beginning of the season we are split into three groups, long-distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, and throwers. Each group on the team has different workouts each day, and it goes a long way to making sure we are ready to compete at our specific event come springtime. I am part of the sprinter group, where we mainly run events of 400m distance or less. To give you a bit of insight into a daily winter track practice, one thing that is constant for all the track groups is the warm up. Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, a warm-up, every sport does warm-ups — they can’t be that challenging”; if you came to a winter-track practice, you would find out very quickly that that is not the case. Furthermore, If you have never seen repetition work at its finest, just ask a sprinter how many different types of skips we did up and down the track during our first practice. After our warm-up, we move into the workout, which usually depends on the day of the week, especially for sprinters. We lift on Mondays and Thursdays, have a rest day on Wednesday, and have tougher workouts on Tuesdays and Fridays. For example, on a Wednesday we may work on starting technique, hurdling, or even relay work and then conclude with some short 50-100m sprints. However, when it comes to a Tuesday or Friday you’d better be ready as a sprinter because no matter the weather, we are pushed to our limits. A typical Tuesday or Friday could consist of a sequence of 200m sprints (around 8-12), with the only allocated rest in between being a 45-60 second rest at the start line for either the group behind or in front of you to get to a certain point on the track. To conclude practice, depending on how well our coach feels we have run the workout, we might either run a single cool-down lap or some 50m dashes and a cool-down lap.
One might say that these are the workouts that take the fun out of a sport like winter track. However, like other sports, these are the moments that unify us as a team, pushing each other to be better and run faster. Surprisingly, the winter track season has been one of the more challenging seasons I’ve taken part in during my time at St. Albans, but as the season winds down winter track has given me a newfound appreciation for the sport and excitement for the spring track season.